Archive for November, 2013

Reviews November 2013 week four

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Editor’s note: both BUTTERFLY GATE reviewed by Jonathan and KNIGHT & DRAGON reviewed by myself come, at the time of typing, with free, exclusive, Page 45 signed bookplates thanks to Improper Books. Do you remember how fast their PORCELAIN’s went? 100 copies sold out within 10 days! We only have 10 copies left of KNIGHT & DRAGON.

 – Stephen on… well, you get the picture.

Butterfly Gate (£7-99, Improper Books) by Benjamin Reed & Chris Wildgoose…

Just had a glance at the front cover again, after finishing this work, and pondering upon Ben’s comment that in addition to this being a silent comic, there will be no explanations given or anything revealed that isn’t already on the page… and I’ve just noted something I didn’t spot originally. Well, perhaps I did, but now it has a far greater significance to me…

I’m not normally a huge fan of wordless comics, probably because I can have the nicest artwork in the world but if there isn’t a good plot, it’s just not my thing. Often I will read something twice, once quickly reading the plot and then a second time, taking in more of the art. This wordless piece though, is rather different, which is probably why Ben felt the need to pen his foreword, explaining that this story of two children will, over the course of several volumes, keep leapfrogging forward in time by six months, as happens once within this volume, over a span of ten years of their lives, telling us the story of their epic and bloody adventure. All of which creates a suitably intriguing sense of mystery before you even start reading!

I’m loath to give any of the plot away suffice to say Ben’s use of the words “epic” and “bloody” are certainly not going to be exaggerations if this first instalment is anything to go by. I was enticed in by the two innocent-looking cherubs and taken on the first steps of a journey reminiscent of a Humanoids imprint European sci-fi fantasy masterpiece. If you are familiar with Ben and Chris’ previous work PORCELAIN, you’ll know what an incredible artist Chris is, and I can say with complete certainty what they’ve done here just wouldn’t work in the way it does without his exceptional ability to portray a scene. But what I found most astonishing was just how complex a story is being told by Ben here, without the aid of narration or speech. It’s so ambitious in its scope and I admire that ambition greatly.

Yes, you will have to spend some time occasionally puzzling precisely what the nuances of a given situation are, but I don’t doubt whenever that occurs, it was precisely Ben’s intention that you do so. I actually found myself reading this four times in succession, my understanding of precisely what was being revealed increasing with each subsequent read, particularly in the second half of the book. It does of course finish with a cliffhanger, albeit quite a gentle one (this time at least) that will set up the next six-month leap forward in time, and it’d be nice to think that Ben and Chris are intending to keep up a publishing schedule to match. Just kidding – slightly begrudgingly, I must admit – as I wouldn’t really want them to rush, because when something is this good I am prepared to wait.


Buy Butterfly Gate and read the Page 45 review here

Unforgotten h/c (£14-99, InkLit) by Tohby Riddle.

“Ethereal” is the word which first springs to mind.

Also: an instinctive comparison to Wim Wenders’ haunting and dreamy Wings Of Desire film which boasts one of the finest soundtracks and the most mellifluous German ever spoken. Okay, “mellifluous” isn’t quite the right word: but you’ll feel like your face is resting gently on a duck-down pillow.

So it is here, as tender angels descend on a nocturnal Europe, its cities glowing through the darkness. The angels are drawn in soft grey pencil with a simplicity you might see in stained glass windows, hands clasped in prayer, a cross between the Medieval and Raymond Briggs. The same set of poses are reused throughout, like the white card cut-outs Mark once used for our Christmas window display.

These are superimposed on treated photography and it works so well. Like Philippa Rice’s WE’RE OUT, Bryan Talbot’s ALICE IN SUNDERLAND and Dave McKean on Neil Gaiman’s MR PUNCH, each of which utilise photography in different ways with spectacular success, this too has achieved what was once a jarring proposition which used to send me screaming to the hills.

Look a little closer and you will begin to notice that it isn’t as simple as all that, for the photographic scenescapes and with their bustling crowds of mortal city-dwellers and modes of transport prove to be collages ripped from both time and space: horse-drawn carriages and stretch limousines, free-standing Corinthian columns and statues of Mongolian or possibly Chinese warriors juxtaposed against heavily façaded shop-fronts while pedestrians mill about from Victorian ladies in mourning and colliery workers to that chap in the Adidas track-top.

It’s like some mischievous child has gone wild on half a dozen Action Transfer kits, perhaps saving the rub-on transfers they failed to employ on their relevant backdrops to redeploy those left-overs here en anarchic masse. It could be any and all times, everywhere and when.

It is a very quiet book, full of luxuriously imagery – improbable clouds and leaves and snow – so light on script that the poetry can be compressed onto a single page at the back as the angels fulfil their mission:

“They come
to watch over
and to warm
and to mend.”

One angel is overcome, sinks, becomes grounded.

“Weakened, it wanders
as if dreaming
resting where it can
until rest is not enough
and it comes to a stop.”

Whatever will become of the fallen angel, sitting invisible, inert and alone on a park bench?


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

Sunny vol 2 h/c (£16-99, Viz) by Taiyo Matsumoto.

“Y’know, when I first came to the home I was always crying. But, little by little, you get used to being sad.”

Not “you get used to the home” but “you get used to being sad”.

Japanese orphanages are very different beasts to our own. The homes don’t house orphans: the kids often have parents. Parents who, for one reason or another, leave them in state care.

Can you imagine what that’s like, wondering why you have been abandoned? Wondering if you will ever be reclaimed? Desperate for a visit yet, as soon as that visit starts, knowing it will end; that knowledge colouring all your precious time together?

SUNNY VOL 1 set in the Star Kids Home was so deeply affecting we made it Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month. It’s Dominique’s book of the year. The walls are so thin that one over-excited exchange cuts into another. So many conversations are happening all the time so that, as in any crowd, you may hear only snatches.

And although some kids are quiet and introspective, they can be a chaotic bunch, their faces flushed, hair messy, snot dripping from their noses. They’re pretty outspoken too but Mr Adachi takes it in good humour. It is only young Makio – the calm voice of reason treated by unruly Haruo like a minor celebrity – whom they listen to and respect.

Oh, it’s so acutely observed: the way a story circulates and is repeated, like the approach of a man with dark hands who must be one of those strangers children should never talk to; Kiko’s jealousy at not being the centre of attention, so making a second incidence up – that she was actually kidnapped but got away – then finding herself boxed in and having to embellish the lie, then panicking when caught out. It’s all seen from the narrow lens of small children with the limited understanding of the adult world outside:

“Yelling about it isn’t gonna make it true, liar.”
“Yeah. Y’know lying to the police is called perjury.”
“You might even go to jail, y’know.”
“My Dad says a criminal record stays with you forever.”
“You can never marry anyone.”


“Megumu really bugs me… always feeling sorry for herself,” broods the ever-resentful Kiko, always feeling sorry for herself.

So welcome back to the daily routine and crisis management of the Star Kids Home, where new kids come and go all the time leaving others behind, seemingly destined to spend their entire childhood there, distracted and so saved only by the strength of their imagination and the sanctuary of the Sunny Datsun in which adults aren’t allowed.

It’s parked in the yard, without engine, going nowhere.


Buy Sunny vol 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Vivek J. Tiwary & Andrew Robinson, Kyle Baker…

“…So what’ll it be for you? What is it that you want..?”
“Well, I suppose I want what everyone else wants… Peace, love, and belonging… though perhaps it’s belonging that’s most elusive.”

On the surface this is pure effervescent swinging sixties fun with a dapper yet cheeky biopic feel, portraying the charismatic guiding hand behind the Beatles’ rise to stardom. But when the cheers die down, the after party is over, the champagne bubbles have gone flat, what can you do if what you really feel is completely and utterly alone? Brian Epstein made making the Beatles his life’s work and tragically it probably greatly curtailed his, with his untimely death at the age of 32. As the Beatles themselves began to indulge in less legal pharmacological pursuits, Epstein became first addicted to amphetamines, and then sleeping tablets to try and help with his acute insomnia. Ultimately, it was an overdose of barbiturates which caused his premature passing.

It’s inevitable that any work like this will be only a potted history of events, even in a career as short as Epstein’s, but it features all the notable highs and lows, and of course bizarre anecdotes you would expect. Epstein had his personal demons, primarily due to having to hide his sexuality at a time when despite the Sixties sexual revolution, male homosexuality was still illegal in England and Wales, ironically enough only being decriminalised about a month after his passing. And whilst this work doesn’t shy away from looking at the deep sadness Epstein clearly felt about being unable to openly look for romantic love, which he clearly felt could be the one thing that might save him from his workaholic and destructive tendencies, there is also much fun and frivolity about the magical journey he and the Beatles were on. The absolute highlight for me though is his lunch meeting with Colonel Parker, manager of Elvis and a man with a notorious appetite for money…

“You take fifty percent of everything Elvis earns?!”
“No. Elvis takes fifty percent of everything I earn.”




As Parker launches into tirade after tirade about Jews in the entertainment industry then just for dessert indulging some casual homophobia, Epstein begins to see the Colonel almost metamorphosising into some devilish version of Mammon in front of his very eyes. It’s a timely reminder that whilst Epstein himself was on a staggering 25% gross (not including expenses) of The Beatles’ income, he never had anything but their own best interests at heart. Indeed, just three years after Epstein’s death in August 1967 and with the breakup of Beatles then complete, John Lennon noted in a Rolling Stone interview that upon hearing of Epstein’s death: “I knew that we were in trouble then… I thought, ‘We’ve fuckin’ had it now'”.

The beautiful artwork, from Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, elegantly captures the wild rollercoaster ride that was Epstein’s life from the moment he laid eyes on the proto Fab Four in the Cavern to the moment he was finally laid to rest, complimenting Vivek J. Tiwary’s excellent script. Not entirely sure how much appeal this will have, either inside or outside of Beatles’ fans, but I certainly found it a very witty and immensely visually appealing read.


Buy The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Comics Art h/c (£18-99, Tate) by Paul Gravett.

Right on the money and bang up to date, you won’t find anyone with a broader knowledge of comics than Paul Gravett. Here he loots the library in his head and the graphic novels on his groaning book shelves to bring you a sweeping guide to a whole century of sequential art, lavishly illustrated by its newest stars like Jon McNaught and Luke Pearson as well and its heavyweights such as David Mazzuchelli, Lynda Barry, Shaun Tan and Lorenzo Mattotti.

Gravett then lobs in some visual grenades from John Miers et al which came as a complete surprise to me, while installations come courtesy of Dave McKean and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. I was also startled to see the “App version” of Jason Shiga’s MEANWHILE as a single page which I wish had been blown up into a fold-out insert.

Paul revs up by putting the production of comics into its historical and contemporary socio-political context of which he never loses sight, then accelerates through all manner of the medium’s many aspects from autobiography to wordless wonders, impact and immersion, while peppering the pages with examples of different creative approaches and the effects those diverse decisions have on the way a comic is read. Right down to turning the page.

However, at 150 pages with so many illustrations, it is, inevitably a drive-by. The ground it covers is far broader than the depth into which any given aspect is delved. Gravett’s aim is as always immaculate: I cannot find anything here to disagree with, plenty I might not have thought of, and much I had never seen before in my life. Moreover, the books coherence is astonishing. Were I to attempt such a task, I would have lost my way by page five in one long meander-thon and spent a whole chapter discussing Mazzucchelli’s ASTERIOS POLYP then dedicating two to the single greatest body of work in comics, the  ALEC OMNIBUS by Eddie Campbell, who here receives but three sentences, even if one of them is reasonably long.

So no, this is not, as someone ludicrously claimed, the new UNDERSTANDING COMICS. It is far closer to a Getting Acquainted With Comics In All Their Astonishing Diversity (for which I applaud and commend it) which you can then explore in more intricate detail in GRAPHIC NOVELS: STORIES TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE / EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW* already written by the great Gravett himself.

Look, it’s published by The Tate. That should tell you everything you need to know about its mandate and target audience. It’s an invitation to Fine Art lovers extended by comics’ most eloquent ambassador.

* US and UK titles differ.


Buy Comics Art h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Bad Houses (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil.

“Though they’ve just met, AJ and Danica already have some ideas about each other… They’re both wrong.”

That’s a perfect example of the narrative tone and lightness of touch here: it is detached and observational; highly perceptive yet sparse – concise.

The art from FINDER’s Carla Speed McNeil is soft and pleasing, an expressive cross between BLOOD BLOKES’ Adam Cadwell, and SLEAZE CASTLE’s Terry Wiley (I defy you to look Anne in the eyes and not think Terry Wiley; just look at the hair!). The expressions are sweet and subtle, and the sense of space superb – that will prove very important.

Set in a town called Failin (which is indeed… failing), it is a book about self-esteem and relationships, both generational and romantic, and indeed between people and objects: what we hoard, what we covet, what we collect and what we invest in emotionally. We’re presented with two central family units – mother Cat and son Lewis; mother Danica and daughter Anne – and other orbiting parties: an effectively swift antiques dealer called Ted and unemployed AJ who feels unable to cope as carer to his elderly mother and is today leaving her with Forest Grove Assisted Living which is where Danica works.

Lewis works for his mother Cat (he would say “with”) of Cat’s Matchless Estate Sales, and this is where the objects come in. After helping out a friend many years ago, Cat discovered she had a knack for selling the contents of houses after their occupants had died. These are full of objects their owners never sought to relinquish: they were integral parts of their lives, full of history, full of meaning to them. And that can elicit in others many things: prurience, nostalgia or the chance to make a killing. Also, judgement, as in this mug printed with the legend, “World’s Best Mom”:

“Lewis has seen any number of mugs identical to the one they are contemplating. And always the same hyperbolic phrase, Lewis thinks. Apparently just being a good mom is inadequate. Just once, Lewis would like to see “Mom Who Is Doing Her Best, All Things Considered”. People would pay more for a mug like that, he reasons. It’d be unique.”

Someone should start a line in those: a lot of mums would empathise!

What this book does so beautiful is, as I say, present us with these individuals… and then gradually reveal surprising sides to them. Surprising sides can come as quite a shock when you think you know everything about your loved one.


Buy Bad Houses and read the Page 45 review here

Knight & Dragon (Exclusive Page 45 Bookplate Edition)(£8-99, Improper Books) by Matt Gibbs & Bevis Musson.

Ah, now this is a little different: a silent story strewn with symbols whose direction is dictated by the protagonist you choose.

The diverging paths of each of the six colour-coded characters are indicated by matching page numbers under each episode: you can choose from dragon, knight, maiden, trusty steed, village hunk (officially “farmhand” but I guarantee you “hunk” is what springs to mind first) and village thief — I mean chief! For the record I chose: horse, then dragon, then maiden and all three endings made me grin my head off.

A knight lollops into town on his carrot-craving horse and is immediately greeted by the villagers as their potential saviour, for there is a big red dragon circling up above and its unregulated displays of fire-breathing are flaunting every possible Health & Safety regulation going. The knight falls for the village beauty at which point their opportunistic leader offers her hand in marriage as an incentive. The maiden is far from impressed; the knight is far from confident; the horse hopes there are carrots at the end of all this because that stick is bloody massive.

What will the knight find in the dragon’s cave? Which secret will the put-upon maiden unearth in the village itself? Who in the end will get the girl? All of this depends on your initial choice.

My favourite branch involved the horse, knight and farmhunk distracted from the matter at hand, much to the maiden’s deliciously depicted, glowering vexation which is all the funnier for being delivered direct to camera. Musson’s art is clean and kid-friendly as is Nathan Ashworth’s sunlit colours.


This is very much aimed at younger readers and as such should probably have been reviewed by one because this adult detected a few shortcomings a child would possibly have glossed over. I was expecting each character’s path to be seen specifically from their point of view yet, for example, there were scenes the horse neither bore witness to nor would have cared about. I personally would have preferred that: it would have given the story more depth, variety and, if properly considered, wit. It would also have added some length because this is very, very short indeed. Also, more could have been done with the opposing pages – something akin to SOCK: MONKEY: THAT DARN YARN or SOCK MONKEY: LITTLE & LARGE.

None of which detracts from the skill of its timing, especially the fair maiden’s ever-increasing exasperation at the sheer uselessness of everyone else involved. Honestly: men!


Buy Knight & Dragon and read the Page 45 review here

Baltimore vol 3: A Passing Stranger And Other Stories h/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden & Ben Stenbeck, Dave Stewart…

“What if there are vampires?”
“Didn’t you see all of those weapons? That’s what he is, Maxie. He’s a vampire hunter.”

He certainly is, but he’ll happily take on all comers, dead or alive (but especially undead), will our Lord Henry Baltimore. The relentless quest across Europe deeper into the old world for the vampire Hagus continues, but Baltimore increasingly finds his pursuit obstructed by the rise of other equally perfidious supernatural evils, which the widespread return of vampires to the world seems to have awakened.

Plus plague has spread throughout continental Europe, which is always good fun as well, as if fear of having your blood drained by vampires or being eaten by some sort of magically mutated swarm of monster crabs wasn’t bad enough. Then, of course, assuming you’ve survived all that, there are the mentalists of the new Inquisition to contend with, prayer-powered and ready to pluck fingernails and gouge eyes, all to save your soul.

Judge Duvic from BALTIMORE VOL 2: THE CURSE BELLS in particular would like a chat with Baltimore, fervently believing him to be a fundamental source of evil that needs extinguishing, but our Henry has no time for calls of either the social or anti-social variety, after all, he’s a vampire to catch. If you like HELLBOY or BPRD and you haven’t tried BALTIMORE yet, you really are missing out. If you like a good scare and haven’t read any of Mignola’s stuff at all, I’ll pass on your address to Judge Duvic as he clearly needs a word…


Buy Baltimore vol 3: A Passing Stranger And Other Stories h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Mysterious Underground Men h/c (£18-99, Picturebox) by Osamu Tezuka, edited by Ryan Holmberg…

Very early Tezuka from 1948, chronologically his third published work, though interestingly he considered it his first proper release, for reasons elucidated upon in the excellent additional material from Ryan Holmberg. Basically, at that point in time, manga as we know it today was still in its very formative years, beginning to rapidly evolve from the staple pre-war gag strips, due in no small part to the sudden, jarring exposure to Western culture on minds like Tezuka’s.

This is the first English translation of this work which, given it very much has the feel of a 1930s’ black and white sci-fi serial, I wasn’t remotely surprised to see was partly inspired by the Buster Crabbe version of Flash Gordon. Also, and again given the heavy humorous elements Tezuka often employed throughout his career, it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, this work was also apparently influenced by Milt Gross’ wordless classic parody HE DONE HER WRONG. The fact the main character trying to save humanity from a humanoid termite invasion is a talking rabbit called Mimio just adds to the fun…


Buy The Mysterious Underground Men h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Knights: X-Men #1 of 5 (£2-99, Marvel) by Brahm Revel & Chris Peter.

Page 45 is a comic shop. We are:

Stephen L. Holland
Jonathan Rigby
Dominique Kidd
with Jodie Paterson.

And on any Monday morning our conversation goes exactly like this:

“Ah, Holland, you are an hour late to work!”
“Yes, Kidd, the other original member of Page 45, you are correct! And you are early as you have been for the last 322 consecutive days as I can tell by accessing our alarm system which records when anyone first enters the building.”
“Holland, who was last speaking, I have arrived with the bubonic plague.”
“I sense danger, Rigby! Has your daughter, who is now two years old, acted like a human disease incubator yet again and given you another dreaded lurgy?”
“She has, Dominique (codenamed Kidd who took a seven-year leave of absence during which I snuck in as business partner and rescued Page 45 from the inept fumblings of our improbably resilient, bald-headed git). I am quite poorly.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Rigby (whom we refer to as J-Lo or J-Boy and maybe soon J-Ray), but I think you will find to all intents and purposes (and especially my ego) that I *AM* PAGE 45!”
“Holland, you are now little more than our mascot. Like a shop dog, in fact.”
“Fair enough.”


“Yoo-hoo! Morning! It is, I, Jodie Paterson who has just joined Page 45 and finally brought a breath of fresh air and some semblance of professionalism to this rag-tag retail outfit located right in the heart of Nottingham (NG1 6HY – right on the tram tracks and just opposite Debenhams). I have coffee for everyone! Jonathan, yours is the large one.”
“That’s what SHE said!”

Everyone punches Jonathan to a pulp.

Okay, this isn’t the world’s worst offender expositionally, but nobody talks like this. For the admirable antithesis, please see IDENTITY CRISIS which is phenomenal.


Buy Marvel Knights: X-Men #1  and read the Page 45 review here

Hawkeye vol 1 h/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & David Aja with Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, Francesco Francavilla, Annie Wu, Alan Davis, Matt Hollingsworth.

Both so-sexy softcovers in one! This is magnificent!

“Okay… This looks bad. Really… really bad. But believe it or not, it’s only the third most-terrible idea I’ve had today and today I have had exactly nine terrible ideas.”

Oh, Clint. Every idea you have is terrible.

Comedy crime with an eye for design so sharp that this is the first superhero book we have ever allowed in our window. Partly because it’s not even a superhero book, but mostly it’s Aja’s design.

There’s a charming use of flesh and purple tones, and a thrilling deployment of stark black and white with plenty of wide-open space. In one instance a newspaper clipping smuggles in the creator credits; in another the only mask in this entire series so far (apart from a certain gold-plated façade) makes for a belly-laugh moment you may have heard whisper of. I’m not going to steal the fun from you. Here’s a Daily Bugle headline instead:

Oh God Somebody Do Something

Fraction’s timing is immaculate. At least three of these stories kick off in the middle, at the height of yet another monumental disaster, the one quoted above then proceeding to count down through each of Clint’s nine increasingly idiotic ideas. Thank goodness for Kate Bishop, then – the younger, female Hawkeye – who’s smarter, sassier and infinitely more savvy, so often left to pull Clint’s fat (and occasionally naked) ass out of the fryer.

“Tell you what, if I die, you can have the case. It’s good for travel.”
“Think I have quite enough of your baggage already, thanks.”

Here’s some of what I wrote of the first issue before the spying, the lying and the videotapes arrived. Before Clint’s sex-drive got him into the coolest comic car chase I can recall, complete with some old trick arrows he really should have found time to label before dipping his wick. Bring on the tracksuit Draculas, bro!

By his own admission Clint Barton can be more than a little juvenile. The man with the hair-trigger temper and mouth to match has a long history of knee-jerk reactions. But for all his sins, this totally blonde bowman and relative outsider has a heart of gold and a social conscience to boot. So when those who have taken him in – the neighbours he shares communal barbeques with on hot summer nights on the roof of their tenement building – fall under threat of mass eviction, Clint can’t help but act on impulse, and you just know it’s going to go horribly, horribly wrong.

It’s a first-person narrative with a grin-inducing degree of critical, objective detachment. It dashes frantically, nay recklessly, backwards and forwards in time with little-to-no hand-holding, as Clint watches yet another badly laid plan precipitate a cycle of ill-aimed, flailing thuggery. At its centre lies the plight of a battered mongrel which Barton fed pizza to in order to win the dog over. But now it’s in trouble.

“What kinda man throws a dog into traffic – seriously, I ask you – traffic right now – rain – cabs – nobody watching out for sideways demon pizza mutts – c’mon, Clint – c’mon – nobody – nobody watching out – Can’t watch oh God…”

Now, there is a natural affinity if ever I read one.

Second half:

“Okay… this looks bad.”

Of course it does, Clint: you are involved.

HAWKEYE VOL 1 is the only superhero comic we have ever allowed in the Page 45 window, and the only superhero comic we have ever made – or are likely to make – Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month. Firstly, David Aja’s design skills are phenomenal; secondly, this isn’t a superhero comic: it’s a grin-inducingly inventive comedy crime caper, full of humanity and accessible to all: you don’t need to have read a single Marvel Comic in your life.

Oh, you’ll find so much to relate to, like that unfathomable tangle of wires which links your TV to your digital thingie via the DVD player and VCR, while your PS3 and Wii operate almost certainly by magic if only you can remember which arcane combination of controller buttons to press. God alone knows which plug is which anymore.

Then there are the ghosts of ex-girlfriends. Oh, not real ghosts, but imagine being caught snogging a damsel in distress (and in dat dress) by a) your girlfriend b) your ex-girlfriend and c) your ex-wife, all at the same time. I’m not exactly sure what a motif is, but Fraction and Aja have turned that trio into one. Probably. They recur, anyway, at the most inopportune moments.

Once again, this is one long succession of disasters but this time not all of them are of Clint’s making. The first chapter was written on the fly immediately following the horrific storms which hit the U.S. on October 29th 2012.

Clint has bought the tenement building he lives in to safeguard its tenants from a mob in tracksuits. There have been… altercations, bro. He’s also befriended those tenants, especially chubby, middle-aged Grill who insists on calling our Hawkeye “Hawkguy”. As the winds whip up around them, Clint drives Grill to Far Rockaway where Grill’s stubborn old goat of a dismissive dad is steadfastly refusing to pay any attention to the gale or water levels, leaving their last mementoes of Grill’s dead mum in the basement. Oh look, here comes the flood.

The very same night Kate – our younger, female and infinitely wiser Hawkeye – is preparing to hit New Jersey in an elaborate Emanuel Ungaro dress and Christian Dior stilettos.

“What could a storm do to a five-star hotel?”
“It’s New Jersey. There are La Quinta Inns outside of State pens that are nicer.”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Brooklyn? This where you and Jay-Z tell me Brooklyn is the greatest place on Earth?”
“Okay, one, I don’t know who that is, and two, shut up. Brooklyn is great, New Jersey is a punch line, and you are a kid and don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Both threads are moving tributes to people helping each other in times of crises, and that’s what this title is all about: helping people in times of crisis. And it stars the one man above all who simply cannot help himself – in either sense.

“Whoa, man, you look like hell.”
“Walked into a door. That, uh, proceeded to beat the hell out me.”

Clint seems to have spent the entire series covered in plasters.

He’s also spent the series in a line of personalised clothing like the H hat nodding back to his old mask, and the purple target t-shirt. As to Kate, she’s decked herself out in a variety of purple shades which she’s perpetually pulling down to glare her elder in the eyes with long-suffering disdain.

So yes, let us talk more about David Aja’s design which – with Hollingsworth’s white – fills the comic with so much light. His tour de force here is the Pizza Dog issue, told entirely from Lucky’s point of view, wordless except for those basics the mutt might understand. His day is spent constantly interpreting the world around him through sound, smell and association, conveyed by Aja in maps of connected symbols worthy of Chris Ware himself (see BUILDING STORIES, JIMMY CORRIGAN and, particularly for symbols, the early pages of ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20). There is one seemingly throwaway moment where an absence of both sound and smell means everything.


What is particularly impressive is the absence of almost any anthropomorphism (just two raised paws). Instead it’s all symbols and skeuomorphism as the dog goes about its business (and indeed business) on daily patrol. What you don’t see on the unlettered cover to that chapter is the original credits which would normally read…


… but instead read…


And you know what I was saying in HAWKEYE VOL 1 about Matt Hollingsworth’s gorgeous colour palette? There is a highly instructive two-page process piece in the back in which shows you precisely how he achieves that consistency and the trouble he goes to do so. Pays off every single issue.

Anyway, back to the tangled wires and battered old VCR and our catastrophe-prone Clint doing the best that he can.

“Shut up about the show and shut up about my stuff – I know it’s a mess and it’s half-taped together and it’s old and busted – but it’s mine.
“And you gotta make that work, right? You gotta make your own stuff work out.”

Or, to put it another way…

“What is the hell have I gotten myself into? What the hell is wrong with me?”

Oh, Clint! Everything is wrong with you.

Except your heart.


Buy Hawkeye vol 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Batman Detective Comics vol 3: Emperor Penguin h/c (£18-99, DC) by John Layman & Jason Fabok, Andy Clarke…

I did actually read this arc in comics for whatever reason*, so it behoves me to at least mention, I suppose, that it features the creation of quite an interesting new Bat-villain and nemesis to Mr Cobblepot in the shape of the titular Emperor Penguin. But that’s really all I can say about it…

* I remember why! Because of PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE which I really enjoyed, it being one of the darkest Bat books I think I’ve ever read, as the true brooding villainy of Oswald is revealed, and just as good as Azzarello’s THE JOKER. This isn’t remotely in the same latitude.


Buy Batman Detective Comics vol 3: Emperor Penguin 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.


Throw Your Keys Away (£6-00) by Dan Berry

Cat Island (£6-00) by Dan Berry

Giant Days 3 (£4-99) by John Allison

Rules Of Summer h/c (£14-99, Lothian) by Shaun Tan

BPRD: Vampire vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba

Hilda And The Bird Parade (£12-95, Flying Eye Books) by Luke Pearson

Hilda And The Midnight Giant (£12-95, Flying Eye Books) by Luke Pearson

Life Begins At Incorporation s/c (£14-99) by Matt Bors

The Ring Of The Seven Worlds h/c (£19-99, Sloth Comics) by Giovanni Gualdoni, Gabrielle Clima & Matteo Piana

Sex vol 1: Summer Of Hard (£7-50, Image) by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski

Batman And Robin vol 2: Pearl s/c (£12-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray

Batman And Robin vol 3: Death Of The Family h/c (£16-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray

Batman Incorporated vol 1: Demon Star s/c (£12-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham

Batman Incorporated vol 2: Gotham’s Most Wanted h/c (£18-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham

Red Hood And The Outlaws vol 3: Death Of The Family s/c (£12-99, DC) by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Snyder & Pasqual Ferry, Timothy Green II, Greg Capullo

Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man / Giant-Man vol 1 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby, Don Heck

Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk vol 1 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby

Uncanny Avengers vol 2: The Apocalypse Twins (UK Edition) s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender, Gerard Gorman Duggan & Daniel Acuna, Adam Kubert

Attack On Titan vol 9 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

Fairy Tail vol 29 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail vol 30 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail vol 31 (£7-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail vol 32 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail vol 33 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Naruto vol 63 (£7-50, Viz) by Masashi Kishimoto

Pink (£10-90, Vertical) by Kyoko Okazaki

Vampire Knight vol 17 (£7-50, Viz) by Matsuri Hino

Sonic Universe vol 6 (£8-99, Archie) by various


ITEM! R.e. Action Transfers in my review of UNFORGOTTEN up above: you have no idea what I even mean, do you? You poor, poor children! Action Transfers were the best thing EVER!

ITEM! It’s competition time! First Graphic Novel 2014: Myriad Editions are offering a contract, a week’s retreat in France! Last year’s winner was THE BLACK PROJECT by Gareth Brookes which proved so good we made it Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month October 2013! PS There is a £10 admin entry fee.

ITEM! British Comics Awards Winners 2013 Announced, and excellent they all are! Read our reviews:




While Leed’s schoolchildren voted for THE COMPLETE RAINBOW ORCHID in the YOUNG PEOPLE’S AWARD. Garen Ewing wrote a piece on his Young People’s Comic Award victory.

HALL OF FAME: Leo Baxendale.

It was an enormous honour to be the only judged asked back for its second year, and it gave me a great deal of pleasure! Seriously, you have no idea. I know how many hours I put in, so I can only begin to imagine how long it took The Committee to select the nominees. A round of applause for The British Comics Awards 2013 Committee!

ITEM! ITEM! ITEM! Lastly, Paul Duffield’s THE FIRELIGHT ISLE. I told you months ago how beautiful this was, and now it’s gone live! World-building at its best. Oh, Lord, the colouring! Even the lettering is to die for!

– Stephen x

Reviews November 2013 week three

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

This isn’t simply a lush, annotated art book, it is the entire history of the artistic development and nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts career of one of comics’ most masterful artists and finest designers to boot.

 – Stephen on The Art Of Sean Phillips

Blue Is The Warmest Colour s/c (£14-99, Arsenal Pulp Press) by Julie Maroh.

“Have you never been ashamed to be like that?”
“Only love will save the world. Why would I be ashamed to love?”

So very true, and so why indeed?

Yet one may forget that it’s all very well being an adult at Art School – surrounded and affirmed by gay or at least open-minded by peers – but when you’re a 16-year-old surrounded by defensive and offensive, tittle-tattle classmates able to ostracise you at the drop of an unguarded hat using a single, well-aimed smear or sneer, your outlook is necessarily very different. Add in years of conditioning about what is right and what is wrong and parents’ less than embracing attitude towards Gay Pride marches they might see on telly (there is little worse than having to endure the news in the same room as vocally dismissive and hateful parents), and the suspicion that you might be gay doesn’t come with the confidence or clarity to embrace, much less express, the undeniable and unqualified, positive aspects of love.

16-year-old Clementine slams the phone down on Emma – on the role model she looks up to and the woman she is Iove with – tears welling up, for she now feels ashamed of her shame.

This and so much more is perceptively observed and sympathetically communicated, but it is not the graphic novel its cover may lead you to suppose. It is not a squeaky clean love story between two equal women who found love early, celebrated and made the most of it.

It is in so many ways a tragedy, not least because Clementine is already dead as the story starts, bequeathing her blue diaries to Emma via a dubious mother and a venomous father who blames Emma explicitly for Clementine’s misery and death.

“If I had known that we were running out of time…” regrets Emma, gazing out of the Clementine’s family bedroom window, “I wouldn’t have wasted it then.”

Were she still alive, Clementine would have thought exactly the same thing for the majority of this book witnesses both of them – for different reasons – resisting the potential for happiness staring them right in the face and so suffering terribly. But once again I must emphasise that, as this heart-breaking graphic novel makes most abundantly clear, it really isn’t that easy.

Nor is this some simplistic, didactic, lesbian tract. Clementine’s initial crush, Thomas, her confidant Valentin, Valentin’s accidental, straight-male conquest… indeed all the men bar her culpably hateful father are lovely and loving, and far-from-fucked-up human beings. That really isn’t Maroh’s focus. Her focus is on Clementine’s confusion: her initial, revelatory waking dreams about Emma, a moment of misapprehension resulting in elation then humiliation as she perceives it, her growing self-awareness about where her true affections lie, yet her complete paralysis in having the courage to vocalise those three most beautiful words in the English language: “I love you”.

Did I mention there were complications? There are complications.


Most familiar to me were the days on end waiting on the other end of the telephone, desperate for it to ring and afraid to go out lest you miss that vital call; that very first kiss and all it implied; those precious moments immersed in intimate conversations as if no one else existed in the whole wide world, and the yearning to snatch just one more. I don’t think this is esoteric, either: whether gay or straight, there are so many recognition boxes that anyone can tick, including resentful or disapproving in-laws.

As to the art, its tender, grey shading is beautifully enhanced by that warmest colour blue: Thomas’ pullover, a stray balloon and Emma’s hair most obviously; the wall at home which begins to glow empathically after the much longed-for phone call, Clementine leaning back on it in satisfied silence. Most strikingly: you know when you spot someone across a bar and Holy OMG?!? Yeah, that works so very well here, Emma’s blue mane glimpsed over someone else’s shoulder.

I also loved the tingling in Clementine’s crotch, the way total immersion in those phone calls and subsequent daydreams was represented by full, panel-free pages, Emma and Clementine’s figures suspended as if in a cashmere blanket. The single sex scene is delicately done with neither sensationalism nor any attempt at titillation. It is as attractive as it should be and erotic too, but its successful emphasis is on joyously surrendered intimacy.


I wish this was a happier book but so it very much goes, I’m afraid.


Buy Blue Is The Warmest Colour s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Umbral #1 (£2-25, Image) by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten.

Oh, this positively glows – specifically, it glows purple!

It takes an extraordinary artist to slash out choking-smoke nightmares which appear to be both amorphous and fully formed: to be as intangible as a shadow yet as viciously sharp as a jagged row of shark’s teeth, their eyes and mouths blazing with fire as if furnaces fuel their pitch-black souls.

Basically, I’d run.

But where do you run to when you are trapped in the Umbral? The only apertures are riddled with skeletal spikes like a giant lamprey’s mouth and risk snapping shut like a Venus Flytrap. The ground could give way any minute. And Rascal is not alone in there.

Where and whatever is the Umbral? Is it underneath or just to your right, glimpsed out of the corner of your eye? Is it here, is it real? Did any of this horror really happen?

A solar eclipse approaches the kingdom of Fendin. On such an occasion the day dawns twice and then, the songs say, “Shall the dark shadows fall”. The crowds are gathering to see King Petor and Queen Inna wave from the balcony to reassure them that all is well. More specifically they want to see the Mordent – a staff that has survived three rebellions, two wars and dozens of King Petor’s ancestors – grasped by King Petor, safe and sound. Petor is fretting; the more confident, no-nonsense Inna is irritated at the absence of their son.

Their son is Prince Arthir and he… has a date. A date with a young but far from ditzy Rascal. Oh, it’s not that sort of date – not yet – though they are more than a little fond of each other. Rascal is a member of the Thieves’ Guild and she has acquired a vial of the Mist. That will help them steal through the cage and acquire the sacred Oculus sequestered in the ancient King Straken’s trophy room. But whatever it was that spell-caster Prince Arthur intended to do with that Oculus is rendered irrelevant, for the Oculus is missing and high Redguard Borus lies slaughtered in his own congealing blood. Worse still, the trail of blood looks like it leads to the throne room…


Haha! And that is where I shut the fuck up. Eagle-eyed readers of the comic will have already spotted certain… incongruities… all of which have me most intrigued! As for what follows, oh our dear Rascal is in for some mind-melting shocks and a run for her bloody life.

This is dark fantasy and world-building at its best: you will need to learn its own unique rules. Unfortunately Rascal is in for an unannounced test and those rules she thought she knew – which would keep her safe and sound – are going to be terrifyingly subverted.

Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten are the creative team behind the fast-closing, post-apocalyptic WASTELAND about which Warren Ellis declared, “Mysteries within mysteries and an original mythology to become immersed in”. To me, this feels even richer. Johnston is also the bastardly manipulative mastermind behind spy thriller THE COLDEST CITY whose 50 exclusive Page 45 bookplate editions we sold out of very, very fast. Indeed the first printing of UMBRAL #1 has already sold out at source but Page 45 has, as ever, dug deep. We still have plenty and you can order away below!

“Don’t suppose you know a way out, do you?“Little girl… Blood of the eye… So much power in a small thing…”

Oh no.


Buy Umbral #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Hip Hop Family Tree (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Ed Piskor…

“DJ Kool Herc is already a legend in the borough, but this doesn’t stop him from constantly practicing and experimenting to make his shows as enjoyable as possible. Using 2 copies of the same record he discovers that he can loop the instrumental breaks in his favourite music ad infinitum, if he chooses so. Tinkering in his apartment with the window open, he realises he’s on to something. Mixing one break into the break of a different song, a term he calls “merry-go-round,” becomes a part of Kool Herc’s arsenal. Adding such complexity to his performance, he makes the decision to enlist a friend to emcee and handle duties on the microphone.”

One of the most comprehensively researched examinations of the beginnings of hip hop I think I’ve ever read, and I have read a few, the prose work It’s Not About a Salary… Rap, Race and Resistance in Los Angeles by Brian Cross being a firm favourite though that obviously only takes in a West Coast perspective, and a slightly different time period. This work looks at the true beginnings of the scene in mid-‘70s downtown New York from parties in parks and baseball courts, DJ and MC battles in dancehalls, through to the eventual wider public recognition due to radio exposure and the early vinyl releases, and the evolution of the music itself into what we would understand as the modern day rap genre.

The ability of comics to transport you to a time and place in a manner that prose works just cannot match is demonstrated here as Ed perfectly captures the nature of street life and the crazy characters at that time. I did also like the fact that in one of the after pieces, he explains how you can dissemble hip hop considerably further back, but obviously you have to say there was a definitive point in time where hip hop as we know it began, and Kool Herc discovering the concept of mixing will do nicely for me. I can well imagine it was a transcendental moment for the good DJ!

It’s all the little anecdotal facts Ed just continually slips in that blew me away though, my absolute favourite being that Afrika Bambaataa was a massive fan of Kraftwerk! It shouldn’t surprise me really that such a muso would appreciate a not entirely dissimilar branch of music, it’s I just had never thought that the leader of the hardcore Black Spades gang would be chilling out to Trans Europe Express!

Fans of hip hop need this work, everyone else just won’t be bothered probably, but that’s fine. Ed seems far more interested in taking on projects that interest him personally like this one and WHIZZYWIG, and when he is doing it so brilliantly it is clearly all about reality and not the salary for him. Sorry, couldn’t resist slipping in one lyrical gag. Must just mention the gallery of artists at the end, which other creators have contributed to too, Jeffrey Brown’s Beastie Boys looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. You can scarcely credit the Daily Mail tried to have them banned from ever entering the UK all those years ago, being such a threat to the morals of the nation’s youth and all…


Buy Hip Hop Family Tree and read the Page 45 review here

The Art Of Sean Phillips h/c (£29-99, Dynamite) by Sean Phillips with Eddie Robson.

“Sean Phillips understands noir like few artists before him. His characters exist in the shadows of our world, just about visible in we care to look. They are dangerous, haunted, complex and conflicted, and they cross a terrain as tense and brutal as any minefield. These are people we sometimes fear, but often care about, and Phillips’ art brings out their humanity as well as their baser nature.”

– Ian Rankin

There you go, I don’t have to write anything now. Dave Gibbons’ observation that Phillips makes it all look so effortless holds water too – especially when he drew Eddie Campbell’s HELLBLAZER straight into inks without pencils. That really loosened him up. It’s not effortless, obviously, and I can’t recall who noted within that Sean puts the story first rather than grandstanding but that’s precisely why he does grab my attention time after time and why I expend more words on his art than almost any other artist in comics.

Almost all Phillips’ collaborators supply commentary here: Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis, Eddie Campbell, Jamie Delano et al, and what I would emphasise above all is that this isn’t simply a lush, annotated art book, it is the entire history of the artistic development and nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts career of one of comics’ most masterful artists and finest designers to boot.

These 300 pages cover contacts, contracts, financial, practical realities, the ups and downs of individual titles and the industry as a whole. As such it doubles as a fascinating insight into comicbook creation and publication over the last thirty years.

Imagine, for example, trying to find work and kickstart your careeer without the aid of the internet a) to showcase your work and b) to explore your options with potential publishers. All Sean had to go on was what he saw on the British newsstands.

Some of these images have never seen print before either because they were for personal pleasure or censored like some scenes in STRAIGHTGATE – which is indeed what the title suggests. Written by John Smith, it ran in the big, bold, innovative statement that was CRISIS, but even they baulked at some of its more lurid images. Other pieces are rare – like Phillips’ early work on a great many girls’ comics – or you may never even have heard of them. Take his collaboration with Mark Millar on the two-page RIGHT BEHIND YOU for the Sunday Herald in 2005, depicting a dismissive George W. Bush and a wavering Tony Blair under siege at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Scathing punchline, that.

You’re also given access to his pre-teen collaborations with friends, his early professional work (Sean was first published aged 15!) and his college work including a knock-out, close-up, acrylic portrait of Michael Moorcock’s Elric whose lighting and textures are tremendous. There’s also much I had forgotten Phillips was even involved in like Devin Grayson’s USER (reprint, please!) as well as THE HEART OF THE BEAST and, oh, there are so many styles and media on show here, reproduced with exquisite production values.

I also promised you practicalities, like the fact that SLEEPER lost money on every single issue so that we’re lucky there was a second season at all (the trades shot out, thankfully) and that although Marvel singularly failed to contact Sean for an entire year after his best-selling MARVEL ZOMBIES, its royalties did basically pay for Phillips to draw CRIMINAL which was creator-owned and so came with no page rate. No wage. Can you imagine comics without CRIMINAL?

Sean’s musings on that game-changing year of his career may give many pause for thought: without something creator-owned like that he wouldn’t have had a pension. We were so stoked to host Sean for the launch of that title after its very first issue, little suspecting how vital that would prove for us later on.

For more on Ed Brubaker’s co-conspirator on SLEEPER, CRIMINAL, SCENE OF THE CRIME and FATALE, please click on their covers for reviews. I do go on, but so should you. They are each of them remarkable.


Buy The Art Of Sean Phillips h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Page 45 Card designed by Lizz Lunney (£1-50 or FREE WITH PAGE 45 GIFT VOUCHERS, Page 45) by Lizz Lunney.

“You always have friends when you have comics.”

This is the truth!

Page 45 is proud to present its first two exclusive cards commissioned to come FREE with our printed Page 45 Gift Vouchers – envelope included, obviously.

Lizz Lunney and Philippa Rice have represented the heart and soul of Page 45 to perfection. Look at the sheer, sparkly joy of this image in glorious grey tones! I defy you not to grin, such is the infectious enthusiasm of both the comics and cat.

Is this DEPRESSED CAT? If so we have finally cured the moribund moggie – though I suspect the effect may be fleeting!

But perhaps you don’t want no gift vouchers today (though I assure you, you do!) so we’ve made these cards available for you to buy separately in order to celebrate your love of Lizz Lunney and frankly promote us to death! Yippee!

N.B. If you’re ordering printed gift vouchers online feel free to add a little note with the order as to which card you’d prefer – you don’t have to buy this as well!


Buy Page 45 Card designed by Lizz Lunney and read the Page 45 review here

Page 45 Card designed by Philippa Rice (£1-50 or FREE WITH PAGE 45 GIFT VOUCHERS, Page 45) by Philippa Rice.

The cover is even a comic!

Page 45 is squealing with glee in presenting its first two exclusive cards commissioned to come FREE with our printed Page 45 Gift Vouchers – envelope included, obviously.

Philippa Rice and Mz. Lizz Lunney have done us right proud.

WE’RE OUT!” the three shout as they scamper excitedly down to their local comic shop *, ransack our shelves and cart away comics with glee! Did they pay? I hope they paid! Maybe this is an advert for daylight robbery. Oh, yes it is: it’s an advert for Page 45!

Once back home they pore over their graphic novels with wonder and awe, utterly engrossed in their findings. How could you represent our shared love of comics any better than this?!

So in case you want to share your love of comics with others, and you’re not after our gift vouchers right now, we’ve made these two cards available to buy separately at a pretty decent price with plenty of blank room to make mockery of us within or wish someone a very happy birthday.

* Move house if necessary!

N.B. If you’re ordering printed gift vouchers online feel free to add a little note with the order as to which card you’d prefer – you don’t have to buy this as well!


Buy Page 45 Card designed by Philippa Rice and read the Page 45 review here

Scott Pilgrim vol 4 h/c Colour Edition (£18-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“Why are your pants off?! Stop taking your pants off all the time!!”
“It’s hot! Also? I’m hot, so enjoy it while you can.”
“Mumble, mumble… scarred for life…”

SCOTT PILGRIM was the coolest comic on Earth since its very first book, and if you’ve never tried it, you need Scott Pilgrim in your life. There are no exceptions, which means you’re not one of them. They don’t exist; you do! So that’ll be eighteen pounds ninety-nine, please.

The extras in this colour edition are phenomenal. There’s the cover for one, drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley specifically for me (err, he hasn’t said so, but it’s obvious) and the STOP sign satire of recent manga books reminding you to start reading at the other end (the Japanese read from right to left) and, oh look, there’s Wallace again with his trademark sly, dry mockery:

“This is the back of the book.
“What do you think you’re doing?
“Who do you think you are?
“Go to the other end of the book and start at page 1. Your mother and I are very disappointed in you.”

There are process pieces, comic strips for Comics Festival 2007, Toronto’s NOW Magazine in 2006, posters, alternative covers and deleted scenes including two radically different, fully realised and complex compositions for ‘Moving Day’. Back to the main even, though and…

Scott is clueless, unemployed, potentially unemployable (his girlfriend’s evil exes are constantly threatening to do Nintendo-style battle with him which can be quite disruptive to most work schedules), and although he’s dated Ramona for three books already, he’s yet to use the “L” word. Here’s his gay, trouserless room-mate Wallace again, asking if he’s used it:

“The L-word? You mean… lesbian?”
“Uh… no. The other L-word.”
“Okay, uh, it’s “love”. I wasn’t trying to trick you or anything.”
“What? Have I said it? To her? Sort of. Almost. No. Is it important?”
“I don’t know, guy, but your Mom says it to me all the time.” <slurp>

These books have a logic all of their own, for when I say Scott has to battle Ramona’s evil exes in between band practices, he does: using drinks for Level-Ups, gaining Experience Points from work and, if Scott gets it together in time, even a flaming sword when he learns The Power Of Love. He’s going to need it as well, as the ominous Gideon sub-plot grows thicker…

O’Malley hasn’t even begun to run out of ideas: Scott’s head poking out from the zip of a small, subspace handbag? Genius! The best book yet, with a joyous and inventive cartooning that gets slicker and slicker. Even if Scott doesn’t.

“Where’s Julie tonight?”
“I dunno. She hates me. Where’s Ramona?”
“She’s at home tonight and she likes me very much.”
“Have you said the L-word yet?”
“Why is everyone obsessed with lesbians?!”


Buy Scott Pilgrim vol 4 h/c Colour Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Showa 1926-1939: A History Of Japan s/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Shigeru Mizuki…

My favourite Mizuki so far which, in addition to detailing the rise and rise of the fascistic version of imperialism that began to take sway in the decades following Japan’s own Great Depression, culminating in its ill advised entry into WW2 under General Tojo, also provides us with further autobiographical adventures of the young Shigeru and family as told so eloquently in NONNONBA.

Frequently either Shigeru or members of his family act as narrators elucidating the day to day, historical goings-on, which as a conceit works extremely well. He is obviously of the mindset that the Japanese military high command was completely out of control at the time, often acting in direct opposition to the civilian government, but you do also very clearly get the sense it was just a chaotic unsettled time in Japan, and the wider region generally, so completely different to the organised, efficient, highly structured nation we perceive that country to be today.

In that sense you can, and he also does, draw parallels with ‘30s Germany, in terms of what state society at large was in. Very fascinating socio-political stuff, but always kept grounded at the most human level, interspersed as it is, with stories of his epic gang battles with the various neighbourhood kids and encounters with ghostly spirits!


Buy Showa 1926 -1939: A History Of Japan s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Sabertooth Swordsman h/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Damon Gentry & Aaron Conley…

I was expecting (probably simply because it is on Dark Horse) some sort of USAGI-a-like, but this is much more a cross between a video game and madcap cartoon.

Relentlessly paced plot, yet intricate, relatively complex and attractive art, it’s just immense fun, nothing more, but nothing less.

I did feel the zany plot was really just a vehicle for the art, but much like the current SHAOLIN COWBOY from Geof Darrow, it easily gets away with it.

You’ll see various influences including in a couple of places even Jim Woodring as per the posted interior art!


Buy Sabertooth Swordsman h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Walking Dead vol 19: March To War (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard…

“We’re the big swinging dick of this world… have been for a long fucking time… but it seems people are forgetting that.
“So now our big swinging dick is going to swing harder… and faster, until we take off like a motherfucking helicopter and blow all these motherfuckers away.

“SIGH. We’re going to war.”

Ha ha I really can’t see that little speech ever making it into the TV show!! I am so pleased Robert Kirkman didn’t kill off the megalomaniacal Negan almost immediately, as originally intended, because he really has been absolute comedy gold. The pained look on his face after his troops just don’t get his motivational message and he has to break it down for them had me giggling on and off for a good hour afterwards. I do love the TV show but the comic is just brilliant right now. Next volume, cue the tiger…


Buy Walking Dead vol 19: March To War and read the Page 45 review here

Uncanny X-Men vol 2: Broken h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Frazer Irving, Chris Bachalo.

Whoa, what a cover, well represented here but even better in matt reality. Its composition is dynamic and well framed enough, but that blue is the perfect match for a clear winter’s day.

Of course, you shouldn’t judge the book by it and the first half set in Limbo (specifically Marvel’s Limbo, former kingdom of the demon Belasco and now Illyana Rasputin’s domain) looks nothing like it. So much work has gone into its painting by Frazer Irving and, as dominated by the dread Dormamu (that’s pretty much his title, I don’t think you’re allowed to type “Dormamu” without the “dread”), it is not somewhere you’d envisage enjoying a relaxed family picnic.

This is no family picnic: events prove so traumatic that one of Cyclops’ fledgling trainees quits – and immediately wished that he hadn’t because however hoffic Limbo was, the real world proves equally ill-conducive to chillaxation. Fabio returns home to find his family ecstatic but his father determined that Cyclops “did” something to him and he simply will not listen to the simple statement “I am a mutant”.

“What did they do to you?”
“No one did anything to me! This happened. This is who I am now. I was born this way and – and – and I just became what I guess I was supposed to become!”
“It’s because we didn’t go to church.”

The ensuing, explosive kerfuffle attracts the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the form of their brand-new Mutant Liaison, Agent [redacted] who singularly fails to brighten the atmosphere and then, oh, not SPOILERS but SHOCKERS!

It’s all so fast and furious and besplattered with Bendis’ trademark quick-fire dialogue even between characters in the background as everyone reacts to everything and no one listens to anyone else. Plus: yet another subplot but in Bendis’ hands they never outstay their unrevealed welcome. As I say, things happen fast here.

Lastly, returning to the cover: what’s got the knickers of our Testosterone Two in such a twist this time? Magneto’s deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. behind Cyclops’ back. Is Magneto playing Cyclops or is he playing S.H.I.E.L.D.? Have you noticed Magneto’s bald now? Someone else acquires quite the divisive haircut too.


Buy Uncanny X-Men vol 2: Lost In Limbo 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.


Sunny vol 2 h/c (£16-99, Viz) by Taiyo Matsumoto

Room For Love h/c (£14-99, Self Made Hero) by Ilya

Bad Houses (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil

Butterfly Gate (£7-99, Improper Books) by Benjamin Reed & Chris Wildgoose

Knight & Dragon (£8-99, Improper Books) by Matt Gibbs & Bevis Musson

Comics Art h/c (£18-99, Tate) by Paul Gravett

Delusional h/c (£18-99, Adhouse Books) by Farel Dalrymple

Baltimore vol 3: A Passing Stranger And Other Stories h/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden & Ben Stenbeck, Dave Stewart

Dong Xoai s/c (£14-99, DC) by Joe Kubert

Fairest In All The Land h/c (£16-99, DC) by Bill Willingham & many artists

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Vivek J. Tiwary & Andrew Robinson, Kyle Baker

Mice Templar vol 4.1: Legend h/c (£22-50, Image) by Bryan J. L. Glass & Michael Avon Oeming, Victor Santos

Nowhere Men vol 1 s/c (£7-50, Image) by Eric Stephenson & Nate Bellegarde

Spectrum vol 20 s/c (£25-99, Underwood Books) by various

Unforgotten h/c (£14-99, InkLit) by Tohby Riddle

Violent Cases h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean

Batman Detective Comics vol 3: Emperor Penguin h/c (£18-99, DC) by John Layman & Jason Fabok, Andy Clarke

Batman: Detective Comics vol 2: Scare Tactics s/c (£12-99, DC) by Tony S. Daniel

Hawkeye vol 1 h/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & David Aja, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, Francvesco Francavilla, Annie Wu, Alan Davis, Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk vol 2 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby

Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk vol 3 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Marie Severin, Bill Everett, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Gil Kane

From The New World vol 1 (£8-50, Vertical) by Yuusuke Kishi

Kitaro (£16-99, Drawn and Quarterly) by Shigeru Mizuki

The Mysterious Underground Men h/c (£18-99, Picturebox) by Osamu Tezuka, edited by Ryan Holmberg

Yotsuba&! vol 12 (£8-99, Yen) by Kiyohiko Azuma


ITEM! UMBRAL #1 reviewed above. For more glowing purple, here’s UMBRAL’s Tumblr – swoon!

ITEM! Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly’s THREE #2 (preview!) is even more gripping than #1. After those opening pages they move on to explore the Spartan leadership’s point of view, and – like the ruling structure itself – it’s far from simple. Here’s my review of THREE #1.

ITEM! Okay, it’s over, you missed it! I missed it too! But I have never seen such an elaborate display so perfectly captured in photos: Bryan Talbot Exhibition 2013.

ITEM! “Dealing with the Japanese does bring into stark relief the sheer magnitude of cultural difference. For instance, they do not say “Yes” and they don’t say “No”. At least, not in business, nor under these circumstances.” Fascinating insight into Ilya’s quest to be published by Kodansha which eventually resulted in his new graphic novel ROOM FOR LOVE. See “Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy” above.

ITEM! Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki retiring from films to make comics! And that’s one big hurrah because he’s only done one series of graphic novels in his entire career: NAUSICAA. And look, already, here are some of those new comics pages by Hayao Miyazaki.

ITEM! Lizz Lunney is interviewed by Dan Berry in the best series of podcasts ever, Make Then Tell!

ITEM! Adam Cadwell is interviewed by Dan Berry in Make Then Tell! Don’t you think he bears an uncanny resemblance to Sue Perkins? Compare photos!

ITEM! From the artist of SANDMAN: OVERTURE (still in stock and reviewed with interior art, there), two swoonaway SANDMAN pictures by J.H. Williams III that won’t be in the series.

ITEM! New comic both drawn and written by Bryan Hitch: REAL HEROES – illustrated interview!

ITEM! The Speaker, an exquisitely drawn online Brandon Graham comic

ITEM! Kurt Vonnegut responding to a school’s headmaster burning his books. Word-perfect. Bravo!

ITEM! Finally… The subject of sexual harrassment in the U.S. comics industry has hit the headlines over the last fortnight. It is very real and vital that it be both exposed and stamped out. To me, this is self-evident.

Half our customers are women as anyone with a camcorder (okay, cell phone) can document and disseminate and I wish they bloody well would! That half our customers are women proves that Page 45 is a very different sort of comic shop given the average statistics elsewhere in the US and UK (1%?). That matters because we love everyone to be comfortable and we love everyone to bits, but what matters here is change.

There has been one specific instance of alleged predatory harrassment about which both parties have finally had their say, and I was leaving it until then to make comment. I didn’t want to knee-jerk on Twitter. Too many people do, so eviscerating a career.

Given that neither side’s version of events from 8 years ago can be corroborated this article by Andy Khouri posted at Comics Alliance on sexual harrassment is as balanced as you could hope for.

I would say “enjoy!” but you won’t. Let’s get any further instances documented, folks, and then out those perpetrators immediately.

And by “out”, I mean out of our beloved industry.

– Stephen

Reviews November 2013 week two

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

One of the best and most sensitive explorations of teenage psychosis and mental illness I have read in some considerable time.

 – Jonathan on Look Straight Ahead

If you thought John Cei Douglas’ ‘Living Underwater’ in HOLDING PATTERNS was an eloquent expression of pressure and paralysis, Allie’s analysis of the evaporation and then death of her empathy for anything around her is as thorough and comprehensible as it is halting.

 – Stephen on Hyperbole And A Half

We’re Out h/c (£11-99, My Cardboard Books) by Philippa Rice.


One of the finest advertisements for our fine city of Nottingham, locals will be familiar with so many of the images here and relish that recognition – just like I did when Page 45 appeared 36 minutes in during BBC One’s drama Truckers!

This is like Oliver Postgate, creator of The Clangers etc, but with sharper photography and slightly fewer Soup Dragons.

I’m in no way criticising the late and very great Oliver Postgate’s camera skills; I’m merely commenting on modern technology and the advantage Philippa Rice has taken of it in terms of focus and sheen. Boy, does she dust! Whatever can I mean?

Philippa Rice, who designed the GameCity banners which festooned Nottingham’s Council Building, its bus stops and Page 45’s shop window last year, has made her career out of repurposing paper, corrugated cardboard, cloth, wool and the occasional piece of string… chocolate coins, real coins, tin foil and sticking plasters, with pen at the ready and Tippex on standby, to tell the two-dimensional stories of Cardboard Colin and paper Pauline. I don’t mean that the tales fell flat, I mean that they lived and breathed in a two-dimensional world. Now… they’re coming out!

They’re coming out of their comic and into the real world, our world, starting with Philippa’s own flat. And as they heave themselves out of the panels and onto Philippa’s cloth-cluttered, paper-littered desk, the effect is nothing short of stardust. It’s like Bagpuss, Bagpuss, fat, furry catpuss waking up to look at this thing that you bring, and the mice on the magical mouse organ bursting out of their semi-relief in shrill celebration. Oh, how brave is Philippa to open up her bookcases and piles of PS3 console games to the public as Pauline and Colin scuttle about her flat, foraging for food and founding base camps to kip in!

They make one heck of a mess.

But then they flop through the letter box and are well and truly out in the open air, trundling around Nottingham’s Arboretum cemetery in their cobbled-together cornflake-packet car before hitting the city centre and, by pure coincidence (serenditpity, synchronicity – call it what you will), Page 45 appears on its 45th page! How cool is that?! I nearly had a cry.


After a quick picnic on the open Market Square, admiring the Council Building in all its neo-classical splendour, Pauline and Colin become gleeful tourists, taking in The Castle and the Robin Hood statue, clambering onto the rails outside the Caves.

But these characters are just four inches tall and made out of paper and cardboard; plus Nottingham has some serious footfall, thankfully. And rainfall. So puddles. Our puddles are Colin and Pauline’s floods and cornflake cars – whilst economical on the fuel front – are notorious for breaking down at the most inopportune moments, and they have no AA cover!

Will Pauline and Colin be safe? It’s much easier to tear paper than break a bone and, oh, they are ever so small!



All of which is told with wit and a real sense of wonder, the camera angles and compositions chosen for maximum magic and, at times, danger. Quite how Philippa caught the Market Square open and uncluttered by some hideous beach or “fun” fair is beyond me.

As an added bonus a pair of 3-D glasses are included which make a re-read feel like looking through one of those old-school View-Master from forty years ago: everything shining in such sharp, hyper-real relief.

They say you can never go back, nor should you. But in Pauline and Colin’s case it may be vital that they do so, for forces are gathering around them. Can they get back into their comic in time? Or has Philippa returned home to find her house a complete tip and taken appropriate action? Uh-oh!

At the time of typing all our copies are signed and sketched in for free, just like Philippa’s ST. COLIN AND THE DRAGON, MY CARDBOARD LIFE, RECYCLOST. Still available: SOPPY, SOPPY #2 and LOOKING OUT.


Buy We’re Out h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Maria M. Book One h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Gilbert Hernandez.

Crime and punishment executed with rapid-fire, bullet-point precision.

You’ve not read anything like it! Here are three one-panel snapshot scenes featuring three different men wooing Maria:

“I love you, Maria.”
“I – I love you, Maria.”
“I love you, Maria.” *phone rings* “That’ll be my wife.”

Maria arrives in the U.S. and gradually learns the language as she begins to understand the country, taking and getting fired from a succession of very dreadful jobs while demonstrating even worse taste in men. She’s neither afraid nor ashamed to use her two greatest assets, which are enormous. Eventually she settles down as the doll of drug-peddling mob boss Cienfuegos whose ostensive family business is in ladies’ lingerie, and he treats her well, while one of his two sons, Gorgo, secretly falls in love and silently protects her.

But Cienfuegos has plenty of enemies out to get him for good – largely, because he won’t condemn communism! – and Gorgo himself comes under continual attack. Fortunately he is as formidable as he is efficient as he is ruthless; unfortunately he’s not the only target.

With one notable exception involving a full bowl of steaming noodles, Maria is a predominantly passive participant in events which take place around her, and – given the style of storytelling – a great deal does happen during these 136 pages. And remember, this is but the first of two volumes – do remember that, because I didn’t!

The cartooning is, as ever, an immaculately clean and balanced black and white joy, the expressions are exquisite and the breasts, they are humungous. Nudity abounds.

You need know nothing of LOVE AND ROCKETS but as an added bonus for those who do…. Here’s Fantagraphics.

“Long-time LOVE AND ROCKETS readers will find the storyline familiar… and that’s because, in a meta twist, MARIA M is actually the B-movie film adaptation of the life story of Luba’s mother Maria, as previously seen in its ‘real’ version in the classic graphic novel Poison River (available in the BEYOND PALOMAR collection) starring Maria’s own daughter playing her own mother. Confused? Don’t be! MARIA M will work perfectly on its own terms as the kind of violent, sexy pulp tale that Gilbert Hernandez has proven so adept at these past several years, and the ‘source material’ for the story will just provide an extra layer of delight for the cognoscenti.”


Buy Maria M. Book One h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Hyperbole And A Half (£10-99, Square Peg) by Allie Brosh.

Oh, I am so in love with this cartooning!

From the stupidest dog in the world to Allie herself (who appears to be an albino fish with tiny flippers, big, bulbous eyes and a yellow head-fin) it is deceptively simple; but it is as a consequence gleeful, stoopid and expressive as hell. Which is handy, because this eye-wateringly entertaining cascade of self-mockery is all about emotions – of which Brosh has, at different times in her life, experienced both many and none whatsoever.

We’ll get to those more serious sequences later, for this is also profoundly perceptive in its analysis, distillation and then communicating of the most complex, overwhelming and sometimes conflicting sensibilities.

I don’t know if you were a problem child, but Allie was what you’d call challenging. No, I’m sorry: utterly exasperating. Take cake, for example: her mother baked a cake for her grandfather’s birthday but made the mistake of making it in the morning, slathering it in icing and topping it off with candy figures which to Allie were toys. Toys to be played with – and eaten! Cue day-long fixation on Allie’s part not for a slice of the cake but for all of it. And that girl was not without resources from emotional blackmail (ranging from tears and tantrums to full-on kimikazee) to breaking-and-entering. Her grandfather has his cake, but will he get to eat it?

It kicks off when a 27-year-old Brosh rediscovers a letter she had written, aged 10, to her 25-year-old self then buried in the garden. I don’t know if this is true, but it is a good story so I believe it. Its preoccupations and priorities are hilarious and in the following order: dogs, dogs, dogs; plight of pet dog; favourite food; then are her parents still alive? More bizarrely still…

“Below the German Shepherds, I wrote the three most disturbing words in the entire letter – three words that revealed more about my tenuous grip on reality than anything else I have ever uncovered about my childhood. There, at the bottom of the letter, I had taken my crayon stub and used it to craft the following sentence: “Please write back.””

Surprisingly, she does so. Not just to her 10-year-old self, either.

“Dear two-year-old,
“Face cream is not edible – no matter how much it looks like frosting, no matter how many times you try – it’s always going to be face cream, and it’s never going to be frosting.
“I promise I wouldn’t lie to you about this. It’s honestly never going to be frosting.
“For the love of fuck, please stop. I need those organs you’re ruining.”

Now you begin to understand the cake issue.

As an adult Allie adopts two dogs, one after the other, and they too prove problematic. The second is as rabid about other dogs as Daffyd in Little Britain is about being “the only gay in the village”. The first is merely brainless, Brosh suspects, so she sets about training it (Allie fails) then testing its IQ (dog fails). In all fairness, Allie should have probably tested her own IQ first by learning how to train a dog (she doesn’t). You wait until Allie attempts to move house. Everyone fails then, the dogs setting each other off in an increasingly compounded loop of escalating noise and then a great big ball of bewilderment. Like every piece here – from the life-long repercussions of a juvenile lie told to please two preposterously competitive parents – it is an ordeal.

That each is so diverting is down not just to Brosh’s timing but her natural instinct to think outside the box and present each situation from an unexpected point of view.

“If you were sitting quietly on your couch, waiting for your girlfriend to come back inside so you could finish watching your movie, and while you were waiting, someone called you up and said “I’ll give you a million dollars if you can guess what’s going to happen next,” you absolutely would not guess “I am going to be brutally and unexpectedly attacked by a goose in my own home.” Even if you had a hundred guesses, you would not guess that.”

Before that paragraph, Brosh’s boyfriend is seen smiling away on the couch, reading a book while waiting to resume his horror film, with the door open behind him. After that paragraph, as the goose waddles in and begins to emit its war cry, he’s not looking so sure.

“But that’s exactly what happened to Duncan.”

All of which makes this monumentally more mirthful than some of our similarly racked, comedic sure-fire sellers like HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU or (actually recommended, this one) 5 VERY GOOD REASONS TO PUNCH A DOLPHIN IN THE MOUTH but, as hinted earlier, there infinitely is far more to this autobiographical tour than first meets the eye.

Although she coats it with a comedic sugar frosting which she knows from experience appeals so well, there is a deadly serious side to Allie Brosh’s confessional candour, for she has endured the most crippling depression and an apathy which borders on self-destruction. The prevarication displayed during her Motivation Game may sound insane but I’ve been at least halfway there myself. Boy, does she get herself in a self-tortured tangle but – almost inevitably given Brosh’s eye for the absurd – it is still funny.

‘Depression Part One’ and most emphatically ‘Depression Part Two’, however, are not. And if you thought John Cei Douglas’ ‘Living Underwater’ in HOLDING PATTERNS was an eloquent expression of pressure and paralysis, Allie’s analysis of the evaporation and then death of her empathy for anything around her is as thorough and comprehensible as it is halting. Her subsequent attempts to fake joy or sadness to please others results only in further alienation. As to friends’ attempts to help her, their misapprehensions are eloquently explained.

“It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge the fish are dead. Instead they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.”

“What’s wrong?”
“My fish are dead.”
“Don’t worry! I’ll help you find them! Are there any clues where they went?”
“I know where they are… the problem is that they aren’t alive anymore.”
“Let’s keep looking! I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere!”
“No, see, that solution is for a different problem than the one I have.”

This and so much more – like reaching the point where you no longer want to exist, and the problems involved in breaking that news – is a real eye-opener, and a vital contribution in helping to understand the trapped plight of others.

This book contains what may be the most unusual dedication in publishing history. Each routine’s pages are colour-coded too, a bit like a catalogue – a catalogue of disasters.

‘Depression Part Two’ is so important that I’m giving you a live link to the full thing right here:


Buy Hyperbole And A Half and read the Page 45 review here

Look Straight Ahead (£14-99, Cuckoo’s Nest Press) by Elaine M. Will…

One of the best and most sensitive explorations of teenage psychosis and mental illness I have read in some considerable time. Jeremy is an introverted 17-year-old high school kid with very few friends whose primary passion is illustration. He’s possibly genetically predisposed to seeing the world a little differently than everyone else to start with, and after an extended period of emotional bullying at school from the jocks and the mean girls, this develops into a full-blown psychotic breakdown episode, complete with auditory and visual hallucinations. Cue a period in a hospital for observation and the future of a lifetime on medication. Obviously, this isn’t something that seems particularly appealing to Jeremy, and so begins a period of internal and external struggle, as he begins to come to terms with his condition.

Elaine writes and illustrates in a manner which perfectly captures many elements of the conundrum faced by those in Jeremy’s position. Often, they feel at their best during the pre-break periods of mania where the delusions are almost intoxicating, rapturous even, before the paranoia well and truly kicks in. Afterwards, they can long to experience those states again, believing that the chemical suppression of their medication, which in reality is helping to balance their brain chemistry, is limiting their state of consciousness and preventing them experiencing reality as it truly is. Jeremy is in just such a position, but fortunately for him he has a supportive, understanding parent who is able to prevent him going too far off the rails and possibly hurting himself or someone else in the meanwhile.

All of which sounds rather intense, and is in a way, I suppose, but it’s presented with such sensitivity and understanding, illustrating the inner turmoil people in Jeremy’s position face, that first and foremost it just comes across as an excellent piece of contemporary fiction, irrespective of the subject matter. Elaine’s art style certainly helps in that regard too, and I can see elements of Terry Moore in her work, which should give you a good idea of what to expect should you decide to give this a try.


Buy Look Straight Ahead and read the Page 45 review here

The Hic & Hoc Illustrated Journal Of Humour vol 2: The United Kingdom (£9-99, Hic & Hoc) by various including Lizz Lunney, Luke Pearson, Philippa Rice, Joe List, Joe Decie, Timothy Winchester, Dan Berry, Gary Northfield, Gareth Brookes, many more.

The success of so much comedy lies in the recognition factor, and I recognised the truth of this alternative commiseration card by Lizz Lunney which, given such displays of online agony, would probably outsell those targeted towards weddings, funerals and even Mother’s Day:

“Sorry to hear your favourite celebrity died. Good news is – it makes zero real difference to your life whatsoever.”

Lizz will admit that she is quick to judge – especially people by their shoes. On another page she does so, at length, before concluding incontrovertibly…

“If you don’t want to be judged by your shoes wear a cape.”

Lizz, with Joe List, is in charge of this cavalcade of comedy which we imported direct from the U.S. of A.. Stock is therefore limited and once gone, it is gone.

Some of my favourites were: Fossil Waffle by Kristyna Baczynski because, when you think about it, fossils are the most put-upon victims of musical statues once the fat lady’s stopped singing forever; the unsolicited, self-obsessed suggestions from friends and strangers about what Gareth Brookes should write comics about; Stephen Collins’ for the craftsmanship; and Joe Decie for turning the table on door-to-door salesmen by trying to sell them something instead. Trust me, this works: I’ve had cold-callers hang up on me!


Buy The Hic & Hic Illustrated Journal Of Humour vol 2: The United Kingdom and read the Page 45 review here

Law Of The Desert Born h/c (£18-99, Bantam) by Louis L’Amour, various & Tom Yeates…

Beautiful looking adaptation of a story from prolific ‘frontier fiction’ author Louis L’Amour. The first time anything he wrote has been made into a graphic novel as far as I am aware, though there have been over forty cinema and television movie adaptations of his tales, mainly during the era when Westerns were king from the late fifties through to the end of the seventies, before sci-fi really took over as the primary escapist genre of choice.

This is illustrated in monochrome watercolour and really captures the period. Beautiful, almost lunar-like landscapes, jam-packed with rough, tough hombres with hearts of gold and ornery rapscallions who would likely slit your throat just for wearing the wrong shade of poncho, this just feels exactly like watching a black and white Western. Hopefully this will be popular enough to justify adapting more of L’Amour’s works, but I don’t honestly know if the appetite is there for this genre any longer as Brian Azzarello found out with LOVELESS, which despite being brilliant, had to come to an earlier conclusion than intended.


Buy Law Of The Desert Born h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #1 of 5 (£2-99, Marvel) by Bendis & Bagley.

This, some sources say, is the death knell of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Consequently each series has ceased to be, replaced by three mini-series which tie into this. I know not whether I should be pinching salt or tickling its ribs, but it is far from improbable given that interest in the various series outside of Miles Morales’ has plummeted. More on that in a second.

Following events during the AGE OF ULTRON, a hole has been torn in the universe and globe-gobbling Galactus has found his way to a brand-new dinner table: the Ultimate Universe. It is woefully unprepared, and not just in the crockery department.

This invulnerable grim reaper, so vast it makes Manhattan look like Legoland, has made it to Earth and trampled the whole of New Jersey to dust. Nothing the Ultimates have found to throw at it has even raised its eyebrow. In the regular Marvel Universe only Reed Richards successfully managed to stave off the ravenous appetite of this world eater. And I’m afraid the Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe has taken a very different journey indeed.

Bagley’s interior art delivers the sense of scale which the cover does not – it is a very different beast – while Bendis falls silent (relatively speaking), letting the action rip across the page right from the start.

Don’t worry, everything you need to know was smoothly, succinctly and affectingly explained in the CATACLYSM #0.1 one-shot in which love was finally understood just in time to be too late.

Oh, and if you think that the eradication of the Ultimate Universe means no more Miles Morales, think again. Clue: SPIDER-MEN – a well positioned life raft if ever I read one.


Buy Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Justice League Of America vol 1: World’s Most Dangerous h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire & David Finch, many more.

Ah, I see! There is actually a creative reason behind this sister series and it makes perfect political sense.

In JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL 1 then JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL 2 it becomes increasingly clear that there is a lack of governmental trust in the self-proclaimed Justice League, orbiting Earth from on high. America now wants its own version whose prospective members Amanda Waller here selects much to the horror or Colonel Steve Trevor: they’re a bunch of criminals and psychotic aliens – not all of whom have the American flag in their heart. Trevor is adamant that he will have nothing to do with this ticking time-bomb. Nothing whatsoever! So he’ll be their field leader and mentor, then.

I note Amanda Waller has lost a lot of weight, which is a shame. On the other hand, she has gained a fine line in manipulative reverse psychology which Trevor falls for time after time after time. Finch is one of the finest superhero powerhorses out there – his Martian Manhunter is chilling – while Geoff John’s introduces the set-up and potential fireworks perfectly.

Where it falls short is in Finch’s abrupt departure early on and the squandering of those fireworks, for it turns into pretty pedestrian fisticuffs with no real sense of who was where doing what, nor do I care one jot who the villains were (I can’t even remember) nor who is behind them.

Worse still, where this makes zero creative or reader-friendly sense is in its collation here: build up to attempted crescendo then massive gap between said crescendo and Trinity War part two (you get no one here) then Trinity War part four (you get nothing for three).

To be begun, concluded and Polyfillered elsewhere but, oh, you’ve already laid out close to a twenty quid note! DC are evidently relying that to cajole into you buying another book you may not have wanted. Shameful.

Good job someone is honest and upfront.

Page 45: just like during Villains’ Month, we’ve got your beleaguered back.


Buy Justice League Of America vol 1: World’s Most Dangerous h/ and read the Page 45 review here

Batman vol 3: Death Of The Family h/c (£18-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo…

In a book trailed as one of the biggest Bat-shockers for a while, the highest rumble on the Richter scale of comic reading, to me anyway, was that DC only used one of five issues from this volume in THE JOKER: DEATH OF THE FAMILY H/C. I would have expected at least three the way they’ve been doubling up recently. Holy double-fisted cash-counting Batman, will these evil money grabbing fiends never stop?!! Also… I really must stop reading BATMAN 66 which is rapidly becoming a guilty pleasure (first trade to come soon, hopefully) as it has been great fun.

Moving swiftly on… I still just don’t really understand the negative reaction of Dick, Damien, Tim, Barbara and Jason to Bruce after the Joker’s antics during this story arc. Anyone who wants to explain it to me, please feel free, because I must be missing something. It’s a fun enough story, I guess (lovely art from Greg Capullo, I should add) plus as a chemist I did chuckle at the epilogue punch line.

Also, nice to see they carried through the die-cut cover theme of the single issues through to this hardcover with a partially transparent plastic dust jacket acting as the Joker’s skin mask over the skinned face underneath. [Editor’s note: this transparent dust jacket is for first printings only. This they have publicly declared.]

Still, after an extremely strong start, this title is starting to feel slightly like it’s treading water and the rubber shark is fast approaching. Now if only I could find my Bat-shark repellent…?


Buy Batman vol 3: Death Of The Family 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.


Page 45 Card designed by Lizz Lunney (£1-50 or FREE WITH PAGE 45 GIFT VOUCHERS, Page 45) by Lizz Lunney

Page 45 Card designed by Philippa Rice (£1-50 or FREE WITH PAGE 45 GIFT VOUCHERS, Page 45) by Philippa Rice

The Art Of Sean Phillips h/c (£29-99, Dynamite) by Sean Phillips, edited by Eddie Robson

Eisner: Graphic Storytelling And Visual Narrative (£16-99, Norton) by Will Eisner

The Extraordinary Life Of Alan Moore h/c (£20-00, Aurume) by Lance Parkin

Hip Hop Family Tree (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Ed Piskor

Old City Blues vol 2 (£9-99, Archaia) by Giannis Milonogiannis

Scott Pilgrim vol 4 h/c Colour Edition (£18-99, Oni) by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Slaine: The Book Of Scars h/c (£19-99, Rebellion) by Pat Mills & Glenn Fabry, Simon Bisley, Clint Langley, more

Sonic – Mega Man: Worlds Collide vol 1 (£8-99, Archie) by various

Walking Dead vol 19: March To War (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

Aquaman vol 2: The Others s/c (£10-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Aquaman vol 3: The Throne Of Atlantis h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier

Injustice Gods Among Us vol 1 h/c (£14-99, DC) by Tom Taylor & Jheremy Raapack, Mike S. Miller

Red Lanterns vol 3 The Second Prophecy s/c (£14-99, DC) by Peter Milligan & Miguel Angel Sepulveda

Swamp Thing vol 3: Rotworld: The Green Kingdom s/c (£12-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire & Yanick Paquette

Avengers vol 2: The Last White Event (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Mike Deodato Jr., Dustin Weaver

Avengers vol 3: Infinity Prelude (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer & Mike Deodato Jr., Stefano Caselli

Sabertooth Swordsman h/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Damon Gentry & Aaron Conley

Uncanny X-Men vol 2: Lost In Limbo h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Frazer Irving, Chris Bachalo

Wolverine: Sabretooth Reborn s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Simone Bianchi

Lone Wolf And Cub Omnibus vol 3 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima, Frank Miller

Showa 1926 -1939: A History Of Japan s/c (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Shigeru Mizuki

Triton Of The Sea vol 2 (£14-99, DMP) by Osamu Tezuka


ITEM! Exquisite new comic site, Blood And Roses, with perfect compositions by Sally Thompson

ITEM! New Make Then Tell Podcast with Dan Berry interviewing Lizz Lunney! Yippee!

ITEM! Extensive preview of KNIGHT & DRAGON from Improper Books. If you want a copy of Page 45’s exclusive KNIGHT & DRAGON signed bookplate edition, you will have to be quick!

ITEM! The Mermaid: a gobsmacking Cornish fairy tale by Briony May Smith with colours that put me in mind of my facsimile of William Blakes’s The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell.

ITEM! Everyone’s been doing the North-o-Meter to gauge how Northern they are. Sean Phillips, for example, the artist on FATALE, came in at 70% Northern which is somewhere around Hull – or Cumbria. Me, I came in at 1% Northern, which is basically the South of France, and was only saved by my knowledge of oatcakes, otherwise I’d be a Sahib in Bangladesh.


Reviews November 2013 week one

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

As for the exquisite beauty, I give you the most inspired choice of artists imaginable in JH Williams III who didn’t just illustrate Alan Moore’s PROMETHEA, he illuminated its ideas with an intuitive understanding, and in doing so helped render it one of Moore’s two most accomplished endeavours to date.

 – Stephen on Sandman: Overture #1

The Park h/c (£15-99, Self Made Hero) by Oscar Zarate.

“Dad was bitten by a dog but I’m the one who gets rabies!”

And it all starts out so serene.

“The Park. Blue skies, only a few wisps of cloud.
“If you close your eyes for a moment and listen, jumbled sounds gradually become distinct. Kids playing football, a brass band bringing an echo of the past (you think of your parents, something of your childhood comes back to you). You hear fragments of conversation, the squeak of buggies, the chirping of birds, the swoosh of kites, the caw-caw of crows, the rustling of leaves…sudden yells of delight – a kid has scored the most phenomenal goal. Young people are singing a song by Oasis. A dog barks…”
”Carla… fetch!”
“… you smell the grass. Just for a moment you feel intensely alive.”

The titular park is very much the star here, dressed by Zarate in the most splendid livery and lit to perfection both during the bright, sunshine day and the shadowy night. Whether relatively young saplings, their fresh, translucent leaves shimmering in a breeze or hard and hardy oaks, five centuries old, their twisting trunks knotted and whorled and tactile as hell, the trees are its chorus, bursting with birdsong and teaming with squirrels. Willows weep on cue by the lakeside. There’s a superb sense of space.

Lemon-yellow and fuschia-pink flowers bubble and burst with joy all over the shrubbery, between dancers and kite-fliers and screamers and shouters, those picnicing on blankets in the park. Quiet conversations are being had. You can hear the sound of laughter, which is a neat trick for a painting or two. You feel the sun on the back of your neck.

A man throws his dog’s ball into the water…

It splash-lands right in the front of three irrascible, hissing swans but Carla, undaunted, has an instinctive, ingrained, Pavlovian response: it’s her bloody ball and she’ll have it, whatever the cost.


This is a book about anger traps: about bullish behaviour and bullies to boot; about everyone talking yet nobody listening; about self-absorbtion, obsession, revenge.

The thought bubble is almost extinct in British and American comics, but here makes a comeback to present preocuppations, inner conflict and contradictions – snapshots of fleeting thoughts and gut reactions.

Carla’s owner, Ivan, is an opinionated columnist unable to listen to reason, a so-called journalist unwilling to be bothered about facts if they get in the way of a good old cathartic, self-serving, self-righteous tirade. He sneers superciliously at medicrioty as he perceives it, oblivious to how fast he’s becoming its epitome. Oh, Ivan dotes upon Carla. She can do no wrong, unlike his eco-activist / artist daughter: she can do no right. There is a distinct generation gap.

The man Carla has bitten is a meek and mild postman and amateur musician with a penchant for Laurel and Hardy called Chris. Instinctively he tried to defend himself but was punched for his efforts by Ivan. His son, Victor, is a gymn trainer and psysiotherapist. It’s he who’s seen red. It is he who can’t let go. Victor claims to hate bullies, but is a bully himself, poisoning his father’s tranquility and rejecting his paternal affection.

“You can’t let yourself be bullied like that,” he instists. “It’s humiliating.”

Guess who feels humiliated?

With neither his father’s knowledge nor consent, Victor sets off seething in search of revenge, mindless of who gets caught in the middle.

It’s all going to go horribly wrong.


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

Sandman: Overture #1 (£3-50, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & JH Williams III.

“And I am pulled halfway across the universe in one fraction of forever, with a pain that feels like birth…”

Morpheus is the Lord of Dreams, his family are The Endless. Each of them is older than you can comprehend, though some are older than others. They are as gods to mortals – though they can surely die – and they can change as we change, for they are reflections of our everyday existence…

So began my review for SANDMAN VOL 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES, now proving somewhat prescient in the light of this brand-new reprise which reveals what happened just prior to the series and how Dream was so easily captured. If you are new to SANDMAN – for me, the finest piece of mythology during the last century – then the rest of that review will tell you everything you know to get the most out of this.

Long-term readers will meet old friends most unexpectedly, and in this very first issue a secret is revealed which will make perfect sense given events later on in [redacted].

Haha! Page 45: teasing you senseless since 1994. I did give out a cryptic clue on Twitter, however, if you want to seek out the hashtag #incarnadine.

I will say little more other than that Morpheus senses that something is very wrong indeed, Death is so troubled that she persuades Destiny to summon her to his realm and Lucien, the librarian of books never written, has a… presentiment.

As for the comic’s exquisite beauty, I give you the most inspired choice of artists imaginable in JH Williams III who didn’t just illustrate Alan Moore’s PROMETHEA, he illuminated its ideas with an intuitive understanding, and in doing so helped render it one of Moore’s two most accomplished endeavours to date. (The other’s FROM HELL, since you ask.)

Swoon over the liquid fire, the pale line and washes of a defiant predator on the prowl, and the most extravagant, inventive and at times delirous page compositions, with panels constructed from teeth or portcullis panes and oh, you are in for a surprise at the end!

As is our Morpheus, swept irresistably halfway across the universe as if summoned by someone with a family sigil.

“I tell myself I am Dream of the Endless. I am DREAM. And I am prepared for whatever awaits me.”

He really isn’t.


Buy Sandman: Overture #1 JH Williams III cover and read the Page 45 review here

Buy Sandman: Overture #1 McKean cover and read the Page 45 review here

The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde vol 1 s/c new edition (£7-50, NBM) by Oscar Wilde & P. Craig Russell.

“There cometh a bitter wind into the house. And I am cold.”

This is a book about kindess. And kindness is the most important thing in the world.

Kindness may cost you dearly, it may cost just a little, or it may cost you nothing at all. Yet still many withhold it out of sheer spite or lack of empathy; lack of imagination or lack of thought.

Each of those levels on either side of the equation is explored by our dearly beloved Oscar in two tales designed to make us think twice about how we treat each other: The Selfish Giant and The Star Child.

In the former a giant takes umbrage at the innocent and innocuous delight local children display while relishing the beauty of his garden. They are neither vandals nor hoodlums, but nevertheless they are enjoying what is most emphatically his! He therefore decides to build a wall.*

Winter had already crept into his heart and soul; now its icy tendrils spread, wreaking havoc on his garden. And his castle. And so his happiness. Mean-spiritedness: you reap what you sow.

It’s a relatively straightforward tale, albeit with a most unexpected dénouement.

The Star Child, however, is far more involved and complex, touching on Oscar’s dedication to socialism with a small ‘s’ meaning simply that you help provide for others whether you have much or nothing at all. This he and P. Craig Russell most successfully evoke this compassion in THE HAPPY PRINCE which reduced both myself and my mother to tears, but this is a very good start.

A hard-up hunter bags not a stag, but a baby fallen to Earth. He takes the child home only to be chastised by his missus because, frankly, they are finding it nigh-on impossible to make ends meet, and put food on the table for themselves and their own. Nevertheless, she is moved, and sets the babe down to bed with her own.

Over the years they raise the child to young adulthood. But the boy is proud, pretty, petty and narcissistic, cruel to those who he considers ugly or inferior, including his natural mother. He is the very epitome of ingratitude, having understood not one jot the sacrifices his adoptive parents have made, nor why they made them. Well. Is he in for a rude awakening!

This splendid library of Oscar Wilde short stories adapted by P. Craig Russell is overwhelmingly bought by adults for adults who relish the craft and the kindness. And that is the best testament there could be for all-ages graphic novels. Might I suggest, however, that these are the very life lessons which our youngest most need to learn if we are to nurture their growth, empathy and understanding in ways which will foster a much better world for us all?

Please buy one of these for Christmas.

* [Metaphor alert! – ed.]


Buy The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Mara (£9-99, Image) by Brian Wood & Ming Doyle.

“The thing is, despite everything that’s happened to me, one thing’s been constant: I was never a threat to anyone.
“But you treated me like I was.
“Shame on you all.”

If I reproduced the halting image which accompanied that cliff-hanger you would rightly accuse me of SPOILERS. I do not. But trust me when I tell you that I have seen that image before in the most powerful and important dream I have ever experienced. It is something truly iconic for anyone born in the last century. And it is, I assure you, arresting.

This is not the series I thought it would be. This is not what it said on the tin. Oh, the back of this book makes its direction quite plain, but the first issue didn’t.

And I like that enormously. I dislike it too.

I enjoyed this book so much and so fast, turning page after page after page, unable to stop myself, yet remain ambivalent about it in so many ways. That’s unlike me: I am one opinionated motherfucker, the strength of those opinions – as Mark loved pointing out – almost always in inverse proportion to my knowledge on any given subject.

On the one hand MARA veers so swiftly from one thing to another and has so many Acts whilst being a relative short six chapters that I felt there was much missing: as if entire scenes had been excised. They’re not required – at no point did I or this book lose the plot – but there is so much here that seemed to demand embellishment. On the other hand, fuck embellishment and give me the bulletpoints: don’t get bogged down in extraneous handwringing when there is something so strong to be said. There is much to be said here, and Brian Wood says it. Equally on that other hand, the last two chapters of this collection were quiet, reflective and made so much more clear of what leads up to the main event: of Mara being palmed off to The State, aged six, sent by her parents to the equivalent of a preparatory boarding school but without any mitigating hope of a brief reunion three times a term. They’re giving her up for good. Both for the good of The State and forever.

It’s lonely out there. And so it will be later on.

So what is this? It’s a story about how we treat each other, privately and personally, but also on TV and in the army. It’s about money and power and prowess. About corporate business interests and international hegemony.

I’m pretty pleased with myself, given what followed, of the very first paragraph of my review of issue one during which I stuck my neck out on the line for what could have been a complete misapprehension. That review follows, slightly amended for extra intrigue, thus:

When I first opened this up I ruminated about the bottom half of page one for five minutes. Now that I’ve finished, I’m doing so again.

I could be wrong, but there is a particular treatment in the art at the start which set my suspicions on fire, knowing not for one second what the climax would be. Having attempted to absorb that startling climax – as shocked and puzzled as the wider fictional world it is broadcast to – I’m not necessarily the wiser, but I am most definitely intrigued.

“I find sports culture, especially professional sports, to be rife with the worst of what society puts upon young women, while expecting the best out of them in return,” wrote Brian Wood in an interview. “That’s worth talking about.” It is.

So welcome to the future, and the future is volleyball! This is the sport which now attracts the largest international audiences, viewing figures and so sponsorship. Though there are some pretty dodgy sports sponsors in the future.

Top of the league is Mara Prince. Aged seventeen she is a global celebrity who’s already amassed greater wealth than she could possibly spend in her lifetime. She knows exactly how to play the media game without actually being manipulative. She ticks all the boxes: confident, humble, sexy and smart. But if she’s so bloody smart, what just happened in the final five pages? Five pages yet mere moments in time captured on camera and broadcast worldwide that which could and should destroy her reputation completely.

The public believe Mara cheated. That is the only way they can absorb what they see: Mara defying the laws of physics to scoop up a ball and pound it over the net in two seconds when anyone else would have taken ten. Or twenty. Or thirty. Somehow, she cheated. They used to say that the camera never lies, but it always did: just look at the Loch Ness Monster. But how can physical reality lie? Everyone there saw what had happened, but it couldn’t have happened – it was impossible.

Plenty of politics and personal punch as you’d expect from the writer of THE MASSIVE and NORTHLANDERS et al. Apparently we’ve got over racism (hurrah!) but not global conflict (boo!), although we’re desperately papering over the cracks like we’re trying to sell houses with subsidence (still).

True fact: I was in our school’s volleyball team. It’s unlikely, I grant you, but it’s true.


Buy Mara and read the Page 45 review here

Legend Of The Scarlet Blades Deluxe h/c Slipcase Edition (£37-99, Humanoids) by Saverio Tenuta.

“I think you still harbour feeling for Raido and myself, yet even so, you ordered his death and have deprived me of the sun. In reality, you are not fully aware of your actions. Do not be so sure that it is you who are the puppeteer.
“That, I never believed. I only cut my own strings and imprisoned the one who controlled them in this temple.”

Terrific surprise, this. I was expecting another SAMURAI: LEGEND, which was certainly very pretty but really little more than another Onimusha.

LEGEND OF THE SCARLET BLADES, on the other hand, is breathtakingly beautiful with vast panoramas of snow-swept mountains and walls snaking up to them; Japanese temples and rooftops, Acer leaves in autumn, cherry blossom petals and birds taking flight; gigantic white wolves called Izuna with ears like the lynx… but it is also an intricately woven story of cause and effect, of nature and nurture, that spans two generations in feudal Japan whose revelations eventually connect almost every event to another and everyone to each other, even if few or even any of the players involved know it until quite near the end. Maybe the wolves know. Yes, maybe the wolves know…

Lone warrior Raido has lost his memory. He’s lost his arm, an eye, and something else – if only he could remember what. Instead he is plagued by voices so loud he can barely sleep. They’re calling to him. He has a tattoo whose symbols don’t bode well and he has a past more complicated than he can imagine which he inadvertently catches up with when he encounters young Meiki and suddenly there’s silence. He sweeps her away from the clutches of Captain Kawakimi, ordered to arrest the girl by Lady Ryin, Shogunai of all that surrounds her. He knows not who they are, but they definitely remember him, as does General Nobu Fudo, the man with three eyes, the man with three arms and the man with two Scarlet Blades. Raido is supposed to be dead.

The past is revealed slowly, subtly and in all the right places, for it’s not as straight forward as you’ll think. For example, does Nobu Fudo have Raido’s eye? He does not. He has an eye that was sacrificed to Raido after Raido as a boy sacrificed his own to feed his starving wolf cub. There’ll be repercussions there. Unfortunately Raido will repay that repayment of kindness with… Ouch. It’s actually pretty affecting in places.

There is a reason, by the way, why the seasons have stopped and the domain of Lady Fujiwara Ryan and Lord Totecu Fujiwara before her is besieged by ice and its raging white Izuna. There’s an explanation for why the Izuna are raging, and why Lady Ryin is such a bitter and cruel mistress. It’s not an excuse but a reason. The same goes for the three-armed Nobu Fudo’s enmity towards Raido.

I can promise you a substantial read and as much eye-candy as you could want whether your thing is majestic landscapes, fantastical wolves or dramatic blade action. It’s not easy painting driven snow, but the blue and purple lights dance off it here perfectly.


Buy Legend Of The Scarlet Blades Deluxe h/c Slipcase Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Charley’s War vol 10: The End (£14-99, Titan) by Pat Mills & Joe Colquhoun…

Final volume, Pat Mills-penned at least (which is a sensitive issue Mills deals with completely without rancour in his afterword), of the anti-war treatise which at times induced a state not entirely dissimilar to shellshock in my mind as a young lad. As Pat informs us, even he couldn’t believe this seditious material was slipping out under the radar amidst the gung-ho strips that surrounded it in Battle.

The perfect counter-point for MAJOR EAZY, THE RAT PACK, JOHNNY RED et al and their cavalier and often comedic approach to war, the story of young Charley Bourne, who foolish signs up aged sixteen in a moment of patriotic bravado, is a tale of one boy’s personal journey through the gates of hell and eventually out the other side, throughout the entirety of World War 1.

Epic in scale, running from 1979 to 1985, from when I was 7 to 13 thirteen years old, it covered every conceivable horrific element of trench warfare imaginable. Even to this day, over thirty years on, I can recall some of Joe Colquhoun’s panels as if it were yesterday. The only material on the same subject I’ve ever read in the intervening years which had the same impact on me would be the recent Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, GODDAMN THIS WAR! by Jacques Tardi. This is a saga which should really be on everyone’s must read list.


Buy Charley’s War vol 10: The End and read the Page 45 review here

Uber Enhanced vol 1 h/c(£25-99, Avatar) by Kieron Gillen & Canaan White…

“I have in my hand a piece of paper…”

Well some pages of comics, actually, which are then according to Avatar <ahem> enhanced with a whole lot of back matter before arriving at the rather expensive cover price of £25-99. Avatar have never been the cheapest publisher, but they do usually release softcovers and hardcovers (as with CROSSED) on the same day. But this does feel rather like blatant opportunism on the back of what has been an extremely popular new title, I must say.

Still, at least Kieron’s quality hand wringing apology for writing a comic about super-Nazis is included, which made me smile just as much second time around. Yes, he clearly has gone out of his way to make sure this isn’t just another gore-fest on an imprint renowned for just that, and it is interesting to see there are certainly some customers who are picking it up just because it is written by Kieron, but there are just as many picking it up simply because it’s a comic all about super-Nazis. Me, I like it on both counts and am enjoying the title immensely. But it’s for you to decide whether you want to shell out £25-99 or wait for a cheaper version.

Right, here was my review of issue #0, which I’m reprinting purely for the joke at Stephen’s expense… [Oh, brilliant. – ed.]

It does amuse me greatly that our very own resident grammar-Nazi, Stephen L. Holland, quite firmly insists that no accents or umlauts must be used in titles or creator names on the Page 45 website. He’s right of course, because no one with an Anglicised keyboard ever bothers typing them into search engines thus causing a perilous lack of results if they are used, but I am quite sure it must be distressing his leather-clad interior editor to see deliberately mis-spelt words. Is it wrong, therefore, that I derive more than a little schadenfreude from this situation heh heh?

I am actually going to suggest anyone reading this starts at the back. Not with the ending obviously, but Kieron’s mini-essay explaining, almost apologetically, precisely why he’s written this work. It’s amusingly self-deprecating and is a roundabout way of politely pointing out that whilst yes, it’s a no-holds-barred gore-fest of a comic about super-Nazis, he is actually trying to make a few points about what WW2 and all its intrinsic horrors says about us as a species.

So… It is the very dying moments of the war, the Russians are already ploughing through the suburbs of Berlin and Adolf is just waiting for the knock on his door to see if he wants to come out and play. Any German soldiers with any common sense whatsoever are doing their very best to look busy whilst shuffling subtly westwards in the hope of surrendering to the Allies rather than the Reds. Except, a certain research division might just have come up with something that, whilst it might be too late to completely turn the tide, could at least ensure the Allies’ victory is a pyrrhic one at best. Cue the super-Nazis! Who really do make Captain America look like a boy scout, as they not only have increased strength but other insanely destructive capabilities like energy manipulation powers. Game on!

There is a substantial cast of characters introduced almost immediately, on all sides, including some whose allegiance might not be quite as it seems, which is as it should be, because espionage was an extremely important part of the war effort on all sides. I have a huge interest in WW2 and I enjoyed Kieron’s attention to detail: he clearly has done his research as he alludes to in his afterword. And we can clearly see he is, as promised, not shying away from displaying the very disturbing underbelly of the conflict and its toll upon the civilian populace.


Buy Uber Enhanced vol 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Triton Of The Sea vol 1 (£14-99, DMP) by Osamu Tezuka…

Never quite sure with Tezuka material I haven’t read before (previously unpublished in English) whether it is going to be dark and serious with something to say socio-politically like MW or completely light and fluffy like PRINCESS KNIGHT. This is more towards the satirical end of the scale but wrapped in what appears to be, on the surface, a fairly light and fluffy coating. One could be forgiven for thinking it’s all going to be a bit Aqua-Astro Boy to begin with, but it isn’t, though it certainly doesn’t stray into quite so dark territory as MW or BARBARA.

One thing is for sure, it’s published by arch opportunists and kings of the single, tiny print run, DMP, so buy quickly because there will almost certainly be no restocks available whatsoever, nor indeed will it ever be reprinted as with SWALLOWING THE EARTH and BARBARA. Also, the second and concluding volume is out shortly.


Buy Triton Of The Sea vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

My Neighbour Totoro Picture Book h/c (£12-99, Viz) by Hayao Miyazaki & various.

Album-sized, full-colour prose book lavishly illustrated with frames from the film (I think – I haven’t had chance to compare and contrast) and all its dialogue, which isn’t as tricky as you might think: Studio Ghibli is light on dialogue and big on space which allow the films to breathe and its viewers to soak in the wondrous artmosphere.

This is Studio Ghibli at its cutest complete with Catbus (it is a bus; it is also a cat) and Totoro itself. Who could possibly resist a cuddle and a snuggle?

“Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds– and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.”


Buy My Neighbour Totoro Picture Book h/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Last Of Us s/c (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks.

It was late into a very long night and I was pausing for breath, halfway up a derelict skyscraper whose basement had proved a death-trap of fungally infected clattery creatures which, at the drop of a pin, could accelerate from 0 to 90 in your terminally doomed direction. I don’t know why I had a pin on me, but I certainly kept dropping it. Where was a BFG when you needed it?

I can’t recall if I had just clambered out through the window and onto a series of precariously lilting swing stages overlooking the lushest of urban parkland, or whether I was about to. (I don’t do heights: I get vertigo on the bathroom scales). But it was raining. It was still inside but outside it was raining, the heavy drops hammering onto the few unbroken panes of glass with that exquisite, hypnotic sound which makes you feel cosy and warm. And, oh lord, the lighting was electric! I stood there, entranced, I kid you not, for half an hour listening to one of my favourite sights and sounds reproduced with hyper-reality in a virtual reality, and if a Clicker had come for me I would have surrendered with a decidedly Shakespearian ecstasy.*

The Last Of Us was almost impossibly beautiful, each individual autumnal leaf floating on a lapping pond’s surface and lit in a way only modern television screens can deliver. Or acid – I really wouldn’t know. It was also terrifying: those Clickers were so swift that you could be immolated any second and, as with the best console games, I was so immersed that it was me being slaughtered. I’d certainly seen so many of my fellow travellers bite that contagious, airborn dust.

… Which brings us yet again to my problem with graphic novel spin-offs of interactive video games. They cannot help be anything but a let down, even with FRIENDS WITH BOYS’ Faith Erin Hicks at the helm. Turning the page could be called interactive but your reading skills aren’t invested in keeping you alive.

I can list dozens of ways in which reading the best graphic novels is a superior experience to playing a game against a computer, and I can list dozens of ways in which button-bashing for your life is a kiddier thrill ran reading some rubbish comics. The simple truth is that they are disparate, incomparable experiences, yet an adaptation from one medium to the other only invites those comparisons.

Which is why I never read this.

Takes place before events in the game.

* Death. For Shakespeare, orgasms were to die for.


Buy The Last Of Us s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Assassin’s Creed vols 1-3: The Ankh Of Isis Trilogy h/c (£18-99, Titan) by Corbeyran & Djillali Defali.

Collects volumes 1 to 3: Desmond, Aquilus & Accipter.

“Ah, Ezio, ciao bene! And look what you have for me: yet another page of the Codex. Just what I always wanted! You couldn’t have brought prosecco and panini, eh…?
“No matter, let’s see… Hmmm…
“If I transpose the letters for numbers, the directions for plumbers, and the lint in my belly for the leaves in my tea… Yessss… It is perfectly clear to me now! It is essential that you assassinate every minstrel in town. You will gain nothing, but I will be rid of my headache.”

Minstrels: do NOT be pestering me with your luting, fluting jibber-jabber!

I love Assassin’s Creed. After the Italian Baroque, the Renaissance is my favourite era of Art History and Venice my most treasured city in the world. To scale then dive-bomb off the all the Florentine landmarks was a dream come true. It was certainly one way to conquer my crippling fear of heights, and I could not believe the lighting. On the other hand I quickly developed a Pavlovian reaction to each city’s minstrels: come anywhere near me with a lyre and I will garrotte you. You couldn’t commit a worse crime if you’d cried for a team hug. It doesn’t matter if I’m executing the final few seconds of an intricate, fifteen-minute stealth-athon, it’s a “Hey Nonny No!” from me.

Imagine my relief, then, to enter Constantinople in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. No minstrels! Oh, there are the begging women who get in the way and spoil my stride, and I can’t kill them ‘cause they’re laydeez. But see, they’re not strumming and humming the same stupid tune on a loop that makes me see red.

So what do we have here? Well, it’s emphatically not what came out of Wildstorm. This is a brand-new trilogy of graphic novels with a beginning, middle and end written by XIII’s Corbeyran, each more in synch with the games themselves. For a start they star Desmond, held prisoner under high-security at that mysterious… well, I think “laboratory” is the wrong word. It’s a bit like referring to Buckingham Palace as “detached”. Anyway: secrets buried in DNA (check), Animus reactivated (check) and it’s off to relive lives past (check).

Book one sends Desmond back to the marketplaces of the Holy Land during the Third Crusades; book two sees him checking out Gaul under Roman occupation; and by book three it’s a full-on quest for a revenge – destination Rome! Meanwhile, in the present day, things are really heating up.

Confession: I haven’t read them, no. I skimmed for the sake of synopses. Me, I’d rather immerse myself in the computer games themselves, then write spurious reviews extrapolating real-life potential from their game-play. In the spirit of which…

Mission: read all three book on the bus without being spotted, causing a disturbance or being called a big geek. Could be a tricky one: hardly designed for stealth, the Assassins’ garb. For full synchronisation: using your eagle vision, identify the miscreant playing X-Factor downloads on their iPod, gather their headphone wire from behind and silently strangle them before missing your bus stop. Make sure they’re dead. Seriously, take no chances. Destroy that fucking iPod.

Further missions available throughout Nottingham City Centre (see map):

a) Poison anyone pissing in our doorway over the weekend. This unlocks Page 45’s shopfront, and so ‘b’ and ‘h’ below.
b) Protect Page 45 from stumbling junkie theft.
c) Assassinate a traffic warden (stealth not required: no one will come to their rescue).
d) Investigate why Nottingham’s Mayor is allowed to park on the pavement outside Natwest Bank between 10-30am and 4pm when the whole of the city centre is out of bounds for those legitimately delivering to retailers and so keeping their life-blood flowing.
e) Read Page 45’s other game tie-in graphic novel reviews especially SILENT HILL.
f) Tweet these review to your gaming friends/colleagues.
g) Show me how to successfully defend a den. I’ve not managed it once yet. I’m thinking of trying something more basic first, like Mr. Bob-san’s cat flap. I fear we will have intruders.
h) Populate your villa / student bedsit bookshelves by collecting all 7,000 different graphic novels from Page 45. The more you collect, the more visitors you will receive, the more graphic novels will go missing and… oh, I love this mission!

Are they making a graphic novel of Skyrim soon? I hope so. I want to show off my Clopsy.

New graphic novel also out: Assassin’s Creed vol 4: Hawk h/c (£8-99, Titan) by Corbeyran & Djillali Defali


Buy Assassin’s Creed vols 1-3: The Ankh Of Isis Trilogy h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dark Satanic Mills (£12-99, Walker) by Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick & John Higgins, Marc Olivent…

Feels like a not-quite-successful submission to 2000AD, which is possibly why there is a pull quote from Pat Mills on the front. The post-apocalyptic story, weaving in quotes from William Blake’s poem, is pretty reasonable which I note is what Pat makes mention of, featuring messianic figures and radioactive road warriors, but the art is just too unpolished for me in places, which is astonishing given it is John Higgins.

Some of the facial expressions seem to suggest a character has suddenly developed a strangulated hernia at an unexpected and inconvenient moment, or occasionally the universe has lost the third dimension completely. That’s a pretty harsh couple of statements really, given most of it is great, but there is a lack of consistency which lets it down often enough to make it feel like the great man was either in a rush or slightly ambivalent about the whole thing. Also, why does John Higgins need someone else doing the cover which makes it look like it might a children’s book? Given its on Walker Books I thought it was possibly going to be. It’s a very nice cover, just maybe a tad misleading.


Buy Dark Satanic Mills and read the Page 45 review here

Super Crooks vol 1: The Heist s/c (£12-99, Millarworld) by Mark Millar & Leinil Yu…

“Here comes the pain, dick-bag. I’ll beat so hard your ancestors are gonna bleed!”

No, not Stephen finally catching up with a standing order customer who has left us in lurch with several months of uncollected comics and just disappeared without a trace… but some choice dialogue contained within the latest excellent offering from the self-styled “your chum, Mark Millar” (your chum being his lettercol sign off which, combined with the chin stroking picture, always makes me chuckle) and his artsy Millarworld pals, in this case, beat-down artiste extraordinaire Leinil Yu.

There is much to be said for the limited series format Millar seems to be concentrating on these days, with NEMESIS, SUPERIOR, KICK-ASS and the forthcoming SECRET SERVICE plus the much anticipated JUPITER’S LEGACY. Firstly, it allows him to get his pick of artists like Yu, Romita Jr., Dave Gibbons and Frank Quitely schedule-wise, and secondly he can really concentrate on cramming in a ridiculous amount of ideas and action into each story without worrying about continuity. Also, given that last point, his cast of characters tend to be somewhat more… disposable… than those of Marvel and DC, which always helps up the ultra-violence-ante a welcome notch or two.

I have heard it espoused that he also likes to write this type of self-contained, high-octane yet relatively “simplistic” plots, because they are just begging to be adapted into films, but I don’t personally believe that is his primary motivation at all. I just think he’s found a groove of writing style he’s really enjoying, and has decided to run with it, simple as that. And with this material and indeed much of his current output, he is once again beginning to hit the levels of sophistication of superhero storytelling he achieved with WANTED (note: now available again without the horrific and ill-advised movie cover).

So, all you really need to know about this work, for me to avoid spoiling it in any way, is that a group of super-villains lead by the charismatic Johnny Bolt are planning a very audacious heist, to get their old school chum and mentor, The Heist, out of a rather tight spot. He’s racked up huge gambling debts with the vicious Salamander, who is planning on wiping out said debts by wiping out The Heist, unless he can settle up pronto. But the gang of veteran villains know that they’ve pretty much got no chance of pulling a huge caper off in the USA these days, where the myriad law enforcement agencies, not to mention dearth of superheroes, have made their profession somewhat untenable.

Therefore it’s off to sunny Spain, to target one of their own, the now retired ‘daddy’ of all super-villains, richer than Croesus – and you don’t get to be that wealthy without keeping both eyes firmly fixed on your stash – The Bastard. And errr… as you might expect, he hasn’t earned that name for his sunny disposition and forgiving nature. Cue a classic (super-)heist caper that has heart and humour, plus more than a little fisticuffs to boot… and boots to the head too.


Buy Super Crooks vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Uncanny Avengers vol 2: The Apocalypse Twins h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan & Daniel Acuna, Adam Kubert.

Well, I was a complete bitch about UNCANNY AVENGERS VOL 1, wasn’t I?

Rarely since we began our weekly website reviews have I launched into a book taking so few prisoners. If I don’t care for something, I usually don’t bother reviewing it. But this title is so high-profile I decided a weather warning should be issued. Is this volume any more clement?

It is! This is a vast improvement. The art by John Cassady was never in question, and here both his successors acquit themselves admirably.

It is a vast improvement, at least, if you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Comics. Come into it cold and you don’t stand a chance until Hell freezes over. There are so many extraneous references to baffle the casual reader but in particular you really do need to have read Remender’s UNCANNY X-FORCE. Jonathan has, hence his review of that first volume, and he loved this semi-sequel in all its convoluted glory. Note: you may have to read more than that first volume – ask J-Lo! [Read all of Remender’s UNCANNY X-FORCE run, volumes 1 to 5, they are excellent – Asst. Ed.]

Basically… *sigh*… Wolverine killed the real Warren Worthington III AKA Archangel who sired two siblings, and Apocalypse did this and Apocalypse did that while the Red Skull will do summat else if the Avengers fail to prevent it. Those twins are having a go too, I think. I forget which side they’re on.

Now Kang The Conqueror AKA Immortus (Guardian of Time – used to be a pharoah called Ramalama Dingdong, flies about in a time machine which looks like a glowing Egyptian pyramid breaking every airspace imaginable and a great many timelines to boot), is taking exception to it all, so he stitches up both Apocalypse and Thor at the same time by posing as the trickster god Loki. And there’s a certain delicious irony to that, isn’t there?

Eons ago he helped Thor enchant an axe so it could chop more than wood and take out Celestial caretaker Apocalypse. It was a grudge match: wounded pride on Thor’s part, basically. Unfortunately that axe is also capable of taking out Celestials (see Neil Gaiman’s ETERNALS), Thor happens to have lost it and Odin did verily spake there’d be trouble. No one listens to Dad, do they?

Meanwhile Rogue has knocked the block off the Grim Reaper, brother of Wonderman, and is benched only isn’t, and I wonder who the new Four Horseman of Apocalypse will be? Clue: they’re all dead.

Does this sound accessible to you?


Buy Uncanny Avengers vol 2: The Apocalypse Twins 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.


566 Frames (£15-95, Borderline Press) by Dennis Wojda

Adventure Time Encyclopedia (UK Edition) h/c (£14-99, Titan) by Martin Olson

Adventure Time With Fionna & Cake (UK Edition) s/c (£9-99, Titan) by Natasha Allegri, Noelle Stevenson, Lucy Knisley, Kate Leth

Caligula vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by David Lapham & German Nobile

Hyperbole And A Half (£10-99, Square Peg) by Allie Brosh

Law Of The Desert Born h/c (£18-99, Bantam) by Louis L’Amour, various & Tom Yeates

Look Straight Ahead (£14-99, Cuckoo’s Nest Press) by Eliane M. Will

Maria M. Book One h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Gilbert Hernandez

The Chronicles Of Conan vol 25: Exodus And Other Stories (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Jim Owsley & John Buscema, various, George Roussos, Andy Kubert

The Invisible Kingdom h/c (£16-99, Jonathan Cape) by Rob Ryan

The Manhattan Projects vol 3 (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra

Batman vol 1.5: Night Of The Owls s/c (£14-99, DC) by Scott Snyder, various & Greg Capullo, various

Batman vol 3: Death Of The Family h/c (£18-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Justice League Of America vol 1: World’s Most Dangerous h/c (£18-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire & David Finch, many more

Oz: Road To Oz s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Thanos Redemption s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen & Jim Starlin, Ron Lim

Another s/c (£22-50, Yen) by Yukito Ayatsuji & Hiro Kiyohara

Black Butler vol 15 s/c (£8-99, Yen) by Yana Toboso


ITEM! Welcome to The Beacon, a project restoring community, community spirit and creativity in St. Ann’s, Nottingham, which has stoically endured some pretty troublesome times in the past. Enormous respect from all at Page 45!

ITEM! New Doctor Who prose story written by Neil Gaiman

ITEM! Tory MP claims £5,822-27 on expenses from you, the tax payer, on energy for his second home! That basically means he left the heating on all day, all year round, when most of the time he wasn’t even there. Are you all feeling warm and cozy?

ITEM! British Fantasy Awards 2013 and comics takes home two big wins! Winner of Best Graphic Novel series goes to SAGA and the winner of best artist goes to Sean Phillips of CRIMINAL, FATALE and so much bloody more! PS I completely concur!

ITEM! An exceptional, exemplary, four-page study in form and colour by Robert M Ball. Do you like that? You’ll love Robert M Ball’s WINTER’S KNIGHT and, at the time of typing, all our copies are sketched-in and signed!

ITEM! Equally yowsa, this by Nate DeMio & Dan Berry – A GAS GAS GAS – which won’t see print any time soon, but does have some promising sponsors, heh heh heh.

ITEM! Lovely write-up by Pam McIlroy (AKA @Pamreader on Twitter) of Page 45’s visit to her Broadway Bookclub when I broke the ice, spontaneously, in a manner dictated purely by our physical surroundings. Pam is an absolute natural in encouraging and orchestrating conversation, and I cannot recommend her book club to you highly enough.

ITEM! Page 45 won Nottingham Independents 2013! That’s its first two years in the row! Thank you for voting, voters! Thank you for judging, judges! Click on that first sentence for the Nottingham Post’s official online release and watch J-Lo’s extemporised acceptance speech. (Haha! I did throw him in at the last minute. But then they made me climb a statue! I apologise for the look of extreme discomfort and my double-chin.)

ITEM! As a result Page 45 appeared on the Frances Finn Show on BBC Radio Nottingham on Saturday (Frances is so kind and generous and totally gets it) and – if you’re quick – you can listen to this gibbon’s attempt at phone-in conversation. Not fluent, but I AM GETTING BETTER! You can skip ahead if you like to 2 hours 45 minutes in but Frances does have fine taste in music.

[You are followed immediately by Abba – ed.]

Yes, all right. *cries*

– Stephen