Reviews December 2013 week three

“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

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