Archive for December, 2013

Reviews December 2013 week four

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Page 45 Christmas Special!

You have no idea how much we love you. No idea at all. You are our world, you make our day, and we wouldn’t be here without you. We kick off with a world-wide exclusive.

 – Stephen xxx

Fluffy Visits Page 45 postcard (75 pence, Page 45) by Simone Lia.

“Daddy, this is the best shop in the world!”

I actually cried when Simone sent us the design for this postcard. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am, or how grateful to Simone.

Page 45 has had a long-standing love affair with Simone Lia’s FLUFFY, my go-to graphic novel whenever someone asks for something cute and adorable, full of warmth and love.

I once bought a signed, framed FLUFFY bunny print for my ex-housemonkey Ossian for his nursery, knowing that when he married his fiancée Kate that they would have children, and they would be the best parents in the world. Kate and Ossian now have a baby as beautiful as they are.

FLUFFY is a comedy about the unconditional love which the young white bunny has for her adoptive Daddy, Michael. Here they visit Page 45 for the very first time, peering through our shop door, admiring Jonathan and Dominique’s window display and then gazing up at Mark’s gorgeous design for our logo.

My contribution appears to be that I left my Cuban-heeled boots on the counter. It’s a little running joke between myself and Simone: I used to wear Cuban heels, but whenever I do now there is a great deal of tottering.

I love the flat colours in multiple, soft shades of blue, then the way she’s picked out our tiles in the richest and warmest terracotta orange, a few on the ground turning yellow then olive green – such attention to detail!

This is exactly what Page 45 looks like from the outside and I hope it invites you in.


Buy Fluffy Visits Page 45 postcard and read the Page 45 review here

Fluffy Postcard Packs (£5-50, I Love Bunnies Ltd) by Simone Lia.

“Daddy, I really love you.”

Oh dear, I appear to be in tears again.

How beautiful are these? Eight postcards, two of each design, featuring young bunny Fluffy and her adoptive Daddy, Michael. They are the stars of Simone Lia’s FLUFFY graphic novel, an acutely observed and tenderly rendered comedy in which Fluffy finger-paints the kitchen walls, gleefully cuts up loaned library books with safety scissors and sings “Kumbayah” to herself while Michael, oblivious, obsesses about the day-to-day minutiae which grind him into the ground.

Here they traipse the streets of London until Fluffy’s feet hurt, then Michael carries her home in his arms. Yes, you see, they tell a story!



“Thank you,” says Fluffy – to you when you buy them, then your loved ones, once sent. Her arms are outstretched, embracing life it all its bemusing wonder, her long white ears blowing in the breeze or maybe just by dint of her uncontainable, wholesome hyperactivity.

Such love! Such ebullience! Such kindness!

Each postcard has been approached in subtly different styles, Simone employing fine line and colour either separately or combined (see trees, clouds, bricks and skylines), along with bold, wibbly-wobbly line for close-ups.

For those who have already read Lia’s reverential and equally irreverent PLEASE GOD, FIND ME A HUSBAND!, the colour palette will come as no surprise: blues and oranges with here a lovely lime green.

Interesting, then, that there is a further decoral departure when Simone offered to create our exclusive FLUFFY VISITS PAGE 45 POSTCARD to complement this package.


Buy Fluffy Postcard Packs and read the Page 45 review here

Fluffy s/c (£9-99, Jonathan Cape) by Simone Lia.

Possibly the most beautiful book in the world.

Fluffy is a bunny. A bunny rabbit. She is young and exuberant and lost in her own little world as all children are. She likes to sing, if only to herself:

“Someone’s praying, me lord…
“Someone’s praying, me lord. Kumbuyah.
“Someone’s praying, my Lord….. kumbuyah.
“Oh Lord… Booby loob y loob.”

That is precisely how that verse ends. I’m pretty sure of it.

Fluffy has to sing to herself because I’m afraid that her adoptive Dad, Michael, instead of paying attention to Fluffy and so seeing the unconditional love literally played out in front of him, is distracted by all his day-to-day-minutiae that figuratively grind him into the ground. This Simone Lia presents to us in a series of cranial cross-sections, revealing Michael’s neuroses in a scientifically revealing cause-and-effect. What a numbskull!

Meanwhile Fluffy experiences all the joys of life. Loudly.

“I’ll be like the farmer in my library book. He’s good. I’ll cut him out when we got home. Can I keep this book Daddy? Can I? Can I keep the book? Daddy you never listen to me.”

Well, that’s one library book not going back in one piece!

Not only does Simone Lia has the most superb ear for dialogue (including a child’s easily distracted nature) but she’s also a great observer of interaction (or lack of it) when people manage no more than an inattentive “very good” in lieu of paying attention.

Here is the crux of the matter when Michael occasionally sits Fluffy down for a heart-to-heart. Nothing I can type will render this as poignantly as a shop-floor show-and-tell, so please ask me for one:

“Fluffy. I’m not your real Daddy.”
(Total lack of comprehension) “Yes you are, Daddy.”
“No, I’m a man and you’re a bunny.”
(Looks askew and askance, lost for words. Then…) “I’m not a bunny.”
“You are a bunny. You’re a bunny rabbit.”
(Moth agape) “Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because it’s true.”

Fluffy then clip-clops and trip-trops off, leaving Michael alone on the couch. With a pungent bunch of bunny droppings.


Buy Fluffy s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Kochi Wanaba h/c (£14-99, Blank Slate) by Jamie Smart.

“In 1592, the people of our town hanged an old lady they believed to be a witch. Her last words before she died were a curse, wishing a plague of bees on our town. One year later, our town was hit by a plague of bees, and everyone was killed in a mass anaphylactic shock.”

Welcome to Bee Fest, during which the townsfolk stuff a giant bee with notes about themselves begging the bees to leave them alone, then set the giant bee on fire. This year it’s going to be particularly incendiary, especially for the small group of kids who aren’t so much a tight circle of friends as a mess of neuroses, teasing and tensions, frayed through and through, their tempers stretched almost to breaking point.

Hyperactive Lhys is in constant, sugar-buzz danger of bubbling over. Her votive offering begins thus:

“My name is Annabelle Louise, but most of my friends call me Lhys. I think it’s because it irritated me, but I’m very over it now. This is Kochi, he is my boyfriend. I love him very much he is very sexy >_< !! Sometimes he lets me put grips in his hair and make him look girly then he wakes up and shouts at me.”

“Let’s me” – love it. Virtually comatose Kochi copes by zoning out, absorbed in his sketchbook which needy Lhys is desperate to be drawn in. We only get to see inside Kochi’s sketchbook the once: it’s a self-portait, his offering for the Bee-Fest, and all he has to say is…

“My name is Kochi. I don’t really fit.”

As for Dylan and Tubby:

“I drew monsters.”
“I drew something. Not sure what. I think it’s my mother.”

She has a nice ‘tache.

Tubby is stuck upright in a hollow log and has been for at least a day. He really needs to pee. It’s the sort of visual gag Smart is renowned for. It doesn’t need to be explained. You try explaining FISH HEAD STEVE! (Oh, wait, I did.) Stylistically, however, this is a marked departure. The heads are still giant, their eyes bulging, their mouths screaming impossibly wide, but this entire book is conducted in shaded sepia pencils on coffee-cream paper as the characters roam, run or sometimes float, panel-free, across its pages. Occasionally they fade out. You’re in for a far more free-form affair.

Smart’s also famous for his complete command of the English language, abusing it atrociously, yet still it looks up to him like a doe-eyed puppy dog after it’s been smacked.

“Hey are you even listening to me? I’m talking to you. Sometimes it seems like you’re not paying attention when I talk about the traumas in my life. Mister Fozzles was a trauma…
“He traumed me.”

And God, can she talk about her traumas. Only Jamie Smart could get away with breaking one of my cardinal rules of comics which is “For fuck’s sake do not throw a complete wall of words at us on your opening pages – this is a visual medium!” Jamie doesn’t just break the rule here, he shatters and stamps it into the ground, burying Lhys’s tiny form under an avalanche of anger, a torrent of inventive invective with bugger-all paragraph breaks on the very first page. He gets away with it because it is one long delirious rant about T.V.’s Mr. Fozzles trauming young Lhys, liberally scattered with the most colourful swears which a girl of her age couldn’t possibly know. Which is funny in and of itself.

This lot are at it all the time.

“I’m sick of you too, George. Soon as you say I look like a gay sailor, everyone else agrees with you!!”
“But you are a gay sailor.”
“See? You’re all fucking sycophants. I don’t even know why I’m here.”
“I do, Tubby. It’s because you’re a weirdo, an outcast. You’re not socially acceptable. We’re all you’ve got. You’re here for the same reason all of us are. Till we find somewhere better.”

I don’t want to give too much away, but there will be monsters. There are bugs throughout – just look at the bees! (And while we’re back on the bees, Lhys’ bee costume is beautiful: one big bundle of fuzz complete with sting in her tail where really she should have put holes for her legs and feet, so she has to bounce everywhere instead.) But the biggest monster is George. You watch. You wait. Nothing is sacred.., not even Mr. Fozzles. Someone is going to get traumed.

“Lhys, don’t be stupid!”
“Oh it’s far too late for that.”


Buy Kochi Wanaba h/c and read the Page 45 review here

BOO! one-shot (£5-00, self-published) by Jamie Smart, Gary Northfield, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Andrew Waugh, Jonathan Edwards, Paul Harrison-Davies, James Howard.

I want my Mummy!

All seven of these reprehensible, irresponsible creators should be ashamed of themselves.

They have deliberately conspired to create a horror comic for kids which will scare the living hell out of them, giving them nightmares for years to come. This amounts to nothing short of the cold-blooded, premeditated mind-murder of minors. Kids don’t want to be traumatised! They don’t sit up late at night during sleepovers or round a camp fire telling each other gruesome ghost stories or that one about the stalled car and the escapee from the high-security lunatic asylum. (Forty years on, and I am still shaking in fright.) They don’t giggle with glee on scary rides or creep up on each other and go “Boo!”

Where are the happy endings? Whom can you trust? Why aren’t you safe at home? How can school dinners get any worse than they already are? What really happened to the Three Little Pigs when they built their house made of bricks after one of the Big Bad Wolf’s descendents travelled back through time with the following message?

“Basically, use this sledgehammer.”

I’ll tell you one thing: I will never sleep with my feet outside my duvet again.

My one consolation is that each of these seven stories was no more than four pages long. Admittedly some are more successful than others (I think this is a genuine problem when you get together as friends and no one wants to say, “Yeah, that didn’t work”), but obviously FISH HEAD STEVE’s Jamie Smart and TEENYTINYSAURS’ Gary Northfield are among the worst (by which I mean best) offenders, and if you think I will ever forgive BLACK OUT’s Andrew Waugh for his punchline, you are very much mistaken.

Now that I think about it, the worst nightmare I ever had as a kid was a recurring one: about a monster crawling up a well and successfully bribing my Mum with Chocolate Mini-Roll to throw me down the well and let the monster eat me. Kudos to Gary Northfield for undermining the one element of kids’ lives they can all rely on: their mother’s protection and judgement.


Buy Boo! and read the Page 45 review here. If you really must. Caveat emptor etc.

Origin 2 #1 (£3-50, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Adam Kubert, Frank Martin.

“This is a story of wolves and bears. And animals…”

It really is. You won’t meet a single human being during this first issue other than Logan himself, now entirely feral following the events in WOLVERINE: ORIGIN.

Instead, in a breath of fresh mountain air, the cast consists of a wolf pack which has adopted Wolverine, its new litter holed up in a den on the snow swept Canadian Rockies, a prowling lone wolf, and a gigantic polar bear which has strayed far from its natural habitat, so finding itself at a predatorial disadvantage.

“It seemed to believe that covering its nose would disguise it from prey.
“It didn’t grasp fishing in the rivers, waiting for prey to emerge and being disappointed when it didn’t…”

Fish don’t need to come up for air.

Yes, it’s a long way from home. A very long way. Don’t you find that curious?


Image-driven, this is magnificent: sweeping landscapes, ferocious battles and some monumental full-page flourishes all coloured to delicious perfection by… hold on – that isn’t Isanove?! I can assure you that colour artist Frank Martin is every bit as good.

And isn’t that cover gorgeous? It’s even more impressive when you open the acetate overlay to reveal a surprise which evidently lies in wait further down the line. For, yes, there is an acetate overlay like the ones which decked the original issues of Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross’ MARVELS. I’d get in fast, for I suspect that won’t be true of any second prints.


Buy Origin 2 #1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Authority vol 2 h/c (£25-99, DC) by Mark Millar, various & Frank Quitely, various.

“Why do super-people never go after the real bastards?”

Now that is a very good question.

In Warren Ellis & Bryan Hitch’s blistering series of pyrotechnic crescendos which was AUTHORITY VOL 1, Jenny Sparks declared that they would make this a better world, whether we liked it or not. Having defended the Earth against alternate dimensions and the closest thing to God, The Authority now turns its attention to Earth’s own dictators, reasoning that if they’re going to risk their lives defending this planet, it ought to be one worth saving. Or at least one they like.

Unilaterally they decide to depose a tyrannical regime in Southeast Asia and, led by Jack Hawksmoor, they do so with military precision and a ruthless efficiency. They use that swift and effortless victory in Southeast Asia – along with the somewhat intimidating shadow of their 50-mile-high shiftship – to persuade the Russian army to back off from Chechnya and China to withdraw from Tibet.

When was the last time you saw an invasion force persuaded to retreat without a single shot being fired? You would have thought that a nation allegedly espousing democracy enough to oppose dictatorships and invade their sovereign states would welcome these moves, but the American government is far from happy.

“Just watch your step, Mister Hawksmoor.”
“Frankly we could say the same to you. Mister President.”

Hmmm. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

It was a subtle game Mark Millar played for we rooted for the liberal-leftie, anti-establishment authoritarians without at first realising that paradox. Because as liberal-lefties ourselves we happened to agree with their stance. Also, because we’d do it too, wouldn’t we? Give me virtually limitless power and I would be first to intervene geo-politically.

Millar also won our affections with extreme prescience, inventive lateral thinking and a seemingless limitless wit. Here Jack Hawksmoor asks the normally masked Midnighter what has become of his trademark leather uniform. Well, adopting a small child changes more than you can possibly anticipate:

“Baby Jenny vomited all over it and I had to order a new one.”
“Couldn’t you just have cleaned it?”
“Milk doesn’t come out of leather no matter how hard you clean. Cow’s revenge, I suppose.”
“Makes sense.”

As to the lateral thinking, The Authority are first assaulted by a decommissioned Cold War U.S. enterprise, 42 levels above Presidential Clearance, which has no intention of letting The Authority get in the way of its own plans for a unilaterally-imposed worldwide Utopia, cheers. It is the brainchild of Professor Krigstein, immediately identifiable by his small stature and burning cigar as seminal superhero artist Jack Kirby:

“The kind of man who could probably have created all your favourite comicbook characters if he hadn’t been snapped up by Eisenhower at the end of the war.”

Half the fun there is identifying the Marvel characters Jack “King” Kirby did indeed create for Marvel, now perverted into a bunch of bigoted rapists etc. Start with the original Avengers and the rest may fall into place or, if you’re struggling, ask me at the counter!

Which brings us to Frank Quitely. I wish this was all drawn by Frank Quitely. Hell, I wish this was all written by Mark Millar but, as promised, we will get to that in a bit.

Artists Chris Weston, Art Adams and Gary Erskine all delivered their ever-reliable goods, but Frank Quitely was on fire: those analogues were so witty. His forms were much more burly than we’d been used to from Bryan Hitch, but that worked brilliantly: they weren’t just super-human, they were meta-human. Michelangelo did the same thing, especially to his women. I loved his constantly puckered lips too – largely the guys’. With his analogue to Giant Man he achieved in scale what Hitch went on to in THE ULTIMATES then Luke Pearson did with HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT by bending the man down yet, even so, failing to fit the full figure into the panel. It’s deliberate, trust me: that’s how it works.

And so we come to the sadness of it all. I was very much hoping, with this material now being released as deluxe hardcovers, that DC under a new editorial regime rather than the one which went so fearfully, so destructively and so despotically awry might have corrected its irrational errors and given us a book that we could be proud to sell, rather than one which we must, in all good consciousness, be apologists for.

What you read, increasingly throughout this volume, was not written by Mark Millar even when his name was slapped on it. It was rewritten by editors. What was drawn was not what was first intended. Under the Page 45 reviews blog where this review was first published (December 2013 week four) you will find a meticulously researched if not exhaustive article on how much criminal damage was done to this work which DC could have been proud of, but which their own timidity turned into a travesty.

The worst offense is not catalogued there. DC’s worst offense, as reported at the time by Rich Johnston, was excising this single sentence:

“You just pissed off the wrong faggot.”

Did DC believe that the word “faggot” was beyond the pale? It did not. It happily printed it as sneered and espoused by a homophobic supervillain at the Midnighter’s expense, and happily reprints it all here. But when, in a scene harking back to Wolverine during X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX SAGA, The Midnighter comes to retake the English language in an act of self-empowerment (for he is gay and his beloved boyfriend has been brutally abused to breaking point), he no longer says…

“You just pissed off the wrong faggot.”

But, limply…

“You boys just pissed off the wrong bastard.”

It really isn’t the same.

Here is a couple of sentences from the final page of this book aimed not at the protagonists within but the people who publish it, from my original review of the final issue:

‘”Do you think we made a difference in the end?”
“God yes, are you kidding? Even with all the crap they threw at us, we completely changed the landscape over the last twelve months.”

It was inevitable: The Authority’s radical stand was bad for the business of brainwashing. So it wasn’t the world’s governments who pooled together to take them down and replace them with a version they could control, it was the multi-national corporations who control them – who hire the world leaders to protect their tax breaks and overseas interests. Obviously enough the same can be said for comic itself, and for the very same reasons.

It had to be shut down and all under the excuse, the self-serving, printed (and, under the circumstances disgustingly offensive) lie that it had anything to do with the events of September 11th. We’ve been here before, so I won’t belabour the point except to remind you that the finale to this blistering series you’ve loyally patronised with your hard-earned money is, I’m afraid, very much tainted by editorial treacheries, and the hard lesson is the same as The Authority had to learn:

Never, ever trust a fucking corporation.


Buy The Authority Vol 2 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.


The Sleepwalkers (£8-99, Walker Books) by Viviane Schwarz

Mouse Guard vol 3: The Black Axe h/c (UK Edition) (£14-99, Titan) by David Petersen

Iron Man vol 3: The Secret Origin Of Tony Stark Part Two s/c (UK Edition) (£12-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Greg Land, Dale Eaglesham

Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files vol 1 (£19-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Steve Moore & Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon, Kevin O’Neill, Ian Gibson, Brian Bolland, Steve Dillon, Bret Ewins, Brendan McCarthy, Cliff Robinson, John Byrne


ITEM! Christmas comic by John Allison.

ITEM! Bryan Lee O’Malley reveals SECONDS cover and interior art, beautifully coloured. SECONDS due July 2014.

ITEM! Female comicbook professional comments on a letter received from a pathetic little man who is clearly deluded that he is witty and charming.

ITEM! Excellent, in-depth, though not exhaustive article about DC’s censorship of Mark Millar’s run on THE AUTHORITY. And by “censorship” I mean “evisceration”. It was… extensive.

ITEM! Writers on writers and writing – as opposed to those waiting for inspiration to write.

ITEM! Kieron Gillen on writing, pitching, being asked to pitch, investing emotionally and caring about what you write.

ITEM! I think this is the modern man’s version of narcissus looking at his reflection,” observes KING CITY and WALRUS’ Brandon Graham. I believe he has a point!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

This blog was prepared days ago when I was still capable of typing. If you want to imagine how it would look if it was being written right now thant his shudddd ggiv eyou some indicaschun.

– Stephen xxx

Reviews December 2013 week three

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

“Excuse me, but I don’t think that’s appropriate reading material for the tram, do you?” 

 – Actual tram passenger to Jonathan on Joe Hill’s Thumbprint

I was tempted to replace this book inside my backpack and do a show-and-tell for my esteemed co-traveller on the merits of the graphic novel using CROSSED VOL 7 which, I could feel by now, practically levitating its way towards the surface of the carrier bag, buoyed by the soothing rhythm of the tram plus maybe a little by the seething indignation of my neighbour. 

 – Jonathan on his response. He is so naughty!

The Snow Queen And Other Stories (£4-99, Great Beast) by Isabel Greenberg.

The moment I realised that the polar bear pelt spread on the bed was alive, I grinned my head off. Its face reacts first with cartoon anger to news of Kai’s kidnapping, dubiousness at the proposition of his rescue, then delight at the mode of transport. Its expressions are a comedic joy. It’s all a bit Hayao Miyazaki (MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO) via Dave Shelton or something.

From the creator of my favourite book of 2013, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH, comes a comic with a cover which could not be more Christmassy and, given that it will be Christmas Day in precisely one week, the timing could not be more propitious. Inside you’ll find snow, a reindeer from Lapland, a deceitful witch, a highly communicative but ill-informed crow, a great many roses and the shards of a shattered mirror: the devil’s mirror, to be precise, which has the power to make anything look evil and ugly.

“A dangerous object,” owns the devil. “Definitely something that should be kept safe! So I gave it to my little Troll Minions to play with.”


One of those splinters pierces the heart of young Kai while playing amongst the roses with his best friend Gerda. Throughout the summers and long winters they had grown up together, inseparable, even playing footsie while dangling their legs over the bridge which joined the attics they lived in. Now in an instant Kai turns on poor Gerda who is at a loss to understand why he is being so very mean. The following winter Kai shuns Gerda and hitches his sledge to the back a horse-drawn sleigh to get a free ride. Unfortunately the sleigh is driven by the Snow Queen and the ride turns out to be anything but free.

What follows is an absolute epic… told in twenty taut pages! What has become of our Kai? Will Gerda ever find him? And how will he react if she does? Err… I think I may have given something away there.

Oh, the road is long! With a many a winding turn that will lead us to who knows where? Who knows where?! Well, I do, obviously.

As in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH, the art bears the charming quality of early printing but employing far more warm, glowing colours even if there’s still plently of fresh, crisp white. There’s also the same sense of mischief, Greenberg offsetting the solemnity of the story with stuff and nonsense, as when the Snow Queen sets Kai a task:

“If you can do it you’ll be your own master and I will give you the whole world and a new pair of skates.”

Meanwhile Greta can’t even spell the word “quit” and here encounters some guards, visually straight out of Tom Gauld:

“You may go no further. This is the Snow Queen’s Palace, little girl.”
“Don’t tell me what to do! I’ve had quite enough of all this, thank you very much! I haven’t come to the ends of the earth to be stopped by a bunch of mean snowmen! I’m here in the name of True Love SO GET OUT OF MY WAY ALREADY!”
“Err… OK.”

You tell ‘em!


Buy The Snow Queen And Other Stories and read the Page 45 review here

Show Me The Map To Your Heart (Extended Edition) (£5-99, Great Beast) by John Cei Douglas.

“They made a map for their future.
“And hoped it was true.”

‘Poignant’ and John Cei Douglas are synonymous.

This is a new Great Beast edition incorporating the whole of John’s self-published HOLDING PATTERNS.

As such it features four of the finest pages ever in comics within a black, white and decidely blue collection of meticulously composed short stories; all bar one sad and mournful, some lamenting lost love.

‘Footnotes’ is John Cei Douglas’ tour de force. Each silent page is a perfectly balanced composition of light, line and colour, the first three of which each find focus by dint of a borderless spotlight on a young couple together on a train station platform over a period of time. These are surrounded by train journeys to and fro, some shared, some solo, gazing out of the window with dreamy optimism or more melancholic doubt. Rarely have I seen these scenes through a carriage window so well conveyed; similarly the station and platforms themselves which, towards the end, echo with a real sense of space – of emptiness. The expressions are as subtle as they are economical – we’re talking Andi Watson at the top of his game – but alas I can say little more when I have a dozen more sentences in me which desperately want to explain why this is so super. SPOILERS.

‘Living Underwater’ and ‘Bottling It’, are two poignant pieces about anxiety and depression, the second being silent and more metaphorical, the first direct, autobiographical and explanatory. If you have ever sunk beneath a sea of suffocating, paralysing depression and anxiety you will find much empathy here and may want to share it with your friends. If you haven’t, welcome to John’s world: it will help you to understand.

It concludes with ‘Follow me’ and a moment of magic, but at its centre lies the titular tale, a pastoral, passionate times-past love story intriguingly framed by a more anonymous urban present. In it a travelling troubadour called Alexander falls profoundly in love with a farmhand named Heléna, and she with he.

“They lived underwater and dined under moonlight.
“They sailed to the moon and listened to the stars.”

They explored the world and all its potential together and looked loving, optimistically to the future.

John has a thing about maps at the moment, and there are several within using carefully composed destinations in lieu of standard panels. One of those maps folds out to a full A3. There are also sequences composed like a diamond quilt, and one employing a mountain motif, its centre one giant peak which stretches from the bottom right to the pinnacle of the page.

So much wisdom and craft. And what a brilliant title, eh?


Buy Show Me The Map To Your Heart (Extended Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

The Everyday h/c (£11-99, Great Beast) by Adam Cadwell.

Glastonbury 2009, and some total cock casually kicks over a young lady’s drink while strolling past on his Very Important Way. He doesn’t even apologise.

“Did you see that? Should we offer her some of our wine?”
“Excuse me? I saw that jerk kick your drink over. Would you like some of our wine?”
“You’re nice.”
“Yes I am. But the wine isn’t.”

Smooth operator!

He really isn’t. That’s possibly the one and only instance of smooth operation that complete klutz Cadwell exhibits in his girl/boy interfaces. He’s normally tongue-tied or, if not tongue-tied, instantly regretting his wonky words and misdeeds.

Like Ellerby’s ELLERBISMS: A SPORADIC COMIC DIARY, this too is a sporadic comic diary of commendable candour from August 2006 to July 2010. Although if I had one criticism it would be that it could have done with being a little more sporadic – or at least edited for print. For example, if you don’t have an idea then writing about not having that idea has been done to death. Schultz never saw the need at all: he just got on and found an idea.

There are, however, so many moments which ticked my recognition boxes: getting caught up in the moment at a gig, gleefully bellowing along; waking up woefully late for work only to realise with intense relief that it’s your day off; checking morning email in your undies. My head nodded most when Adam set his watch back to GMT while flying home:

“I felt a little sad as I changed the time, as if this small act marked the exact moment my holiday was over.”

Plus it’s thoroughly endearing to see a grown man spontaneously break out into Wham!’s “Jitterbug” complete with dance move and then immediately realise what he’s done. Thankfully in private.

It’s all very intimate and I wonder if airing some of this self-consciousness in public is a way or purging private embarrassment? Amateur psychologist, me. It’s far more likely that Adam simply enjoys making you laugh, even if he’s the butt of the joke. There is an exquisite piece of comedic timing whilst watching TV’s Heroes when he idly wonders if he should get a tattoo of its trademark symbol:

“Or not. In a few decades it’d be quite sad to have an emblem of a cult TV show at a tattoo. It’d be like if now you had a Batman symbol on your chest…”

The final panel, after the genius of the second sentence has sunk in, is a moment of perfectly realised and rendered satori. Better still, 18th September 2008 sees a startlingly elaborate flourish as the noise made by a lawnmover curls up into the sky and sweeps through Cadwell’s bedroom window then round his bathroom to merge with his whirring electic toothbrush.

The package is beautifully printed leaving the blacks with a satin sheen, while the cover’s colours are gorgeous. It’s such an appropriate cover too: a suburban scenario of puddles refectling a bus, trees and cloud-streaked sky after the rain has abated. You never know, the sun may come out.

Finally, to settle the cutlery-draw argument, Adam is completely correct: it is most definitely knives, forks then spoons. Anything else is an aberration. A wicked and wilful aberration.


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

Parker: Slayground h/c (£13-50, IDW) by Richard Stark & Darwyn Cooke…

“Good. It’s real simple. Do what I tell you and you’ll live through this. You understand me?”

No, not new recruit Jodie being inducted into the dark arts of Page 45 mail order, but Parker dispensing a pearl of choice wisdom to the bent cop he’s trying his very hardest to be civil to. Given the cop and his partner are doing their level best to help a crew of mob guys rub him out and steal his score, I’d say he’s being pretty darn considerate. For a master criminal, Parker certainly manages to get himself into a fair few tight spots, but I guess if everything went to plan, that’d be pretty boring.

Here, hot footing it from the scene of an armoured car heist after a nervous getaway driver  has managed to roll their car in the snowy conditions, he’s spotted leaping the fence into a locked up fairground by a couple of on the take cops picking up their pay-off from some local wise guys. Hearing reports coming in of the heist over the police radio and putting two and two together, the bad guys decide there’s some easy money to be had and posse up with the intention of relieving Parker of his cash. Unfortunately for them, well, he’s Parker. So, after surveying his surroundings, planning as many moves ahead as a chess grandmaster, including laying some ingenious booby traps, surely only an easy mark would bet against him walking out through the fairground gates with his swag.

Another excellent adaptation of a classic Richard Stark novel, Darwyn Cooke again brings our favourite tough guy to life in his own inimitable pulpy, period style. This time around the locale is the rather less glamorous Buffalo, New York, though we do once again open up with the now requisite, scene-setting two-page landscape splash. As ever, amidst the gala of glorious art on display, there’s a unique little conceit and this time around it’s a fold-out map, in a few different art styles of course, of the fairground itself.

Darwyn Cooke truly is a master of his craft, there’s so much stylistically to admire here, so much background detail, so many clever devices. It’s not often I really enjoy breaking down someone’s work, understanding how every panel and page are put together, every bit of space used for maximum effect, but if you take the time to read this work a second or third time and do so, you’ll realise it’s an absolute masterclass in how to graphically portray a dramatic, action-packed story, it truly, truly is. Marvellous work, and only succeeds in taking my appreciation of his abilities to even higher levels.

My only criticism, and it’s a very reluctant one, is SLAYGROUND feels a touch lightweight in plot compared to the previous three PARKER capers. It all seemed over too soon, and whilst the end pages promise Parker will return in 2015, even despite the additional short story thrown in for good measure after the main event, that seems far too far away right now. I’d been looking forward to this for ages and now the wait begins anew. Ah well, maybe I’ll just read this one more time…


Buy Parker: Slayground h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Snapshot s/c (£9-99, Image) by Andy Diggle & Jock.

My greatest fears have little to do with physical harm. They involve being lost, helpless, unable to express myself and – worst of all – not being believed. Congratulations to Andy Diggle, then, on playing to all of those fears and then compounding them with extreme physical danger to boot.

You can rely on Jock for the some of the most striking covers on the shelves, and this is no exception. As outside, so within: the black shadows gleaming on the top-quality stock and – haha! – someone is wearing a Zenith t-shirt! There are some stunning angles, looming silhouettes, exploding scalps, crunching car crashes, hunched shoulders wishing for the womb, and streaming tears of terrified desperation.

“He – hello…?”
“Who is this?”
“This is, uh, this is Jake Dobson. Who, uh… Who are you… trying to reach…?”
“This is Detective Warren, S.F.P.D. homicide. The phone you’re speaking on is part of an ongoing investigation.”
“Homicide — ? Oh my God, there’s like pictures of dead people on this phone! A dead person — ! I swear it’s not mine, I just found it in the park, I swear to God I was gonna hand it in — !”
“Easy, son. You’re not in any trouble. Just tell me where you are.”

From the creative team behind the two-volume LOSERS, the writer of the immaculate John Constantine trilogy and the artist we all gasped at in BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR comes a thriller set in San Francisco and I can assure you that smart-arse Jake Dobson is in fact in one hell of a lot of trouble.


He’s gleefully picked up a mobile phone dropped in Golden Gate Park. There is only one number on it: Bravura Acquisitions. But there are a great many photos: of a dead man shot through the forehead, the little finger of his left hand chopped off. Imagine Jake’s surprise when that same man, Jonathan Twain, walks into the local police station to retrieve his mobile phone, claiming it was part of a murder mystery evening he was throwing for his new work colleagues. That’s all right then. No corpse, no murder. So why is Jake sweating? It’s because Detective Warren does not exist, and the man who came to collect the phone – the man Jake fled from – had a gun.

“One of my colleagues was playing the detective. He must have taken the role to heart. Again, I can only apologise.”

Case closed. Except that now they all know where Jake works, and they’re going to return.

On the other hand, Jake also knows where Jonathan Twain lives because Twain told the detective at the police station; and Jake’s Zenith-fan friend, whose wife is organising a protest march, eggs him on to check the address out.

“C’mon, man-up! Self-reliance! I’ll totally back you up. And if he tries anything funny, I’ll drop the sucker like a bad habit.”
“Sure you will. This is just to get you out of making placards, isn’t it?”
“I have no idea what you’re even saying to me right now.”

1. You will not believe what they find at the apartment.
2. You will wish to God that they’d never gone there.
3. You will wonder what the fuck the final page of the first chapter portends.

There are a ridiculous number of mind-melting twists, not least of which is that there are worse people out there than this very bad man, and if you think for one second that you are in control of your life, then do think again.

Now that is terrifying.


Buy Snapshot and read the Page 45 review here

Thumbprint h/c (£16-50, IDW) by Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella & Vic Malhotra…

“Excuse me, but I don’t think that’s appropriate reading material for the tram, do you?”

I swear, synchronicity truly is a very strange thing. Have you ever had the sensation that simply because you thought something, that a causal effect seemed to happen almost instantaneously? Case in point: I had boarded the tram into town the other morning and began my usual routine of extracting some reading material from my backpack. Having removed it first, obviously, not being a contortionist. As I peered inside the Page 45 carrier bag within my backpack, trying to decide which of the week’s new books I was going have a look at, the thought crossed my mind that this work might just conceivably, given the author, have some potentially horrific content inside. I wasn’t entirely sure what the story was about, given the title, but on balance, I thought, it probably should be alright. I mean, I did have CROSSED VOL 7 in there too, but there are some things you just know you shouldn’t read on the tram…

Anyway, a few pages in, when we start getting to the point where thumbs are being chopped off, all in the cause of the plot, mind you (remember the title…), and not particularly gratuitously either, the probably forty-something lady sat next to me took it upon herself to ask me the above question. Now… I will grant you that I did have it explained to me, at school and by my parents, that replying to a question with a question of one’s own, can be perceived by the instigator of said initial query as rude. But, sometimes, to be blunt, I can’t help myself. So I enquired in suitably measured tones (i.e. merely thinking “fuck off” inside my head) as to whether she considered it appropriate to read other people’s books over their shoulder on the tram, or indeed in any other location she might choose to frequent.

End of conversation and cue a very quiet, enjoyable and indeed peaceful twenty minutes spent reading this on the way into town. I was, I must freely admit (just between us), tempted to replace this book inside my backpack and do a show-and-tell for my esteemed co-traveller on the merits of the graphic novel using CROSSED VOL 7 which, I could feel by now, practically levitating its way towards the surface of the carrier bag, buoyed by the soothing rhythm of the tram plus maybe a little by the seething indignation of my neighbour. But I decided against it. Because, really, there are some things you just know you shouldn’t read on the tram, no matter how much you want to. I couldn’t help wondering, however, whether she would have said anything if I hadn’t thought that particular initial thought in the first place. Probably though, she just had that sort of face…

I really enjoyed this, by the way. It’s more THE CAPE and THE CAPE: 1969 than LOCKE & KEY in terms of plot and content; I think there might possibly be a direct nod to one of the characters in THE CAPE: 1969, actually, though without going back and reading that work I can’t be sure. Anyway, it’s a great piece of non-supernatural contemporary horror, set against the backdrop of a disgraced female US soldier, private Mallory Grennan, discharged from the service after getting caught up in the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, struggling to fit back in on civvy street. She’s trying her hardest to start over, but when someone starts leaving pieces of paper with bloody thumbprints on for her to find, including inside her house, it begins to become apparent not everyone has managed to put the past behind them.


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

Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 5 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Alan Moore & Rick Veitch, John Totleben.

The tender and passionate plant elemental known as the Swamp Thing discovers that his dearly and sincerely beloved Abby has been abducted then incarcerated by the police. An altruistic carer for others, Abby faces prosecution for “immoral” acts: namely, having sexual communion with what the legal system considers to be a monster.

Sex? It was an exchange of profound sensations, emotions and empathy: a telepathic trip induced by psychotropic fruit proferred by the Swamp Thing of his own body. Communion is exactly right. But that’s hardly the point.

No amount of reasoning seems able to halt the criminal proceedings and free poor Abby. So a furious, frustrated and pure-heartedly devoted Swamp Thing embarks on a last resort: a tumultuous act of terrorism turning the suspect city into a jungle. Mains are burst, buildings are toppled and the subways blocked. Insects invade in swarms.

Oh, and the city’s name…? It’s Gotham.

Initially Batman attempts to take the creature on but loses. I mean: is completely out-classed, and he knows it. He’s also utterly in the wrong and recognises that too.

“That creature hasn’t done a fraction of what it could do, and as yet it’s done nothing irreversible. If he starts forcing the growth of people’s intestinal flora, that might be a different story. Try to imagine it, Mr. Mayor…. Strong shoots and writhing tendrils working their way out of your stomach, creeping up your throat, filling your mouth…”
“Batman, take it easy…”
“Take it easy? While my city is dying because it insists on the letter of the law over love and justice?”

A profoundly affecting indictment of the sex laws at a time when love and justice held no sway, this blew me away when first published. I wish it were irrelevant now, but India.

There are shocks galore, there’ll be tears before bedtime and an equally appalling tale of marital abuse. Plus one of the finest appearances by John Constantine Esq.

I’d also like to pay tribute to John Totleben who goes solo on the pivotal SWAMP THING #53, delivering the most impressive and formidable Batman ever, seen deep in thought or swift in combat, with shadows and textures to die for. And, as you know, Totleben has some pretty stiff competition!


Buy Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 5 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Immortal Iron Fist: Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction & David Aja, various.

Wake Me Up Before You Dojo!

Heavy-weight, 20-issue collection from the creators of HAWKEYE. Yes, you like HAWKEYE, don’t you?

Mystical martial arts thriller with a powerful kick partially provided by artist David Aja who – on icy, wind-swept mountains, deep underground or out in the pouring rain – creates a similar atmosphere to DAREDEVIL and SCARLET artist Alex Maleev. His choreography’s sharp, and that’s vital on a book like this or DAREDEVIL where athletic prowess and hand-to-hand combat are part of the book’s draw.

Brubaker and Fraction, meanwhile, balance the present with a broad sweep of the past, bringing the history and heritage of the Iron Fist to the fore, breathing new life into the legend in order to propel it further forward. That’s where the heart of this lies and what the series looks set to explore: the actions of the individuals who’ve previously earned and wielded the power of the dragon Shou-Lao, their impact on the city of K’un-Lun and its rulers, and in turn the repercussions for the current Iron Fist, Daniel Rand.

Daniel, charmingly, is a slightly dippy guy for someone who’s trained hard enough to defeat Shou-Lou The Undying then harvesting the chi from its heart; nor is he your typical hardened businessman who owns such a successful and wealthy corporation. So when Wai-Go Industries offers him ten billion pounds for new rail technology his company has developed, given China’s human rights record at home and in Tibet and its proximity to the mountains of K’un Lun, he’s unwilling to hand the goods over without first delving behind the corporate front. Which is just as well because behind it lies Hydra, a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation, and behind Hydra lie forces with ties to the Iron Fist’s past who’ve set their sights on K’un Lun, on Danny himself, and on his immediate predecessor, Orson Randall.

That’s where Danny’s education really begins: he thought that only one man or woman could channel the chi of Shou-Lou – that there was only one Iron Fist a time – but Orson brings with him far more than a helping hand. He brings with him knowledge of Danny’s dead father, a whole history book of the Iron Fist legacy, and some baggage that only spells trouble.

As the series progesses, it widens in scope, encompassing a mystical martial arts tournament played out while the threat of revolution hangs in the air. And martial arts game fans are going to love those battles, although they might be a little taken aback by their poetry and grace. Back in our dimension, Luke Cage, Colleen and Misty discover that if a certain train does run on time, it’s going to punch one hell of a hole in  K’un Lun’s crash barriers.

Brubaker and Fraction have given a weight to a title whose previous incarnations had none, and by building the book on its own unique legend, they’ve given it a reason to exist. There’s also plenty to make you smile, not least the return of long-standing friend Luke Cage, and it’s very much in keeping with Danny and Luke’s most recent interpretations in DAREDEVIL and NEW AVENGERS by Bendis.

The excerpts from history are handled by artists other than Aja, which is a shame because Aja’s so mighty fine, but it does at least serve to sign-post that they’re flashbacks. These concentrate on the sixty-six men and women who have have carried the mantle of this martial arts warrior over the centuries. Unfortunately apart from one, they all die at exactly the same age – an age which Danny Rand is fast approaching…


Buy The Immortal Iron Fist: Complete Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

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


BOO! (£5-00, self-published) by Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Andrew Waugh, Jamie Smart, Jonathan Edwards, Gary Northfield, Paul Harrison-Davies, James Howard

Battlefields vol 8: The Fall and Rise of Anna Kharkova (£12-99, Dynamite) by Garth Ennis & Russell Braun, Garry Leach

Empowered vol 8 (£12-99, Dark Horse) by Adam Warren

Kochi Wanaba h/c (£14-99, Blank Slate) by Jamie Smart

Massive vol 2: Subcontinental s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Brian Wood & Garry Brown, Dave Stewart, Jordie Bellaire

Mobile Suit Gundam Origin vol 4: Jaburo (£22-50, Random House / Vertical) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic vol 2 s/c (£13-50, IDW) by Heather Nuhfer & Amy Mebberson

NGE: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol 13 (£7-50, Dark Horse) by Osamu Takahashi

The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde: The Young King And The Remarkable Rocket s/c (£7-50, NBM) by Oscar Wilde & P. Craig Russell

The Savage Sword Of Conan vol 15 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Chuck Dixon, Don Kraar & Gary Kwapisz, Joe Jusko

Fables vol 19: Snow White (£12-99, DC) by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, various

The Authority vol 2 h/c (£25-99, DC) by Mark Millar, various & Frank Quitely, various

Teen Titans vol 3: Death Of The Family s/c (£10-99, DC) by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza & Brett Booth

Birds Of Prey vol 3: Clash Of Daggers s/c (£10-99, DC) by Duane Swierczynski, Gail Simone & Romano Molenaar, various, Romano Molenaar

Powers Bureau vol 1: Undercover s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming

Deadpool vol 3: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan & Scott Koblish, Declan Shalvey

Venom: The Land Where Killers Dwell s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Pepe Larraz, Declan Shalvey

Skip Beat! Omnibus vols 16-18 (£10-99, Viz) by Yoshiki Nakamura

Magi vol 3 (£7-50, Viz) by Shinobu Ohtaka



ITEM! From the archives: Hilarious Beatles one-page comic by John Allison.

ITEM! THE HIBER-NATION, an exquisite and witty art exhibition opens featuring Jonathan Edwards and Feltmistress, she of the fabulous……

ITEM! SelfmadeHero announces its Spring collection including an original graphic novel by Ian Culbard, work by Nick Abadzis and that book written by The Pixies’ Black Francis.

ITEM! Comicbook creator Dan Berry looks back on his 2013 output and I am in awe of his output. Four new comics this year alone on top of his Make Then Tell Podcasts, being a full-time teacher of the creation of comics and, you know, having a family. Pop Dan Berry into our search engine and marvel at the man’s accomplishment! Buy a few of them and then marvel more!

ITEM! An artist draws himself and his cat in 100 different cartoon styles / homages. Pretty impressive!

ITEM! Ian Rankin despairs of Edinburgh slashing its funding of school libraries. “Proposing to cut school library services in the first-ever designated Unesco City of Literature? I despair”.

ITEM! Shia LaBeouf rips off Dan Clowes for his short film without accreditation or even permission. The dickhead then goes on to mince words like “inspired by” before finally apologising. Sort of. I suspect he is infinitely more contrite about getting caught than having committed plagiarism. “Oh, it’s only a comic. No one will notice.”

ITEM! In precisely one week’s time it will be Christmas Day! It’s almost too late for mail order now but here is how Page 45 can help you choose Christmas Presents on our shop floor! If nothing else, it should give you a laugh.

Merry Kissmas, everybody!

– Stephen

PS Page 45 has blogged its weekly reviews every single Wednesday without fail for over three years. Next Wednesday is Christmas Day. Uh-oh.

I say “uh-oh” because this coming week I only have my two days off to read books then write my reviews (I shall be on the shop floor Christmas Eve – I’ve never missed that in nineteen years!) plus on Christmas Day I tend to be blotto before midday.

However, I already have one review in the can and the idea will be that I format all the illustrations etc in advance so all I have to do is press “publish” then string together a single coherent sentence on Twitter on Christmas Day. Apologies in advance for any wonky formatting or indeed that sentence.

Wish me luck! xxx

Reviews December 2013 week two

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

“Gleeful, ebullient and utterly bananas, but make no mistake: you will see your own soul reflected here time and again. Lizz Lunney knows precisely what she is doing.”

 – Stephen on Take Away! not in the review but on the back of the book! *swells with pride*

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

“Look, see? I’m all wrinkly.”
“I, uh…”
“Maybe you can straighten me out.”

Pamela Green is lonely and bereft, after her husband has left and divorced her. A lifetime spent writing trashy romance novels probably isn’t helping her mood either, frankly, and she’s currently struggling in that department anyway, crippled with writer’s block. Plus her publisher and best friend, who just so happened to be the ‘other woman’ for a while, is now not-so-gently starting to put the pressure on for another book. Enter ‘Cougar’, a young homeless rent boy, whom Pamela stops from leaping from a bridge, and subsequently finds herself taking in. Before too long, Pamela finds herself in a passionate clinch with her young charge, repeatedly, and it rekindles her zest for life. But it’s a tale of two very different worlds, and unlike in the realm of chick-lit, surely there can’t possibly be a happily-ever-after ending?

No, in a word, but that doesn’t stop Pamela from beginning to believe she might get one with young Cougar. When the wheels finally come off, as of course they do, in truly spectacular fashion at a dinner party she’s hosting for her closest friends, the penny drops with Pamela as to just why it was never going to work. Strangely enough, it had gone under my radar too, until that point, which seems surprising upon reflection, but I think it’s just a testament to Ilya’s writing as to how engaged in the drama of it all I was to miss what was right under my nose. That dinner party scene is so spectacularly cringe-worthy, I did find myself closing my eyes slightly whilst reading it, feeling by proxy the devastatingly excruciating embarrassment that poor Pamela is enduring…

Art-wise, the first thing you’ll notice, if you purchase your copy from us in the not too distant future, is a gorgeous exclusive bookplate which SelfMadeHero has kindly given to us. The next thing you’ll notice is gorgeous art, coloured in two different two tones of blue and brown, in combination with white, depending on which of the main characters we are focussing on. As the two stories intertwine, you’ll notice the switching back and forth between both colours, and then them appearing in the same panels. It’s subtly done, and just adds a nice touch to the whole affair. Overall highly recommended for those, like Pamela, looking for a little easy on the eye escapism.


Buy Room For Love h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Take Away! (£9-99, Blank Slate) by Lizz Lunney.

“I wanna hold yourrr handddd
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna holddd your hand
But I haven’t got any hands because I’m a biscuit.”

At last! The queen of the UK mini-comic scene has her own big book with lavish production values and French flaps so large and extravagant that they encompass the whole of the E.U.

Long have I longed for long-form Lizz Lunney, and here DEPRESSED CAT stars in his first full-length feature called ‘A Day In Nine Lives’. He’s looking a little dubious about it.

Depressed Cat is trapped – not in a neighbour’s shed, but in a dreary, dead-end, nine-to-five existence under a witless, unappreciative boss and his own defeatist resignation. To add insult to injury the world conspires to make him even more miserable: his car won’t start, public transport is pathetic, his psychologist is a moron and his medication isn’t working. Plus he has fleas.

“These nine lives seem to go on forever.”

Perhaps a change of scenery is required, a journey to the far-off Triple Peaks where lives the fabled Wise Cat. The Wise Cat is no fool: he charges fifty quid a pop! Will Depressed Cat learn the secret to unfettered joy, experience satori and sort himself out? Will he at least bring back from this trip an upgrade? Well, yeah, sort of. I howled with laughter.

Depressed Cat is an exceptional piece of minimalist design: a square, chinless head; ears that are lifeless and locked into place, a down-turned, moaning mouth and a patternless jumper over which drip the tips of his starched shirt collar. He is what you might call stiff.

All of Lunney’s linework is minimalist with rare deployment of tone but, save for the intentional inertia of Depressed Cat, her forms are far from stiff. Her line is gloriously expressive – minimum fuss for maximum empathy – as seen in ‘What If These Were The Dominant Forms of Communication’. The forms are baking, mime, sculpture and interpretive dance; the question is “Will you go out with me?” and the answers are uproariously elaborate, especially when expressed in interpretive dance. I am now begging someone to ask me out now, if only to re-enact that answer. I hope it’s no one I actually fancy.

Oh yes, the colours! We have colours now: burgundy, green, purple and an orange which positively glows. And she understands space! I don’t mean outer space – although Professor Lizz Lunney is on hand to give you a lesson on particle physics (or something) – I mean letting the pages, the panels and the shapes all breathe. She doesn’t even need panels. Sometimes the arrangements themselves form perfectly positioned and partitioned bundles, satisfying pockets of beautiful art with crystal-clear lettering.

Some of this you may have seen before in anthologies, on cards or in Lizz’s micro-mini-comics. But there’s plenty of new material and maybe you don’t like mini-comics anyhoo and would rather buy books!

Among the reprints are ROMANTIC BISON #1 and ROMANTIC BISON #2 but now, for the first time ever, there is a concluding instalment! Brief reminder: after admiring from afar (though maybe not far enough: hiding in the bulrushes all day and just staring seemed like stalking) our mud-loving bovine beast, blissed-up on the beauty of Sylvia the rabbit, finally made his move…via a love letter which Sweary Cat hid from Sylvia, such was Sweary Cat’s jealousy. Sweary Cat pretended that she was Sylvia’s boyfriend and told Romantic Bison to back off. Romantic Bison backed off. Largely because he failed to notice that Sweary Cat was not a tom, but a con. It’s so difficult to tell with cats, isn’t it?

However, all this Shakespearian subterfuge and high dramatic irony finally resolved itself and everyone lived happily ever after. Or did they? Our Romantic Bison is utterly bereft.

“Oh Sweary Cat, my life is over.”
“Good grief.”
“My heart is literally broken.”
“Literally? It’s not, though, is it. Not literally, it’s just a metaphor.”
“Oh, Sweary! I literally can’t handle your grammatical corrections right now.”

Exhibit B:

“You kids need to talk. It’s all a misunderstanding.”
“Is love really worth all this trouble Sylvia?”
“For me it is.”
“You’re so deluded by the movies. But I guess you’ve found someone as equally deluded as you, and if that’s not love I don’t know what is.”

Once more so much of the comedy comes through in the cartooning, Sweary Cat’s unimpressed eyes or disapproving frown juxtaposed against the boo-hooing bull’s flood of free-flowing tears or Sylvia’s rose-tinted hearts. And in spite of its seemingly throwaway comedy, Lunney nails so much about friendships when someone starts playing the dating game.

“Obviously we can only feel smug as a couple if there is someone single nearby for us to offend!”

Or did I mean the grating game?


Buy Take Away! and read the Page 45 review here

Black Is The Colour s/c (£10-99, Fantagraphics) by Julia Gfrörer.

What a thrilling, frightening, fabulous cover! It runs over the back and through the French flaps, so open it up, then open it up some more! The squalling sea will be revealed in all its terrifying, tempest-tossed rage. You can almost hear its thunderous roar.

What on earth are the women and beardy blokes doing, bobbing along in the swelling cusp so equanimous to the storm? I think one of them is smiling. You’ll find all of them are giggling. You just can’t see what they’re laughing at or giggling about yet.

Oh, this is tremendous! Gently intense, tender at times, and often very cheeky indeed. Adults only, please!

Aboard a luckless galleon things have not gone well. Storms have held them back and provisions are running so low that they won’t last much longer – not with so many mouths to feed. Not with every crew member still on board. Warren and Xavier are called down below and told it’s the customary case of “last in, first out”. They are cast adrift in a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean with no sign of shore in sight. Xavier has a cough. Warren has a pocket knife which he bequeaths in a small, subtle scene of muted affection whose full meaning, if you don’t twig immediately, will become clearer as events play themselves out. It will be reprised later on, and I wonder if it’s that act of denial which catalyses the spectacle which follows.

I can’t do much more now than invoke specific scenes I love for fear of giving the game away.

The first is of Warren lying flat in the boat when a shark starts circling. Is it so that the shark won’t see him? Or is it so that he can no longer see the shark? That’s why I would sink so low!

The second is the gigantic, silent seascapes, reminiscent in their pen lines and textures of Tony Millionaire, divided into six panels or panes. The whole book is conducted in this simple, easily accessible format as well as style. There’s not just a wobbly fragility to the lines, there is a bleakness to them as well – for it is cold at sea – even during sensual embraces.

What made laugh most, however (oh, there is laughter to be had), was the proposed orchestration of a new siren call as if laying down a new track for an album. You do need to get the harmonies, right, don’t you?


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

Uzumaki 3-in-1 Complete h/c (£17-99, Viz) by Junji Ito –

I was a teenage gorehound. While mum was doing the food shopping I’d browse through the book section reading the backs of all the horror novels and imagining the chills inside. Give me a good scare and I’m happy.

UZUMAKI makes me very happy.

Nasty, nasty, nasty horror. There are some gut-churning images and a sticky sense of claustrophobia and unease. I feel as if I’ve lived through the paranoia, the queasy unreality and otherworldly dread that befalls Kirie. Only she is putting together the twisted pieces as friends and family fall under the spell of the encroaching sickness. It’s rare that a horror comic will make me recoil (THROUGH THE HABITRAILS and pieces by Woodring have done it) but each chapter will have a finely detailed page that disturbs and disgusts as it compels.

Spirals are attacking the way of life in Kurôzu-Cho. One slimy schoolboy gradually transforms into a snail, crawling up the school building. Two girls, competing for attention, find their hair curling and twisting higher and higher until their styles take them over, almost draining the energy from their bodies. A potter makes diseased ceramics, his kiln winding the clay into new, strange shapes. Any cremation is marked by an ominous whirl of ash and smoke above the chimney. Chills.


Buy Uzumaki 3-in-1 Complete h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Gold Pollen And Other Stories h/c (£19-99, Picturebox) by Seiichi Hayashi…

“How did I come to live in this town?
“No deep reason, I just went for it.
“I was having woman problems. I thought if I found a decent house, this place was as good as any to clear my mind.
“Sure when I first got here, I did worry that is was far from work.
“Having no image myself of the kind of place I wanted, the choice was really the real estate agent’s.
“Moving was a cinch. Just a cabinet, bedding, kitchen utensils, and my work tools. Then ‘that person’ spent an entire day polishing the place.”

This work will have very niche appeal for sure, but in terms of avant garde manga it is seminal stuff. These particular works are from the late sixties and very early seventies and both in terms of content and artistic composition are, well, pretty out there. Stream of consciousness, waking fantasy combined with autobiographical influences provide the foundation for visual experimentation that mixes stylistic elements of woodcuts, pop art, European comics and even cameos from Batman and Superman, in a respectful nod to western superhero comics. The four different stories here also utilise completely different colour palettes from intense, verging on psychedelic, through various red and blue monotones to black and white.



“Write what you know” is the age-old maxim, and as the author freely admits in his ‘childhood remembrance’ essay and as Ryan Holmberg elaborates upon in his Seiichi Hayashi’s Maternal Roots essay, this material draws heavily upon his childhood and relationship with his mother, who despite her mental illness did remarkably well bringing him up in the absence of a father figure. Even when it’s not autobiographical material, you can see when he has leaned heavily upon his own experiences for characters, and that’s not a negative comment, just an observation. As I say, I am sure the appeal of this material will be limited, but he was clearly a forerunner of the current crop of creators who more recently contributed to the AX VOL 1: ALTERNATIVE MANGA anthology, and you may already be familiar with his RED COLOURED ELEGY.


Buy Gold Pollen And Other Stories h/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Another Humanoids title picked up for reprinting by Sloth Comics, this Euro sci-fi fantasy caper was original published in four album-sized French editions. Seven planets are linked together by a multidimensional ring teleportation system, built by long-forgotten, mysterious creators in a previous eon. One planet has been severed from the others for three centuries after they started a war against the rest of the Empire, but now, somehow, they have launched a devastating surprise attack through a different ring. The reveal as to how this is possible, when it comes, is very clever, albeit a touch deus ex machina. Clues were dropped, in retrospect, but I didn’t guess. A highly enjoyable romp with not inconsiderable steampunk elements, and exquisitely illustrated to boot.


Buy The Ring Of The Seven Worlds h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Amazing Spider-Man #700.1 (£2-99, Marvel) by David Morrell & Klaus Janson.

Peter Parker is back, with no mop-topped minger in his noggin’!

 You know what? Unless something goes disastrously wrong, this and the next issue would make a cracking Christmas present for yer proverbial young Jimmy if he’s wide-eyed and into superheroes. And there aren’t a lot of Marvel Comics about which you can say that any more.

 [Confirmed: just read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700.2 and they form a perfect, self-contained, two-parter for young readers. A) No fighting, B) They’re all about helping others – and that’s not just Spider-Man, C) THERE’S LOTS OF SNOW! NB: I know they share the same cover on our website – it’s what Marvel sent us via Diamond. Also, and please don’t buy them #700.3 because there it’s a new story, different creators, and there are third-degree burns!]

Janson hasn’t lost it. As evidenced in DARDEVIL: END OF DAYS I think he’s improved with age, and there is one tremendous double-page countryside snowscape here as well as several city scenes at night which – thanks in part to colour artist Steve Buccellatto – are freezing but in a warm and fuzzy way. It’s all about the relatively old architecture and the street lights: you really do feel as if you’re looking out from a toasty bedroom window or wrapped up as warm as warm can be.

Peter Parker, alas, is far from warm. It’s as if there is ice in his veins. Also, this snowstorm is unusually early and abnormally fast to sweep in. Meanwhile, there’s a region-wide power cut and a tree has crashed through Aunt May’s bathroom window. As her candle burns down and eventually out, she’s left alone on her sofa in a house without power or heating, the skeletal branches of another tree casting shadows on the blacked-out living room wall…

Quick intro by John Romita Jr with some amazing trouser creases and you are in! As I say, perfect for young new readers.


Buy Amazing Spider-Man #700.1 and read the Page 45 review here

Iron Man vol 3: The Secret Origin Of Tony Stark Book 2 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Dale Eaglesham, Greg Land, Carlo Pagulayan.

Absolutely ingenious. Not just the radical story arc as a whole (it is) but the way Stark extricates himself time after time from the increasingly bleak scenario using his very limited options.

Tony Stark’s parents wanted a child. They were having… difficulties.

Recorder 451 wanted to create the ultimate protection for Earth. He had a plan: while saving Howard and Maria Stark’s baby he would genetically programme it in the womb in order to utilise him as an adult. The Starks weren’t told.

A lifetime later and Tony Stark wants to be anywhere else in the universe other than in a spaceship speeding towards a Dyson Sphere surrounding a stabilized micro-star. It houses The Godkiller. Unfortunately Recorder 451 has compromised P.E.P.P.E.R., the sentient piece of software which controls Tony Stark’s Iron Man armour, so that he can neither assault Recorder 451 nor leave the Godkiller. For yes, they are now inside the Godkiller. And what is the Godkiller? It is a 5-mile-tall exoskeleton built to destroy Celestials which, on a scale of 1 to Galactus, are off that scale. It is also Tony Stark’s destiny, for that is what Howard and Maria Stark’s child was programmed to do: pilot the Godkiller and wipe out all threats to Earth. Didn’t you ever wonder why Stark was so obsessed with exoskeletons? Once synchronised with the Godkiller, Stark will have no will of his own. There is nothing he can do about it.

I’d like to tell you exactly how the stakes get raised then raised again but SPOILERS. I would also like to tell you exactly how cleverly this 50-year game of poker has been played by all and sundry but SPOILERS. I would like to tell you how radically this alters what you thought you knew about Tony Stark’s history and his potential future but SPOILERS. Better still, I’d like to tell you how this changes nothing about Stark’s core being at the very same time but… yeah, you get the idea.

As I say, this book is all about ingenuity. Every single character here from Recorder 451 and Death’s Head to Howard Stark, Tony Stark and indeed Pepper Potts will prove to be ingenious. One of them, however, will make a terrible mistake and it isn’t Recorder 451 or Death’s Head.

All three artists are slick, sturdy and mesh seamlessly. I have nothing more to report on that matter.


Buy Iron Man vol 3: The Secret Origin Of Stark Book 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Inhumanity (£2-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Olivier Coipel.

“Does it concern anyone that he’s drawing on unbreakable Wakandan crystal with his fingernail?”
“Let the man speak, T’Challa. Let him doodle… Where’s he gonna go? He can’t fly.”

Awwww… Coipel’s Petras Petragon emerging from the Terrigenesis chamber is so unbelievably cute. He’s Gorgon’s son, transformed prematurely by Gorgon and Karnak in a desperate bid to protect him from the destruction of Attilan. It probably wasn’t a good idea…

Now turn back to page three panel three. Yeah? Yeah.

A game-changer which builds ominously into an awful climax, this one-shot written by HAWKEYE’s Fraction sets the scene for his INHUMAN series next month. It will tell you everything you need to know about the race and its history as updated recently during INFINITY without boring you for a single second.

For Fraction makes it all about motivation – about defection, dispersal and survival – as a distraught Karnak detained by the Avengers wonders what each faction was thinking as it made its fateful decisions over the last 25,000 years. And I don’t deploy “fateful” loosely for it is the results of those very decisions which informed Black Bolt’s own to sacrifice Attilan for the greater catalytic good. The city of the Inhumans may have been blown to smithereens but it wasn’t their only home, and you know how nail bombs work, right? Now imagine a genetic bomb.

As Karnak, the wise one able to detect faults and flaws, follows his suppositions to an increasingly alarming conclusion his now-widowed queen Medusa arrives with questions of her own. High among them: where is the rest of the royal family?

I can’t promise you much action, I’m afraid, but I can promise you Coipel controls the emotion perfectly, avoiding all melodrama for the sake of maximum, devastating drama.

Here, have a barely relevant reference to Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s classic INHUMANS book because I love it so much.


Buy Inhumanity 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.


The Snow Queen And Other Stories (£4-99, Great Beast) by Isabel Greenber

Show Me The Map To Your Heart (Extended Edition) (£5-99, Great Beast) by John Cei Douglas

Snapshot s/c (£9-99, Image) by Andy Diggle & Jock

The Everyday h/c (£11-99, Great Beast) by Adam Cadwell

A.B.C. Warriors: Return To Earth h/c (£14-99, Rebellion) by Pat Mills & Clint Langley

aama vol 1: The Smell Of Warm Dust h/c (£12-99, Self Made Hero) by Frederik Peeters

Abe Sapien vol 3: Dark And Terrible (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, John Arcudi & Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara

Adventure Time Sugary Shorts vol 1 h/c (£14-99, Titan) by various including Paul Pope, Shannon Wheeler, Lucy Knisley, Jim Rugg and many more

Crossed vol 7 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Christos N. Gage, David Lapham & Christian Zanier, Miguel Ruiz

Cyanide & Happiness vol 1 s/c (£10-99, ItBooks) by Kris, Rob, Matt, Dave

Cyanide & Happiness vol 2: Ice Cream & Sadness s/c (£10-99, ItBooks) by Kris, Rob, Matt, Dave

Judge Dredd: Day Of Chaos – The Fourth Faction (£17-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner & Ben Willsher, Staz Johnson, Colin MacNeil, Henry Flint

Lost Planet: The First Colony h/c (£8-99, Capcom) by Izu & Dall’Oglio

Morning Glories vol 6 (£10-99, Image) by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma

Parker: Slayground h/c (£13-50, IDW) by Richard Stark & Darwyn Cooke

Polarity vol 1 s/c (£10-99, Boom! Studios) by Max Bemis & Jorge Coelho

Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 5 s/c (£10-99, DC) by Alan Moore & Rick Veitch, John Totleben

Thumbprint h/c (£16-50, IDW) by Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella & Vic Malhotra

Superman Action Comics vol 2: Bulletproof s/c (£12-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Rags Morales

Superman Action Comics vol 3: End Of Days h/c (£18-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Rags Morales

Captain America vol 2: Castaway Dimension Z Book 2 s/c (UK Ed’n) (£10-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & John Romita Jr.

Daredevil vol 6 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Javier Rodriguez, Chris Samnee, Matteo Scalera

Deadpool: Complete Collection vol 2 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way & various

The Immortal Iron Fist: Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction & David Aja, various

Superior Spider-Man vol 3: No Escape (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Christos Gage & Guiseppe Camuncoli, Humberto Ramos

Thanos: Infinity Abyss s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin

Uncanny X-Men vol 2: Broken (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Fraser Irving, Chris Bachalo

X-Men: Primer (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Brian Wood & Oliver Coipel

Dragon Ball 3-in-1 Edition vols 7-9 (£9-99, Viz) by Akira Toriyama

One Piece vol 69 (£7-50, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda

Judge vol 2 (£9-99, Yen) by Yoshiki Tonogai

K-ON! vol 5 (£8-99, Yen) by Kakifly


ITEM! Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SECONDS announced for July 2014!

ITEM! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Lavishly illustrated interview with Tomer Hanuka You can buy his art here in OVERKILL which I have singularly failed to review but, hey, there’s that link to the interview, so…

ITEM! A page of David Mazzucchelli’s DAREDEVIL art which I discussed at length on Twitter with @ronsalas, a phenomenal comicbook artist in his own right whom you really should follow. Look at the extended bicep in the bottom panel: pure Frank Miller. Also, the streamlined head above it. Since he transformed himself like few other creators before or since in more recent works like CITY OF GLASS and ASTERIOS POLYP, people forget that Mazzzucchelli was such a stunning action artist. But I’d never detected a Frank Miller influence until Ron made me look at it twice. Eddie Campbell (of all people) admires Mazzucchelli’s superhero compositions from (yes, we have it) DAREDEVIL BORN AGAIN.

ITEM! As you read this BOO comic for kids should have arrived! Self-contained and spooky! Review up ASAP.

ITEM! Speaking of comics for kids, Neill Cameron celebrates 100 issues of THE PHOENIX and rightly so! Parents, this comes highly recommended. None o’ yer supermarket plastic-toy tat! Fully of fun and variety, this is superb, and it’s important that young ‘uns look forward to reading! This is basically comicbook crack cocaine for kids. Ummm…  *rethinks marketing strategy*

ITEM! Bringing you back down to the cold, wintery earth for one second: no, I won’t shut up. It is appalling that the UK has become a country in which foodbanks – Jesus, foodbanks! – are  considered necessary. You want to know what’s worse? Politicians grinning inanely at foodbanks’ opening, oblivious to what their opening implies about the poverty which they have inflicted upon those who now need them.

ITEM! BLACK IS THE COLOUR (reviewed above) is previewed by Fantagraphics with lots of interior art.

ITEM! Comicbook creators: how to make and sell your comics as e-books. In 12 seconds! That was sent dispatched into the mintyweb by Andy Diggle, I think, and of course I don’t understand a single technical sentence of it, but you will.

ITEM! Sara McIntyre interviews Philippa Rice about WE’RE OUT! See some of Philippa’s pages brought to animated life! WE’RE OUT is Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month and could not be more perfect for Christmas! Plus all our copies are signed and sketched in for free! You don’t have to be a member to buy it! Just like on the cover in the grid to read the review rather than the first one you see at the top!

ITEM! In a fortnight’s time it will be Christmas Day! Yippee, yippee and yah! Before that, however, you may want to do some Christmas Shopping, so I dun wrote a blog:

Christmas Shopping At Page 45: Ideas For Presents and How We Can Help You!

Oh, we are having fun with those shop-floor show-and-tells!

– Stephen

Christmas Ideas At Page 45 & How We Can Help!

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Christmas shopping at Page 45: it’s the easiest shopping you’ll ever do!

“I am sceptical!”

And I am a lush. What’s your point?

You love your friends! You love your relatives! Even though one of them is a traffic warden.

But you have minimal time so each year we revel in the military exercise of finding the right book for the right person, even if it’s from a list scrawled in drunken biro. Also, we love providing show-and-tell recommendations tailored to your specific needs!

We also sell Page 45 Gift Vouchers both for use online, and printed versions for in-store redemption which come with free cards designed by Philippa Rice and Lizz Lunney.

Scenario A:

1. Make a list of the graphic novels you’d like to receive for Christmas.
2. Distribute this list between your friends and relatives.
3. Tell them they can present that list at the counter and we’ll find those books for them. They will be so relieved!
4. If they buy something you already have – so long as you bring it back in prime condition – you can exchange it for anything else later on. Absolutely no scowls that you’ve taken us at our word because it is our word, and here we’re renowned for sticking to it. We’ll simply thank you or your friends for having shopped with us in the first place.

Scenario B:

1. Ask your friends and relatives to surprise you! Tell them to ask us for extemporised show-and-tells based on your specific tastes. We do this half a dozen times each day, let alone at Christmas, and it gives us so much pleasure!
2. We’ll give them four or five options to choose from.
3. See 4 above. Also if, for some rare reason we’re wrong, bring it back and swap as usual: personal recommendations at Page 45 come with a swapsies guarantee all year round!

Scenario C:

1. If you want to convert your friends to comics then we have 45 years of professional experience between us in doing that.
2. Come to the counter, tell us what they love in other media and we’ll come up with several suggestions for a great introduction based on their wider tastes.
3. See 4 in Scenario A
4. See 3 in Scenario B.
5. Throw a 6 and move on to haberdashery.

Scenario D:

1. We have Page 45 Gift Vouchers available in denominations of £5, £10 and £20 for shopping online or instore.

2. By “denominations” we mean the smallest increments available, but £10,000’s worth of Page 45 Gift Vouchers are easily purchased and popped in an envelope through credit card transactions or a worldwide money laundering service which we will happily take care of for you!
3. We cannot redeem book tokens, sorry. Please ask for Page 45 Gift Vouchers instead!
4. For the printed versions we have exclusive Page 45 Gift Cards designed by Philippa Rice and Lizz Lunney which come free with an envelope, plus smiles and thanks to all.
5. You or your friends can now go on insane, guilt-free spending sprees.

Scenario E:

1. Do nothing at all and receive socks.
2. Wear socks, read nothing.
3. Wash socks, lose one sock in the wash and then grumble.

Comicbook Recommendations for Christmas 2014

Here are some recommendations. If you click on a link and it shows several covers rather than a single book, click on those covers for reviews! Cheers! And yes, WE SHIP INTERNATIONALLY!

Prime British Fiction plus comedy bonus:

THE NAO OF BROWN by Glyn Dillon (winner: British Comics Awards 2013)
NELSON by Rob Davis & friends (winner: British Comics Awards 2012)
MRS WEBERS OMNIBUS by Posy Simmonds (winner of an MBE)
THE LISTENING AGENT by Joe Decie (he’s my Mum’s favourite!)
THE PARK by Oscar Zarate

Outright comedy:

WE’RE OUT by Philippa Rice – particularly if you love Oliver Postgate or Nottingham!
GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler
ADVENTURE TIME Brand-new stories by everyone ever!

It is so Christmassy:

UNFORGOTTEN by Tohby Riddle
MOOMIN by Tove Jansson

Inexpensive Stocking Fillers:

AT THE THEME PARK by Lizz Lunney
SOPPY and SOPPY #2 by Philippa Rice (they double as Christmas cards too!)
CAT ISLAND by Dan Berry


TINY PENCIL. Oh, so many secrets and so much fun!
BUILDING STORIES by Chris Ware. It is a chocolate box of comics!
PAPERTOY MONSTERS You make them; it’s crafty!

Your Dad’s into war (and the anniversary is imminent):

GODDAMN THIS WAR by Jaques Tardi

Socio-politics, history, travel, autobiography:

DOTTER OF HER FATHER’S EYES by Mary Talbot & Bryan Talbot. (Winner: Costa Book Award for non-fiction!)
ETHEL & ERNEST by Raymond Briggs
ALEC OMNIBUS by Eddie Campbell
A CHINESE LIFE by Philippe Otie, Li Kunwu
Everything by Guy Delisle. Pop him in our search engine!

Younger Readers:

HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT by Luke Pearson (Winner: British Comics Awards For Kids 2013, now with Christmas, sparkly spine edging!)
A BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT by Dave Shelton
FISH HEAD STEVE by Jamie Smart
TEENYTINYSAURS by Gary Northfield
AMULET by Kazu Kibuishi
BONE by Jeff Smith
MOUSE GUARD by David Peterson

Horror, Crime and Compassion:

FATALE by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
FROM HELL and FROM HELL COMPANION by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell

Science Fiction with heart and humanity:

SAGA by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
PLANETARY by Warren Ellis & John Cassady


TROPIC OF THE SEA by Satoshi Kon
SUNNY by Taiyo Matsumoto
NAUSICAA BOXED SET by Haiyo Miyazaki
PLUTO by Naoki Urusawa

Superheroes, accessible and perfect for Christmas:

SUPERIOR by Mark Millar & Yeinil Yu
MARVEL 1985 by Mark Millar & Tommy Lee Edwards
THE INHUMANS by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee
HAWKEYE by Matt Fraction & David Aja
YOUNG AVENGERS by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

We have so many more to suggest tailored specifically to your loved one’s needs. Just ask at the counter, all year round! Yay and yippee! (TM @Lizzlizz)

Page 45 is open:

Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm. Sunday: 11am to 4pm
Closed only Bank Holidays, so in this instance Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day.
We shut around 4pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve because we are thirsty!

9 Market Street
Nottingham NG1 6HY

Tel: 0115 9508045

New Releases Christmas 2013

New Comics Day is Wednesday every week of the year, but for Chrismas Eve and New Year’s Eve only, it is Tuesday! Hurrah!

Merry Kissmas, everybody!

– Stephen xxx
This has been a transparent marketing ploy on behalf of Page 45, posted in good time to be emulated by everyone else.

Above: BUILDING STORIES by Chris Ware

Reviews December 2013 week one

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

A blonde biochemist invents a shrinking serum and – with foresight – a growth serum which – with hindsight – he probably shouldn’t have left on a window ledge. He then pours the shrinking serum on his wrist thereby reducing his entire body to two millimetres tall only to realise with a somewhat unscientific surprise that he can no longer reach the fucking window ledge.

– Stephen on Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man / Giant Man, scientific genius

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

“Never break the rules. Especially if you don’t understand them.”

From the creator of THE ARRIVAL, TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA, THE LOST THING, THE RABBITS etc comes what appears at first to be a slightly more random affair, repurposing or simply deploying, for example, the image of the gigantic hare which amused me no end in THE BIRD KING AND OTHER SKETCHES for the cautionary “Never leave a red sock on the clothes line”. Which, given the consequences as two boys huddle under an inadequately low wooden fence beneath the enormous red eye of an evidently rabid rabbit, seems to be sound if surreal advice.

Some of the tiniest mistakes can have the most enormous consequences. I doubt you’ll step on a snail again. Some remain unknown (“Never drop your jar”) while others could never in a million years have been predicted (“Never eat the last olive at a party”).

As the book progesses, however, the connections between the seemingly disparate caveats begins to emerge. It seems to say, “Listen to your older brother – he knows what he’s talking about!” For it’s always the younger one who puts his foot in it.

“Never be late for a parade” is the deal breaker first separating the two, and if you turn back to the connected cover you will spot the older lad’s scowling disapproval. After that the smaller boy faces increasing exclusion, peering mournfully through their lounge window from the outside to see his brother watching television at night with a giant cat, their slippers lined up side by side. The anthropomorphic cat has even supplanted him on the family portrait above. “Never give your keys to a stranger.”

The most poignant one follows immediately afterwards. The older sibling is standing in a walled garden’s tiny doorway, silhoetted against the golden glowing light of the impossibly radiant trees festooned with exotically colourful birds within. He is emphatically and implaccably blocking the way of his smaller brother who is kneeling, hands clasped beseachingly, his plaintive prayers ignored. “Never forget your password.”

As to what happens next…

One of the things I love most about Shaun Tan is that he always has something to say. Another is that he will adapt his style – and even change the media he uses – each time to suit the scenario. Here the oil paint is rich and thick. On the title page you can see where the gooey paint has been pulled across the board or canvas like so much buttercream icing to form a path for the boys to parade down, one blowing his horn, the other banging his drum and, oh – wouldn’t you know it? – he’s just dropped his drum stick.

The alternative message, of course, is, “Hey! Give the lad a little leeway! He’s younger than you and has much to learn. And he is, after all, your brother.”


Buy Rules Of Summer h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Throw Your Keys Away (£6-00, self-published) by Dan Berry.

Signed and squiggled-in for free!

Dan Berry teaches creating comics for a living, and there is so much to his craft that others would do well to emulate, especially the comedians. I see way too many panels which are lifeless and static, whereas Dan’s are gleeful, bursting with movement and energy especially during the height of self-mockery.

‘I Am So Beloved By Everybody’ is a masterclass. Both fluid and fluent, the tongue-in-cheek self-celebration leaps nimbly from one absurd accomplishment to the next as Dan the Man prances and dances like a peripatetic primate. See him kicking his legs up and gesticulating wildly on the conquered corpse of a poor old horse his competitive jousting has skewered! It shouldn’t be funny, but it is, both his and his opponent’s lances sticking out of one of two nags he’s managed to knock down in one. Many lesser cartoonists would have simply listed the accomplishments, but this is a sequence of segues.


The same bright colours and lithe style are employed in the titular daydream of treetop liberation before Dan the Real Man drops falls to earth with a thud.

Markedly different, however, is ‘The Devil’s Steps’ which I have a funny feeling I’m familiar with. Here the evening colours are deep and rich and tasty greens which I would never have thought of employing, complemented beautifully by the blood-clot brown of a bovine devil who really hasn’t thought his location through. How can such dark colours glow?

Sign up to one of Dan’s courses: you will learn stuff., since you ask.

From the creator of CAT ISLAND, HEY YOU! which we made Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month and THE SUITCASE which we also declared Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month and is so mighty fine that it really should have been up for a British Comics Award.


Buy Throw Your Keys Away and read the Page 45 review here

Carry Me (£6-00, Great Beast) by Dan Berry.

One bright summer’s day a Dad sets off, his small daughter held gently in the crook of one arm. They cross an ornamental stone bridge then turn left down a long, straight parth. A bank of lush, thick foliage rises to their left while to their right an open, grassy field slopes gently upwards as far as the eye can see.

It’s going to be good day. It’s going to be a great walk.

No. It is going to be absolutely terrifying.

In the ideal order of things, if you’re going to have a family, we nurture and protect our children even as we ourselves grow old, then hope to be looked after in turn. But that comes with a certain degree of fear: a fear of failing, a fear of age, a fear of frailty, a fear of death. And they do say that dogs sense fear, don’t they?

Family features substantially in Dan Berry’s work, even if in THROW AWAY YOUR KEYS he dreams of abandoning it, but it’s always for grin-inducingly comedic purposes. CARRY ME’s tone could not be more startlingly different.

It’s a silent fable so Dan has concentrated on his other strengths: successful sequential storytelling, form, colour and sense of space. ‘Algiers’ in HEY YOU! was full of white and so full of light. Here the very sky is strangled as anxiety levels explode. The true path becomes obliterated by impenetrable knots of branches barely glimpsed throughly the suffocatingly dark and sickly green leaves. The sense of panic-inducing claustrophia is intense. Yet still they struggle on.

The moment when I first realised the protagonist began aging was electrifying and, yes, there is far more to this journey than I have even begun let on.

Bonus: all of Page 45’s copies are signed and sketched in – at this stage, surprising no one! Cheers, Dan!


Buy Carry Me and read the Page 45 review here

Cat Island (£6-00) by Dan Berry.

Signed and sketched in for free! Cat sketches: you want!

Dan does love his production value: thick, silky smooth stock this time, showcasing a fine pen line and glowing, autumnal colours. There are trees and leaves galore in this suburban battle for territorial supremacy between one feather-ruffled man with a freshly cleaned car and his muddy-pawed moggie. You know who’s going to win, right? But wait; add to the domestic drama a newborn baby with its routine-wrecking demands and anything could happen. Anyone who’s ever had a baby will roll their eyes with recognition.

“As far as anybody could tell, the baby had three modes: 1. Crying because she was tired. 2. Crying because she had pooped. 3. Crying.”

Really, I think our Jonathan should have been reviewing this.


So what exactly is the Cat Island? Nope, no clues, but fans of Jeffrey Brown’s CAT GETTING OUT OF A BAG AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS and CATS ARE WEIRD AND MORE OBSERVATIONS will instantly fall for Dan’s lithe, leaf-chasing and occasionally petulant puss who obviously steals the show, while its insouciance put me in mind of Lizz Lunney. Superb, silent punchline that will have you roaring with laughter.


Buy Cat Island and read the Page 45 review here

Giant Days 3 (£4-99) by John Allison…

“Isn’t that Thom from Indie Society?”
“Yeah, with his pride and joy. Hey THOM, what’s going on?”
“Heh, just giving Vetiver a polish.”
“My 1990 Fiat Panda. Once owned by David Gedge of the Wedding Present.”
“Literally the most indie car EVER.”
“Fully restored. My parents got her for my 18th birthday. Great for getting to gigs. We don’t get the good bands here very often.”
“Well, goodnight, Thom. Remember, hands on top of the duvet.”

Ha ha, the University adventures of Susan Ptolemy and Daisy Wooton continues, and they have a new friend in the shape of acid-tongued Erin as they investigate the merits of the Indie music society, whilst their chum Esther de Groot gets further lured to the dark side by the Black Metal Society. Ed Gemmell, meanwhile, is still following Esther around like a lost puppy dog, bless him, even though Black Metal really is absolutely not his scene at all. This series just gets funnier and funnier, it really does, I just need John to bring it out faster! The next BAD MACHINERY collection, BAD MACHINERY: THE CASE OF THE GOOD BOY is reasonably imminent though in March 2014.


Buy Giant Days 3 and read the Page 45 review here

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

Winner of the British Comics Award 2012 in the best Young Readers category as judged by Leeds schoolchildren, this new edition comes with a sparkly spine-edge trimming.

Oh, the sheer wonder of it all! That’s what you need to light up the eyes and fire up the minds of young readers: wonder, surprise and a protagonist o’er-brimming with an insatiable curiosity. Plucky young Hilda’s is infectious!

Living out in the wilds in a craggy valley surrounded by mountains, Hilda and her mother have recently and quite unexpectedly come under siege from the Hidden People. They’ve never spotted one and have no idea where they live, but this is their sixth little letter this week! And, oh dear, it’s yet another demand for mother and daughter to up sticks and leave the valley for good! But when Hilda posts a note of her own asking them to leave her alone, their home is bombarded by stones, their books seem to rip themselves to shreds and it’s almost too much for Mum. Hilda, however, is undaunted. She’s determined to discover who these tiny terrorists are, why they’re so suddenly up in arms and see if she can’t set things straight. Of course, there’s also the question of the vast silhouette that has loomed into view. Bigger than the nearest mountain, its eerie black body blocks out the stars, its white eyes silently scanning the horizon as if in search of something…

From the creator of SOME PEOPLE, EVERYTHING WE MISS, the other two HILDA books, this a breath-takingly beautiful book, its midnight blues as rich in colour as the daylight scenes. There’s more than a dash of Jordan Crane’s THE CLOUDS ABOVE to the floating woofs migrating across the sky like fluffy, wide-eyed, long-tailed tadpoles, while the giant is pure Tom Gauld. But there’s one monumental page on which the Midnight Giant fills the frame from head to toe, bent on one knee whose composition – you may laugh – instantly reminded me of Bryan Hitch’s Giant Man during his first growth spurt in ULTIMATES VOLUME ONE! The pink glow on the horizon is a golden touch.

There are some great gags that seem to spring spontaneously from the cartooning, while others are stored up for later with exquisite timing (you’ll love the infestation of nittens!) and a tea joke that’s still making me smile several hours later. Hilda herself is a model of inquisitiveness, resolve and resourcefulness, the plight of the Midnight Giant is truly touching, and adults will groan with recognition at the real reason behind the Hidden People’s sudden animosity. Above all, though, it’s the wonder of it all which will fill many a subsequent dream, so highly recommended to people of all sizes: no height restrictions at all.


Buy Hilda And The Midnight Giant and read the Page 45 review here

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

Confession / concession: I gave up after three chapters but I flicked ahead, noted the explicit fellatio so, by the time you read this, both our copies will be hermetically sealed and shored up on the top shelf with Top Shelf’s CHESTER 5000 XYV. Before I gave up, however…

First off, Kowalski’s giant semi-futuristic cityscape is impressive: lots of ridiculously tall skyscrapers squeezed onto Saturn City’s central island radiating bridges like the sun, and then blotting out every square inch of it for miles and miles beyond. The inking effect is like Terry Austin with bits missing.

I didn’t find his sex scenes sexy – they were way too cold and clinical for me – but then nor did I find them offensive. I found two of Casey’s so-far peripheral gay characters fey and affected but then, as a gay man, I find a lot of gay men fey and affected so I didn’t take offence to that, either. There’s nothing wrong with being fey, but I cannot abide affectation. (Get me!)

What did offend me were the variously and – as far as I can tell – randomly coloured emphases instead of italics or bold: an unneccessary departure/gimmick (one could hardly call it an innovation) which was distracting and ugly, cluttering the speech balloons and therefore the pages themselves. It also served to remind one how overused these emphases are in corporate comics. I think I’ve used two in this entire review whereas Casey uses up to four per single speech balloon.

The storytelling didn’t strike me as particularly gripping, either. Basically a certain Mr. Cooke of Cooke Industries is returning to the fold after a sabbatical, but doesn’t seem that interested in doing anything beyond exercising. He doesn’t seem interested in taking strategy meetings, photo ops, or even masturbating like all the other punters do when visiting a brothel as voyeur. The one thing he is definitely not interested in doing is resuming his role as some sort of superhero (details sketchy even by the third chapter) because I think something went tits-up and certainly somebody died at some point because there’s a grave on the very first page. Meanwhile, his current lack of vigilance in that department encourages playas to contemplate playing.

It is this very vaguery after some sixty-odd pages that made me give up. No one had said anything remotely interesting.

What I find unlikely is that the titular sex (“Huh huh – he said titular!”) will prove remotely relevant to the proceedings: i.e. any thematic core or even central plot development which would merit the comic’s title. My entirely uninformed guess was that SEX was chosen for publicity purposes so that dozens of predictably inane retailers would tweet:

“We have SEX!”
“Come to us for SEX!”
“Pay us for SEX!”

And indeed they have done so. I don’t mind puerility any more than I mind fey, but I have nothing but contempt for the fucking obvious.

We sold a great many copies of the first issue, but by the fourth issue no one was biting. Nobody shopping at Page 45 seems to want SEX. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha-ha. *slow claps*

Buy SEX CRIMINALS by Fraction and Zdarsky instead. That has something to say and the skill with which to say it.


Buy Sex vol 1: Summer Of Hard and read the Page 45 review here

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

“I am Lt. Sung. I have been sent to determine conditions and your needs. I do not agree with your estimate of danger. Certainly there are signs of V.C. in the vicinity – but no evidence of an imminent attack. My men and I will return to our headquarters immediately. My recommendation will be for you to proceed with your preparations with materials on hand.

Based on true testimony by the surviving Special Forces members on the wrong end of one of the most one-sided battles in the Vietnam War, this account tries to capture the completely hellish insanity of what that particular flashpoint must have felt like for those caught up in it, including their increasing sense of dread beforehand as the inevitable moment approached. It can’t do this of course in exactly the way that say, the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan perfectly captured the absolute horror of battle, but what it does do is lay out a very well documented and precise timeline both in the weeks beforehand and then during the battle, explaining the orders given to and actions taken by the Special Forces group, first to merely observe and assist in training the local forces in securing their compound, then to help defend the indefensible as it became apparent the onslaught was coming. If ever the phrase ‘hold the line’ were appropriate, it was at Dong Xoai.

At first glance the art looks like little more than his initial pencil roughs tidied up slightly. You’d think this would detract from the work, but actually it helps give that sense of the heroic men of Special Forces Detachment A-342 moving dutifully and inevitably toward their fate.


Buy Dong Xoai s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Don’t worry, this isn’t the actual cover: all our MARVEL MASTERWORKS s/cs come with the sympathetically enhanced “painterly” covers, chic black background and silver lettering, regardless of what you see on our product pages.

Here’s the basic premise: a blonde biochemist invents a shrinking serum and – with foresight – a growth serum which – with hindsight – he probably shouldn’t have left on a window ledge. He then pours the shrinking serum on his wrist thereby reducing his entire body to two millimetres tall only to realise with a somewhat unscientific surprise that he can no longer reach the fucking window ledge. He is then attacked by ants. Yet saved by one. He has mad communication skillz, our Hank… except when it comes to women.

He lost his first wife Maria when they honeymooned in Hungary where she and her father had once been held political prisoners. Which is romantic. There was a kerfuffle and that was the end of that. This we are told in a flashback just as spoiled socialite Janet Van Dyne is introduced by her father, a fellow scientist who doesn’t have long for this world, either, inducing Jan to beg Hank to help her avenge his murder by giving her the powers of a wasp: to shrink, grow wings and buzz ferociously in Hank’s ear for the next decade.

Halfway through this volume, our doolally doctor finally realises that if he uses the growth serum before the shrinking serum he can become Giant Man. What a genius! He will later become Goliath then… well, we’ll get to that.

If you thought Stan Lee was having trouble getting the hang of feminism in AVENGERS VOL 1 (and AVENGERS VOL 2 and… oh, forever!), this precedes that material and exceeds its chauvinism.

“You were right, Jan! None of the guards even saw us!”
“This is the part I don’t like! I miss it when men don’t whistle at me!”

That’s right: women adore being objectified. They don’t feel validated unless a gang of leering lechers humiliates them in public. I can just see Stan wolf-whistling as his secretary sashays past his desk.

Workaholic Dr. Hank Pym, meanwhile, is the epitome of patriarchal condescension:

“Look, kid… I’ve worked for weeks to put our growth and shrinking vapours in capsule form! I’ve even designed this new uniform to wear when I get larger than life size! But, the job isn’t finished! I’ve got to perfect them!”
“Why couldn’t I have fallen in love with a nice simple butcher or baker?”
“Honey, you’re just in love with the idea of being in love! Now button those ruby lips until we finish the job!”
“Even when you call me “honey” you make it sound… medicinal!”

You’re beginning to get the picture, Jan. Now for the most staggering insight of all:

“What a bossy husband you’d make!”

If only her fluttering female brain could retain such self-awareness for more than two seconds, Janet might have remembered to say “No!” when Hank “Who Even Am I Today?” finally cracks a few years later, adopts his fourth secret identity of Yellowjacket and proposes marriage after having abducted her! Because, I kid you not, he goes on to be a wife-beater.

I think he has size issues.

Apart from a couple of dynamic splash pages like that featuring The Human Top, the interior art fails to live up the promise of some (some) fabulous covers until inker Dick Ayers is let loose on pencils and begins to use foreshortening to achieve a real sense of scale which is, after all, what the title is all about.


Buy Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man / Giant-Man vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

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


Black Is The Color s/c (£10-99, Fantagraphics) by Julia Gfrorer

Carry Me (£6-00, Great Beast) by Dan Berry

The Eye Of The World: The Graphic Novel vol 4 h/c (£18-99, Tor) by Chuck Dixon, Robert Jordan & Andie Tong

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics vol 7 (£14-99, IDW) by various

Green Lantern Corps vol 2: Alpha War s/c (£12-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomais & Fernando Pasarin

Green Lantern Corps vol 3: Willpower h/c (£18-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & Fernando Pasarin

Nightwing vol 3: Death Of The Family s/c (£12-99, DC) by Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder, Tom DeFalco & Eddy Barrows, various

Deadpool Kills Deadpool s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Salva Espin

Iron Man vol 3: The Secret Origin Of Stark Book 2 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Dale Eaglesham, Greg Land, Carlo Pagulayan

Gold Pollen And Other Stories h/c (£19-99, Picturebox) by Seiichi Hayashi

Dogs – Bullets & Carnage vol 8 (£8-99, Viz) by Shirow Miwa

Uzumaki 3-in-1 Complete h/c (£17-99, Viz) by Junji Ito


ITEM! Oh, you thought ZENITH was only going to get a limited edition release? Think again! Retail edition of ZENITH coming in 2014. My favourite comic to come out of 2000AD. You may pre-order, yes! You don’t have to wait until it appears on our website. Email, ring 0115 9508045, visit or even tweet me @pagefortyfive!

ITEM! Preview for new comic NIGHT POST from Improper Books! From the writer of PORCELAIN and BUTTERFLY GATE – you can pre-order that too!

ITEM! PHOENIX British weekly comic for kids reaches #100 and its stalwart Neill Cameron has blogged! Of course we stock it: this is quality comics for kids, encouraging them to read on a weekly basis. None o’ yer plastic-toy tat for us. Or YOU!

ITEM! Picturebox publishers winds down. So sad. Be smart and be fast! Take advantage of Picturebox’s 50% Sale or snap up our own copies before they sell out!

ITEM! THE GOOD INN by The Pixies’ Black Francis & Steven Appleby to be published by SelfMadeHero – I kid you not!

I snorted when I saw The Pixies referred to as a “cult” band but quickly realised that a) I live in a cultured and cultural snowglobe or at least an Ivory Tower with its antennae on optimum, b) I have no idea what I am ever talking about (please see above!) plus c) Whatevs – it’s The Pixies’ Black Francis! Hurray!

ITEM! And now finally… drum roll… Gary Spencer Millidge’s STRANGEHAVEN is back, back, back!

If there is one FAQ at Page 45 which challenges, “Why Are You Called Page 45?” for popularity it is, “When is the next STRANGEHAVEN?”

STRANGEHAVEN was vitally important to Page 45, debuting at precisely the same time as Page 45 opened nearly twenty years ago, and its stunning success cemented our faith in this medium’s quality and diversity while all the comicbook chainstores were buying in plastic dollies for their thumb-sucking men-children. Moreover it proved that publishing status is irrelevant. And it is! Just look at all the best-selling self-published books on our shelves from the likes of Lizz Lunney, Philippa Rice, Dan Berry and John Allison!

Before being collected by Gary himself in a couple of years time, STRANGEHAVEN is to be serialised in the revitalised MEANWHILE and we are taking orders for that right now!

Pre-order, please! That means you! Yes, you!

Thank you. You so sweet! xxx

– Stephen