Reviews September 2013 week four

Comics from Lizz Lunney, Gabrielle Bell, Jonathan Edwards, Kristina Stipetic, David Petersen, Peter Bagge, Brain Ralph, Tom Hart and I think Jonathan wrote 15 reviews or something! Includes loads more stuff from Spit And A Half.

 – Stephen on JR totally taking it on!

Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me h/c (Expanded Edition) (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Peter Bagge.

“I say all illegal aliens should be aborted.”
“Don’t you mean “deported”?”
“That too.”

Sarah Palin almost made satire unnecessary, didn’t she?

Even funnier, smarter and head-noddingly engaging than I was expecting, as a huge admirer of STUPID COMICS I have to declare that for me at least this is the best body of work Peter Bagge has produced. It’s more focussed, more pertinent and very well informed as Peter tries to make sense of a world that refuses to talk any.

Modern art, modern art critics, The War On Drugs, The War On Terror, peace rallies, the homeless, crazy laws and their ridiculous enforcement, the right to bear arms and the right to be utterly infuriated at both sides of an argument. Peter’s a self-proclaimed libertarian, but do not for one second expect him to conform to any single partisan outlook because it’s the failure to think for oneself that exasperates him most. He’s equally confident in his dismissal of modern instalation art and its arbiters of taste (“they feel compelled to denigrate anything that the average schmuck can recognise as quality work“) as he is of Shakespeare (“hokey, unintelligible, 400-yr-old situation comedies” – an outrageous statement even I might have shied from!).

This is a collection of one-page satire strips and three-to-five-page commentaries originally printed in the aptly named Reason magazine, in startling contrast to what it reported on. Sometimes he’s your man on the scene, reluctantly taking part in peace rallies (taking part because he was against attacking Iraq; reluctant because he found it full of bogus posturing, grannies sniping at the police, and “piggybackers” promoting their own agendas by association) or a mutual-support gathering of swingers, polyamorists, sadomasochists and transsexuals, whilst at others he mocks by holding a mirror to the more monstrous or simply quoting them. From the New York Times (01/12/07), here’s one of the Bush-appointed contraception opponents, Dr. Erik Keroack, “before questions about Medicaid fraud forced his resignation”:

“[Premarital sex] will end up damaging your brain’s ability… to help you successfully bond in future relationships.”

As Peter perceptively retorts, “That’s right: hormones can tell if you’re married!”

But it’s serious stuff, as the horrifying story of one of Peter’s friends makes clear, when she visits a pharmicist who judgementally denies her the Plan B morning-after pill following her third visit in a year: “It’s become obvious that you’re a very irresponsible woman…” As to well informed, Bagge uses science to remind us that contrary to the lying rhetoric employed to sabotage this pill, it’s still a contraceptive drug, not an abortive one.

What impresses me so often in this book is that Bagge never shies of saying what many think but would never dare say, but is also prepared to mix with those he feels uneasy around in order to learn more and communicate his findings to a wider audience. I don’t always concur – though I usually do – but I could not agree more about the politically motivated, socially destructive, absurdly hypocritical and historically proven-to-be-completely-counter-productive War On Drugs. Here he follows the insane persecution and its costs to the taxpayer of one man using marijuana legally for medical reasons; then he interviews former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper who is pro-legalisation of all drugs for very sound reasons not least of which are health, the drain on police resources, the discretion of arrest that has produced a mammoth discrepancy in arrest rates along racial lines and, oh yes, does anyone remember the Prohibition era when alcohol was banned…? Al Capone…?

“The drug war has corrupted entire police departments, and it makes a cop’s job far more dangerous than it needs to be.”

Now that alcohol is legal again there, how many modern Al Capones are there fighting over the distribution of Dubonnet?


Buy Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me h/c (Expanded Edition)  and read the Page 45 review here

July Diary (£4-25) by Gabrielle Bell…

It’s July and Gabrielle and has again challenged herself to write a comic a day. Why has she done this? Handily for us, on panel five of Wednesday July 6th, she’s bullet point listed all the reasons…

  • I do a comic every day anyway.
  • Need a sense of accomplishment.
  • Need attention.
  • Need “internet presence”.
  • Need creative challenge.
  • Secretly hoping it could lead to making $$$.
  • Nothing ever seems to work out for me so I might as well do exactly what I want to do which is this.

Honest, endearing, as neurotic as a box of frogs. I think I have a secret crush on her.


Buy July Diary and read the Page 45 review here

Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (US Ed’n) (£18-99, Archaia) by David Petersen.

“I did not envy knowing the true words of a beast that blames you for its death.”

Well, that made me sit up and think. It occurs early on after Guardmouse Celanawe is first visited by his last living relative Em, who flew in on a crow she can communicate with. Whilst unattended, the crow is savaged by weasels which use the crow’s loose reins as its own leash, pinning it to the shore so that it cannot escape their murderous claws.

All Celanwe can hear are its caws of alarm and desperation; but elderly Em can comprehend every single sound, and tears well up her eyes as she clasps her paws to her muzzle in heart-stricken horror and grief.

This is surprisingly powerful stuff, and if you think that’s the last moment of stomach-churning guilt you will be made to feel vicariously, you are very much mistaken. One moment of elation much later on is shot down in a second as the repercussions of Celanawe’s understandable actions are unveiled. That this is done visually is the genius of it all, for it strikes home immediately; and that you will have been rooting for Celanawe with such passion will leave you feeling guilty by association. Then, I suspect, the ferret king’s strict code of honour, uttered pages before with complete conviction, will come back to haunt you, as it does the brave Guardmouse.

When recommending these all-ages MOUSE GUARD books to parents on the shop floor, I tend to qualify my unqualified admiration for their craft with, “It’s not Watership Down, but then reading Watership Down aged ten can scar you for life…” Well, this instalment is pretty damn harrowing in places.

THE BLACK AXE is a prequel to the earlier instalments, although its prologue kicks off in Spring straight after them and will return there in the epilogue. The body of the book harks back to Spring 1115 with Em bringing loyal Guardmouse Celanawe secret – and partially cryptic – instructions from his Matriarch to treat Em’s commands as her own. Their mission is to retrieve the legendary but lost Black Axe from its last known location on the island of Ildur.

The Black Axe is both a physical ebony weapon granting longevity and the name conferred to whichever warrior wields it. There are strict rules for bequeathing it as Celanawe will learn later, but for now it is enough for him to know what his Matriarch requires of him. For this, they will need stout hearts and a boat – which is where Conrad comes in.

“The younger mouse wasn’t as grizzled, rough, and dead in the eyes as the others. But his fur was stiff from the sea salt and I could catch a whiff of spirits from its muzzle.”

Petersen has immersed himself thoroughly in the perspective of small but stoical rodents, so that the seasons, environment, dietary requirements and in particular the condition of their fur mean different things than they would to us. It’s all in the detail and Petersen does bedraggled very well. The voyages are epic, the individuals’ skill sets so clearly defined so it is impressed upon you how vital each is for the mission and what would be lost if they were as well. They make the most of their natural environment, improvising and adapting as necessary and – while we’re talking about the environment – when you finally spy the ferrets’ Hall On The Hill, you may smile to discover that is also a Hall In The Hill, so similar to the modern eco-home with its thick-turfed roof.

The panel grids are crystal clear, the perspectives quite thrilling, and there are occasional cross sections so you can see more of some structures, often as fully realised as landscape artist Gerhard’s. The compositions within each panel are full-bodied – I cannot think of a weak one – even more so when larger beasts like bears, boars and foxes loom into view. This imparts a palpable sense of danger for mice so small, Black Axe or no. This time round I particularly relished the visualisations of the ferrets, quite distinct from the earlier, skull-adorned weasels, and especially the behaviour of the ferret king himself, which will take you by surprise.

My only qualm is the type-face, though I concede it could just be me: its lower case is adorned with flourishes like accents aigus to represent the medieval times (oh yes, sorry – normally my first words are “feudal fantasy”) which I found difficult to read. But this merely delayed my already slow reading process down; it didn’t impede it.

This is the finest incarnation of an already impressive library so far, hence the length and depth of this review. That it is riven with so much tragedy – not in its Shakespearian sense, necessarily, more heart-rending loss – makes it all the stronger, while the stoicism of Celanawe makes the legend of the Black Axe all the more impressive.


Buy Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (US Ed’n) and read the Page 45 review here

Daddy Lightning (£4-25) by Tom Hart…

I wish I hadn’t googled precisely why the comic was dedicated to his two-year-old daughter.

I had my suspicions and I was right. I was too upset to take this in properly really after that. The four photos on the last page just broke me. My heart goes out to him.

This however, is definitely comedy, featuring the semi-hapless titular Daddy Lightning and his increasingly frenetic attempts at childcare.


Buy Daddy Lightnight and read the Page 45 review here

Pop! A Complete History vol 1 (£5-99) by Jonathan Edwards.

Top-notch a-muso-mirth from the pages of NME, and for some reason my favourite panel is from the Beatles’ filmography, parodying their iconic HELP! shenanigans in semaphore as:

“HIYA!” The Times – “Four grown men titting about.”

Maybe because in my mind I’m hearing “HIYA!” as a camped-up greeting down a gay nightclub. I’m not entirely convinced that A Knight’s Hard Day was “an exposé of medieval working practices” but I’m willing to take Jonathan Edwards at his word since he kicks off with complete authority thus:

“All pop music is derived from ‘the blues’ – FACT! The blues was invented in 1900 by Shiverin’ Bitter Lemon Jefferson. “Woke up this morning and inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that would inevitably lead to the T4 Hollyoaks Special. Damn!””

This works even better as a collection rather than a weekly strip for there is cumulative comedy, Edwards returning to that riff over and over again, as when he reveals four further blues guitarist somewhat less than legendary, like metal-head Rustin’ Tinribs Hopkins, whose life is on the fritz:

“Upgraded this morning, Error Message – 26668 bzzzzttttt!”

As ever, of course, to convey the finest comicbook comedy, you kind of need the images. Sorry, and all that – you’ll just have to buy the booklet.

When you do (not if – we understand the power of positive linguistics here), you will learn all about the early torture of Elvis Presley, born quiff-first and top-heavy, his body a mere appendage to the majesty of his mane, and be enlightened on both Cockney and indeed Mockney Blues as Edwards takes us back to London, 1921, and the meteoric rise (don’t meteors fall?) of Coughin’ Billy Bowbells (“Think Plan B with rickets”):

“Me ol’ trouble is brown bread,
I can still see her Bracknells
And the Rodericks I’ll never forget!”

“Trouble & strife – Wife. Brown bread – Dead. Bracknells – I dunno, eyes? Rodericks – No idea. I haven’t a clue.”

I think we can forgive Jonathan this lapse in omniscience: singles rarely came with sleeve notes back in 1921.

Cleverly he had the foresight to choose most of his targets – sorry, subjects – for maximum timelessness, although I’m not sure how long Jedward will remain “a thing” (actually, incredibly, they may well endure!) and these strips were evidently created during the period in which every TV advert seemed to come with an emotive Moby soundtrack.

For the most part, however, you will find blues, jazz and rock – indie or otherwise – in the form of Marc Bolan, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Oasis, and country singer Chet Sorrows who claimed he could make a horse cry. According to Edwards others attempted to emulate this animal emo with varying degrees of success:

“Dwight Flotsam managed to make a cow gaze wistfully into the middle distance.”

Ah, that Moby magic!


Buy Pop! A Complete History vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

14 Nights vol 1 (£13-50) by Kristina Stipetic…

Moving tale involving angry gay Russian immigrant Nikita whose looking for love and recently had to have his hand amputated.  Comics really do surprise you sometimes. Whatever I was expecting from this particular work given the setup, it certainly wasn’t this. It an emotional but amusing, beautifully drawn tale, centred around a richly complex individual, capable of great affection, but also great verbal cruelty. Also, I think Craig Thompson would be a fair comparison to make art-wise, seriously.

Nikita is indeed looking for love. Deep, meaningful and significant love, including lots of passionate sex. The latter he has found many times, the former, well that’s a bit trickier. He is also quite convinced it’s going to be impossible for him to do so, which doesn’t help. Enter Lucian, who on the face of it, seems too good to be true, and of course is. Because whilst he is happy to give Nikita the emotional comfort he wants, he’s unable or unwilling to commit himself physically. This collects the first 110 pages of the long running webcomic. More to come in printed format, another two chunks of about the same length each I believe. But if you can’t wait until then, or want to have a peak at the art, and I strongly urge you to as it is splendid, you can read the first 314 pages HERE. Be warned, does contain willies.


Buy 14 Nights vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

At The Theme Park (£4-00) by Lizz Lunney.

Welcome to Lizzneyland! It’s just like Disneyland but with longer queues, fewer lawyers and entry is a lot less expensive!

You can even stay overnight by reading this in bed before falling asleep and letting the wonders float through your dreams. You may wish to bring a picnic hamper, however, for the Fast Foodz on offer are far from healthy: 15 quid for an all-day, all-you-can-drink Cup o’ Cola (“refill, refuel, regurgitate”), chipz that contain no potato and hot dogz that contain no real meat – not even dog. Beware of false advertising!

The best ride is the Emotional Rollercoaster, though that may be the 10-hour queue.

Like all Lizz Lunney comics which appear on the surface to be 100% bananas (unlike the bananaz), this is all so fiercely observed: cats queuing silently just like humans, occasionally exchanging glances but never words then quickly looking away; being trapped next to a litterbin filled with food and whizzing with wasps when you’ve already invested so much time you simply cannot run away; and indeed the false summit which is that snaking queue. You think there’s just 15 minutes to go but peer past the corner and it turns out to be 15 hours!

Parenthetically, don’t you find it’s the same when you close Microsoft Outlook and the back-up proceeds to read, “3 minutes… 2 minutes… 18 minutes… 3 hours… 355 days…”?

I absolutely adore the infectious enthusiasm of those brave souls who finally board the barf-inducing rides enticingly named ‘Black Hole’, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘You Will Never See Your Parents Again’ and wave their hands in the air like they don’t care when I can only grip onto my harness for dear life. It’s subtle, but Lunney nails the abrupt turn of a speeding rollercoaster and its effect on the waving, almost wailing arms of its occupants. Well, apart from guest-star DEPRESSED CAT who has his figurative arms folded for maximum malaise. And ennui. And, oh… *sigh*.

This is Lizz Lunney’s best book to date. For all her effervescence there is always a serious streak observing the human condition which rears its head here in a two-page interlude beginning with a stylised but immediately recognisable self-portrait fraught with Schultz-like underfrowns:

“As soon as you know about the possibility of something you worry about it.”

Immediately she deflects that undeniable truth with a pseudo-scientific dissection of Leaning Rabbit’s brain. Leaning Rabbit doesn’t engage most of his brain for anything other than leaning, and so has no worries. There are three tiny exceptions devoted to carrots, toilet and sex. But even so there is “no room in his brain for worry”.

“So from that, “Doctor Lunney deduces, “we can conclude that the secret to avoiding worry is to think about something else…”

Her beatifically beaming face exudes spangly stars of equanimous optimism, and she looks as sublime as her supine specimen. But the underlying message so cleverly conveyed through the experiment’s self-evidently glib procedure is this: it’s easier said than done.


Buy At The Theme Park and read the Page 45 review here

Lovf (£7-50) by Jesse Reklaw…

Wow. This is more intense than a quintuple espresso, and will probably make you feel as edgy, it certainly did me.

I mainly knew of Jesse from the moderately strange NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE, in which he illustrates other peoples’ dreams. This quite simply is, as he mentions on the front interior page, ‘a selection from the sketchbook I kept during a manic phase’. As I mentioned in another mini-comic review that they are often a way of getting a soupçon  of what a creator is all about, this would be the perfect example, given Jesse’s upcoming powerful looking tragicomic COUCH TAG H/C which he himself describes as ‘a memoir of childhood, family, mental illness and cats’. I’m looking forward it, even more so having disturbed myself reading this. Some people just have it harder than others. And then some of those people can make great comics out of it.


Buy Lovf and read the Page 45 review here

The Half Men (£2-99) by Kevin Huizenga…

Thought I had seen these two stories before. The first briefer part, possibly inspired by BEANWORLD, (who knows?!) artistically reminded me of FIGHT OR RUN and was originally collected in the NOBROW VOL 6 anthology.

The second much longer part, is essentially Kevin redrawing a real 1950s’ sci-fi comic in his own inimitable style, and was originally collected in KRAMER’S ERGOT VOL 8. I have no idea whether the dialogue is the original, I don’t think so at least not entirely given one of the heroes is called Dr. Ganges, but it is wonderfully entertaining. It comes as the most insane GLENN GANGES story ever, which I’m sure is entirely the idea.


Buy The Half Men and read the Page 45 review here

Mary Shelley Vs. Dracula (£4-25) by Janne Tervamaki.

“It has been brought to my attention… that you have been causing some serious trouble.”
“Boss! Please! Have a mercy on me! Please let me keep this job! I beg you!”
“I’m afraid that is out of the question. Because of your dabbling, several skyscrapers have vanished and ended up in other dimension!”

Utterly barking mad. More please. I really do need more of this. In glorious full colour too! The closest comparison, not for the story per se, but just for the lurid, bonkers assault on your senses would probably be Martin Eden’s SPANDEX. That ‘illustrated by a felt tip prodigy’ look.


Buy Mary Shelley Vs Dracula and read the Page 45 review here

You Don’t Get There From Here # 21 to 25 (£1-99 each) by Carrie McNinch…

Enduring mini-comics series of which young Tom wrote at some distant point in the past…

‘Carrie’s Mini’s are just about the most accessible mini-comics going, they’re dense, detailed, pocket-sized and, most importantly, cheap! Plus she has the skill to play a melodious tune on the heart strings in just three panels or build to a crescendo over many entries… Jump in anywhere, reading these for the first time is like meeting a new old friend.’

He’s right you know!


Buy You Don’t Get There From Here # 25 and read the Page 45 review here

Reggie 12 h/c (£16-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Brian Ralph…

Lovely homage to, and pastiche, of the great ASTRO BOY. Fans of Tezuka’s work will spot so, so many subtle, and not-so-subtle, references to the original. People who are unaware of the mighty metal midget will simply think this is brilliant and surreal manga-style knockabout comedy. Which it is. I particularly like Donald-14 and Bjorn the cat, slackers par excellence, who usually provide a running commentary on Reggie’s exploits, and often the last absurd word on each particular adventure, and love nothing more than causing him additional mischief with crank calls and stupid pranks. Fans of Mr. Ralph please note, CAVE-IN is finally back in print in a lovely new edition.


Buy Reggie 12 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Turtie Needs Work (£0.99) by Steve Wolfhard…

In which a tiny turtle tries various jobs with comedic results. It could just be coincidence, but I’ve just starting reading the Mr. Men to Whackers (my daughter) of an evening and had forgotten that the Mr. Small story is all about him trying out different jobs, with hilarious consequences. Quite sure there’s no plagiarism going on, just a very odd bit of synchronicity. Not sure what the universe is trying to tell me, but anyway, whilst this was good, Mr. Small is better. Though obviously not comics, before the pedantry police step in. And squash him.


Buy Turtie Needs Work and read the Page 45 review here

Technopriests Supreme Collection h/c (£37-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov.

“You have the most important skill in business: knowing how to cheat!”

A visual treat for fans of space-faring science fiction here with all the detail of HIP FLASK’s Ladronn and face and figure work not dissimilar to Frank Quitely’s. In fact Beltran’s moulded colouring with its metallic sheens and aqueous effects is so rich that it’s easy to lose sight of Janjetov’s meticulous cross-hatching on the ceilings and arched walls of a battleship’s bedrooms or the curved hull of the vast Verdant Fury. And if you likes yer monsters, do we have a menagerie for you! Diablodactyls, epidragons, drooling anthropomorphic sharks and enough different cybersaurs to fill a fantastical bestiary.

Yes, cybersaurs. Because actually this is as much about the gaming industry as anything else, and a not inconsiderable chunk of it is spent in the malleable world of virtual reality like the Technodojo where your greatest weapons are your wits and imagination. Games protégé Albino has both in abundance matched only by his driving ambition to create. To create games of unparalleled imagination, thinking so far outside the box that they transcend the traditional or the formulaic thereby raising the experience to another level. Commercially it’s seen as suicide.

“My boy, you see here a representative sample of our public… like the lambda consumers, with their neuroses and cherished complexes… who wish to be entertained, without ever rising above their feeble mental capacity.

“Fifty morons! A perfect cross-section of average consumers, drawn from all planetary systems… who will contribute their greed to your games. Any game which doesn’t please them will have to be remade, until they consent to enter your creations… which will be their creations more than your own, for they will be conceived specifically for their limited souls…

“The fifty morons love to fly spaceships, shooting at enemy vessels that use multi-directional propulsion systems to evade them… and all the maneuvers have the same goal: chase your enemy while staying on his trail.”

It’s this sort of creation by consumer consent, pandering to the lowest common denominator and appeasing their minimal expectations by giving the public more of what they already know that almost crushes our protagonist’s dreams under the weight of its stifling mediocrity. His genius is recognised by the Pan-Techno Organisation but it’s either punished or at least bridled because their original goal of enlightenment has long since been warped by man’s base desire for money which has now become theirs. It’s all about the bottom line. Here are some of the sacredly held tenets of the Guild’s first credo:

“Fifty-three: never expect anything from someone in power. Only the disadvantaged can make the first move.”
“Seventy: without greed and capitalist spirit, without strength and ambition, without trickery and shrewd business sense, the Technoguild would not exist.”
“One hundred and twenty-five: endeavouring to trap one’s stronger adversaries is the spider’s strategy. Remember that a Technopriest’s web is his network of contracts.”

It’s dense. Not quite as dense as LUTHER ARKWIGHT nor quite as clever, but it still gave me plenty to think about… until it switched to the other more traditional half of the European sci-fi plot involving the rest of Albino’s fractured family whose fortunes are reversed time and time again during his mother’s quest to avenge herself of the rape which spawned her three children. Quite simply, she wants to cut off their balls. Whilst not as explicit as the works of Luis Royo, Manara and co. the themes are all there: sexual slavery, degradation, humiliation, revenge. The revenge cycle plays itself within the fucked-up family but also spirals out in a series of rejections.

As the epic moves on there’s less talk and more epic action with vast armadas in space, cat people and you’ll discover the fate of the third space pirate who raped Albino’s mother, witness the expanding schism between herself and her once-cherished first son Almagro, and see her almost reconciled with her four-armed, blood-red daughter. Until they both give birth.

The art grows increasingly splendid with far more space to breathe. You’d buy any computer game designed by Janjetov. Huge sense of scale with water beings, translucent space birds, a gigantic bi-pedal, red-eyed rhino-bug, and a forest of monumental stalagmites, stretching as far as the eye can see, on either side of a pure blue river. The colouring is so lambent you’d think you were witnessing it all yourself outside on an early summer’s afternoon.

Lastly, I will just add that I was taken aback by the startling similarity in some panels of Albino’s Jiminy Cricket shoulder-size side-kick, to Jim Woodring’s FRANK!


Buy Technopriests Supreme Collection h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Memorexia  (£3-50) by Box Brown…

Sometimes, mini-comics are quite literally a taster of what a particular creator is all about. Other times, it can be the story itself which is an all too insufficient pinch of what could easily be expanded into a full length tale. This is one of the latter. So… if, through the aid of some serious sci-fi machinery, you could relieve one particular memory as though you were there, which would it be?

Under the auspices of one of the great American growth industries of the 20th century, counselling, Shawn has the chance to find out. The one warning, don’t interfere with the memory, let it unfold as you remember it happening. No prizes for guessing what Shawn does. And there it ends!!! I wanted more, what happens next?!?!


Buy Memorexia and read the Page 45 review here

Diesel Sweeties vol 1: I’m A Rocker. I Rock Out. (£14-99, Oni Press Inc.) by R. Stevens…

Collated 8-bit art style webcomic shenanigans revolving around possibly the most judgemental man on the planet, after Dredd obviously, in the gloriously pixellated form of Indie Rock Pete. Rather than try and explain his shtick, let me leave you with a few samples. Oh, and Matt Fraction is a big fan, apparently.

“Heard the new Vampire Weekend album yet?”
“Pick a band, any band. My answer will always be, “I was sick of them six months before you knew they existed.””

“Whatcha listening to?”
“The Gherkin Merkins! My new favourite band.”
“Huh. They’re still around? I like that band ironically before you liked them sincerely.”

“What’s your favourite band Clango?”
“I don’t really listen to music.”
“Then how am I supposed to judge you?”


Buy Diesel Sweeties vol 1: I’m A Rocker. I Rock Out. and read the Page 45 review here

Astro City: The Tarnished Angel (£14-99, DC) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson.

Fourth volume of the highly intelligent, self-contained superhero series ASTRO CITY, usually seen from the sidewalks, in which a recently paroled, metal-skinned veteran criminal, desperately seeking a job to keep himself straight, takes the wrong one. Investigating the recent murders of several local, washed-up super-villains about whom nobody cares, the tired and jaded old man uncovers a terrible strategy behind which lie secrets no one, especially the high-and-mighty superhero community, is willing to believe. Busiek writes an involving internal monologue, full of neat little ideas:

“He does get me some dishwashing jobs. Anyone can get dishwashing jobs. But the thing is – ever tried to wash dishes with wet, soapy, metal hands?”

Meanwhile Brent Anderson’s body language perfectly captures the weariness of a once-formidable body. You can’t help but feel for this poor sod stuck in the middle, who’s used up all credibility and has to find some means of exposing the truth, no matter what the personal repercussions.


Buy Astro City: The Tarnished Angel and read the Page 45 review here

Century West s/c (£5-99, Image) by Howard Chaykin…

Possibly the most casually and continuously offensive story I’ve read in a while. Caution, if you’re black or Jewish (or both!), you might find this sweary wild western yarn ruder than the entire run of HBO’s Deadwood put together. It gets away with it, I think, because it’s so over the top, but I was just puzzled.

I do like Howard’s material by and large, and I think there is a point to the story he is telling here, involving the rather odd town of Century, its inhabitants, and the movie picture that is being filmed there, but I just didn’t get it. I read it, finished it, and was absolutely none-the-wiser as to what was going on. Pretty sure something is being satirised, I just wasn’t sure what. Maybe I was a bit tired. Lovely art though.


Buy Century West 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.


Wu Wei: A Spiritual Comics Anthology (£6-00) by various

The Black Project (£12-99, Myriad) by Gareth Brookes

Lost Boy s/c (£9-99, Other A-Z) by Greg Ruth

Star Wars: Jedi Academy h/c (£8-99, Scholastic) by Jeffrey Brown

Tiny Pencil (£14-99, Tiny Empire Publishing) by Amber Hsu

Hilda And The Troll h/c (£12-95, Flying Eye Books) by Luke Pearson

Justice League vol 2: The Villain’s Journey s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee, Scott Williams

Justice League vol 3: The Throne Of Atlantis h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire & Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, Tony S. Daniel

Birds Of Prey vol 2: Your Kiss Might Kill s/c (£10-99, DC) by Duane Swierczynski & Travel Foreman

Shazam vol 1 h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

Marvel 1985 s/c (UK Ed’n) (£11-99, Marvel) by Mark Millar & Tommy Lee Edwards

Ultimate Comics: Divided We Fall United We Stand s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis, Sam Humphries, Brian Wood & Billy Tan, Paco Medina, David Marquez, others

Young Marvel: Little X-Men, Little Avengers, Big Trouble s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Skottie Young, Dan Slott, Ruben Diaz, Chris Claremont & Gurihiru, Mark Buckingham, JJ Kirby, Tom Raney, Skottie Young

Preacher Book 2 (£14-99, DC) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

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

Tropic Of The Sea (£10-99, Random House / Vertical) by Satoshi Kon

Blade Of The Immortal vol 27: Mist On The Spider’s Web (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Hiroaki Samura


ITEM! NOTTINGHAM INDEPENDENTS AWARD 2013 IS GO, GO, GO! PLEASE VOTE FOR PAGE 45! You know, by clicking on that link! Page 45 won Best Independent Retailer 2012 and the publicity was phenomenal. So we be enormously grateful if you could help us win again. You don’t have to be local, it’s about what you love most in Nottingham – and it’s unlikely to be the weekend puke in the doorways!

ITEM! Sarah McIntyre, creator of VERN & LETTUCE has written a very helpful and enormously kind column on promoting your books without looking spammy.

ITEM! Magical, almost miasmatic postcard of Market Street, Nottingham. We’re three awnings up on the left!

ITEM! Gerhard explains the extraordinary cover to FOLLOWING CEREBUS #11 – which is now available as a print!

ITEM! The Comicbook Legal Defence Fund on banned books and how to combat challenges and bans in libraries.

ITEM! Expanded edition of Peter Bagge’s exceptional EVERYBODY IS STUPID EXCEPT FOR ME is reviewed above. I swear, if you think you already know Peter Bagge, this is very different territory which truly deserves your attention. Here’s a 15-page EVERYBODY IS STUPID EXCEPT FOR ME preview.


ITEM! I will be appearing at The Broadway Book Club at 7-30pm on Thursday September 26th for a Page 45 interactive evening of glorious graphic novels. And yes, I done wrote a blog on that. Do have a click, even if you can’t come, because there are some beautiful books there, linked to their reviews! Cheers!

ITEM! Page 45 reveals comics’ own Eddie Campbell’s set designs for Michael Eaton’s new play Charlie Peace at Nottingham Playhouse! Big blog there including the actual projection designs! Also, links to loads of Eddie’s glorious graphic novels. You know we made most of them Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month? More than any other single creator.

ITEM! Time’s running out to enter the prize draw for our original Terry Moore art! Competition closes at the end of September! Please see Page 45’s  STRANGERS IN PARADISE OMNIBUS blog.

ITEM! And while we’re at it,  that DUNCAN FEGREDO IS SIGNING HERE ON OCTOBER 23RD FOR THE LAUNCH OF HELLBOY MIDNIGHT CIRCUS! It’s the very day of publication and Page 45 has the graphic novel’s  EXCLUSIVE BOOK MARK EDITION!


  – Stephen

One Response to “Reviews September 2013 week four”

  1. Reviews September 2013 week four - Escape Pod Comics says:

    […] post Reviews September 2013 week four appeared first on Page 45 | Comics & Graphic Novels | Independent Bookshop | […]

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