Reviews August 2013 week four

In which Mark Russell takes the tediously turgid Bible and condenses it into an infinitely more digestible, colloquial chit-chat threaded through with a modern, irreverent vernacular that makes for the jolliest of juxtapositions and punchlines galore. I wouldn’t say Russell’s being particularly iconoclastic, either: he’s just telling it like it is without all the portentous jibber-jabber.

 – Stephen on God Is Disappointed In You

Alan Moore Fashion Beast s/c (£18-99, Avatar) by Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren, Antony Johnston & Facundo Percio.

“They knew it! They knew the meaning of glamour; its oldest, original meaning. Glamour means “magic”. Glamour is magic! Our affectations, our vanities, these are the devil-masks that give us power, that makes us loved or feared.”

They are also walls erected to keep others out; suits of armour welded air-tight with attitude.

High above the Celestine factory floor there is a room with a thick, semi-opaque window where sits the world-famous fashion designer, Jean-Claude Celestine, staring into a mirror which reflects an ugly eye, veined and troubled by hair, dealing from his deck of Tarot cards and issuing pre-programmed commands by rapping on glass.

Behind the bar of a busy club’s cloakroom Doll Seguin performs to her captive audience, pummelling them with put-downs as she takes their coats and racks up her verbal victories. Soon she will ascend to another opaque window and vogue. But there’s always a heckler, isn’t there?

The heckler is Johnny Tare and he’s about as convincing a boy as Doll is a dame. He’s Celestine’s resident dresser and after his act of sabotage ensures Doll gets the boot, and Doll gets her foot in Celestine’s door as next season’s top model, Johnny finds the shoe is on that other foot.

The seven-page introduction by Alan Moore is as hilarious as it rare, detailing the origins of the script in a meeting of minds with musical magpie Malcolm McLaren, he of the mad hair and constantly fizzing brain. But we’ll get to that later on after a round of applause for WASTELAND and THE COLDEST CITY’s Antony Johnston and artist Facundo Percio on account of the wonders they’ve worked with the twenty-five-year old project originally written as a screenplay for a film.

 

As Moore himself notes, the opening sequence in which three distinct beats compete for aural dominance, while adjacent bedsit residents dress to impress for a night on the town, is as impressively translated to the silent page as its gradual fade when the action kicks off on the silent streets outside. Doll certainly knows how to turn heads.

“You know, you shouldn’t laugh. I’m only this way because I have a disability. I was born without a penis.”
“Christ, fella. I’m sorry, we didn’t know.”
“It’s hereditary… I got it from my mother.”

The implication is that Doll is a drag queen. That’s what Johnny assumes, while Doll is convinced that Johnny’s a Tom Boy for that’s what it says on his hoodie. But this is all misdirection and ambiguity enhanced by Facundo’s masterful artistry. It is a pretty neat trick draw “a girl who looks like a boy who looks like a girl” and “a boy who looks like a girl who looks like a boy”, two elements introduced to the synopsis early on by Malcolm McLaren himself.

As to the Celestine’s two right-hand Madames, I have no idea what they are, but they look like a couple of spectacularly sour Ugly Sisters.

“Oh, my dear, just look at the poor creature. Is she walking, do you suppose, or having sex with a mirage? No, no, I don’t think she’s quite the thing for us. Although I did think those radiation burns were rather fun. Assuming they weren’t real, naturally.
“Real would be a little too tacky, don’t you think?”

Behind the scenes at Celestine’s, meanwhile, looks like the backstage of a theatre or film studio, its walls like temporary slats resembling the rear-side of stage scenery. The whole of Celestine’s is a far cry from reality, and as Doll gets sucked into its fiery politics she loses sight of the dodgy politics outside and discovers the Madames’ complicity in a terrible lie: a complex which keeps Celestine creative.

The whole work is heavily – and very satisfyingly – staged, and I’d compare it to Peter Greenaway films like ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’. There are a couple of pages in which Doll Seguin explores the factory which look like something out of an Escher illusion.

It’s alluring and seductive, but set against a world climate in thrall to the fear of a nuclear winter, conscription and the effect of AIDS in the army.

Back to the introduction, then, in which Alan recalls the origin of the project in Malcolm McLaren’s concept of fusing film with comics and searching for an appropriate writer:

“He’d decamped to a bustling and thriving comic shop in Saint Mark’s Place and had asked the coolest-looking thirteen-year-old kid that he could find who his favourite writer was. According to Malcolm, this unusually insightful and right-thinking young man had replied, without hesitation, “Alan Moore: left hand of God”. In the unlikely event that I ever write a characteristically unassuming and self-effacing autobiography, this will almost certainly be its title.”

Alan goes on to extol McLaren’s virtues, describing him as “self-consciously Mephistophelean” and “one of the most effervescent pop-culture intellects of the twentieth century”.

“In conversation he was effortlessly entertaining and incisive both, a smoothly flowing stream of arcane details on a dozen different subjects, fascinating linkages and promising juxtapositions all delivered in those sinuous and slightly nasal tones, the most persuasive and most archetypal tradesman at the modern world’s fluorescent street-bazaar.”

You wait until you read his reply when Alan asks him what he thought of his portrayal as a saturnine Svengali in Alex Cox’s ‘Sid And Nancy’. Very funny!

Sorry…? Oh no, you’ll have to buy the book, I’m afraid.

The FASION BEAST’s Tarot deck, by the way, was designed by FREAKANGELS and THE FIRELIGHT ISLE’s Paul Duffield. Watch out for THE FIRELIGHT ISLE online later this year. I’ve seen the first dozen “pages” and it is going to be monumental.

SLH

Buy Alan Moore Fashion Beast s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Property (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Rutu Modan…

“Grandma? Please open up!
“Give me a sign that you’re all right.
“If you don’t make a sound I’ll have to break the door down.
TAP TAP
“You won’t be comfortable sleeping in the shower.
“Sigh.”

Elderly Jewish battleaxe Regina is heading to Warsaw on a mission. In tow are her granddaughter Mica and the immensely obsequious and irritating Avram, ostensibly a friend of the family. The mission in question is to reclaim the titular property, seized from the family by the Nazis after they fled Poland during World War Two. Well, that’s what she’s told everyone, but in fact Regina also has a secret mission too, to try and find out what happened to her sweetheart. Who, unbeknownst to most of the family, including Mica, was the father of her child, Mica’s recently deceased father.

It would be fair, and just about politically correct for me as a Gentile, to observe Rutu Modan has certainly made hilarious use of more than a few stereotypical (allegedly) Jewish traits in this work. The opening sequence at the airport where Regina argues with the young security guard about not being allowed to take her bottle of water through security made me smile, and certainly leaves us in no doubt Regina is a tough old boot who is used to steamrollering her way over all and sundry and leaving people trembling in her wake.

So, arriving in Warsaw, it’s a puzzle to Mica, and also Avram who has his own agenda in sticking uncomfortably close to the two ladies, that Regina seems strangely reluctant to get in touch with the Polish legal contact, Attorney Popowski. Enter Tomasz, the handsome local tour guide, to provide a bit of romantic interest for Mica, and the plot starts to thicken more quickly than a pan of gravy that’s had a whole sack of cornflower tipped into it. Kosher, obviously.

I absolutely loved THE PROPERTY. I already knew Rutu had a great sense of humour from JAMILTI AND OTHER STORIES and the ability to weave an engrossing tale from EXIT WOUNDS, but this neatly combines both to produce a gentle farce which is also a heart warming yarn. Her art style for those unfamiliar is best described as an expressive Hergé with a distinctly Mediterranean colour palette. Even in chilly Warsaw, there are plenty of vibrant colours brightening up just about every panel. The first two pages, a gorgeous two-page spread of a lake in Sweden, a location of great significance to Regina, even though she’s never been there personally, are the perfect visual equivalent of an amuse bouche to get us salivating for the main course to follow. Highly recommended.

JR

Buy The Property and read the Page 45 review here

The Summit Of The Gods vol 4 (£14-99, Ponent Mon) by Yumemakura Baku & Jiro Taniguchi…

“What did you just say?”

Errr… that volume four of what is now most assuredly my favourite manga of all time is out? Actually, it’s a quote taken from the climax of this work, which when I heard it chilled me to the bone, though probably not quite as much as the two protagonists involved in the exchange, the first half of which I have redacted so as not to spoil it for you. Habu’s solo winter assault without oxygen on the north-west face of Everest has begun, a feat considered completely impossible, in fact suicidal, by the mountaineering community, and photographer Fukamachi is determined to follow him as far as he can to document it.

Their agreement is that Habu will not acknowledge Fukamachi in any way, even if he is in mortal danger, and Fukamachi must not assist Habu whatsoever, to avoid jeopardising the solo nature of the climb . Upon finishing the final page of this volume I felt myself in somewhat of an anguished state, not least because I know it will be at least six months before the concluding volume is released! Scarcely have I ever wanted so, so badly for the characters in a work of contemporary fiction to be successful in their respective aims, in Habu’s case to reach the summit and achieve mountaineering immortality, and in Fukamachi’s to prove whether indeed George Mallory did indeed become the first man to reach the summit of Everest on June 8th 1924, virtually three full decades before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay achieved their own place history. I’m just not sure either of them will…

JR

Buy The Summit Of The Gods vol 4 and read the Page 45 review here

God Is Disappointed In You h/c (£14-99, Top Shelf) by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler.

“Later the Pharisees caught Jesus eating lunch without washing his hands first. They started in on him, blowing their whistles and shouting, “The Law Of Moses requires you wash your hands! You have defiled yourself, sir! You have eaten lunch without washing your hands, and now you are defiled!”
Jesus rolled his eyes, and said, “People aren’t defiled half as much by what goes into their mouths as by the shit which comes out.” Then he went back to eating his sandwich.”

This is so funny I have been crying with laughter.

I warn you right now it isn’t comics, it’s illustrated prose in which Mark Russell takes the tediously turgid Bible and condenses it into an infinitely more digestible, colloquial chit-chat threaded through with an irreverent modern vernacular that makes for the jolliest of juxtapositions and punchlines galore. As he concedes in the introduction, “James never called anyone a “prick” as far as we know” but it’s all about rendering the arcane comprehensible. I wouldn’t say Russell’s being particularly iconoclastic, either: he’s just telling it like it is without all the portentous jibber-jabber.

For example, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians and Timothy – Paul had a lot of pen pals! – is turned into chatty ongoing narrative as Paul pops in and out of jail, signing off with “Hugs and Kisses”, “Smooches!” and “Keepin’ it real”. It’s long stream of unsolicited advice, like an Agony Aunt making up correspondence in order for fill column inches, but there are some seriously sound nuggets in here:

“Stay focused. If you’re going to criticise people for being loose and immoral, then you need to be able to resist temptation yourself, or you’re going to end up looking like a total douche.”

Also: some analogies and metaphors date better than others, so Russell brings things up to speed right from the get-go.

“God created the human race to be his pets. As a first-time owner, God wisely chose to start small, creating just two people: Adam and Eve. But, much like baby alligators, they proved to be rotten pets and were thus flushed into the sewer, where they propagated, until the sewers were overflowing with wild humans, hissing and spitting, fornicating and worshipping idols. So God flushed out the entire human race with a flood.”

That’s The Torah getting a look in, by the way, before Genesis kicks off in slightly more detail, turning the lights while inventing solar energy to power things. If it wasn’t broken, we probably shouldn’t have fixed that.

The light switch analogy I borrowed from Shannon Wheeler, he of TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN, who provides the cartoons, like Adam and Eve in marriage counselling, sitting naked on what I hope are well padded chairs and being told, “You need to stop playing the ‘blame game’.” Also there’s Moses being issued from the clouds with what I guess should have been the eleventh commandment, “Don’t forget the fine print”. The twelfth should have been: don’t make up any fine print! It says “Love Thy Neighbour”, guys: don’t make up qualifiers and exceptions just because some people have better tans than you do or wobbly their willies in different directions! Peace, y’all.

I always liked the name Nebuchadnezzar, though I probably wouldn’t impose it on the son I will never sire. In the book of Daniel, if you remember, he has a dream and summons his assorted sycophants to interpret it without telling them what that dream was (good call: other people’s dreams tend to be boring, don’t they?).

““This is the only way I can sure your interpretations is coming from the gods,” he explained, “rather than just some pop psychology bullshit you picked up in college.””

Man, this is going to be all my Christmas presents this year. Apart from Jonathan’s and Dominique’s. That would be tacky, right?

And so we come to my favourite part of the Bible (oh yes, I’ve studied in depth: I got 99.3% in my Divinity O Level): the New Testament in which one of the loveliest men of all time gives hypocritical religious leaders a great big kick up the arse, castigating them for bigotry, superficiality and materialism, for which he was well and truly crucified then completely ignored by the ensuing Christian churches preaching these self-same gospels. Weird, huh?

Mark Russell is in spectacular form throughout, Jesus’ words rendered in red type as when Peter asks him exactly who he is.

“Who do you think I am?”
“I think you’re the Messiah. And maybe not just the Messiah, maybe even the Son of God.”
Jesus puppy-clapped Peter’s cheek and said, “Well, don’t tell anyone, okay? At least not yet.”

Now, I don’t know if I have to issue a SPOILER WARNING to anyone, but it doesn’t go well for Jesus in the end. I’m sorry to say that that crucifixion thing I mentioned wasn’t metaphorical. The beginning of the end comes halfway through the somewhat ominously titled Last Supper during which Jesus lifts his wine glass and makes the most startling after-dinner speech on record:

“Well, this is it, boys. Tonight one of you is going to betray me. I will be arrested and put to death. This is the last glass of wine I’ll ever drink until we all share one together in Heaven.”
“What? Betray you?” they said. “Who is going to betray you?”
Jesus nodded at Judas.
“Oh shit… I just remembered there’s something I’ve got to do!”

SLH

Buy God Is Disappointed In You h/c and read the Page 45 review here

House Of Fun restocks (£2-75, Dark Horse) by Evan Dorkin.

“When life gives you lemons…”
“Punch life in the fucking face!”

More maniacal malfeasance from MILK & CHEESE, The Murder Family, Bad Rabbi, Shitty Witch And Crappy Cat, Myron The Living Voodoo Doll and – coming soon! – Hank Jenkins, Chronic Masturbator. (“Yes indeed. I spill the seed.”). No one packs in more to a page than Dorkin. His mind fizzes with lateral-thinking lunacy.

Read ‘A Day In the Life Of Milk & Cheese’! There’s a certain consistency to it. It’s the consistency of blood-curdled milk. See them sent a “Cease & Desist”, sued by the Disney Corporation! And here they’ve distracted themselves from burning down the house with the prospect of X-Ray Spex:

“I must say, it seems a little silly to send away for an item advertised in a decades-old comic.”
“The contrivance excites and delights me. It’s a gap in logic worthy of George Lucas.”
8-10 weeks later.
“Aha! Yes! This is it! Our eyes now have mad skillz!”
“I can see through everything now! Feng Shui! Scientology! ‘Family Guy’!”
“Science is wicked! What will it think of next?”
“Genocide boots, I hope!”

The Eltingville Comicbook Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror And Role-Playing Club have taken their self-destructive, one-upmanship shambles to the streets for an organised zombie crawl. But blasphemy strikes in the form of fast-moving-zombie fans, trampling over our True Believers’ nit-picking standards and indeed our True Believers. Also: The Murder Family (“The family that slays together stays together!”) is threatened by some late-night, extra-marital mutilation, but before then Ma Murder tries to set standards for son Dougie’s version of courtship:

“You weren’t over at that Judy Pilkington’s house again, were you? You know I don’t approve of her.”
“Aw, no, Mom! She got a court order! I’m stalking a new girl now, Vanessa Dobkin! You’d like her. She’s vulnerable!”

At the time of typing the MILK & CHEESE hardcover, a complete package of their rants and ransackage prior to these stocking-filler shenanigans is also in stock (adults stockings, please; and not elderly adult stockings, hole-ridden and wrinkled, either). It’s big and it’s heavy and so handy for settling arguments.

SLH

Buy House Of Fun and read the Page 45 review here

Saga: Lying Cat t-shirts (many sizes, £17-99 each) by Fiona Staples.

Slinking out of the series called SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples comes a range of black t-shirts for menz and womenz with the head of its feline fault-finder known as a Lying Cat.

Basically, if you lie in its company, it will announce it to the world. I probably wouldn’t let one sit on my lap whilst playing poker, no. They’re too big for that anyway: think hairless blue puma.

Its outbursts are entirely involuntary. It has the cat equivalent of Asperger Syndrome.

I am the proud owner of one of these t-shirts purely for the love of pranksterism and spent a whole day on its release tweeting that I was “so fucking fit” and being asked out on a date by Guy Pearce. The punchline to each tweet was this: http://twitpic.com/d71604.

I’d like to apologise to anyone who even briefly believed we had the complete BIG NUMBERS by Alan Moore & Bill Sienkiewicz in stock.

So there you have it, I am but a child. Next?

SLH

Buy Lying Cat t-shirts and read the Page 45 review here. You will need to scroll down!

Bad Break h/c (£22-50, Humanoids) by Philippe Riche…

Noir thriller featuring an unlikely trio of characters in the form of a mysterious antiques dealer, a guy who works in a scrap yard, plus a sultry porn star, who team up to try and find a mysterious treasure, before they get whacked by some spade-wielding nutters that seem to be shadowing their every move.

Enjoyable enough, but I just found it all so highly improbable, including a plot twist so convenient at the end it was truly risible, that I couldn’t really suspend disbelief sufficiently to get into the story properly.

Nice highly stylised black and white art, very different from the usual colourful ligne claire Humanoids output, which just about made up for the plot shortcomings overall, for me at least.

JR

Buy Bad Break h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Right State s/c (£12-99, DC) by Mat Johnson & Andrea Mutti…

I wonder, particularly given the black and white art, whether this was originally intended as part of the hit-and-miss Vertigo Crime imprint. It’s an okay story by Johnson, though nowhere near as strong or layered as his DARK RAIN: A NEW ORLEANS STORY.

This also gets into the murkier end of domestic US politics, set against a worrying upsurge of popularity for right-wing militias, but it felt more like a by-the-numbers Jack Bauer-style caper than having anything particularly worthwhile to say. There are some interesting-ish characters, but we just never get to care about them particularly.

Ah well.

JR

Buy Right State s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Infinity #1 of 6 (£3-50, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Jimmy Cheung.

“Hope for the best, Tony. Plan for the worst.”

Holy hell, this is enormous!

Not just in scope, either. I think this is 64 pages? It’s certainly all Jimmy Cheung – with Jonathan Hickman’s signature design work in the chapter breaks – and his work is so sleek and slick. Shiny, shiny, shiny!

This is very clever once you puzzle out all the pieces. I touch on them below in dot-to-dot fashion without giving you the numbers to successfully join them up. Haha, what a bastard, eh?

Jonathan Hickman has been building towards this in AVENGERS VOL 1: AVENGERS WORLD, AVENGERS VOL 2: THE LAST WHITE EVENT and NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: EVERYTHING DIES with a book each yet to come out before this summer blockbuster kicks off.

The biggest permanent assembly of Avengers has been gathered, while a covert offshoot, the Illuminati, have taken desperate measures to fend off the incursions of parallel Earths, accidentally destroying the Infinity Gems in the process. And you know who has a history of coveting those Infinity Gems, right?

Meanwhile Black Bolt of the Inhumans harbours secrets of his own – a plan he has hatched out with his mad brother Maximus – driving a wedge between him and his wife Medusa. An alien Outrider has been dispatched to steal a secret from Black Bolt’s mind, but that one isn’t it.

Now, just as the Avengers uncover a cadre of shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth without a single warrior-class member, they receive verified data that a distant Kree moon has been destroyed. It came via an unprecedented Kree distress signal. A force of destruction so massive it blocked out its sun is on the move and every space empire is scrambling. Extrapolating the trajectory of this armada of Armageddon, its target is indisputably Earth.

And, on the dark, stark starlit moon of Titan, Thanos smiles.

Because the Avengers have just made the most gigantic strategical error.

SLH

Buy Infinity #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Wolverine vol 1: Hunting Season s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Paul Cornell & Alan Davis.

“I’m an Avenger, code name Wolverine. Your target is down, so be calm, okay? I will hand the boy over to a paramedic. I don’t want him going into shock while you guys follow protocol. And get me some damned pants!”
“Hold off on that last part. Okay, Logan, now I can say I’ve seen everything.”

One of several fresh starts for our hirsute mutant, and the four chapters drawn by Alan Davis and inked as ever by Mark Farmer are, of course, beautiful. Davis’ forms which inspired Bryan Hitch are always so smooth and rounded, and you can also feel the weight of his characters’ backs when turned. The young boy caught in the middle of his dad possessed going postal with a disintegrator gun and a semi-disintegrated Wolverine who’d just popped into the skeleton-strewn mall for some coffee beans, is the epitome of bereft innocence. Then, when possessed himself, the lad’s wide-eyed face is startlingly confrontational.

Mirco Pierfederici’s final two chapters, by stark contrast, are horrible. The layouts are a jumble, the figure work wonky and the faces are some of the ugliest I’ve seen in comics – and I don’t mean in a deliberate Basil Wolverton-like fashion.

It’s at that point that Cornell’s writing falters too, though that could possibly be on account of editorial interference given how abruptly between chapters Logan stops referring to himself as “an Avenger, code name Wolverine” and becomes “The Wolverine” following the film. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t so awkward and artificial and therefore insulting. I can almost hear Cornell wincing too.

As to Logan’s co-star, if you’re wondering why Nick Fury now looks startlingly like THE ULTIMATES’ version that’s old Nick’s son; although obviously, again, that’s just editorial’s excuse following demands issued from Marvel-on-high that Fury in both universes looks like the one on the big screen. No awkwardness there – in fact I was fairly amused when MARVEL NOW introduced the character with no explanation initially at all. Kept you guessing. I just wonder where the original Nick Fury’s at. Must have missed something.

Anyway. People are being possessed and Wolverine – sorry, The Wolverine – uses his newly formed entourage of superhero experts down the local boozer to figure out how and why.  In all honesty there’s not really a lot more to it than that, although The Wolverine’s new allegiance with the new Nick Fury is apparently going to change the world.

SLH

Buy Wolverine vol 1: Hunting Season 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.

 

Soppy #2 (£3-00) by Philippa Rice

Strangers In Paradise Omnibus Box Set Softcover Slipcase Edition (£75-00, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore

Marbles: Mania,  Depression, Michelangelo & Me (£12-99, Robinson) by Ellen Forney

Bryan Hitch’s Ultimate Comics Studio h/c (£19-99, Impact) by Bryan Hitch

March Book 1 s/c (£10-90, Top Shelf) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

Chew vol 7: Bad Apples (£9-99, Image) by John Layman & Rob Guillory

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Willow Wonderland (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Jeff Parker, Christos N. Gage & Brian Ching, Jason Gorder, Michelle Madsen, David Mack

Rin-Ne vol 10 (£6-99, Viz) by Rumiko Takahashi

Rin-Ne vol 11 (£6-99, Viz) by Rumiko Takahashi

The Facts In The Case Of The Depature Of Miss Finch h/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman & Michael Zulli, Todd Klein

Marvel 1602 h/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert

New Avengers vol 5 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis &  Mike Deodato, Michael Gaydos, Michael Avon Oeming, Carlos Pacheco, others

Spider-Man: Dying Wish s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott & Humberto Ramos, Richard Elson

Fantastic Four vol 2: Road Trip s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Mark Bagley

Deadpool vol 2: Soul Hunter s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn & Scott Koblish, Mike Hawthorne

Superior Spider-Man vol 2: Troubled Mind s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Dan Slott & Humberto Ramos, various

Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest s/c (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch

Iron Man: The Secret Origin Of Tony Stark s/c (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Greg Land, Dale Eaglesham

Attack On Titan vol 6 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

 

Now in a break in our regular news platform, Page 45 proudly presents…

Milkshake Gate

My sympathisers on Twitter may recall that a couple of months ago while J-Lo and I were on the shop floor, a woman came in with a milkshake. We have a No Food & Drinks policy here because comics. Paper. Accidents. You know? But we were busy and we thought she looked sensible…

Until she put the milkshake down in the middle of the shop floor while browsing through graphic novels on the book plinth. I suggested she didn’t do that.

And then we received a letter of complaint from her boyfriend!

He also posted in on Facebook. When I heard that I couldn’t wait to get home. Sadly what I didn’t realise (I am not a fan of Facebook and understand it even less) was that the posting was private and you lot couldn’t see it. And that’s just not fair

For the first time, then, I give you the finale to Milkshake Gate: his letter of complaint and my reply. Have fun! I certainly did.


To whom this may concern,

Today my partner and I were browsing in your store and we both entered with drinks, and since there is no indication that food and drink are not allowed on the premises we both proceeded, there were two members of staff present to which both did not protest. My partner and I both came with the intention to purchase items mainly my girlfriend as she had the intention to purchase the entire Moonin graphic novel collection, my partner proceeded to place her drink on the floor as not to spill any liquid on the books whilst picking them up , as doing so a member of staff spoke to her in a manner that I believe is the height of rudeness, instead of asking her politely to pick up her drink the member of staff and I quote said “errrrrr no, we don’t normally allow food or drink any way but to place it on the floor is just asking for it”.

I am appalled at the way this member of staff spoke to my partner and after we both left

my partner broke down in tears , this is an appalling example of customer service and as an independent shop I would have thought that customer service would be important and this is a clear example that you do not value your customers, I am appalled that this behaviour is accept in the establishment and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

As a result of this my partner and I will be boycotting your shop and will no longer purchase any items from your shop and we take our custom else were, to were members of staff treat their customers well and value customer service.

Yours Sincerely

Mr Scott Andrew Smith

* * *

Dear Mr Smith,

When we consulted on Twitter about this incident and your complaint, the response from our customers was, for example, “When did it become ok to take food and drink into shops?” (Luke) and “Especially fucking book shops” (Xander) and from comicbook creator Paul Duffield, “Wow, entitlement has reached new heights”.

We don’t have a sign outside our shop saying, “No food or drinks” because we rely on common courtesy and common sense: this is shop full of exquisite but easily marked paper artefacts. You wouldn’t take poison into a pet shop (I hope). Also, I would point out, we don’t have a sign outside our shop saying, “Please don’t stick your fingers into the electrical sockets”. Though in your case, feel free.

In spite of the fact that you breached basic etiquette by bringing drink into the shop, we trusted your judgement to keep it well away from the comics and certainly off the floor where it could so easily have been kicked over by anyone innocently browsing the shelves without stuffing their faces. Our mistake, clearly. Your recollection of my somewhat surprised reaction is completely accurate: far from rude, though stating the blatantly obvious – your partner’s faux-pas was indeed asking for a major milkshake misshap which, where positioned could have caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage. What is your major malfunction?

Page 45’s reputation for customer service and – let us be clear – kindness is legendary, hence our substantial following on Twitter, our 2004 Diamond Award for best retailer in the country, our 2012 Award for Best Independent Retailer in Nottingham and Neil Gaiman declaring us in public as his favourite graphic novel shop anywhere in the world. When my original business partner Mark died, so many customers turned up to the funeral that it was standing room only. That doesn’t happen if you are unkind to customers.

Here’s a clue: you’re overreacting, nay overcompensating for your own bad manners. If you want to confirm the veracity of my quotations above you can find me on Twitter @pagefortyfive

Cheers,

Stephen

Member of staff since 1994. Also: co-creator & co-owner, as it happens.

* * *

ITEM! Have a new comic by Lucy Knisley. It’s awfully good!

ITEM! Have a Dalek hewn from hay to harvest humankind. I drove past this on Sunday. It’s gigantic.

 – Stephen

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