Archive for October, 2012

Reviews October 2012 week five

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Then the colours will morph out of all recognition and you will know the glow of an evening on fire.

 – Stephen on Hilda And The Bird Parade h/c

Mrs Weber’s Omnibus (£20-00, Jonathan Cape) by Posy Simmonds.

Rejoice, rejoice! All my Christmas quandries have been answered in one fell swoop! I do hope no relatives read my reviews.

From Posy Simmonds MBE, the creator of TAMARA DREWEGEMMA BOVERY and LITERARY LIFE, I commend to you without equivocation one great big brick of a book, collecting Britain’s best-ever series of self-contained newspaper comic pages. I promise you unfaltering brilliance from cover to cover: a body of work which is both timeless and yet a time capsule of cultural mores as seen in Britain during the 1980s. Improbable, yes; impossible, no – not in the right hands.

Let us take a stroll down any street and eavesdrop on ‘Well Known Facts’. From the mouths of babes…

“But why can’t you walk on the cracks?”
“Because my mum says if you tread on the lines, bears will get you.
“And my mum says if you make a face like that & the wind changes, you’ll get stuck like that for ever & ever!
“And my mummy says if you swallow pips like that, an apple tree’ll grow out of your mouth & suffocate you to death!
“And my mum says if you pick a guinea pig up by its tail, its eyes drop out…”
“And my mum said if I’m good, the tooth fairy will put 50p under my pillow.”
“Liar Liar! Pants on fire! Nose as long as a Telegraph wire!”
“And my mum says if you unscrew your tummy button, your bottom falls off.”

… and adults alike…

“And my mum says if we have another baby, it’ll bring Mike & me together again.”
“And my doctor says if I had a more positive attitude to motherhood I wouldn’t feel so sick!”
“But my mother said if we stay together, it’ll be better for the children…”
“And my architect friend says if we knock down the front & back, it’ll give us more privacy.”
“And my husband says if he gave up smoking he’d only eat and then die of a fatty heart…”
“… and Peter said if we kept it discreet, Eric wouldn’t suspect a thing!”

That, my friends, is the perfect page of Posy Simmonds: searingly well observed, beautifully composed, artfully juxtaposed, and rammed to its riotous rafters with timeless truths, even when they’re lies. Like husbands fobbing off their wives with transparent lies about where they are and why they’re not home from work on time. God help you, morons.

There will always be children’s parties to be endured, full of fun, tears and trauma; family holidays with their preparation, packing and inevitable rain-drenched afternoons; the innuendo-obsessed and overenthusiastic soul of the party; editors bleaching authors’ individuality to oblivion in search of commercial conformity; mother-in-laws (and indeed mothers) unsubtly critiquing your house and domestic endeavours; parents judging other people’s parental skills via the behaviour of their children; mothers taking on all the worries of their children, their husbands, their own mothers, their babysitters… even their cats!

But Posy presents all these so wittily, so deftly, so mischievously, and with a lot of lateral thinking!

Take ‘Lonely Heart’, the heartbreaking ballad of Action Man and his Trudi-Doll – such a sad state of affairs! Once she lay up his manly torso at the top of the toy box, as sexy as a supermodel, then she started wearing his clothes, carrying his gun, and “Finally, last week, she moved into a gyro-powered assault craft, with rotating gun turret”. Truly their fate was in the tiny hands of playful Gods toying with their lives. “I have now moved in with a duck. It is far from ideal.”

There’s also an extended sequence involving Stanhope Wright, advertising executive and serial philanderer (hmm, there’s always one, isn’t there? See TAMARA DREWE), preparing to shoot a soup commercial, and the secretary he ignores in favour of the more flamboyant members of his creative team. Entitled ‘True Love’ (with a softly arched eyebrow), within Janice Brady wistfully daydreams of the boss she believes will one day notice her – the boss who one party did notice her when she nearly caught him snogging at the Christmas works do, and fobbed her off with a jar of stilton. Oh, the jar of stilton – she carries it around with her everywhere! In her dreams she is the irresistible queen of comicbook romance, Posy adroitly shifting styles to nail the hair, the mascara and then, once scorned, the blonde-haired beau who swoops in to make all around jealous, then carry her off into the sunset once tragedy has struck and she lies dying (in her mind) after a triumphant moment of self-sacrifice, trampled to death by a flock of satanic-eyed sheep sent stampeding by a jar of mint sauce.

Wonderfully ridiculous and yet, if we’re honest, once more absolutely true! I love the predatory Stanhope’s hooked nose and jutting chin, and the addition of red to the black and white pages works wonders.

The real draw and central stars, however, are ex-nurse and aspiring children’s author Wendy Webber and her husband George, a lecturer in Liberal Studies at an unnamed Polytechnic. Here George queues at the student canteen to be served by Marie and prepares a farewell speech in his head. Ah, and the things we dream of saying, but never do and never would!

“As one of the longer-serving lecturers here at the Poly… it is my great pleasure to remind the Staff & students that, after 15 years’ survive, Marie is going to New Zealand… and, therefore, things in the canteen can only get better…
“I think one can say that, during Marie’s despotic reign, never in the field of institutional cooking has so much food been left by so many… I for one will not miss her air of truculence, her fault finding, her inability to give the right change… I won’t miss her rudeness, her racism, her petty economies & above all, her congealing food, cooked & served in PURE BILE!”

“Go on! Take it! What d’you think I am??”

Lethal, I’d have thought.

Wendy and George are children of the ‘60s with children in the ‘80s, striving to live lives informed by those original ideals while passing them on to their children. Dispelling the taboo of boozums comes back to bite George when on the bus with young Benji, who can’t help but speak his little mind! Wendy despairs at the ignorance, petty parental prejudices and outright racism she sees outside the school gates when the scandal of headlice and nits starts doing the rounds. They are dismayed as city dwellers buy up seaside cottages and visit for just three weeks a year. They cater for neighbourly street parties while teenage Belinda, post-punk as you like, scowls at her parents disdainfully, resentfully, critically. Belinda is full of wrong-headed rebellion – a superficial elitist spouting social reform while practising none of it, snapping at her parents’ community-orientated offerings like their home-made wine and striding off to drink Pimms instead.

Simmonds’ layouts are impeccable: she always manages to pack in far more information on a page than you’d imagine possible whilst clearing the deck off all clutter – no extraneous self-indulgence here. Her characters are never caricatures – not even the boisterous and bulbous-nosed whisky salesman Edmund Heep – but full of humanity and individuality, and I particularly love Wendy Weber’s eyes drawn as dots on her glasses. The prevailing fashions and fabrics of the day are nailed, as are the day-to-day details of domestic routine on the early diary pages: appointments, phone numbers, rotas and little money sums. “Yes, yes, yes!” I cried when I saw the table keeping track of which of offspring had encountered which childhood diseases (chicken pox, measles, German measles and mumps) and so grown immunity.

So much here will strike familiar family chords: burst pipes, nativity plays, learning lines for school – the days when banks kept the hours they pleased rather than actually catering for their customers.

On top of that, over-analytical George is a hoot, seeing complex socio-political messages in a simple bourgeois and bucolic fabric pattern. Here an old friend from the sixties is over, hoping to join George on his faculty, and George cannot resist another opportunity for purple pontification:

“Wear a suit by all means, but don’t cut your hair! The Dean & the interviewing panel may draw probalistic inferences from your hair… Seen structurally, the pig tails signifies an identification with the North American Indian – giving you a political dimension. And you’ve got a rubber band round your hair… Rubber is a symbol of the mechano-cultural colonisation, compounded by rape, of the Amazon by Europeans! And your pigtail will link you in the Dean’s mind with his interdisciplinary here: Benjamin Franklin.”
“But, Dad, the student representatives on the panel will look at his hair & think: Boring, Geriatric old Hippy.”

That was indeed Belinda, yes. Her boyfriend Jasper is pretty exasperating too, but also prone to bursts of eloquence which may miss the point but certainly hit the mark. What a way to speak to your in-laws, eh?

“That’s a typical remark of you woolly liberals! Look at you! All your soft, frayed, faded, patched, ethnic, woolly, comfortable, old clothes sum up your attitude to life!
“Whenever controversy comes you way, you swaddle it in woolly deference and smother it in a cushion of irreproachable tolerance!
“You bile never bubbles! Your gorge never rises… your blood never boils! …because you sit on the bloody fence. You’re… TEPID!”

Exit Jasper & Belinda. I leave the last word to Mrs. Weber.

“That Belinda’s metallic pants & Dagger heels… Jasper’s piranha-teethed zips & crushing boots point to a life of unrestrained aggression? People like that meet violent ends!”
“And what happens to woolly liberals?”
“Ah, woolly liberals! An agonising death… We get moth eaten…”

Please note: you can blow the interior art up on the shopping page linked to below, and read the pages properluy.


Buy Mrs Weber’s Omnibus and read the Page 45 review here

This Is Not My Hat h/c (£11-99, Walker Books) by Jon Klassen.


Another succinct gem from the creator of I WANT MY HAT BACK. Do you get the impression that Jon Klassen had a traumatic, hat-related incident in childhood? Stealing hats is wrong, he seems to be saying. He really is quite specific about that. Also: there will be repercussions.

What makes this beauty so uproarious is the simplicity of the sentences, the confidence or at least optimism with which they are uttered, and the way in which, from the fourth sentence on, every hope is beautifully undercut by what is actually shown.

“This hat is not mine. I stole it.
I stole it from a big fish. He was asleep when I did it.
And he probably won’t wake up for a long time.
And even if he does wake up, he probably won’t notice that it’s gone.
And even if he does notice that it’s gone, he probably won’t know it was me who took it.”

Cue Jaws theme.


Buy This Is Not My Hat h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dockwood h/c (£13-95, Nobrow Press) by Jon McNaught…

It’s a crisp Autumnal day in Dockwood where, as the sun slowly rises, turning the few stray clouds in the sky a vivid red, and the birds commence their dawn chorus, the early risers of this quiet town’s residents have already begun their day. Enter our first lead character, Mark, a kitchen assistant at the local nursing home who’s got the day’s meals to prepare. As he begins to peel the spuds listening to Bon Jovi on Daydream FM, the chef’s already hard at work preparing the sausage casserole. Then it’s on with his rounds, seeing which of the elderly residents fancies a cuppa. Mr Dunn in room 9 would like one whilst he watches a choir singing a resounding chorus of Jerusalem on some breakfast TV show. Perhaps if those pesky starlings outside his window would shut up for a moment he could actually relax and enjoy it.

Then it’s on to Jake, just out of school for the day, and keen to get his paper round done so he can get home and play the latest shoot ‘em up that his mate has lent him. He wanders round the streets popping the Dockwood evening news through various letterboxes whilst the waning of the day takes its inevitable course. The sky becomes blood red again, before it darkens completely and the stars begin to come out, twinkling brightly in the now crystal clear sky. There’s the odd animal, wild and domesticated alike, foraging for food here and there, scampering off to hide or making their presences known, as per their attendant common sense or bravado. It’s a relaxing stroll round a typical neighbourhood, really, and Jake even finds time to have a quick leaf through the paper himself, whilst munching a chocolate bar a kindly pensioner has given him as a tip.

But when he gets home and boots up his Playstation 3 we’re fully immersed in an alien world as the gun-toting good guy is teleported out to the deserts of Hyperion to locate the Captain up on Sunset Ridge. Once the legions of bug-faced aliens have been dispensed with headshots galore there’s only the final objective to be achieved, to follow the Captain to his ship and blast off for the next level of all-out destruction. It’s a strange moment therefore for Jake / our gun-toting hero to take a pause and drink in the alien sunset, with what seems to be a flock of starlings swooping and swooshing high up in the sky. In fact as they come closely we realise they’re a flock of vicious-looking pterodactyl-like creatures, resulting in a quick scurry to the safety of the shuttle, before the Captain initiates the launch sequence.

All of which does precisely nothing to explain what an astonishingly and uniquely beautiful book this is. If you’re familiar with any of Jon’s previous work, PEBBLE ISLAND, BIRCHFIELD CLOSE or indeed his contribution to NELSON, you will immediately understand exactly what I mean. If you are so far unaware of Jon, or haven’t yet seen any of his work, have a look at the accompanying interior art (see shopping page, linked to below), and you will instantly see precisely what I mean.

This is a work about transitions, clearly, but also about the small moments that whilst individually might not seem significant, come together to make up each and every day. It’s just that in Jon’s hands, every single moment is artistic heaven, yet it is the combined totality, the flow of images, that serve to produce a story which is just so visually compelling. There’s genuine punctuation provided by the art too, usually when one of the characters actually has the time to pause and take in the beauty around them, or often when they are utterly oblivious to it, being immersed or distracted by the task at hand. I remember well when I first saw Jon’s first published work by Nobrow, PEBBLE ISLAND, that moment of thinking, no, I really haven’t seen it all, here is someone who has managed to do something completely different, distinct and wonderfully individual, and do it so triumphantly. It’s not often you get that feeling, but it’s wonderful when it does happen.

On that note, it’s probably worth me finishing by sharing a quote from Chris Ware I came across whilst looking for interior art, which I hope serves to underscore precisely why Jon is going to become a very big name in the comics world in time…

“There are few younger comics artists with whom I feel a genuine aesthetic kinship, but the radiant and glowing DOCKWOOD is Jon McNaught’s loveliest argument yet for the beauty of just being alive. It’s a gem.”

Well put sir, well put.


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

Hilda And The Bird Parade h/c (£11-99, Nobrow Press) by Luke Pearson.

Magical. Magical, exquisitely coloured, and so beautiful to behold.

From the creator of HILDAFOLK, HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT, EVERYTHING WE MISS and indeed the far earlier SOME PEOPLE which so stunned us all here that we made it Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month.

Young school girl Hilda lives with her mother, a professional artist, out in the wilds of the most majestic countryside with mountains that rise into the crystal-blue skies, their snow-capped peaks enticing you ever upwards to explore! They’re populated with fantastical creatures which Hilda loves to dash out to document and draw! Armed with a rucksack full of pens, pencils, paper and nature books, Hilda could spend an entire day…

… sitting bored indoors, looking mournfully out of her bedroom window onto the deadly-dull streets of a city suburb she is forbidden to set foot in. Oh dear. They’ve moved.

To her mother’s mind these city streets are infinitely more dangerous than the troll-troubled hills they once frequented. With no discernible vantage points you could get so easily lost in the maze of seemingly homogenous house fronts, and then there are the people. People ain’t no good. Anything could happen to a young girl out on her own…

Bravely Luke Pearson has set his series on a brand-new course and brilliantly he’s played to his loyal readers’ fears. The school children who entice Hilda out know all the cool places, but they are very far from cool. They ring on doorbells and then run away, goading their potentially impressionable new friend to do the same. She doesn’t, for Hilda knows her own mind (thank you very much indeed) and so stops to chat to the old lady she’s just called upon and takes time to compliment her window box of flowers. And then, just when you think Hilda’s winning, and beginning to bring them round in their search for the best and shiniest of rocks, there is a moment of awful brutality that had my jaw on the floor. Also: she does get lost.

But oh, Luke Pearson, how well you know your craft! One of Pearson’s finest skills is the ability to surprise – to make you gasp – and everything you have read so far is designed to do precisely that. Who am I to spoil that pleasure?

There will be wonder aplenty, discoveries made from true discernment, and a heart-racing climax to get to the annual Bird Parade on time! Then the colours will morph out of all recognition and you will know the glow of an evening on fire. So lambent, and so eye-poppingly awesome, with exotic forms that fill every inch of each page.

I love Hilda’s mouth when she goes “Oooh!” I’m making that face as I type: a projection to a small, rounded mouth to one side that lets out a well-rounded, well, “Oooh!”  It’s infectious – the sort of art that encourages you to enact what’s happening and so makes for the best bed-time reading.

Oh, who am I kidding? This entire series would and will be lapped up by kids; but it’s adults who are getting the current kicks, right? Right. Just as it should be. Sales through the roof, just like the best of Neil Gaiman.


Buy Hilda And The Bird Parade h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Kiddo h/c (£12-00, Records Records Records Book) by Antoine Cosse ~

A man is alone in a field, fantasising of gallant deeds to save a woman while his fire burns out of control, scorching the surrounding crop. In the thick of smoke he battles a giant beast who only sought to rescue him. The beast, a large, blind dog he names Kiddo, journeys with him as they attempt to reach the source of a black cloud on the horizon, battling un-dead hordes and grotesque witches on their way.

I’m finding it hard not to compare Antoine’s bizarre pictorial psychic letting here to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s early mind-bending films of blasphemy and redemption, El Topo and Holy Mountain. Not that anyone could ever top Jodorowsky’s kaleidoscope of dementia, but the narrative’s attempt to steer through the quixotic dreamscape to a finite conclusion is worthy of the glorification. This is the strongest avant-garde comic I’ve seen from a UK publisher (Antoine himself is French), and certainly the most enjoyable since Anders Nilsen’s DOGS AND WATER. Although maybe I’m just biased towards dogs.

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

Ralph Azham vol 1: Why Would You Lie To Someone You Love? h/c (£10-99, Fantagraphics) by Lewis Trondheim…

“Yikes… you headed to the lowlands to sell all your furniture, Mr. Filbert?”
“We’re moving, Ralph…”
“Really? With that second rugrat on the way, you had room to grow here…”
“A second child? We’re having a second child? Is that why you were so insistent that we leave? “Fine… we’ll talk about it later… You bring nothing but bad luck, Ralph…”

“YO! FILBERT! BAG-O-DIRT! It’s not like I told you to poke your shrimp into her salad. Have a great life among the lowland retards! You’ll fit right in!!”

Probably my absolute favourite Trondheim work to date, having all the perspicacious story telling (BOURBON ISLAND) we’ve come to expect from the French mirth-master (DUNGEON, TINY TYRANT). Well, aside from when he’s not denigrating himself in his down-beat autobiographical material, that is, though that too is gently amusing in its own way. This, however, very much reminded me of the hilarious Fabian Vehlman & Jason collaboration ISLE OF 100,000 GRAVES (which we made Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month) as the titular Ralph, who once seemed destined to become the Chosen One and so big things, now firmly resides in the position of village scapegoat for all the various communal problems that arise, real and imagined, and thus frequently forced to reside in the pigsty for his troubles.

Ralph takes all the abuse with surprising magnanimity and grace, though he does love to dispense the odd vocal barb or two in retaliation, usually landing him right back in the excrement of the swine variety. The reason he’s regarded as such a failure is when his particular mystic power manifested, there having been several Chosen Ones over the years, no one was particularly impressed when it turned out to be knowing exactly how many children someone would have, rather than something exciting and potentially useful like pyrokinesis.

Ralph’s past isn’t quite what it seems, though, and perhaps destiny might just have been delayed rather than having passed him by completely. As word arrives that the ravaging horde are in the neighbourhood for one of their occasional tours of rape and pillage, and the villagefolk are dithering about what to do, it might just be the moment for Ralph to finally become a hero and save the day. Alternatively, he might decide his neighbours deserve absolutely everything that’s about to happen to them and make a run for it, but that would be telling! Delighted this is only volume one, I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Ralph already, I must say.


Buy  and read the Page 45 review here

Comic Sketchbooks (£24-95, Thames & Hudson) by various…

Insanely eclectic mix of over 700 sketchbook pages and thoughts from a myriad  of people (80!), some of whom  you’ll almost certainly have heard of such as Charles Burns, Posy Simmonds and Seth, but many you won’t have yet, like the intriguingly named Colonel Moutarde and Cyril Guru, both French. Heller pulls it all together nicely providing mini-bios on each contributor. As interesting and often beautiful as the artwork itself is, I found myself fascinated by the commentary provided by the artists, sometimes on the specific pages included but also on the concept of having a sketchbook itself, and how they use it. I’ll certainly be looking into what comics are available from some of the people I was less familiar with, that’s for sure. The only negative comment is the utterly bizarre choice of cover which looks like some of an explosion of red and green light from a 3D projector and does absolutely nothing to indicate the fantastic quality of material contained within. I just don’t  understand that at all, especially given Heller’s obsession with beautiful design and artwork.


Buy Comic Sketchbooks 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.
Heads Or Tails (£16-99, Fantagraphics) by Lille Carre

Pope Hats #3 (£4-99, Adhouse Books) by Ethan Rilly

August Moon (£10-99, Top Shelf) by Diana Thung

The Walking Dead Novel vol 2 The Road To Woodbury hardcover (£18-99, Thomas Dunne Books) by Robert Kirkman, Jay Bosinga

Came The Dawn hardcover (£21-99, Fantagraphics) by Wallace Wood

Mice Templar vol 3: A Midwinter Night’s Dream h/c (£22-50, Image) by Bryan J.L. Glass & Michael Avon Oeming

The Cartoon Utopia h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Ron Rege Jr.

Blue s/c (£10-99, Top Shelf) by Pat Grant

Rogue Trooper: Tales Of Nu-Earth vol 3 (£17-99, Rebellion) by Gerry Finley-Day, Simon Geller, Steve McManus & Steve Dillon, Jose Ortiz, Chris Weston, Brett Ewins

Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars vol 2 (£19-99, Dark Horse) by various

Sweet Tooth vol 5: Unnatural Habits (£10-99, Vertigo) by Jeff Lemire

Assassin’s Creed vol 1: Desmond h/c (£8-99, Titan) by Corbeyran & Djillali Defali

Assassin’s Creed vol 2: Aquilus h/c (£8-99, Titan) by Corbeyran & Djillali Defali

Assassin’s Creed vol 3: Accipiter h/c (£8-99, Titan) by Corbeyran & Djillali Defali

Tank Girl: Carioca h/c (£14-99, Titan) by Alan Martin & Mick McMahon

Dark Tower vol 6: The Journey Begins s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Peter David & Sean Phillips, Richard Isanove

Superman: Earth One vol 2 h/c (£16-99, DC) by J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis

Batman: Eye Of The Beholder s/c (£10-99, DC) by Tony S. Daniel

All Star Western s/c (£12-99, DC) by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Phil Winslade, Jordi Bernet

Absolute Final Crisis (£75-00, DC) by Grant Morrison & J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, more

Wolverine And The X-Men vol 1 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo plus others

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force & The Deep s/c (£14-99, DC) by Rob Williams, Simone Bianchi & Cullen Bunn, Lee Garbett

Secret Avengers vol 4: Run The Mission, Don’t Seen, Save The World s/c (£14-99, DC) by Warren Ellis & Jamie McKelvie, David Aja, Michael Lark, Kev Walker, Alex Maleev, Stuart Immonen

Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Dalilbor Talajic

Uncanny X-Force vol 6: Final Execution Book 1 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Mike McKone, Julian Totino Tedesco, Phil Noto

Hulk: Mayan Rule s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Dale Eaglesham

Sailor Moon vol 8 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Sakura Hime vol 6 (£6-99, Viz) by Arina Tanemura

Bleach vol 48 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

Bleach vol 49 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

The Flowers Of Evil vol 3 (£8-50, Vertical) by Shuzo Oshimi

Durarara!! vol 4 (£8-99, Yen) by Ryohgo Narita & Akiyo Satorigi

Bakuman vol 15 (£6-99, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Bakuman vol 16 (£6-99, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Jiu Jiu vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by Touya Tobina
Oh, to be back in St. Malo! There’s this ‘mazing Sean Phillips exhibition with great big, wall-sized installations

Also, you’ve seen the blog about the Page 45 December 2012 signing with Hope Larson & Bryan Lee O’Malley, right? Right. Squeal at will.

Lastly, as part of Birmingham Zinefest 2012 Dan Berry hosted a couple of round-table panels, and here they are to listen to. The top podcast with comicbook creators Lizz Lunney, Philippa Rice, Luke Pearson and Marc Ellerby being quizzed by Dan Berry was the most sublime, softly spoken and oh so funny chat I have ever overheard. Highly recommended!

– Stephen

Reviews October 2012 week four

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

“Not my bag” was the favourite catchphrase of a long-tenured and rather world-weary colleague in a former workplace, who used it at least five times a day whilst dodging pretty much any and all tasks which were pushed his way. He did it with such carefree nonchalance he actually managed to get away with it, even when it was the MD himself asking.

 – Jonathan on Not My Bag. There’s more, and it’s hilarious!

Mercy (£3-99, Piper Snow Productions) by Ray Fawkes.

UK EXCLUSIVE! There are only 33 copies of this on sale in the UK, and Page 45 has every single one of them. This makes me very happy indeed. *smiles*

“Fog brushes the grounds of the estate, ribbons of it rising around our black coats. Clement raises the lantern and I look back at the house for a moment (quickly now). The necropolis lies beyond the Southern edge of my land, through the woods, black trunks rising. Fog. There is so much fog. Curling around the bare branches.”

From the creator of ONE SOUL, the previous Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month which had both PHONOGRAM’s Kieron Gillen and ourselves extolling its experimental ingenuity, this is a story to send uncertain shivers up your spine. It’s a nightmare in stark black and white which bursts on occasion into Bill Sienkiewicz territory: I’m thinking the woman’s long raven hair cascading from her casket in a waterfall of ink; the frenzy in a maddened man’s eyes exploding expressionistically across the page…

Death has come to the house of Silas. All is silent and empty, his beloved snatched from his arms too soon. It has left him inert, wanting only to sleep, but tonight he has two visitors: Clement who has lost both his wife and children, and Clement’s quiet, bewhiskered uncle. It is they who insist on immediate action, a galvanised call to unusual arms, for they believe there has been foul play – that there is a monster in their midst. To them it is all that makes sense.

Silas’ considered inner monologue is presented in white boxes cleverly interjected with sporadic bursts of black which reveal his more troubled fears – what he believes to be true at heart. And gradually, as the three proceed, they appear to be increasingly well founded. What those fears are, I shall keep to myself; also… whether they are well founded.

It’s very well played, with perfect timing and a gorgeous cadence to the language which is employed in playing it.

Free for first-comers only, Ray has kindly sent us nine signed prints. Two designs limited to 20 and 40 worldwide. Thank you, Ray, for everything.


Buy Mercy and read the Page 45 review here

Nobrow Anthology vol 7 (£15-00, Nobrow) by Anders Nilsen, Jillian Tamaki, Tom Gauld, Luke Pearson, Joost Swarte, more.

Another lavish slighty-larger-than-A4 outing featuring 4-page comics and full-page prints with ideas to frazzle your unsuspecting minds.

Those who travelled to Nottingham for Page 45’s Anders Nilsen signing for BIG QUESTIONS will be delighted to know that the Poseidon strip which Anders narrated live down the pub has finally been published here. Interestingly, the silhouettes which we saw projected in black have been printed in a luxurious gold with the softest of sheens. Works beautifully, almost as if everything takes place at sunset. Entirely apposite too, for here the Greek god of all things wet and salty casts his mind back to simpler, long-lost days when his pantheon ruled virtually uncontested except for the occasional upstart like Odysseus who only went and smote his one-eyed moron of a son. You’d think revenge would have been easy, wouldn’t you, for a god?

“The so-called Goddess of Wisdom has some sort of weird crush on Odysseus. She used her snivelling lap-dog Hermes, and a bunch of bullshit sneaking around to get the man home. Alive. And that was the beginning of the end.”

Bewildered, Poseidon watches the world and its oceans change out of all recognition – the bigger boats, navigational technology, floating islands of plastic garbage the size of a small country – and as their health declines and the power of his Pantheon wanes, so Poseidon withdraws to a more solitary existence, noting only the strategic relocation of Venus and Eros, Bacchus’ new line in intoxicants and Mars’ far from diminished devotees. Then he takes a wander round America, and wonders at what he sees, until his eyes alight on a certain amusement park. It doesn’t amuse him at all.

Tom Gauld, meanwhile, offers up An Alphabetical Guide To Our Wonderful Future. Also: An Alphabetical Guide To Our Dreadful Future. The last panel made me laugh.

Luke Pearson’s You Mustn’t Be Afraid didn’t make me laugh, but then it wasn’t supposed to. Coloured in pale blue hues, it has haunted me ever since. The first few panels put me in mind of Jordan Crane’s THE LAST LONELY SATURDAY but then it takes on a tone and a terror and indeed a pressure of its own. You may have thought tidying your bedroom was the most enormous, nigh-impossible task, but tidying up your entire life and all its attendant clutter… Anyway, what a climax.

Equally affecting – and for me the absolute triumph – was Half-Life by Jillian Tamaki (SKIM and INDOOR VOICE).

“Have you lost weight?” a friend asks the narrator over lunch. As casual as you like. And you don’t think much of it, do you? Unless you’re on a diet or piling it on. But it transpires that the narrator has lost weight, and height, and continues to do so. What I loved about this piece was Tamaki’s imaginative extrapolation from what isn’t an uncommon idea, examining the practicalities in thorough and quite personal detail, then running with the repercussions right through to the end. The narrator is surprisingly calm as her life changes drastically and strange accommodations must be made. The art is very physical – the dog shitting on the pavement and the splendid nude at the top of page four – even as the story and narrator herself become increasingly ethereal. However will it end, do you think?


Buy Nobrow Anthology vol 7 and read the Page 45 review here

Everything Together – Collected Stories s/c (£14-99, Picturebox) by Sammy Harkham…

Somewhat of a misnomer this title as it doesn’t contain the brilliant Crickets material we made Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month when it came out, amongst many other things. A reasonable amount together, would probably have been a more accurate description. What it does contain is all excellent though, as you expect from Sammy, including his other finest work for me, the poignant POOR SAILOR which we still have a few hardcovers of. Here is Tom’s review of that particular piece which sums Sammy up nicely too…

A pioneer for next generation of American cartoonists, Harkham is editor and publisher of the epic Kramers Ergot anthologies. This is his contribution to KRAMERS ERGOT 4 and one of the most moving comics I have ever read. A simple but brilliantly executed tale of a woodsman who leaves his wife and home to join his brother at sea, and the heavy price he pays for his actions. Based upon Guy de Maupassant’s short story At Sea, this will haunt you long after you put it down. As is the way with Sammy’s work, this is a lavish if limited printing.


Buy Everything Together – Collected Stories s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Fish + Chocolate h/c new version/restocks (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Kate Brown.

A sublime confluence of words and pictures with the palette of Paul Duffield and Josh Middleton; if you love the art on FREAKANGELS or SKY BETWEEN BRANCHES you will adore these three stories, each of which is in its way is about parenthood.

The first two feature single mothers: the first with two boys, the second with a young girl perfectly content to play round their countryside cottage and its gently sloping Garden of new Earthly Delights. There she finds a cherry tree laden with fruit. She picks one. Her mother composes on the piano upstairs.

The boys miss their father whom they haven’t seen in months, and the oldest wants a television in his room. Their mother argues with her editor but meets up with a friend. It’s a perfectly lovely day and they have much to discuss. There’s an odd-looking man with barely any eyebrows sitting on his lawn by the path. He whistles through a split blade of grass. The boys are curious.

The tunes may not come easily especially when distracted and the man is a little unnerving, but everything on the surface seems pretty much serene. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find skeletons buried and sudden trauma in store, as the tranquillity of sleepy suburbia and that bucolic beauty are shredded by shrieks of wholly unexpected violence. I’m not even going to touch on the third tale (although sneakily I have) but the cover’s stark warning of “explicit content” is far from alarmist.

Oh, but this artist can write! Nothing here is predictable or simplistic, and it was a joy to discover a brand new voice unlike any I’d encountered before, yet the art will sell itself to you all on its own. There’s one particular sequence involving a violin string and a music score which is a visual triumph: a fusion then cascade so clever it is breathtaking. Moreover we have another contender for best rain ever in comics as the sky bursts open, the water cascades and the downpour drowns the cherry tree in a curtain of spray.


Buy Fish + Chocolate h/c and read the Page 45 review here

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Sarah Glidden…

This is a graphic novel that anyone who has an opinion – informed or just shooting from the lip – on the ‘Palestinian situation’ ought to read. It’s a brilliant work for several reasons, underpinned by the fact that the author finds herself in a position familiar to many modern American Jews of a liberal (i.e. sane) political persuasion. She feels she should inherently be pro-Israeli because she’s Jewish, yet quite correctly believes that the average Palestinian is getting an extremely rough deal at the hands of the Israeli state. But like the vast majority of people who’ve never been to Israeli, Jews and non-Jews alike, she’s aware that her viewpoints are inevitably informed by the political spin and media she’s exposed to constantly, and that she therefore can’t really comprehend the day to day realities of life for Palestinians and Israelis, much less make a definitive judgement on who exactly is to blame for the lack of resolution of the ‘situation.’

As a young Jewish person she’s entitled to make a ten-day ‘Birthright Israel’ trip, wholly funded by the Israeli government, ostensibly to deepen the Jewish identity of Jews living outside Israel, and strengthen their ties to their religious homeland. Sarah’s expectations beforehand are that it’ll be a full-on propaganda blitz designed to convince her that all Palestinians are evil, but in fact the trip provides a rather balanced exploration of the history of the founding of Israeli with some subtle and, yes, a little not-so-subtle propaganda thrown in. Consequently she finds her prejudices challenged and the need to revise her preconceptions on more than one occasion.

This book works on several different levels. Aside from anything else, it’s an excellent autobiographical travel memoir comparable to works by Guy Delisle or Joe Sacco, which is humorously written and wonderfully illustrated. It pokes fun at Israelis (as most definitely distinct from Jews), some of whose youth – if you’ve ever done any backpacking yourself you will know – can be some of the most abrasive individuals you could ever wish not to meet. And certainly, not more than once in any event. I was personally greatly amused that Sarah took the time to highlight this little, yet rather widely observed, national idiosyncrasy.

Secondly, it’s an honest and factually accurate lesson in the history of the formation and early years of the state of Israel. The early Israeli politicians like David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, were not your run of the mill two-faced politicos of the type we have to endure in most countries around the world today. They were first and foremost nation-builders who, as Ben-Gurion was actually brave enough to publicly state, quite regretfully knew what they were taking away from the Palestinians, and therefore knew what the likely consequences would be for generations to come. But to ensure the continued survival of the Jewish race, they simply didn’t believe they had another choice. Compared to some of the ‘difficult’ decisions our so-called politicians claim they have to make on a near daily basis these days, you can’t imagine the burden of having to make such a momentous decision as to found the state of Israel, knowing you were in effect declaring war on all your neighbours and also people living within your own borders.

The warm and even-handed presentation of Sarah’s own journey of discovery about the history of Israel would have actually been enough to make a great travel memoir, but then we also get something else which elevates this work even further in my opinion. Having presented the perceived rights and wrongs of both sides’ cases through the people she meets and talks with during her time in Israel, we then get shown the case for hope, real genuine hope that there are at least some people on both sides of the divide who want to put the conflict behind them. And that there is a way of looking at the conflict that is neither solely Israeli nor Palestinian. Although, unfortunately this clarity of vision for those concerned has come about through very painful and personal losses…

“One Day we got a call from the leader of Family Forum. He asked if he could come to speak to us at our new home.
“For us it was new to hear from an Israeli Jew. When he came it was shocking because he was religious but when he started talking about how his son was killed it didn’t matter than he was Jewish and we were Arab. We just saw that he was human and had our same pain.
“Now through activities with the Family Forum in Palestine we spread our messages of peace and reconciliation. We have to rehumanize the others. The main idea is that you have to talk to someone on the other side.
“We ask only one thing of you and that is not to be pro-Israeli or pro-Palestine, but to be pro-peace. And when you go back to your country explain to your friends about what we do here and help them be pro-peace too.
“Thank you.”


Buy How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Not My Bag (£9-99, Image) by Sina Grace…

A delicate wallflower of a comicbook artist is forced to enter the murky world of fashion retail to make ends meet and it’s pretty certain from the get go that it probably isn’t going to end well. But, much like any other casual summer romance, there could be some fun and frolics along the way. And indeed there will be, for us readers anyway, if not quite so much for the main character, though he certainly throws himself into his new role with abandon, to begin with, until the cold, hard realities of working in retail begin to hit home.

I did chuckle throughout this work from Sina Grace, not least because “Not my bag” was the favourite catchphrase of a long-tenured and rather world-weary colleague in a former workplace, who used it at least five times a day whilst dodging pretty much any and all tasks which were pushed his way. He did it with such carefree nonchalance he actually managed to get away with it, even when it was the MD himself asking. If you ever really tried to insist that he do something, you would then probably get a “Whoo-hoo, I’m not your man for that,” before he would walk off whistling to himself, whilst you shook your head in disbelief. Anyway, I digress.

Sina has crafted a work of real humour here, which anyone who has ever had to do a job they knew deep down wasn’t really right for them, not just in retail, would appreciate. That’s pretty much just about everyone then! There are the usual collection of characters you’d expect in such an environment including the shark-natured salespeople, the asshole bosses and the gullible customers. (Note: Page 45 has no gullible customers: you are to be commended for your enthusiastic reception of our sincerest recommendations!) Initially at least our artist revels in his brave new world, gradually learning how to work his marks, ring up the sales and get that all important commission.

He’s been spotted by the new boss and virtually promised a promotion onto the real high-end brands as soon as a spot becomes available. Except, of course, that isn’t going to happen, and as he gradually works out for himself that his boss is a two-faced piece of sh*t, his initial enthusiasm starts to wane, then evaporate very rapidly indeed. The question now, though, is whether he’s become addicted to his larger paycheques (and all important staff discount!) or whether he’s got the self respect to walk away.

A great little fun work with lovely art which looked to me like a harmonious blend of Peter Kuyper and Andi Watson, if you can picture that!


Not My Bag

Alan Moore’s Another Suburban Romance restocks (£5-99, Avatar) by Alan Moore, Antony Johnston & Jose Ryp.

Just enough is what Moore and Johnston have delivered amongst the carnage of Ryp’s beautiful pen line. Like Geoff Darrow on HARD BOILED, it’s all detail and destruction, so don’t judge this book by its improbably ugly cover: the real goods lie inside. I loved the Alsatian with the machine-gun choker and the hurricane left in The Hairy One’s wake and, as I said, the information overload is quietly countered by a minimum of language. The series of three shorts read like poetical pop promos, as a chap pops out for a summertime stroll (well, maybe), the second short reports a glamour of gunfire and, finally, old man Alan plays the Pied Piper, and takes in the trash for a final defiant romance.


Buy Alan Moore’s Another Suburban Romance and read the Page 45 review here

Mudman vol 1 (£7-50, Image) by Paul Grist.

Oh, how I love Paul Grist! He’s the comicbook equivalent of Alan Bennett: a national treasure that I imagine constantly taking tea, possibly with cake, and almost certainly still darning socks.

Perhaps best known for Kane – with its unique blend of wit-ridden crime with the most meticulously placed shadows – Grist also has a soft spot for superheroes. That always makes me smile. That they are British superheroes only Paul Grist could get away with, and that’s because they are entirely testosterone-free. And genuinely British, gentle, with our love of self-mockery, not aping Americans like CAPTAIN Gaudypants BRITAIN used to.

This is ever so British and delightfully old-fashioned, set at the seaside with socks and sandals, and penny arcades on piers. Candyfloss too, plus two clod-hopping thieves, one with a mild brummy accent.

15-year-old Owen Craig lives in Burnbridge-on-Sea with his sister and Dad who’s a DC with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary. His best mate’s Jack Newton and together they’ve just broken into the old Scooby Doo house right on the coast, overlooking a perilous patch of quicksand.

“When I was seven my Dad told me about this crazy old guy who used to live here. One night there was this epic storm. Thunder, lightning, all that. And in the middle of it all, the old guy climbs on the roof. He’s just ranting and raving at the storm – proper mental like. There was this huge explosion – the sky lit up an’ everything – and the storm just stopped. Nobody ever saw that old guy again. An’ no one’s ever lived here since.
“Mind you, my Dad told me a lot of stuff when I was seven. Most of it turned out to be lies. Ow!”

Owen fumbles for a light switch. He finds a switch all right, but more is revealed that he counted on. Then he’s discovered, chased onto the sands and shot three times in the back.

The beauty of all this is the structure. You don’t see what happens next. Instead you fast-forward to Owen waking in up his bed. He thinks it’s a dream, but it isn’t. The second chapter then mirrors the first, seen from the assailants’ perspective. And then there are flashbacks and, oh, bit by bit, bit by bit….

I say the beauty of all this is the structure, but I lied. The true beauty lies not within but without: the layout of each page and the exquisite style of Paul’s deft drawing. I adore his body forms, as lank as you like and flattened to extremes. They twist and curve so beautifully yet retain far more weight that most other artists’ do on the page. It’s the postures, so effortlessly dynamic without the hard rendering of, say, Scott Williams on Jim Lee’s pencils. I’ve often made comparisons to Frank Miller as reinterpreted by Nabiel Kanan but those are mere references: no one does Paul Grist at all. It’s so exuberant and the only other pages I can think of which are so free from clutter are Andi Watson’s. The cover to the first issue, reprinted here prior to kick-off, is possibly the cutest superhero I have ever seen in my life.

To begin with its small-scale but there’s a much wider web being woven which involves ancient enemies and dire repercussions and a mysterious woman who appears to young Owen Craig – and Owen Craig only – much as she looked forty years ago: on a library microfiche of a local newspaper under suspicion of something quite shocking. It’s no wonder Owen’s Dad blanched at the photograph.


Buy Mudman vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Mind The Gap vol 1: Intimate Strangers (£7-50, Image) by Jim McCann & Rodin Esquejo…

This work starts with the main character in a coma after a brutal attack by persons unknown and by the end of this volume I rather felt like I was in danger of slipping into one too. The basic premise seems to be that Ellie, the coma victim in question, is watching subsequent real world events unfold from a limbo-like zone where other coma victims at the same hospital have also gathered and can interact with each other. She is different from the others however, in that she is able to enter other coma victims’ bodies just before they die, allowing her to briefly interact with the real world. Her attacker meanwhile is still at large, and her wealthy and rather unpleasant family may or may not be involved somehow. I can’t imagine I will bother reading the second volume to find out though.


Buy Mind The Gap vol 1: Intimate Strangers and read the Page 45 review here

Justice League Dark vol 1 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin…

I don’t really like making negative comments about anything by Peter Milligan, but HELLBLAZER this is most certainly not, at least so far anyway. I can just imagine the editorial meeting where the great and good decided that sticking all the various magical / odd characters that don’t have / can’t sustain their own title in one monthly comic, glued together with a sprinkle of Constantine, would be a sure fire hit in the most delightful way. After all, characters like Shade The Changing Man, MADAME XANADU, Deadman, Zatanna et al are pretty interesting in their own right, it’s just this feels rather contrived, written purely to bring all the cast together as expediently as possibly, despite some amusing exchanges and dialogue throughout. Hopefully once we get into some proper stories things might improve as Milligan is certainly way, way better than this.


Buy Justice League Dark vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Punisher Max: Homeless s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon…

A fitting conclusion to Jason Aaron’s non-continuity run in which pretty much everybody dies with the body count reaching truly prodigious levels, as the Kingpin and Frank enter their mutual and most assuredly destructive end game. But fret ye not, MAX fans, as the baddest eye-patch-toting landlubber of them all, Nick Fury himself will also have his own MAX series.


Buy Punisher Max: Homeless s/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.
Mrs Weber’s Omnibus (£20-00, Jonathan Cape) by Posy Simmonds

The Lost Art Of Ah Pook Is Here h/c (£29-99, Fantagraphics) by William Burroughs & Malcom McNeill

Dockwood h/c (£13-95, Nobrow Press) by Jon McNaught

Comic Sketchbooks (£24-95, Thames & Hudson) by various

This Is Not My Hat h/c (£11-99, Walker Books) by Jon Klassen

Hilda And The Bird Parade h/c (£11-95, Nobrow Press) by Luke Pearson

Mutts Treasury: Bonk! (£14-99, AMP) by Patrick McDonnell

Ralph Azham vol 1: Why Would You Lie To Someone You Love? h/c (£10-99, Fantagraphics) by Lewis Trondheim

Doctor Who: The Child Of Time (£16-99, BBC) by various

Huntress vol 1: Crossbow At The Crossroads s/c (£10-99, DC) by Paul Levitz & Marcus To

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America vol 2 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, Gil Kane

Spider-Man: Flying Blind s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Mark Waid & Humerto Ramos, Emma Rios, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Kano

Astonishing X-Men: Exalted s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Greg Pak, Warren Ellis & Mike McKone, Adi Granov

Wandering Son vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Shimura Takako

Gantz vol 25 (£9-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroya Oku

Limit vol 1 (£8-50, Vertical) by Keiko Suenobu

Nana vol 1 (£6-99, Viz) by Ai Yazawa

Totally off-topic, but I was watching someone restore my internet connection, totally absorbed in what they were doing, and felt the same quietly ecstatic, vicarious buzz tingle up the back of my neck which I first experienced watching my uncle play with my metal toy fire engine aged 3. I’ve never been able to identify what this sensation actually was nor heard anyone else mention but, on Twitter, @jadedlyco responded with this on ASMR, and it’s perfect.

 – Stephen

Hope Larson & Bryan Lee O’Malley Signing Sunday December 9th at Page 45!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Oh my days, I cannot contain myself.

We have our very own wrinkle in time: it’s like six years never passed!



Page 45 deliriously presents…

The triumphant return of Bryan Lee O’Malley and Hope Larson!

So good to see Bryan during the Scott Pilgrim film furore, but I did miss Hope terribly. You know that they took time out of their honeymoon to sign here exclusively back in 2006…? Who would even do that? These two lovelies! Hope tells me that until the release of A WRINKLE IN TIME it remained her most successful signing anywhere in the world to date.

You made that happen!

Shall we do it again?

“We certainly shall! But when?”

Oh, my kitty-kins, these are the deetz! The deetz! (I know these words.)

The Time: 1pm to 4pm
The Date: Sunday 9th December
The Place: Page 45 (click for destination details!)

The Standard Procedure After Passing Out: Oh, just lie there and let us do the rest.

We Have (click on titles for reviews):

Hope Larson:

(A WRINKLE IN TIME preview here)

Bryan Lee O’Malley:

SCOTT PILGRIM VOL 2 COLOUR EDITION (IN STOCK NOW! Pay and select “collect in-store”  for any book to be waiting for you here on the day guaranteed!)




By both:

Bryan Lee O’Malley & Hope Larson 2006 Scott Pilgrim poster.

Page 45 World Exclusive. Original printing, quantities now very limited indeed!

We Will Have:

A brand new Hope Larson / Bryan Lee O’Malley jam print on the day!

Another Page 45 Worldwide Exclusive!

That’s right, available nowhere and nowhen else. Have you booked your train tickets yet? It’s departing from Platform Oh My God right now!

Terms And Conditions

“There are terms and conditions?!”

There is etiquette.

Bryan and Hope will sign everything you have of theirs. Everything. You can bring it or buy it, but please buy something. It’s only the nice thing to do.

They will also each do you a lovely little sketch. One sketch each per person. Which is awfully nice of them, for free.

But each will only sketch if you have in your possession a book by them. That means that Bryan will not sketch in your folder if you do not have one of his books, and Hope will not sketch if you don’t have one of hers.

The jam prints they will still both sign for free!

Folks, these creators are very much in demand and they don’t have to do this, so please respect the etiquette. I will be right behind them, and if I see anyone rude enough to ask for a second sketch and so holding up others queuing patiently, or requesting a sketch without bringing or buying a book by the relevant creator, I will shout Off With Your Heads! (Please have a return address ready for said heads.)

On The Day:

Turn up early, buy stuff, buy more stuff, start the queue outside the door (the queue starts outside the door but not in the actual doorway, please), get one of us to hold your place, buy even more stuff and then join us back in the queue. If you can’t control yourself while Larson and Malley are signing your stuff (by which we mean books and prints not your, you know, stuff…) and want to buy even more books and posters then we really can’t stop you. Just give us a shout: we’ll be on the other side of the till with your credit card still in our hands.

We’ll also be waltzing up and down the line all day long saying hello, answering your questions and – yes – even holding your place in the queue!

If you have any questions, phone 0115 9508045

Keep Up To Date:

Hope Larson’s website
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s website
Page 45’s twitter

We apologise for that, by the way.

– Stephen

Reviews October 2012 week three

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012


Kieron Gillen & Antony Johnston signing at Page 45 on Tuesday 23rd October from 5pm to 6.30pm! Details including links to their books and their wider involvement in GameCity7 on Monday and Tuesday, oh yes: 

Kieron Gillen & Antony Johnston signing at Page 45.

The Understanding Monster book one h/c (£16-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth.

Mean kids are hiding inside your walls.

“I’m making a TV show about your painful decline. It’s on right now!”
“All of your friends are actually me in disguise.”

It is a long time since I’ve read a graphic novel so effectively singular – by which I mean of its own mind, unique.

And it’s very much the matters of the mind at stake here: the struggle so many people endure to forge forward when weighed down – when pulled down – by self-doubt and crippling terrors: the what-ifs of a fear-ridden future; all the terrible things that might happen or what people might say if you do this, that, or anything at all. It can incapacitate you completely. But if one could just turn the Very Important Corner, if one could just… take… the first… step…

That amongst so much more is buried within this extraordinarily tense, visually dense and oh-so-cleverly phrased exploration of a house whose occupants are anything but human and the rooms which we house in our minds. But this is Theo Ellsworth (CAPACITY, SLEEPER CAR, Bound And Gagged) so if you think it is even a fraction as straightforward as that might sound, you are very much mistaken. Once you start in on all the finely nuanced neologisms, you will see precisely what I mean.

““Izadore: The wall that contains your Phantom Skeleton has developed into a mural depicting This Way That Way in inner-space gear, riding an animal guide through a time-crystal field. A giant-sized action figure wearing a multi-dimensional shocks absorption helmet and holding a vehicular wizard staff is suddenly standing guard in front. – Inspector Gimble”
Stop. Fold. Send.

Yes, there’s a sequence of virtuoso, full-page spreads in which the voices of encouragement from without are presented in short bursts of electronic letters “posted” through the panel borders (or walls of the house) to Izadore who’s still struggling to comprehend his/her/its predicament within those panels.

“You really are a house. You’re a room inside yourself.”

I swear that all of this makes perfect sense within the context of the book, the precisely illuminated pages, and the physical and metaphysical quests themselves: every single one of those phrases above. Theo Ellsworth’s love of language is very much in evidence, for there are some fabulous names for the procession of arcane toys and assembled entities: Gortle Piggit, Gallaptor, Prince Bobbins and The-Floor-Is-Water-To-Me – a crocodilian creature which can surface through ripples in the floorboards.

“I remember Heptop. I remember Roytokto. I remember Nestilikose Hom. I remember Williker Nasp and the doll he created to make decisions for him. I remember Tellittome and the tiny version of himself that lived inside his head named Tongue. I remember Milna Parpit, who was the first of them to ever make rooms inside of herself so she could provide others with shelter and entertainment.”

Oh, it’s so clever and so resoundingly lush. There are textures and patterns everywhere: wool, woven linen, ornamental wallpaper, feathered scales and whorled wood. Within the ultra-inventive panel and page configurations the colours are dark and opaque and speak of ancient homes: greens and blues and rich, ruddy-brown wood and fur. Fur? Izadore first manifests itself as a mouse. Very timid and susceptible to distractions.


It all begins when the clock strikes Negative Nine.


Buy The Understanding Monster book one h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Hipster Hitler(£12-99, Feralhouse) by James Carr, Archana Kumar…

“We totes defs doing a close-up of the SS guards. Their uniform is a total synecdoche for the Reich.”
“But mein Fuhrer, while I love the SS uniforms… I don’t think we should make it a focal point. Just look at how angular it is – those sharp lines. How dead black its hue is. The hat is even adorned with a skull! Don’t you think it looks a bit like the embodiment of pure evil?”
“Exactly! And since we’re the good guys, it’s the ultimate irony!”

I literally howled with laughter throughout this work. I do understand that whilst there are those who might feel Austria’s most famous export is not wholly suitable for comedic use, in any medium, I would equally counter that there are few more ridiculous historical figures, and thus in fact he is quite fair game. Let’s be honest, people have been taking the piss out of Hitler since the classic 1940s movie The Great Dictator starring a certain Charlie Chaplin, possibly the last other person to also rock the toothbrush moustache until Robert Mugabe… Both I should add, Chaplin and Mugabe, make brief cameos in this work to great effect! At this point, to further set the scene I’m going to quote a little of the not-so-great man’s faux hipster-bio as envisaged by the two creators…

‘Hipster Hitler. It just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Hitler has climbed out of the history books and into a pair of skinny jeans to fully embrace the subculture we all knew he loved. Failed artist, vegetarian, animal rights activist, asshole – it just all fits. He refused to crawl until he was four because all the other babies were doing it, and had to be carried around in a small basket which he weaved himself. Eventually he escaped his humble town and moved to bustlingVienna, where he learned how to play synth and hate ethnic minorities.’

What follows is an alternative look at Hipster Hitler’s life from his service in World War I, through his rise to power, WWII and his eventual demise in his bunker, plus highlighting his love for synth and counter culture along the way. All the important points in history are noted, just not recounted exactly quite how you might remember them…

“Well mein Fuhrer, we’ve done it! The whole world is talking about our invasion of Poland.”
“Let me see that.”
“Ah Fuhrer, fret not. You’re not a monster, that headline…”
“It’s not that! <sob> Those cretins… they’re calling it a sequel! I’m progressive! They could at least call it something like ‘The Adolf Hitler Project.’”

And, if the reimagining of the historical record were not enough, then there are Hipster Hitler’s T-Shirts. In every strip he’s wearing a different white T-shirt emblazoned with a Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’ style message. To finish off here are a few of my favourites though they are pretty much all chuckle-worthy…

Three Reichs And You’re Out
Eastside, Westside, Genocide
I Feel LikeDanzig
The Impertinence Of Being Ernst
WhoseRhineIs It Anyway?
1941: A Race Odyssey
WeimarGuitar Gently Weeps


Buy Hipster Hitler and read the Page 45 review here

Adolfsson: Mattias Unfiltered: The Sketchbook Art Of Mattias Adolfsson (£12-99, Boom!) by Mattias Adolfsson.

Roll up, roll up for a carnival of creatures – an art book as entertainment, as dotty as you like, with the most exquisite lines imaginable!

See: A Hen With A Pen, A Frog On A Log, a duck that is stuck, A Dog With Eggnog and a Fish On A Dish! Why? It simply amuses him. See also: a series of Bad Posture Droids, a study of gormless mechs slouched at worryingly bad angles that are in for years of chronic, electronic sciatica. Someone tell them to sit up straight!

There are buildings, buildings everywhere on not a drip of ink: on heads as hats, threaded through branches, the most mobile of homes (on stilts that are… harnessed to cows), and may I humbly suggest that for your next international foray you fly Baroque Air? If its festooned fuselage is anything to go by, you will be reclining in comfy, velveteen armchairs in front of a blazing fireplace roasting chestnuts to be consumed with port & cheese or damson gin.

“You’ve go to say yes to a-nother excess.”

This is howling with wit. “Refuse to be a prisoner of reality!” it exhorts while presenting the new Vanishing Point 700. Yes, enhance your strolling with this rolling contraption affixed to your bonce then stretched out in front of you in two scrolling screens. It matters not what actually lies to your left or right – it could beMilton Keynes– what you will see instead you may select for yourself: Out Of Africa, The Pride Of Nero or even Gothic Surprise. Nota Bene: The Pride Of Nero may give you cause to call the local fire brigade. Please don’t.


Buy Adolfsson: Mattias Unfiltered: The Sketchbook Art Of Mattias Adolfsson and read the Page 45 review here

Saga vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.

Almost everything worthwhile in life requires some sort of sacrifice.

“Then I offer up this.”
“Marko, no. You just took out a whole platoon with that thing.”
“Exactly. When a man carries an instrument of violence, he’ll always find the justification for using it. If we really want to escape this war, we have to stop bringing it with us.”
“But I thought that sword’s been in your family for a thousand generations!”
“It’s still just a thing, Alana. Besides…”

Marko cracks the sword in two.

“… you’re my family now.”

Alana and Izabel watch Marko move off.

“So noble.”
“You’re not ditching that raygun, are you?”
“Not a fucking chance.”

Welcome to the most joyous, startling and mischievous science fiction epic I have ever encountered in comics. There be willies and boobage – are you bothered?

It’s about the revelation that is love overcoming ideologically driven hatred; it’s about procreation versus extermination; it’s about the insanity of war and the price to be paid.

From the writer of EX MACHINA, Y – THE LAST MAN and PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, half the draw here comes in the form of Fiona Staple’s Alana and Marko, two of the most beautiful individuals I’ve ever encountered. Their expressions are infectious, whether it be Alana’s eyes smiling up between her flop of green hair or Marko’s tearful joy at the birth of their child. Her name is Hazel and she bears the embryonic stumps of her father’s curled ram-horns and her mother’s green wings. It’s the last moment’s peace they’ll know for some time.

Marko and Alana’s peoples have been at war with each other for as long as anyone can remember. Alana comes from the planet Landfall, Marko from its moon called Wreath. But both races realised that either world’s destruction would cause the other to spin out of orbit. Instead of coming to an accord, however, they took their fight elsewhere, right across the galaxy, using other planets as their playground and even contracting out.

Caught in that crossfire is the planet called Cleave. Alana and Marko are trapped there, each wanted by their relative factions for desertion: she specifically for abandoning her post and aiding the enemy to the escape; he for fraternizing with the enemy and “betraying The Narrative”. Worse still, they have mated, producing a beautiful baby called Hazel. This unholy union is despised by all sides and, for morale’s sake – to ensure no one else gets the wretched idea that love might be better than hatred – all traces of it must be eradicated.

Prince Robot IV, from a race of walking, talking TV sets who’ve sold themselves out to the highest bidder, is dispatched to Cleave, forbidden by his kingly dad to return home until his new mission is accomplished. The “moonies” of Wreath, on the other hand, have opted to employ individual assassins: The Will and The Stalk. Both are lethal, and potentially to each other for they are ex-lovers and it’s only the first past the punitive post that gets to grab the lovely lolly.

Now, I did say it was startling, and I’ve left you to be startled: by The Stalk (she is… unusual), the Lying Cat (very, very funny), the pleasures of Sextillion (sumptuously coloured), let alone the fate of the indigenous population of Cleave.

But the best thing by far is the relationship between Marko and Alana which will be sorely tested by their struggle to negotiate a terrain they barely know whilst protecting their child, all in search of a way off-world within the Rocketship Forest. Which may just be a myth. It’s on those sorts of expeditions, under those sorts of pressures, that you really get to know the other person. Especially when one’s feverish and blurts something out. Like the name of his childhood sweetheart… whom he was engaged to!

“Alana, I was delusional! I was dying! But now I’m alive, and that’s thanks to the last woman I ever want to be with.”
“You sure? You don’t have any “unfinished business” I should know about?”
“Not on my end… though I suppose Gwendolyn might like her rings back someday.”
“You gave me another woman’s wedding ring?!”
“Actually, they belonged to Gwen’s grandparents. They spoke two different dialects of Wreath’s native tongue, so they had their rings enchanted with a translator spell. I thought you and I might be able to put them to better use.”
“Great, so we can add “scorned woman with missing jewels” to the long list of people who want us dead?”
“Alana, I’m sorry. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
“Maybe. Just tell me your weren’t lying when you said I’m the hottest chick you’ve ever slept with.”
“I swear! Gwendolyn may have been tall, but her hips were boyish, not womanly like yours.”
“You know, for a pacifist, you sure beg to get stabbed a lot.”

He really does.


Buy Saga vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Valentine vol 1 : The Ice Death (£18-99, Image) by Alex de Campi & Christine Lampi.

“In Russia,this land of Ravens.
“Where the day’s high was -20F and the nights were 16 hours long.
“Where at Malo-Yaroslavets God turned his back on the Grande Armée.
“And where at Beresina even the devil walked away.”

Russia, December 1812.

500,000 soldiers had marched in from France; a mere 50,000 staggered out. Lieutenant Valentine Renaud of the 7th Hussars has somehow made it through, but right now he and Captain Oscar Levy are lost in the interminable blizzard which has claimed so many and now claims another – a woman trapped under a sledge. Desperately they try lifting her free, but the bugger won’t budge and the blood is already pouring from the doomed lady’s waist. Her escort pressed a linen bundle into Valentine’s hand, urging him to flee and deliver it to Ney. Inside is a sword and Valentine’s going to need it: they’ve been totally outflanked, surrounded by snow-blown silhouettes of cavalry warriors armed to the teeth. This is the 19th Century. So why are their eyes glowing red?

The colours inRussiaby artist Christen Larsen are absolutely freezing: some very special effects. I should add, while we’re here, that those by Tim Durning are equally effective especially during the big surprise halfway through when they alter so radically you may want to wear sunglasses. Sorry…? No, I said it was a “surprise”.

Keeping that one intact requires me keeping schtum about the whole second half, but I’ll give you a bit more of the first: those aren’t ordinary soldiers. They’re Tenebrae, as bent on extinguishing light as The Dawn is on spreading it. Two ancient factions at war with each other while stuck on the part of this mortal coil which we call Earth. The Tenebrae can take many aspects, just like The Dawn. What’s more they are everywhere, though you’ll rarely glimpse them these days. The magic, you see, is fading. And that… that’s made them desperate.

From the writer of SMOKE (long out of print) and the forthcoming ASHES comes a far-from-all-ages fantastical horror story with an evidently epic scope. I say “evidently” for I’ve not seen it online. I only do that for research – keeps things fresh for me when I review them in print. And when I type “far-from-all-ages” there are, as Floella Benjamin would say, “scenes of a sexy nature”. Also: cussin’.

If I could return to the art, there are several pages of a multi-form swarm of Tenebrae in a close-up so effective that it feels like the creatures are brushing your face. And that’s not nice.

What an utterly terrifying cover, by the way.


Buy Valentine vol 1: The Ice Death and read the Page 45 review here

Crossed vol 4 s/c (£18-99, Avatar) by Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano & Jacen Burrows, Leandro Rizzo…

“So Gregory… what’s the worst atrocity you came across so far?”
“Hard to say… probably the boy-scout totem pole was the weirdest. A dozen kids kebabed on that flag-staff. Still can’t figure how the fuck they got them up there.”
“Cool… it get you hot?”
“Shit no! Why would you ask a sick thing like that?”
“Just curious”
“Jesus lady, you’re pretty dark sometimes.”

Yes she most certainly is, our Steve, former military intelligence officer with a penchant for torture developed during multiple tours of Afghanistan, interrogating detainees. Well, just plain brutalising them for her and her comrades’ amusement, frankly. Which makes her the perfect person to survive, nay thrive, in the world of the CROSSED, eh? Gregory on the other hand is just a typical bloke, albeit with a love of the great outdoors and fishing, hunting and camping, which explains, along with a huge slice of luck, how he’s manage to survive a full year since it all began. They’ve become unlikely road buddies after a chance meeting on the off-road dirt trails heading through the countryside towardFlorida. They’re going to encounter a few more random survivors too as they head deeper into the Everglades, gradually moving towards the coast. One or two of those survivors are actually even going to be friendly because in this world, it’s not necessarily the Crossed who are the most dangerous…

Again, much like CROSSED: WISHED YOU WERE HERE, this volume, with a short three-issue starter from Garth Ennis, then a much longer six-issue arc from HELLBLAZER legend Jamie Delano, has got the franchise firmly back in the realms of sick, black-humoured horror, albeit extreme, truly horrifically scary horror, of course, rather than the out-and-out, unremittingly bleak gore fest / torture-porn territory which Lapham had taken us into. Thus there is much to find simultaneously amusing yet shudder-worthy in both stories, which are genuinely engrossing tales too, and I can therefore once again say this is a title I will be happy to recommend to people looking for something a little… outside the norm, shall we say. Also, welcome back Jamie! The plan, I believe, is to keep rotating writers on this title, but I do hope he gets another turn because I really have missed his story-telling and this title is absolutely made for him.


Buy Crossed vol 4 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Hellblazer: The Devil’s Trench Coat (£12-99, Vertigo) by Peter Milligan & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini…

“Yes, there is a stench.
“It’s the stench of me. Of him. That ghost that lurks between blended cotton with Gannex twill.
“The auction lasts four days.
“Of course Mussie’s not the only soul who’s interested…
“But I’ve already decided who I’ll wear next.”

If case you’ve not worked it out, our narrator is in fact John’s trench coat, stolen from him out of spite by his niece Gemma, though given she hasn’t quite got over the fact she was fiddled with by John’s demon doppelganger on Constantine’s wedding day to Epiphany, daughter of the local East End crime boss, it’s reasonably understandable. It would seem the coat in question, having been exposed to all sorts of magic and general weirdness over the years, plus not least simply just being worn byConstantine, has developed a rather warped mind of its own. Free of the unconscious control of its previous owner, it now wants to have some fun and that almost certainly is going to spell serious trouble for anyone who tries it on…

Loving Milligan’s run and very nice to see a cameo from the First of the Fallen, still smarting at missing out on the soul of John’s mate Brendan, all those years ago. Meanwhile, John wants to try and make things right with Gemma once and for all, but for that to happen he’s going to need to make a trip down under (and no I don’t mean Australia) to persuade the soul of his sister, Gemma’s mum, that she doesn’t need to punish herself anymore by voluntarily staying in Hell. It’s going to require an extremely high stakes wager with a certain devil to even get a chance of achieving his goal, but that just makes the challenge all the sweeter for our Scouse ne’er do well. Of course, nothing is ever quite so simple in Constantine’s world, as John finds out precisely why his sister is still tormenting herself so long after her death. I don’t want to give that little secret away, but I’m pretty sure it’s a plot thread Milligan will be following up on before too long!


Buy Hellblazer: The Devil’s Trench Coat and read the Page 45 review here

Point Of Impact #1 of 4 (£2-25, Image) by Jay Faerber & Koray Kuranel.

Brace yourself.

A young couple in a car is saying goodnight, and arranging a dinner for Saturday. Something smashes onto the roof with such ferocity they’re almost killed in the crash. It’s the body of a beautiful blonde woman, smartly dressed, and she is quite, quite dead.

Journalist Mitchell Rafferty is working late, putting a piece to bed. Thankfully his wife, Nicole, has made plans with her sister because he knows she can’t cook to save her life. When he finally gets home, he is knackered. Unfortunately his wife’s not there, but someone else is, rifling furiously through his draws. Someone in a mask with a military tattoo. It gets very violent very quickly until there’s a knock on the door. It’s detective Abby Warren with very bad news. The intruder escapes with a laptop.

Simon from technical calls Abby Warren: they were working on Nicole Rafferty’s cell phone when a call came in. They traced it. The caller was one Patrick Boone, ex-army with a record and – yes – that very same tattoo. Oh, you think it’s that obvious? Now read the comic itself: specifically the bits I missed out like, oh, I don’t know… that voicemail.

Full marks to the artist for the very first panel showing the crime scene under investigation. Immediately I jotted down a note: “How can someone falling from a rooftop land on a car parked that far away from the building?” She’d have had to have taken a running jump, which is a wee bit difficult in stilettos. It certainly wasn’t suicide. You get exactly the same sense of improbability when Abby’s looking down from above. Full marks also for the art itself, reminiscent in places of Klaus Janson – especially the faces – and Frank Miller’s SINCITY style when it came to the bed linen. Clean, crisp architecture too. As to the cover… that’s an instant seller and, unusually, an additional clue to the story.


Buy Point Of Impact #1 by dialling 0115 9508045 from a public phone booth or hacking into our mainframe using

Blue Estate vol 3: Preserves (£9-99, Image) by Viktor Kalvachev & Kosta Yanev…

“I give you two thousand.”
“Three… and you get the storm trooper mask out of hock.”

Alright! It’s time to get into that Blue Estate state of mind one more time, as this third volume wraps up woeful P.I. Roy Devine Jr.’s big case. (Don’t worry though, there will be more!) So, as Rachel Maddox wonders just how it’s possible her life has gone to complete ratshit so quickly, it seems, as incredibly unlikely as this does seem, that Roy Jr. might be her only chance of getting away from a total clusterfuck of a situation with her life. She’s wanted by the Russian mob who think she’s in on the death of her husband, their favourite money launderer, B-movie legend Bruce Maddox, because some surveillance pics Roy Jr. took seemed to suggest she was having an affair with Tony Luciano, the dumb-ass son of local Capo of Capos Don Luciano.

The Russians assumption, not entirely erroneous as it turns out (just not for the reasons that they think), is that the Italians were behind the hit, and now it looks like it’s going to be all-out war, with Rachel caught in the middle. All she actually wanted to do was get her real-estate-selling brother out of trouble with Tony after he sold him a house riddled with termites. Yes, termites are going to prove to be pretty significant in this volume, and more than once, as events finally reach their inevitably farcical conclusion! Good job Roy Sr. the local police captain (and a legion of SWAT shooters), who really does frequently wonder just how Roy Jr. could ever possibly be the seed of his loins, is on hand to make it a three-way shoot out to the finish…

I have absolutely loved this first story arc from start to finish, or season one as the creators are calling it. Given the current crime-wave we’re in the middle of at the moment with such classic books like CRIMINAL, PARKER and THIEF OF THIEVES, it takes an angle to compete, nay stand out, and Blue Estate is working all the angles, baby. All those aforementioned books are great, but Blue Estate has humour in spades to boot too. As I mentioned in a previous review, it’s absolutely genius to set this work in La La Land, because that city is genuinely full of characters just as kookie, whacked out and crazy as you’re going to encounter here, the city where every gangster secretly dreams of being a movie star. You’ll find that Blue Estate is utterly believable and absolutely ridiculous at the same time, and therein lies it’s unique charm, I can’t wait for season two already!


Buy Blue Estate vol 3: Preserves and read the Page 45 review here

Captain America vol 3 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Patch Zircher, Mike Deodato.

The Scourge is back, his purpose the same: kill as many supervillains as possible. This time it’s those who’ve entered S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Witness Protection Program, gaining new lives and a pardon in exchange for turning State’s Evidence. No one should know where they are. No one should know who they are. But one by one those most recently sheltered are being taken down effectively and efficiently. But if Scourge’s goal is the same, the man behind the mask is not. This Scourge Steve knows – he just doesn’t know it yet. As for Scourge’s handler, well, you’ll know him too – you just don’t it yet, either.

Someone is pulling their strings, and it’s whittling away at Steve’s self-belief. One more book to go!

Gorgeous art here from Patch Zircher, the nods to classic Captain America artists this time coming in some forms unmistakeably redolent of Mike Zeck’s. The shadows throughout are a perfect match for Mike Deodato so that one barely notices when Deodato himself steps up for the final issue.

Or what should have been the final issue because you’re sure as hell going to be jolted awake by what follows: the thin lines of Vince Colletta inking over Paul Neary in a reprint of an issue twenty-five years old which is entirely redundant. It if wasn’t redundant, Marvel editorial would have felt the burning need to reprint the issue itself during the periodical publication of Brubaker’s story. But – as we all know – no one would have bought it because no one wants to read that sort of drivel any more.

I have seen so much anger – both online and on the shop floor – directed towards this sort of book-stuffing Marvel is currently addicted to, and not just because it then feels justifying in charging you for the displeasure. £18-99 for five issues is a right rip-off, but it’s effectively four issues and so coming in at just under fiver a pop. Worse still, most readers don’t skip ahead, so when they finally stumble upon this greedy scam they’re still expecting more of the story they’ve been hooked on. Can you spell “anti-climax”?

It’s only going to hurt book sales in the end, you stupid, short-term tosspots.


Buy Captain America 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.
Mercy (£3-99) by Ray Fawkes

Alan Moore’s Another Surburban Romance restocks (£5-99, Avatar) by Alan Moore, Antony Johnston & Jose Ryp

Nobrow Anthology vol 7 (£15-00, Nobrow) by various

Not My Bag (£9-99, Image) by Sina Grace

Mudman vol 1 (£7-50, Image) by Paul Grist

The Unwritten vol 6: Tommy Taylor And The War Of Words (£12-99, Vertigo) by Mike Carey & Peter Gross, various

Mind The Gap vol 1: Intimate Strangers (£7-50, Image) by Jim McCann & Rodin Esquejo

Green Lantern Corps: The Weaponer s/c (£10-99, DC) by Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham

Green Lantern – New Guardians: The Ring Bearer h/c (£16-99, DC) by Tony Bedard & Tyler Kirkham

Avenging Spider-Man vol 1: My Friends Can Beat Up Your Friends s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Zeb Wells & Joe Madureira, Greg Land, Leinil Yu

Punisher Max: Homeless s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon

Venom: The Savage Six s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender, Cullen Bunn & Kev Walker, LanMedina, Declan Shalvey

Infernal Man-Thing softcover (£10-99, Marvel) by Steve Gerber & Kevin Nowland, John Buscema

Journey Into Mystery vol 3: The Terrorism Myth s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Mitch Breitweiser, Richard Elson

Deadpool vol 2: Dark Reign s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way & Paco Medina

Uncanny X-Men vol 2 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) byKieronGillen & GregLand, Caralos Pacheco

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century vol 22 (£8-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa

Hayate Combat Butler vol 20 (£6-99, Viz) by Kenjito Hata

Loveless vol 9 (£6-99, Viz) by Yun Kouga

Sublime reproductions of Taniguchi’s WALKING MAN in colour! I saw this on Twitter thanks to its author Rod McKie (@rodmckie, strangely) and Rob Davis (@Robgog), creator of DON QUIXOTE and the mastermind behind the equally monumental NELSON. To get the best look at each page, right-click into a new window.

 – Stephen

Reviews October 2012 week two

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

These are not the idle musings of a dilettante, but the compressed result of fierce consideration both of the ideas themselves and how they’d be best expressed. It’s not a comic you’ll be flicking through before tossing aside for the next. Almost every sentence demands you linger gently and attentively, soaking it all in, and if I were to pin-point one quality that best described Thomas Herpich it would be as an aritst and writer with a real sense of purpose.

– Stephen on White Clay

A Wrinkle In Time h/c (£14-99, FSG) by Madeleine L’Engle & Hope Larson…

“But how could we have gotten here? Even travelling at the speed of light it would take us years and years.”
“Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything. We tesser. Or as you might say, we wrinkle.”

Nice to be completely unfamiliar with the original material for a comics adaptation for a rare change, as I don’t recall even hearing about the prose version of this as a kid, which is a little surprising given how much sci-fi and fantasy I read in my childhood days. The story itself actually reminded me of Philip Pulman’s more recent Dark Materials Trilogy (for several reasons, and I would be very surprised if he hasn’t read this work) plus also the works of C.S. Lewis given some of the Christian references and allusion to the real identities of certain characters, but also children’s books like the Captain Cobweb series and Milo and The Phantom Toolbooth for their vast sense of surreal adventure.

Originally written in 1962 – and rejected by about fifty publishers before someone picked it up, primarily because they felt the time wasn’t right to have a female lead character in a science fiction work (really) – the central plot revolves around feisty young Meg Murray and her search for her missing father, who apparently vanished whilst researching something mysterious for the government. That mysterious something turns out to be instantaneous travel across space by means of bending space-time using the tesseract principle, or ‘tessering’ for short.

Unfortunately for Meg’s father it seems that there is a dark force abroad in the Universe, seeking to enslave whole planets at a time, and during an early explorative tesser he has been captured. How, precisely, has Meg found out this extremely top secret information, given the government haven’t been willing to tell them anything for months? Well, by means of her super-intelligent younger brother Charles equally mysterious friends, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which who, initially at least, appear to be witches, but in fact may be rather more than that. Fortunately for Meg and her brother, the three W’s also have the power to ‘tesser’ them and thus launch an expedition to find and rescue their father.

Okay, that’s probably enough of a synopsis to give you the general idea of what to expect plot-wise, so let’s talk about the adaptation itself, because that is for me the highlight here. This is an exceptionally beautifully illustrated book which is, I feel, Hope’s finest work to date. I get the impression from the art that this was certainly no chore, but probably rather a labour of love, such is the consistency and fluidity of the illustration. CHIGGERS and MERCURY are absolutely wonderful works in their own rights, but in terms of the art A WRINKLE IN TIME has that little something extra, the sense of touch that someone who had already fully realised and harnessed their exceptional talents has, however improbably, been inspired to surge one step further. I found an almost seamless sense of continuity from panel to panel, page to page, the whole work moving onwards with an almost animation-like quality in my mind’s eye. In other words, near perfection.

There were in fact several pages where I almost unconsciously slowed down my reading pace to better take in all the exquisite background details, which always gently embellish the scene, adding real depth and warmth. And without question Hope has completely succeeded in capturing every nuance of the emotional wringer that Meg is put through on her quest, and indeed her whole family at the anguish they feel over the continued absence of Mr. Murray. Just flicking back through looking at the art (again!) you could easily get a complete sense of the story without even needing to read the speech bubbles, just from observing the myriad expressions on the various character’s faces, particularly that of Meg and her brother Charles who go on such an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows during the course of their travels!

Definitely one for fans of Hope, absolutely one for children who love action-packed adventures, but also a great all-ages read in the vein of AMULET and MOUSE GUARD as adults will also be captivated by the surreal world that Madeleine L’Engle has created and which Hope brings so vividly to life to furnish us with a genuine magical mystery tour.


Buy A Wrinkle In Time h/c and read the Page 45 review here

White Clay (£3-50, AdHouse Books) by Thomas Herpich.

An arrestingly accomplished collection of short stories, formidably intelligent and linguistically astonishing, this is bursting with ideas and insights communicated in ways which are from obvious, and in such an astonishing variety of styles that you’d swear blind they were drawn by different artists.

It kicks off with ‘Robinson Crusoe’, a succinct piece of sage advice involving islands and the rescuing therefrom. Actually it’s adapted from Franz Kafka so it’s all a wee bit more metaphorical than that, and I love the quality of ink in the bird silhouette splodge.

‘Doppelganger’ will give you a far more substantial pause for thought: there a lot of big questions in this tale but five pages long which will, unexpectedly, be reprised later on and in a way which proves Thomas Herpich is far from afraid taking even the most complex and searching of actions and consequences then seeing the ramifications through.

A man is forged with the sole purpose of keeping his original template – his identical twin – out of prison. This man is a wanted man with a price on his head, and to remain at liberty, to head off those hunting for him and so stop the search, he must sacrifice his doppelganger and sentence him effectively to a life behind bars. It’s hauntingly drawn with eyes wide, as the original man strives to take in the enormity of what he intends and comprehend what this act of betrayal will mean for – and also to – his doppelganger who will soon be sentient. It creates a completely new meaning to the concept of turning yourself in, and would be worth the price of admission alone. But just you wait for the reprise.

‘The Wedding Cauldron’ brings with it a more impish element of fantasy, and I’ll have to ponder a little long about exactly when it means, while ‘Mensch’ is drawn in a more comical style as a somewhat goofy and reluctant alien warrior defending god knows what it the middle of a barren god-only-knows-where is given the push by his Captain. Right off a cliff. Much to his surprise he wakes up believing he’s had a near-death experience. He’s almost there.

‘Should I’ and ‘Should II’ are simply astounding, but the absolute belter comes in the form of the final sentence of ‘Jumping’. As to the language, this is from the titular ‘White Clay’:

projected in an empty theatre,
a truck silently scrapes a guardrail at night,
erupting a healthy torrent of white sparks and light.
The sparks are stars.
The stars are snowflakes.
Imagine them floating together patiently towards Earth
like a school of very slow fish…
Now they are passing, like apparitions, through your ceiling.
Feel the cold specks across the breadth of our back.
Feel them melting on the tops of your ears.
Breathe deeply.”

These are not the idle musings of a dilettante, but the compressed result of fierce consideration both of the ideas themselves and how they’d be best expressed. It’s not a comic you’ll be flicking through before tossing aside for the next. Almost every sentence demands you linger gently and attentively, soaking it all in, and if I were to pin-point one quality that best described Thomas Herpich it would be as an artist and writer with a real sense of purpose.


Buy White Clay and read the Page 45 review here

Moomin: Comic Strips vol 7 h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lars Jansson.

“We can’t build the new Palace with forced labour.”
“No, they wouldn’t like that. Look, I think the democratic way would be first to impose heavy taxes… and then pay them back as wages!”
“Oh… beautiful!”

Are you crying with laughter or just crying right now? Either way, I’ll wager you’re crying with recognition.

Welcome to the world of nation building, MOOMIN-style. It’s no more absurd than the reality of politics – just a lot less painful to laugh at. It all begins like this. Imagine…

You’re wiped out after an exacting day of long hours and hard graft, but finally the blessed bed beckons. Ah, how soft the sheets, how snug the blankets and how gratefully your weary limbs luxuriate in the soft, soothing give of a mattress! And slowly you sink off to sleep… Now imagine that instead of a single day’s exhaustion it’s been three long seasons, you haven’t hibernated properly in years and three seconds later Moominpappa bellows from the foot of the stairs…

“What is it?”
“No another guest again?”
“Wake up, everybody!”
“Thank you – we have!”

Ah, the scowl on Snork Maiden’s face! Love the put-upon frown: Lars totally nails ‘tired and tetchy’.

So what is it now? It’s not a new guest, it’s young Moomin’s bed-time reading: a new continent has been discovered and Moominpappa, ever the pioneer, is determined to colonise it first! It is, however, winter, so the oceans’s frozen over and are they really going to have to all skate their way there? No, an ice-raft is built big enough to fit the Moomins, Mymble, and Mrs. Fillyjonk… but probably not her heifer. Or potted plants. Maybe her children. But definitely not her enormous Queen Doris Pier-Glass dresser.

Naturally within panels it all goes pear-shaped when the ice starts to melt and then they are all at sea. However, more by luck than navigational prowess our intrepid party finally lubber their way to land and set about settling in, each in their inimitable style. For Moominpappa this means a paper crown and declaring himself Viceroy; for Mrs. Fillyjonk it’s all about culture, tradition and getting one over on Gaffsie, whom she is determined to make jealous with the novelty she notes in the diary which she’ll probably leave for Gaffsie to read one future coffee morning. The problem is, the problem is… they may not have got there first, and some of their neighbours might not be new.

What follows in this first of four stories is both a cracking comedy of manners and piss-take of priorities, with politics skewered into the bargain. Like CEREBUS: HIGH SOCIETY condensed twenty-five-fold, this is all so familiar but accomplished with a feather-light touch, especially currency, committees and the pomp, protocol and preparations for state visits which we know all too well to be white-washes. First the trappings of empire then the affectation of democracy is lambasted, followed, post-disaffection, by totalitarianism and a much-needed bucket of freezing-cold water. Mothers know best.

Then there are the take-over bids whether it’s mass state-seizure or incorporation by stealth then placating your not-so-much-willing-as-bewildered coalition partners with something of seeming substance.

“We’ve elected you into the Cabinet.”
“You have?”
“As Minister Without Portfolio.”
“Why without?”
“Well, have you got a portfolio?”
“There you are.”

Poor Moominpappa! I’m going to go out and buy a folder. Just in case.


Buy Moomin: Comic Strips vol 7 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Moomin Valley Turns Jungle (£7-50, Enfant) by Tove Jansson.

“Ooh, look! Shall we have him for lunch?”
“Darling, you know botanists give you indigestion. But I got a declious whiff of Moomins just then!”

Uh-oh, someone’s just upset the indigenous food chain!

Full-colour landscape booklet reprinting a tale from MOOMIN VOL 3 in which Moominmamma plants tropical seeds washed up in a crate on the shore and finds that the lawnmower simply isn’t up to the task of maintaining a tidy jungle. Moomin and Snork Maiden play Tarzan and Jane, but where are the wild animals? In the zoo. Stinky takes it upon to liberate a few including a pair of tigers. Which is rather where we came in.

“I smell Moomins!”


Buy Moomin Valley Turns Jungle and read the Page 45 review here

Moomin’s Winter Follies (£7-50, Enfant) by Tove Jansson.

“I do think the behaviour of the human male very strange.”
“Yes. But they are wonderful.”

Hmm. Another full-colour landscape booklet, this time reprinting a tale from MOOMIN VOL 2 in which the family Moomin first break their tradition of winter hibernation to discover the joys of a snowswept Moominvalley, only to be roped into winter sports by the officious Mr. Brisk of the Great Outdoors Association. Ever so swiftly it grows way too competitive and people’s feelings get hurt. Especially Mymble’s: she’s only gone and fallen in love… again!

Includes what is possibly the only snowball fight ever to be thrown.


Buy Moomin’s Winter Follies and read the Page 45 review here

Criminal: The Deluxe Edition vol 2 h/c (£37-99, Icon) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

Another beautiful big hardcover, this collects the softcovers of CRIMINAL: BAD NIGHT, CRIMINAL: BAD SINNERS and CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT along, as ever, with some delicious extras.

Each landscape cover comes in its full, logo-less glory, there’s the two-page trailer for CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT and the portrait paintings that accompanied each of the essays including Guy Pearce from The Proposition. *swoon*

Preparatory sketchwork abounds but excitingly – and unexpectedly – there’s also the first-ever colour version of the CRIMINAL short story which originally appeared only in Dark Horse’s NOIR. I think you need this. I know that I have it. Haha!


Buy Criminal: The Deluxe Edition vol 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Crusades h/c (£25-99, Humanoids) by Izu Nikolavitch, Alex Nikolavitch & Zhang Xiaoyu…

“It is the end. Without them we are lost!”
“Stop your weeping Giancarlo, you are better than that! To die in combat is the fate of men like us!”
“That may be but we aren’t there yet… this tunnel has to lead somewhere!”

Oh it certainly does! I started off thinking this was a slightly dry, if enjoyable enough, offering for the Humanoids imprint, regaling us as it does initially with a battle between the Catholics and the Moors in the 13th Century era. Then the zombies arrive, rapidly followed by an elite squad of the Knights Templar on a covert mission. And… if that were not enough, then it all goes a bit TURF, and I’m not talking about vampires, either. Kind of reluctant to elucidate upon precisely what I mean by that comparison as it was such a mid-book revelation that I did not see coming at all! I started to get rather excited then, so it was a touch disappointing that the conclusion felt rather anti-climatic and slightly thin in comparison, like the writer had used up his one big idea and then didn’t quite know exactly how to finish things off. Ah well, this was still certainly yet another enjoyable piece of Euro-mentalism when considered in the round. Lovely art obviously as you would expect of a Humanoids book of course.


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

Paradise Kiss vol 1 (£14-99, Vertical) by Ai Yazawa ~

There is a pressure in Japanese society to conform. To not stand out. The best you can hope for is to knuckle down, get good results, graduate, get a dead-end job, get married, raise a few kids and not disappoint your parents who have worked so hard so that you can get to exactly where they are now.

This is just how Yukari feels until a suave young man asks her to be in his fashion show. The dapper fellow in question is George, an “equal-opportunities lover” – I’ll let yourselves decipher that – who is as ruthless and manipulative as you could expect from a fashion student. Helping him put his show together are his fellow students, Issabella, a transvestite with excellent culinary skill and a fondness for long gowns who is the den mother always lending an ear for her friends’ problems as well as wise words, Arashi, rough punk with violent tendencies and a heart of crushed velvet, and his super-cute girlfriend Miwako who is following in her older sister’s platformed footsteps to be a fashion designer (well, Miwako’s trying but she’s really much better at being very cute). Renamed Caroline by Miwako, Yukari’s new-found aspiration rises uncontrollably and she becomes obsessed with the show and even skips school and risks disownment to help make the frocks at Paradise Kiss, the studio they create their line at. Problem is Caroline is useless with textiles, her grades at school have taken a dive, so now the only person that can prevent this fall from grace is guru George. But does he want to save or devour her?

With characters like these this book writes itself, taking the story down unpredictable avenues I could not foresee, and is still in my mind superior to Yazawa’s Nana. But that probably has more to do with ParaKiss being my first Yazawa experience than a difference in quality between the series, because as Yukari can no doubt attest, your first love always burns brighter.


Buy Paradise Kiss vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Clockwork Sky vol 1 (£8-50, Tor) by Madeline Rosca.

Lovely crisp lines, bold forms and great big battle action manga-stylee down in the sewers of Victorian London.

Thanks to the mechanical inventions of Erasmus Crouch the British mines are no longer manned by sooty-faced riff-raff but strong and sturdy steambots. Similarly the city gentry are no longer forced to mingle with the distastefully common, silly little girls who used to wait on them hand and foot: now they are served by sophisticated automatons which can actually remember “one lump or two” when distinguished visitors call. Oh, yes, London has seen quite the transformation in the last couple of years. Strangely, though, the city streets are still cluttered with rabble who’ve no longer got any jobs to go to and so cannot afford bikes to get on. Now they’re revolting so the police send in the childlike, dutiful Sky who bears more than a passing resemblance to ASTRO BOY. Nice manners:

“Greetings, citizens of London’s poorer and grubbier locations! I hope you are enjoying your apparently self-guided tour of our upper-crust neighbourhood! It has come to the attention of London’s metropolitan police force that some of your are employing incendiary devices and armour-clad tanks as you take in the air on your leisurely stroll down Oxford Street.
“The police force kindly asks that you turn in all explosive devices and kindly remove yourselves from this vicinity.
“The exits from Oxford Street can be found in front of you here, here and two to each side behind you over there.”

Quite the little trolley dolly, he. Meanwhile, sequestered high up above old London town behind locked doors and windows is twelve-year-old Sally Pepper whose parents have despaired of her after being expelled from a private school after stealing her principal’s velocipede – with the principal in it – and tearing through the school dining hall. She’s been sent to Uncle Erasmus for education in etiquette and the family robotics trade but she’d rather be racing round London. Soon: she’s racing round London. Specifically its sewers, with Sky sent in swift pursuit, although neither know they are on a collision course, physically, emotionally, and with a terrible family secret.

Is the robotic Sky really beginning to dream like a human? And why, when Sally dreams of reaching out to be rescued, does she find her outstretched arms to be made out of pistons and cogs?

It’s all just a little too obvious but nonetheless a visually attractive and really rather jolly read, what, for the younger generation.


Buy The Clockwork Sky vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Batman: The Dark Knight vol 1: Knight Terrors h/c (£18-99, DC) by David Finch, Paul Jenkins & David Finch…

I didn’t read any of the individual issues past the first one for this title, mainly because I found the first rather odd in parts, I just didn’t completely buy into the initial story set up. I should have stuck with it, and not doubted David Finch, because this is really great fun!

Someone is powering up various villains, including most of Arkham Asylum (resulting in yet another mass breakout, of course) with a hybrid cocktail of the Venom drug laced with some of the Scarecrow’s fear toxin, thus removing all sense of danger from the recipients and turning them into berserkers. Cue much trouble for Batman and chums as Two-Face, Mad Hatter, Clayface et al go on the rampage round Gotham, scarcely leaving enough time for Bruce to track down who he believes to be the source of the new drug. He gets it wrong, actually, before the real villain is revealed and the inevitable final punch-up begins.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Guest starring Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman at various points.


Buy Batman: The Dark Knight vol 1: Knight Terrors h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Daredevil: Ultimate Brubaker Collection vol 3 (£25-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, & Michael Lark, Paul Azaceta, David Aja.

The two gaze out to sea in the downpour, the tiny girl and the big burly man barely covered by her umbrella.

“It’s beautiful… no? But it does require you to appreciate the rain sometimes as well. Here… please… take it. I have, myself, personally always loved the rain. See? Beautiful.”
“Yes… I suppose it is.”
“I knew you could not actually be sneering at the ocean. I’m sorry, my English is not yet too good.”
“You do just fine, actually.”
“I’m Marta. I saw you in the village the previous week.”
“Call me Wilson.”
“Wilson? You are American, yes?”
“I was, but don’t hold it against me. I never voted.”
“Well, shame on you, then, Mister Wilson.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”

Lord, but David Aja and Michael Lark do a mean coastal rain. Here’s a voice-over:

“Happiness is always so fragile. The unhappy aren’t raised knowing this, of course, and the happy simply forget. But you know. Because it feels foreign, just like its companion… fear. Walking hand in hand. That’s how you know you’re happy. Because every evening as you walk to Marta’s house, you worry… You walk faster as you go… You expect to see flames… You expect death… You expect a squad of mafia soldiers… You expect the worst… And every night you are wrong.”
“”What is it, Wilson? Did you run here?”

All Wilson Fisk wanted to do was disappear. He promised to do so and now more than ever that he has found love in Spain, he does not want to be found. But someone just has to go and wake the giant up, don’t they?

The first chapter here was the finest issue in Brubaker’s run, and this is its conclusion which leaves the status quo as radically redefined as Bendis did.

Matt’s made some crazy decisions of late, but not as crazy as the way in which he greets Wilson Fisk’s return to America. He didn’t have many friends left and now he has one fewer. But perhaps he’s gained a new ally in Mister Izo, the long-lived associate of Matt’s sensei Stick, a boozy but brilliant practitioner of the martial arts and the perfect puncture to Matt’s self-pity. Over the rooftops in the snow they will now wage a war. A final war between The Hand and Lady Bullseye, The Kingpin and The Owl, with Iron Fist, Dakota North, the new Tarantula and White Tiger all caught in the middle. And then there is the not inconsiderable matter of Matt’s wife Milla:

“I’m sorry I loved you… Sorry you loved me…”

Everyone’s going to be sorry in the end.


Buy Daredevil: Ultimate Brubaker Collection vol 3 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.
Saga vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Sarah Glidden

Crossed vol 4 s/c (£18-99, Avatar) by Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano & Jacen Burrows, Leandro Rizzo

Powers vol 14: Gods (£14-99, Icon) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming

Hipster Hitler (£12-99, Feralhouse) by James Carr, Archana Kumar

The Understanding Monster h/c (£16-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth

Valentine vol 1 : The Secret Death (£18-99, Image) by Alex de Campi & Christine Lampi

Adolfsson: Mattias Unfiltered: The Sketchbook Art Of Mattias Adolfsson (£12-99, Boom!) by Mattias Adolfsson

Justice League Dark vol 1 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin

Hellblazer: The Devil’s Trench Coat (£12-99, Vertigo) by Peter Milligan & Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini

Blue Estate vol 3: Preserves (£9-99, Image) by Viktor Kalvachev & Kosta Yanev

Nightwing vol 1 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Kyle Higgins & Eddy Barrows

Batman: Odyssey h/c (£22-50, DC) by Neal Adams

Birds Of Prey vol 1 s/c (£12-99, DC) by Gail Simone, Marc Andreyko, Adrian Syaf, Guillem March, Inaki Miranda, Jesus Saiz, Pere Perz

Essential Thor vol 6 (£14-99, Marvel) by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Roy Thomas & John Buscema

Fear Itself: Invincible Iron Man s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade s/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung, Alan Davis, Olivier Coipel

Captain America vol 3 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Patch Zircher, Mike Deodato

Sailor Moon vol 7 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Naoko Takeuchi

Reviews October 2012 week one

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Shadows and light. Like the weather itself – rain, sleet and snow at midnight – the colouring by Bettie Breitweiser is beautifully bleak: an erosion of Butch Guice’s phenomenal form and action so frantic that it’s like being tossed into the firefight yourself.

 – Stephen on Winter Soldier vol 1

Also: please see right at the bottom – as every week – for more cool news!

Barbara (£14-99, DMP) by Osamu Tezuka…

“What quickens the passage of time? Action.
“What makes it pass insufferably slowly? Idleness.
“What sinks man down into frustration? Languor and passivity.
“And how does he rise up? By avoiding wasteful contemplation.
“What safeguards his honour? Vigilance.
“And what delivers me from my dilemma? Stimulation.
“Yet who could be inspired by this sleazy, heedless world? Chopin decried the crisis in his Fatherland. Rene Clement joined the Resistance. All that is left for us today is decadence! Nothing but the dead end of an ephemeral age!
“But still I will make art!
“Even if I must sell my soul to the devil, I will make art!
“Devil, come! I’m ready!
“It’s Barbara…”

Bit of a soliloquy to start us off there! Aficionados of the great man will rejoice that another of his classic adult, experimental works is finally available in English for the first time and I guess at this point I should give due props to the people at DMP once again after their recent publishing of SWALLOWING THE EARTH.

Much like Vertical’s magnificent MW, ODE TO KIRIHITO, The Book Of Human Insects and AYAKO, BARBARA deals with seriously adult themes and has some rather explicit content, to say the least. No idea if that is why no has published it in English before, but anyway.

It seems initially on the face of it a rather thin premise, that of a troubled author named Yosuke Mikura who seemingly spontaneously takes in an attractive down-and-out with a drink problem he finds at the local train station, partly out of compassion, partly out of predatory opportunism. But it very quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary relationship and that the author’s predilections and indeed perversions are, well, somewhat unusual to say the least. The titular Barbara meanwhile isn’t remotely what she seems either, of course. As the book progresses the volatile, often violent relationship between the pair oscillates wildly between rampant passion and furious rages, frequently with shocking consequences for innocents caught up in the crossfire, as Barbara is gradually revealed to Mikura for what she really is. I shall say no more on that point, as I don’t want to spoil anything.

As with many of Tezuka’s works, what we really are exploring is the human condition. Some of his works such as the magnificent epic BUDDHA do explore themes of enlightenment, yet others, such as BARBARA focus unflinchingly on the darker side of the human condition that is rooted firmly in ego. This is quite a relatively bleak work by Tezuka’s standards, but one can certainly see what he’s trying to achieve with it, even if it’s not always a comfortable read. Mikura is always teetering between realisation and further self-damnation and whilst you’re always willing him to transcend his conditioning and desires, you can see the traps he’s inevitably going to fall into again and again coming a mile off, whereas he seems completely unable to resist them.

It’s a beautiful piece, with surprisingly light linework in places too in terms of the art, and overall it raises my admiration for the great master even further. Certainly not the place to start for people wanting to try Tezuka but an absolute must for those who enjoy his material.


Buy Barbara and read the Page 45 review here

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

“But… who are you? I don’t understand…”
“Then listen.”

The wanderer Michael and mystic healer Abi are now heading towards A-Ree-Yass-I, which may or may not finally shed some light on precisely who or what was responsible for ‘The Big Wet’ and the apocalyptic events that resulted in the Wasteland. The sly assassin Gerr who is tagging along with our duo however has his own agenda, or more precisely that of Marcus, the not-so-benevolent ruler of Newbegin, who has a vested interest in ensuring the potentially earth shattering secrets of A-Ree-Yass-I remain firmly hidden.

Meanwhile, is the revelation that the demigod-like being who is watching proceedings from afar, occasionally intervening for reasons yet unclear, considers himself Nephilim significant? Almost certainly, but the marvellous weaver of mystery that is Antony Johnston is still playing his cards very frustratingly close to his chest! I love this series precisely because he is continually teasing us by revealing such tiny fragments of vital information. I wouldn’t have it any other way mind you, but part of me just can’t wait until all is finally revealed! Fans of post-apocalyptica such as FREAKANGELS who haven’t tried this title yet really should, it will grip you very firmly indeed…

Meanwhile Warren Ellis is hooked. Learn why in WASTELANDS VOL 1.


Buy Wasteland vol 7: Under The God and read the Page 45 review here

Happy #1 of 4 (£2-25, Image) by Grant Morrison & Darick Robertson.

Profanity, hot bullets and blue Brony action!

Many sarcastic thanks to whichever of my sympathisers on Twitter explained the term ‘Brony’ to me following a flock of five fellows, in a single swoop, signing up to the My Little Pony #1 Complete Boxed Set at £18-99 each. I cannot unlearn what I now know to be true, so may never fully recover. What I learned was this:

There has been a surge what could loosely be called of ‘man’-love for that saccharine pink pony, and those guilty of such a wayward cultural misalignment are called Bronies. Now, I’m hardly the butchest boy in the box and obviously Page 45 is an all-inclusive, non-judgemental love-in for all manner of diverse penchants and pleasures… but there are fucking limits.

By which I mean: “That’ll be £18-99, please. Thank you!”

Anyway, Happy here is a feathered blue pony with big, bulbous, bright shiny eyes, a purple unicorn horn and accentuated, goofy front teeth. Knowing Grant Morrison I seriously doubt this, but potentially he’s the product of a delirious imagination as ex-Detective Nick Sax is sped across town in an ambulance after receiving several gunshot wounds in part-exchange for having murdered the four Fratelli brothers. They thought they were on a mission to axe our Sax, but it was no-nonsense Nick who hired them in the first place. The police are swift to the scene but that’s good news for no one except the Fratellis’ Uncle Stefano who’s determined to keep it all in the family – “it” being the Fratelli fortune. Unfortunately no one bothered to tell him the password and the only person still alive who knows that now is Nick.

Corruption appears to be the order of the day on the snowy streets of God Only Knows and torture / interrogation will follow, all kindly overseen and endorsed by New Jersey’s Finest in the form of Maireadh McCarthy who’s firmly in Uncle Stefano’s pockets. Time to send in arch-information extractor Mr. Smoothie.

“I feel like the ghost of a hard-on that will not die.”

Along the way we’ve met a drunken paedophile dressed up as Santa (more on him next issue), and Nick Sax has quite casually and coincidentally dispatched a serial murderer in a prawn costume smoking a spliff from a back end of a hammer which was five seconds away from coming down on the head of a prostitute blowing him to blissful oblivion. Did I mention it’s Christmas?

From the writer of WE3, JOE THE BARBARIAN and BATMAN INCORPORATED etc. comes something akin to THE FILTH only (so far) without the giant, flying spermatazoa. Profanity abounds and he’s set out to sully the holiday season whilst lobbing in the incongruity of bright-eyed chirpy-pants Happy The Horse who claims to be Hailey’s imaginary friend sent to Sax to rescue her from, I infer, the plastered paedo.

Transmetropolitan’s Darick Robertson is on his best form ever with masterfully slick choreography, the sturdiest of figure work and eye-popping street scenes all beautifully lit and then coloured to perfection by Richard P. Clark. You can see exactly what I mean in this extensively illustrated HAPPY interview with Grant Morrison and Darrick Robertson.


Buy Happy #1 by singing the theme tune to My Little Pony down 0115 9508045 or emailing expletives to

Modern Toss presents Desperate Business (£7-99, Modern Toss) by Jon Link & Mick Bunnage.

“How would you feel about working from home?”
“I haven’t got one.”

More mardy gag cartoons whose humour, like the MODERN TOSS GUIDE TO WORK, lies in the recognition factor, either overt or inferred. The cartooning is basic at best – we are not in the realms of Tom Gauld – but it does what’s required, which is basically depicting a bunch of miserable people sulking, scowling or shouting. Or looking suitably embarrassed.

The other day I found myself waiting in line to be served, fuming at those idiots who’d totally failed to master the supermarket self-service checkouts holding up the rest of us idiots who’d totally failed to master the supermarket self-service checkouts. Here’s one woman who believes she has mastered the supermarket self-service checkout, but it begs to differ:

“What about that bottle of wine in your handbag?”

I did always wonder about that. Where MODERN TOSS works best is identifying social, cultural or behavioural trends and taking them to the next level. For example, here’s a triple whammy:

“Hello, I’m think about looting your store later on but I can’t be bothered to go out, is there any way I can do it online?”

We are, in case you’ve failed to notice, three years into a double-dip recession, hence the title DESPERATE BUSINESS. Still, one happy chappy is smiling outside Pete’s 99p Shop.

“On the upside, now we’re the last shop on the high street we’ve won a national heritage grant.”

I could write a whole fucking essay on that one.


Buy Modern Toss presents Desperate Business and read the Page 45 review here

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

A magical cover by Farel Dalrymple whose cast gives a clue to the contents: dozens of short stories inspired by traditional fables and fairytails, each diverging radically from the source material.

Good, because I am in no mood to read The Little Mermaid except as reinterpreted in a singularly succinct double page from opposing perspectives and through the water’s surface by KING CITY’s Brandon Graham and BEAST’s Marian Churchland. Marian’s mermaid is like none you’ve ever seen before, although the style is decidedly Arthur Rackham (art book in stock).

Nor do I have time to read One Thousand And One Nights but have all the time in the world for Tara Alexandra and Nelson Evergreen’s relocation, the sultan replaced by corporate CEO Jonas Frasier. A thinly disguised DC, the comics subsidiary which was once its sole business has long been subsumed into a giant media conglomerate whose towering screens blurt out inane but sadly far from absurd news items like “How To Publish Your Pet’s Blog’. In a succession of downgrades it has been sidelined and squeezed into increasingly cramped offices and today, as Sherri Zahd walks through its doors, it is declared dead and buried, kaput. Sherri’s dad, Frank Zahd, was an Eisner winning comicbook creator whose ideas fuelled the fire and filled the coffers of Jonas Frasier’s business back then so he offers her own pitch and one pitch only to save the comic department from extinction.

Paramount to this sequence’s success, we are not told Sherri’s story but shown the impact it has on Jonas’ rekindled imagination, as he interprets her words in his head, envisioning the humanity at its heart – the love, joy, anger and suffering – in a swirling series of portraits at the end of which he sits there, astonished. Mind-blown. He won’t reinstate that side of the business, but on the strength of Sherri’s initial pitch he will hold off on the total shutdown. But when she comes back tomorrow, she’d better have more where that came from.

“Trust me,” she smiles, “I have a thousand.”

That should have been the punchline but, alas, it wasn’t. Never mind, the message came through loud and clear: Jonas expected another retreading of worn-out capes and costumes, but there wasn’t a single one of them in Sherri Zahd’s pitch. It was more like THE NAO OF BROWN – approved!

That tale was told in soft brush strokes and cool washes, but there are all manner of styles on offer here, mostly from writers and artists I’ve never heard of. Goldilocks & The Three Bears by Lee Nordling and Scott Roberts came with a cracking rejoinder that if what of most bears eat isn’t necessarily fit for human consumption, an alien’s environment is going to be just that – alien! Trespassers beware: you may have no idea what you’re sleeping in or scoffing! Honesty dictates I concede that a) I haven’t had time to read all 400 pages of this and b) I hated at least one story here with a passion while another bored me quite literally to sleep one night.

I can’t see the point in naming names and besides you may be thrilled by both. I seriously doubt that, but it’s possible. ‘Hansel And Gretel’ wasn’t one of them. Although the antropomorphised bees there looked more like wasps to me, Bombus and Vespula were gorgeously painted by Senk Chhour (two ‘h’s, yes) in a soft fantasy style far from fey but really quite gargantuan and it was as beautiful as their fate was grim. And I mean, truly grim.


Once Upon A Time Machine

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.

Third DC format for this, otherwise of course it would have been nearer the top, but it’s an old review you’ve probably read before. Anyway…

“You see, in a way, everything is made of stories.”

Now that’s an early statement which Moore will return to!

The final panel by Bissette and Totleben, of the sequence below at the climax to this second volume is a masterpiece of understated passion and dignified release as Abigail Arcane offloads her private thoughts to the plant elemental and protector of the Green who has buried his past and saved her from Hell itself. Blessedly she has no memory of this, but the episode has left her uncle damned for eternity and her estranged husband in a coma. Also, it is Spring and she is in a quandary:

“I mean, what I’m saying is, that if I felt strongly… you know, if I had strong feelings for… well, somebody else… Alec, it wouldn’t be wrong for me to have feelings like that, would it?”
“Wrong? Abby… you are too young… too beautiful… to be a widow… forever. Is there… someone… that you love?”
“Oh yes. Yes, very much.”
“Then… you must not… torture yourself… with pointless guilt…. If… there is… someone… that you love… then tell them…”
“Yeah, well… That’s, you know… That’s what I’m trying to do.”
“You mean… me…?”
“Oh, for God’s sake… Who else? …Oh no. I’ve ruined it, haven’t I? I’ve screwed it up… I should never have said… Look… let’s just forget it. I’ll go home now, and we’ll forget I said anything. I mean, it’s just so ridiculous, right? It’s impossible, it’s bizarre, it probably isn’t even legal… Oh hell. There’s something wrong with me. I build things up in my mind… I read things into the way you look at me, kid myself that maybe you feel the same as I do, but… You’re a plant, for God’s sake! Just saying it out loud, I mean, it’s just so funny! How could you love me?”
“Deeply… silently… and… for too many… years.”

What follows is a psychedelic consummation via the consumption of a fruit which ‘Alec’ plucks from his body mass, and a tribute to nature that is pure poetry culminating in a quiet moment of shared bliss. It won’t always be so, I’m afraid.

Before that there’s the famous tribute to Walt Kelly’s POGO full of inventive linguistic conflations, and Moore’s reclamation of Abel and Cain and their respective Houses of Secrets and Mystery which must surely have inspired so many elements of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN.

“Who are you? Am I dreaming this?”
“Well, not exactly… W-we’re a projection of the human unconscious, existing as a construct of the brain’s right hemisphere and…”
“Ignore my brother. He has no sense of mystery. Yes. You’re dreaming this.”

And Neil Gaiman, who was reading this at the time, provides the lengthy introduction.


Buy Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 2 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

“Your memorial starts in an hour. You planning on attending?”
“Ha. No… Just do me justice… And make sure all the girls are cryin’.”

Shadows and light. Like the weather itself – rain, sleet and snow at midnight – the colouring by Bettie Breitweiser is beautifully bleak: an erosion of Butch Guice’s phenomenal form and action so frantic that it’s like being tossed into the firefight yourself. Rarely do I rave so vocally about the colouring in a Marvel comic but it’s both brave and bold and works perfectly in what is essentially another espionage thriller by Brubaker who’s going out with a bang at Marvel, on his fiercest form there since the first three years of CAPTAIN AMERICA itself. And as an espionage action-thriller co-starring Nick Fury, there are apposite explosions of Jim Steranko throughout – you really can’t miss them. A joy.

Following the catastrophic events in FEAR ITSELF, what’s left of the world is mourning for Bucky Barnes who fell on the frontline. For many years Steve Rogers’ best friend was thought dead, lost after a plane disaster in WWII, although in truth Barnes had been captured by the Russians, cryogenically frozen and brainwashed into becoming the Winter Soldier, their occasional stealth assassin during the Cold War. Thankfully he broke his conditioning and went on to sub for Steve Rogers as Captain America until being set up and exposed by Zemo for his Cold War crimes then sold out by elements in the US government to Russia. When he died on the battlefield of FEAR ITSELF, Bucky Barnes was still a wanted man.

Now: the report of Bucky’s illness grew out of his illness; the report of his death was an exaggeration. Nick Fury and Natasha Romanov, the Russian superspy codenamed Black Widow, conspired to save Bucky using an almost depleted source only at Nick’s disposal whilst covering up his survival. What did they use for a corpse? Oh, come on, you know your S.H.I.E.L.D. history! So that takes care of the international hunt for Bucky as fugitive. Only question is… who’s going to tell Steve?

Barnes and Romanov are now free to embark on a series of necessarily covert stealth missions to track down the three other Russian Sleepers that have since been shipped in stasis tubes to US soil. So far they’ve arrived just in time to be too late, finding the stasis tubes empty. And so desperate have they been to prevent the acquisition then activation of the Sleeper Agents, they’ve charged in too fast to take in the details: who they’re up against and the true identity of their opponents’ target.

The target is Victor Von Doom Esq, but the assassins have so far only used enough firepower to make Doom angry. To what end…? All will become a great deal clearer when you discover what else was bought alongside the acquisition codes. Oh yes, and who bought them.

This is slick as slick can be, with beautifully balanced banter between Barnes and Romanov. That they are lovers and equals makes for a different dynamic both in the field and in bed. Add in Natasha’s permanently arched eyebrow and you’re in for a treat. Doom too is the source of much mirth, and there was one panel in which he masked a certain degree of fretful guilt which I swear looks like it was drawn by Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley.


Buy Winter Soldier vol 1: The Longest Winter s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Oh dear. The spark which lit NEAR DEATH VOL 1 sadly fails to reignite second-time round except right at the end when the series’ past cast finally catches up with Markham bringing with them a very tough choice and a final very unexpected twist during what I infer is the finale.

Up until then it’s a comparatively thin affair with some solutions arrived at far too easily. Key panels are missing (car/ferry interface) and the choreography is woefully weak in places.

It is of course possible that I simply wasn’t in the mood because the first book had much to commend it and many of merit doing that commending (Ed Brubaker etc).

Instead for prime crime I beg you, yes beg you, to try the wickedly clever THIEF OF THIEVES, CRIMINAL and STUMPTOWN to name but three.


Buy Near Death vol 2 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared vol 1 (£13-50, IDW) by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Tony Lee & J.K. Woodward…

“Who would like a jellybaby?”
“Fascinating. Gelatin confectionary, dusted with starch and moulded in the shape of a small child.”

Commence geek frenzy now as two of the most popular sci-fi licences ever collide in a quantum-foaming tale which will have Whooverian and Next Genner fanpeeps alike positronically frothing at the mouth. I freely admit I am a huge fan of both, but you never quite know whether these crossovers are going to be more than the sum of their parts (or indeed squared, as the title so boastfully attests) or merely just another badly conceived and equally badly written Warp Factor 9 car-crash which will leave you wishing you could go back in time to save yourself from the bother of reading it…

Happily the tale itself seems a reasonably solid yarn so far in this first volume of I believe to be three (it could be two), as the Cybermen and Borg have teamed up to assimilate the Trek Universe and it’s up to the 11th Doctor, his companions Rory and Amy, plus Captain Picard and his merry crew to save the day. The script is perfectly fine, but the art is entirely another matter altogether. Whilst I always applaud the bold idea of going for a fully painted story, the execution leaves a lot to be desired and is frankly rather distractingly bad at times.

You’ve got be very good to pull painted artwork off in this type of graphic novel (Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams etc.) and this isn’t anywhere near up to their standards. In fact when there is a flashback to the 4th Doctor’s (yes Tom Baker!!!!) previous meeting with a certain bequiffed Star Trek captain (yes, James T. Kirk!!!!) the pencilled artwork used is a brief period of blissful clarity in comparison. I would have much preferred it if they’d done it all in that style as the likenesses of the original Trekkers and Tom are excellent.

Still, it is all rather good fun, I must say. Be a good fellow and pass me the jellybabies, would you?


Buy Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

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


Steak Night (£8-00, Records Records Records Book) by Babek Ganjei, Jackson Coley, Antoine Cosse, Jessica Penfold, Grace Wilson, Kele Okereke

Kiddo h/c (£12-00, Records Records Records Book) by Antoine Cosse

Morning Glories vol 1 s/c new printing (£7-50, Image) by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma

Walking Dead Compendium vol 2 (£45-00, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

Crusades h/c (£25-99, Humanoids) by Izu Nikolavitch, Alex Nikolavitch & Zhang Xiaoyu

Moomin: Comic Strips vol 7 h/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Lars Jansson

Moomin Valley Turns Jungle (£7-50, Enfant) by Tove Jansson

Moomin’s Winter Follies (£7-50, Enfant) by Tove Jansson

White Clay (£3-50, AdHouse Books) by Thomas Herpich

Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga hardcover (£25-99, Dark Horse) by various

Criminal: The Deluxe Edition vol 2 (vols 4-6) h/c (£37-99, Icon) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Everything Together – Collected Stories s/c (£14-99, Picturebox) by Sammy Harkham

Snarked vol 2: Ships And Sealing Wax (£10-99, Kaboom!) by Roger Langridge

Pachyderme hardcover (£14-99, Self Made Hero) by Frederik Peters

Batman: The Dark Knight vol 1: Knight Terrors h/c (£18-99, DC) by David Finch & Paul Jenkins

The Twelve vol 2 s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by J. Michael Straczynski & Chris Weston

Daredevil: Ultimate Brubaker Collection vol 3 (£25-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, & Michael Lark, Paul Azaceta, David Aja

Marvel’s The Avengers: The Avengers Initiative (£7-50, Marvel) by various

GTO: 14 Days In Shonan vol 5 (£8-50, Vertical) by Toru Fujisawa

Paradise Kiss vol 1 (£14-99, Vertical) by Ai Yazawa

The Clockwork Sky vol 1 (£8-50, Tor) by Madeline Rosca

Page 45 Presents: Make It The Tell Everybody!

The Birmingham Zine Fest is almost upon us! A thrilling event in the annual calendar, this year showcases some of our favourite comicbook creators in a series of live panels on comics chaired by Dan Berry starring Lizz Lunney, Philippa Rice, Luke Pearson, Joe List, Marc Ellerby, Felt Mistress, Jonathan Edwards and more.

I’ve promised to stay away (okay, Lizz Lunney took out a restraining order) but I may have lied! Who knows what will happen at the very last minute?

It’s going to be held on Saturday 13th October 2-4pm, but click around the rest of the site for a whole weekend of wonder!

 – Stephen


Kieron Gillen & Antony Johnston signing Tuesday October 23rd at Page 45!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Oh, dear God, what have we done?! I may have to stay home and cry.

Page 45 and GameCity7 proudly present…

Sir Antony Johnston and Dame Kieron Gillen defacing your near-mint comics and favourite graphic novels so they’ll have no resale value at all!

Yes, two of my all-time favourite writers of both mainstream and Marvel Comics have reluctantly agreed to topple off their GameCity podium on Tuesday October 23rd to sign immediately thereafter at Page 45.

“What are they doing at GameCity?!”

Uh, they write games? Also: they write about games? Antony Johnston wrote Deadspace and the imminent ZombiU. The first thing I ever read by Kieron Gillen was his mischievous game strips illustrated by PHONOGRAM’s Jamie McKelvie. I imagine they’ll sign any games and games journalism you bring with you.

“What? Where? When?”

Straight to the point: I like that.

The Time: 5pm to 6-30pm
The Date: Tuesday October 23rd 2012
The Place: Page 45 (click for destination details!)

The Dress Code: Oh, wear what you like but please wear something. That goes for you too, Gillen.

We Have (click on titles for reviews):

Antony Johnston:




SHADOWLAND (okay, that was Diggle!)
Daredevil: Season One

And far, far more: stick Antony Johnston in our search engine at the top here. Remember to lock the door firmly behind you.

Kieron Gillen:


FEAR ITSELF (Okay, that was Matt Fraction!)



And far, far more: stick Kieron Gillen in our search engine at the top here. Let’s see if he can get extract himself in time for the signing.

“Do You Have Comics?!”

I will have to check. *checks* Yep, turns out we’re a comic shop.

Individual issues therefore also available. Bring your own if you like, but please buy something. It isn’t the law but it’s nice.

“We know!”

“What Else Is Happening?”

The Johnston-Gillen can be found live on a panel at the GameCity hub on Market Square immediately before the signing. Recommended – they are very funny guys.

Together and separately they will also be hosting GameCity events on both Monday and Tuesday. They will be entertaing and education you on comics and games, and I do believe there’ll be a broadcast from Antenna on the Monday night but do check the GameCity blogs for details.

Click on this sentence for the full GameCity7 schedule!

Big love to Iain Simons and Chris White at GameCity for their co-conspiratorialisation. It’s something I’ve cherished but doubt I can spell, so instead I made the word up.

Keep up to date with GameCity announcements here:


Keep up to date with Antony Johnston and Kieron Gillen here:

Antony Johnston
Kieron Gillen

Page 45 GameCity window designed and constructed by Philippa Rice.

We’re rather in awe; aren’t you?

 – Stephen

PHONOGRAM VOL 2: THE SINGLES CLUB by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie