Reviews November 2013 week three

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

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