Archive for August, 2014

Reviews August 2014 week four

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

“Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll suddenly recall some unspeakable transgression of mine, and the shame and horror I feel will stop me dead in my tracks!”

 – Jim Woodring in Jim. Does that sound familiar or what?

Zaya h/c (£22-50, Magnetic) by Jean-David Morvan & Huang-Jia Wei.

“Please, sir, perhaps you should stop drinking…”

Pick a page, any page, and I promise you will lap this up.

A tonic for tired eyes, it is a sublime fusion of European science fiction settling into steampunk in places, with plenty to please more mature manga readers too in the form of the Chinese protagonists, antagonists and subaquatic, aerial and upper-atmosphere dogfights.

The architecture is exquisite, from Zaya’s countryside getaway – an ornate, gabled mansion with white wooden and stone features overshadowed by trees – to the early morning marina with its Venetian towers and baroque clocks in what is evidently a very rich quarter of a very rich city. You should see Zaya’s hotel room – and just wait until you book into the saltwater resort of Estrella del Mar whose hotels, each competing to outdo the others in opulence and originality, sit right on the immaculate beaches, their balustraded stone steps rising from the sands.

However the art is actually composed, it looks like good old-fashioned pencil and wash with exquisite figure work and a fine eye for fashion. Zaya’s black waistcoats, miniskirts and cocktail dresses could not be more chic; her hair, blouses and battlesuit too.

The palette, for the most part, is pure Arthur Rackham: sepia, creams and muted greens which makes the rich blue skies of Estrella del Mar all the fresher and the minimally deployed reds stand out a mile.

As to the steampunk aspect, there is a charming mix of the antique, antiquated and futuristic from Zaya’s mail box, country house and classic car pimped with rocket pipes to the giant floating liners, airships and spaceships and Zaya’s spaceship bathroom with its pumps, plumbing and small generator only partially hidden by chain-linked metal mesh! Also, coming back to the architecture, we’re not on Earth but a colonised planet so everything has been built afresh. When we do reach Earth you’ll discover the modern sits atop ground-level conurbations far more familiar. I love that either the writer or artist has thought of that.

This isn’t created in shorthand, either, so you won’t feel short-changed: plenty of extended scenes so you can soak in the eye-candy.

It’s opening night at Zaya Oblidine’s holosculpture exhibition. The centre piece looks like some tumour-ridden mammoth to me, but it’s being very well received. An over-entitled nitwit being pleaded with by the waiter is getting drunk and obnoxious. Zaya steps in. The drunkard “steps out”.

Meanwhile, a family car is being targeted by a top-heavy mutant of a man or machine that looks like it could have been designed by Zaya herself. With gigantic jetpacks armoured and weaponised to the max, she/he/it prefers an aerial assault and it’s devastating. The first strike takes out most of the mother’s face and only the father manages to crawl from the wreckage and scramble for cover. Pursued to a dead end, the man cuts off his own hand with a circular saw and jettisons it into a garbage chute so its signet ring can transmit into space, there to be detected by Spiral. Oh, and space has another useful property too…

It transpires that he’s not been the first former agent of Spiral to be tracked down. It also transpires that sculpture wasn’t Zaya’s first occupation. After twenty years working for the top secret agency called Spiral (she joined very young, as you’ll discover) she retired six years ago when she fell pregnant and has since raised the two daughters she dotes on as a more than capable single parent. Her younger sister Carmen visits often. This is not irrelevant.

Now Zaya’s being reactivated for what Spiral claims will be such a low-risk, safe and simple assignment that she won’t even need a gun: she’s to work for one day as a hostess on a yacht moored at Estrella del Mar. But if it’s such a low-level mission, why are there 341 other Spiral agents acting as crew members too?

So there you go: a summary of Act One. As you might infer Act Two goes postal with the most monumental all-out action you can imagine before Act Three takes a completely unexpected turn at the transdimensional traffic lights leaving Zaya confounded, distraught then devastated. Readers will be tearing their hair out under a deluge of dramatic irony. You know what’s happening: Zaya hasn’t a clue.

A final note on Estrella del Mar that made me laugh:

“Many beaches of the central island are clearly separated for naturists and other groups of religious thought, so that everyone can relax without having to face the gaze of others.”


“”Sorry” is really the last thing you should say to a woman after sex.”

My friend Cath found “Thanks for that” pretty shoddy too.


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

Corpse Talk Season 1 (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Adam Murphy.

Julius Caesar:

“I didn’t abolish the Senate, I just filled it with my guys who all did what I said.”
“Good idea, boss!”
“That made some people mad!”
“We need to do something about it…”
“Something stabby…”

Something stabby.

All education should be entertainment, and this was so entertaining that I learned more about history in these sixty pages than I did during six years of lessons at school. Moreover, I read so retained more than I did watching three seasons of Simon Schama. Studies have proved you retain more when reading; add in the visual cues a comic can connect in your brain and you have a Young Adult bursting with knowledge, having had a whale of a time in the process and so looking forward to more!

The cartooning is bright, gleeful and incredibly detailed as each interviewee takes you back in time to celebrate their crowning achievements and most moronic moments. Did you know, for example, that Florence Nightingale’s Crimean endeavours ended up killing more soldiers than they saved? Her Nightingale Rose diagram shows the number that died in battle was dwarfed by the thousands who died of infections caught and spread within the confines of the hospital.

Dick Turpin turns out to be a much less impressive loser than his enduring reputation would have you believe, while Queen Boudica (she of the multiple name spellings) almost had the Roman soldiers on the run…

“We had them trapped and outnumbered by twenty to one.”
“Uh, sir, I have to go. My wife’s giving birth…”
“My mum’s giving birth!
I’m giving birth!”

… but her soldiers, so confident that some charged in nekkid, all came a cropper at the impenetrable end of the Roman Tortoise, a wall of shields as strong as its shell with swords and spears sticking out of it.

That Adam Murphy chose conversations with cadavers is essential to the merriment: a long list of facts would have been so, so dull, and besides, kids love corpses. Instead the pun-prone man with the microphone really engages, aggravates and occasionally runs away from his guests in outright terror. It’s a performance like Kermit the Frog’s.

He’s also done his research like any smart interviewer and carefully constructs each episode around the most salient scenes, thus distilling but not distorting the stories, putting them firmly into perspective (especially Joan of Arc’s) and so really making you think! Just as education should be entertaining it should also be engaging: not just force-feeding students facts, but making them think about what they’re learning.

Marie Curie discovered radiation: hurrah! It killed her: hurr-oh! Her notebooks are so radioactive they still can’t be handled safely. Leonardo Da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man (he was both an all-rounder and had a slight helping hand in the Italian Renaissance) so studied the anatomy he painted so well. He then went on to design flying machines and weapons of war – lots of them including a robot! – but bought caged birds to free them and was possibly the only vegetarian in Italy. Unusual in those days. Pirate Anne Bonny initially cross-dressed to fool her crew but then got fooled too when the man she fell in love with turned out to be playing the same game. If you think Murphy could resist “What a drag!” you are very much mistaken.

Almost every conversation is curtailed with a similar pun, begins with a tombstone decorated according to the subject’s most iconic object or association, and is introduced to viewers with a big Kermit flail.

“This week, my guest is a truly timeless classic! It’s the piano prodigy, violin virtuoso, king of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!”

You can almost year the Muppets’ applause.

Like Andi Watson in GLISTER, Adam Murphy does not shy away from deploying what may be new words to young readers like “appellation” and quite right too: if you don’t encounter new words, how can you learn them? You can even learn a little Latin (“Ave!”) and where Crossing the Rubicon came from (clue: crossing the Rubicon).

The book begins with a chronological rabbit warren of graves, tombs and catacombs each denoting a key note in history, crucial for context, dating back from 1969 (Moon landing) to circa 3000 BC when writing was invented and I was aged five.

I leave you with a King Tut titbit in which we learn why the genetically disadvantaged Tutankhamun was a bit rickety on his pins and almost always ill: his dad married his own sister! And so did he!


Buy Corpse Talk Season 1 and read the Page 45 review here

The End (Silver Edition) signed & sketched in (£6-00, Thingsbydan) by Dan Berry.

“14 Days & Counting.”

Well, this will give you pause for thought.

Bound within a luxurious, rough-grained, card-stock cover which had been screen-printed with scarlet, black and silver ink are some of the most sobering pages I’ve read from Dan Berry. Such is the beauty of the cover you might not register at first that the objects which the gold [now silver] adorns are skulls.

It’s closer to CARRY ME in tone that the comedy of CAT ISLAND, THE SUITCASE, HEY YOU! and THROW YOUR KEYS AWAY, but in execution it’s yet another departure. The washes are in a wet, inky black and blue whose sheen is picked up beautifully on the crisp, white, satin paper.

A lot of this takes place at night, which doesn’t always bring out the best in us. We don’t like it when we can’t see what is happening. We don’t like it when we don’t understand what is happening. We don’t react well to that which we cannot control.

Time in particular we feel the need to control: we measure it out in years divided into months or weeks, which we decided should have seven days composed of twenty-four hours each housing sixty minutes and they, sixty seconds. A day makes solar sense, as does a year, but boy we don’t half attach a lot of importance to some of the more arbitrary measurements and a countdown sure gets the adrenalin rushing.

When the numbers first appeared overnight – all of them “14” – they did so on walls and billboards and buses: the sort of places you’d expect from a marketing campaign. So we shrugged because that’s what we assumed it was.

“Thirteen came and went the next day with a chorus of “I told you so” and eye-rolling from the people who kept up with this sort of thing. The progression from 14 to 13 was predictable and had been done to death, they said. If this was to be a truly effective ad campaign, we’d need to given a reason to car and we didn’t have that. 6 /10, must try harder.”

Love the smug, supercilious pundit there in his turtleneck sweater, brandishing a cigarette and tut-tutting with his fingers.

Dan’s put an enormous amount of lateral thought into this, a study in human behaviour under unusual circumstances extrapolated from how we do react to numbers and time. Also, I love the core conceit and where Dan ran with it right to the end.


Buy The End and read the Page 45 review here

Hip Hop Family Tree vol 2 (£20-99, Fantagraphics) by Ed Piskor…

“Why you lookin’ at me like that, Russell?”

Ha! I do love Ed’s portrayal of Russell Simmons, and I am pleased he gets the props here – to use the street parlance – that he so richly deserves, for his huge part in the explosion of Hip-Hop and its subsequent introduction to the club-going and record buying masses. He remains a fascinating bloke to this day, actually: a staunch vegan, transcendental meditation practitioner, and long-time supporter of gay rights, inter-faith dialogue and social activism. But, back in the day, his interests were somewhat more focused on getting paid by finding new musical talent, and having a good time.

That he kept his younger brother out of the studio for so long, despite his ever more vocal protests, is all the more amusing when you know his brother is Joseph Simmons, or as he soon became far better known, Rev. Run of iconic hip-hop grandmasters Run-D.M.C. When he finally let his brother and his mate into the studio, ostensibly to shut them up, Russell quickly realised he had struck not just gold, but multi-platinum. Their first few gigs as a lyrical duo, though, were something of a trial by fire, getting ridiculed for their check jackets and flares stage outfits. Cue one typical flash of Russell Simmons’ genius later, as he spied a casually dressed, hat wearing, sneaker pimped, ghetto blaster toting Jason “Jazzy Jase” Mizell entering the studios whilst debriefing the boys, and the fresh and fly trio of Run-D.M.C. that we know and love today were born. In an era of ever more surreal and outlandish performers’ costumes, their laidback street attire was exactly what was required to appeal to the masses.

The little nugget I have just described above takes up barely a couple of pages of this magnificent second volume, which explores 1981-1983, detailing the continuing, burgeoning public acclaim of the early pioneers like Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and Arika Bambaataa, whilst revealing the childhoods and very early days of future legends like Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and NWA. This series of books, for I assume Ed is going to continue onwards past 1983 which is where this volume concludes, is vital reading for anyone wanting to know more about this era of music. His knowledge of his subject is truly encyclopaedic, but the piecing together of all the various insane anecdotes to produce a coherent and engaging narrative is magnificent craft, and he captures the raw charisma and sheer chutzpah that many of the performers, who had polished their skills on the mean streets the hard way, possessed in abundance. Confidence, usually, was the one area they were not lacking in. Naivety in dealing with record labels, on the other hand…

Just going back to sartorial elegance, or the lack thereof, it takes some believing these days, the outfits some of the early pioneers used to wear. There is a great little scene where someone gets extremely excited over Ice T’s first proto-single simply because he looks like he is straight out of Mad Max. And I am talking Beyond Thunderdome, not Road Warrior… In fact when you look at how Afrika Bambaataa and his acolytes dressed around this period, you can perhaps understand how it wasn’t that big a stretch to someone coming up with the Village People…

I think the connections and friendships Ed details, between various apparently very disparate elements of the wider music and arts scene, particularly in New York, are absolutely paramount to understanding the fast-moving morphology of music at a time where public exposure was also exploding exponentially through MTV, which launched in August 1981. There are some bizarre friendships, occasionally of complete convenience, which you would never expect, yet in retrospect make perfect sense, both musically and indeed fiscally. So when a certain ginger, wild-haired chancer called Malcolm McLaren starts to take an interest in how he can export Hip-Hop to the UK, he insinuates himself into the scene like the veritable social and musical chameleon we now know he was, glad-handing and appropriating everything he needed for his next sonic experiment. Whether the tracks Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the canon of truly great hip-hop records isn’t for me to decide, but we can’t dispute they certainly played their dancefloor-filling part in helping to bring hip-hop to the UK.

I really do hope Ed continues with this work, not least because his still has a few years to go before hitting my own personal era of getting into rap and hip hop, circa 1988. That all began with catching the Public Enemy video for Don’t Believe The Hype on Top Of The Pops one Thursday night and simply thinking, “What on earth is this?” I did already like a bit of Chicago House at that point, probably had heard some of the Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel stuff, but one purchase of “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” later the following Saturday and a lifelong love with that genre had well and truly begun.


Buy Hip Hop Family Tree vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Fish (£6-50, Nobrow) by Bianca Bagnarelli.


Rarely has lilac been employed so effectively (inside – I know the cover’s black cherry), and young Milo’s skin positively glows under the Mediterranean sun.

It’s quite a short piece so I’ll say very little. It’s also the second story about drowning I’ve read in two days.

Milo’s parents drowned and now he is burdened with a sense of loss he finds difficult to express. When he tries, he fails and so he falls silent. His mouth is tiny.

When a girl is washed up on a beach, his curiosity will only make matters worse. Milo has questions which can never be answered.

There’s a stillness here which will leave you staring at each carefully composed page for quite some time. Who knew a prawn would prove so entrancing?

I liked the way Milo wiggles his toes when his legs are dangling over a bridge.

As to the titular fish… no, I’m not going there.


Buy Fish and read the Page 45 review here

Jim h/c (£22-50, Fantagraphics) by Jim Woodring.

“Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll suddenly recall some unspeakable transgression of mine, and the shame and horror I feel will stop me dead in my tracks!”

Oh, that happens to me. All. The. Fucking. Time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not neurotic: I’m deliriously happy at work and with most of the work that I’ve done, but we all have our doubts.

Jim Woodring’s not neurotic, either. He’s a thinker and a visionary and a craftsman with the visual skill and verbal dexterity to express his visions and, here, thoughts and dreams. He understands dream logic: its surreal segues, odd settings and reconfigured cast combinations. I have, before now, shared an apartment with our Mark, Jo Brand, Warren Worthington III (X-Men’s Angel), an old flame and a couple of strangers we found in the bath.

Because Jim Woodring is best known for the silent FRANK fables (there are many volumes now, each extensively reviewed, so please pop “Jim Woodring” in our search engine) what you may be unaware of until now is that the man also has a way with words. Also, an obsession with frogs whose explanation is revealed in a rather dramatic anecdote in Jim’s introduction which touches on his early experiences with Oz and the history of these earliest works in the magazine-sized JIM which Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth had so much faith in that he published them for years at a loss. What Woodring doesn’t do is explain the contents. You know, apart from that giant frog with its permanently arched eyebrow. Anyway, words:

“Once I had a little trust…
“Its burnished head nattered at me in a voice as wild and sullen as my own and led me to walls that sulked and raged and trees that blared fantastic music.
“I stole something poor in those days and everyone cared, for every leaf was seen not merely as green, but all-fulfilling, peaceful, the soul that sustains the whole universe.”

The images that accompany those words show Woodring playing with a puzzle in the countryside while being inspected by his ubiquitous (censorious? certainly serious) two-toed frog, one eye wide-open in judgement.

Woodring was Page 45’s co-creator Mark Simpson’s favourite comicbook craftsman. Both his imagination and introspection spoke to Mark, as well as – oh, how shall I put it? – the wonder of a reality as conceived and conveyed by its shaman. Along with the comics here you will find many a Jimland Novelty advertised in the back which Woodring hand-crafted and sold direct to the likes of our own visionary, Mark: recipes, recordings, sets of postcards and an Escaped Convict Weathervane with prices ranging from two bucks to two hundred dollars.

“Page 35
“One of the very worst nightmares on my entire life reproduced just as recorded on p.35 of my dream journal. Not recommended. Quickly but tellingly drawn. Tiny book, 12 pp. $3.00”

Thank god it wasn’t page 45!

“Impromptu bedtime stories unspooled on demand for our two-and-a-half-year-old son, Maxfield. Sprawling sagas intended to bemuse and sedate, delivered in droning, fibreless voice. Some crying. Half-hour tape… $7.00”

There is the odd silent short included like Trosper, which lingered long with me and – I’ve just consulted – Dee. Painted in full colour (most of this book’s black and white), it starred a baby elephant whose trunk was coiled up like a snail shell. He’s happily absorbed in joyful, solitary play with a ball while protected by a three-eyed fellow whose skin is the colour of peach flesh (yellow with flecks of red towards its centre) and who wields a green scimitar bobbled with berry-like beads all shiny red. A hooded, would-be assassin in ornate robes strikes and Trosper flees in terror. The trauma’s short-lived. Another ball presents itself.

You might have gathered by now that I too am declining to explain. I’m not being coy or evading the risk of being declared wrong because I am on most days the most opinionated bastard I know. But as I wrote on reviewing Jim’s WEATHERCRAFT, these things are better left for readers to interpret for themselves (yourselves, I hope). You get out what you put in – what you bring to the table. Anything I say risks polluting your personal experience just like some music videos used to set in stone so much of a song which could have meant much more to you.

I will only add that the first comic offered in JIM, Seafood Platter From Hell, indicates that Woodring had first-hand knowledge of catching a skate or a ray as have I, for oh my god those devilish mouths and their prodigiously well-hung wangers!

Also, that Big Red will show you another side of your household cat you would rather not know.

Beyond that there are whimsical advertisements for the likes of Niffers which I am 100% positive Alan Moore must have encountered before emulating / adapting them – no doubt subconsciously – in his LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN comics. Niffers were otherworldly, invisible life forms you could invite into your household confident that they could be seen thanks to “a specially patented fluorescent dye-and-medication treatment” and which you could film in stop-motion to render their barely perceptible movements visible. And thereby lies a satori of sorts. “Proof Without Passion” it proudly declares.

Lastly, “Don’t Hit Your Child!” screams a headline for an institution you instinctively suppose to be both benevolent as well as ahead of its day. But its proposed alternative for spoiled brats acting up and so infuriating their parents to their wits’ ends is draconian, to say the least.

“Don’t delay – send ‘em away!”

Possibly effective if they’re ever returned, or damaged beyond repair.


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

Jellaby vol 2: Monster In The City (£9-99, Capstone) by Kean Soo.

Friendship, loyalty and the need to be loved.

Also a lesson in never abandoning your pet, even if it’s an axolotl. Particularly if it’s an axolotl.

New word: axolotl.

Young Portia and Jason have taken infant dragon Jellaby to a daunting city in search of a door they believe will take him home. Even if they don’t really want to lose him. Unfortunately for all concerned they find that door and what lies behind it finds them… attractive.

More grape colouring and big-eyed cartooning for all ages.

For more, please see my review of JELLABY VOL 1

“Jellaby will win your heart”

– Jeff Smith of BONE, RASL and now TUKI fame.


Buy Jellaby vol 2: Monster In The City and read the Page 45 review here

Loki: Agent Of Asgard vol 1: Trust Me s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett.

“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

If Loki is the Norse God of Mischief, then Al Ewing is his British counterpart.

Yay for gratuitous shower scenes! Lee Garbett’s teenage Loki is hot! Also wet. And steamy.

Yay for a pair of Seven League Boots enabling Loki to dash up waterfalls, over rainbows and scale Avengers Tower! Yay for stolen Shadow Thread and Cheshire Cat grins! And yay for trouble-magnet Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye with his perpetually plastered nose, who can get himself into the unlikeliest of muddles even when playing console games.

“I know – “
“You have the army after you and no health and you’re falling out of a crashing plane.”
I know, Nat – “
“It’s a bass fishing simulator, Clint.”
I know! It just – it just happens!”

Oh, this is a most worthy successor to Gillen and McKelvie’s YOUNG AVENGERS towards the end of which Loki enjoyed a sudden growth spurt and now wears black nail varnish. Teenagers! Also, like Fraction and Aja’s HAWKEYE, it kicks off right in the middle when it’s already gone horribly wrong with Loki stabbing Thor in the back with a very big energy sword. I thought they were getting along so much better these days?

But if Loki is the God of Lies, Mischief and Deceit, it probably stands to reason that all is not as it seems. For a start, there is the little question of this series’ sub-title, but who precisely is he working for? Also, how will he get on with Verity Willis whose preternatural skill is to see through lies and illusion? You’d be surprised.

This is fast, fresh and funny as hell with wit-ridden wordplay and plenty of action to boot. IT is, above, great entertainment and that’s what I want from a comic.

Gone is the old, predictable God of Evil with his crooked nose, his goblin eyes and nasty row of teeth. Gone, I say, gone!

Or is he?

As Loki and Lorelei dive-bomb off a passenger jet to break into the most secure cell in Asgardia while Thor provides a ridiculous distraction to avert Heimdall’s ever-watching eyes, the levels of deceit are revealed. Young Loki has played a long game getting where he wants to be, which is access to another cell entirely. But then so has someone else…


Buy Loki: Agent Of Asgard vol 1: Trust Me s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Heroic Legend Of Arslan vol 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Yoshiki Tanaka & Hiromu Arakawa…

A new series from the creator of FULL METAL ALCHEMIST which so far seems to be a straight high fantasy caper starring the young prince Arslan, son of the undefeated and borderline psychopathic warrior King Andragoras of Pars. Arslan seems a rather more civilised sort than his father, so when he is dragged out onto the battlefield at the tender age of fourteen for his first taste of combat, it would be fair to say it’s an eye-opener.

When disaster inevitably strikes Pars, many wonder whether Arslan will be up to the task of reclaiming and rebuilding the kingdom, but of course pledge their loyalty and support – to his face, at least.

I quite enjoyed this, I must say. Given FULL METAL ALCHEMIST‘s melding of fantasy and sci-fi, I kept waiting for the weirdness to kick in, but it does in fact appear this will be a straight period yarn. It has therefore much in common with THE VINLAND SAGA, and from this first volume, is on a par with that excellent series in terms of story and art.




Buy The Heroic Legend Of Arslan vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?

The Monologuist: God And The Devil At War In The Garden (£11-99) by Anders Nilsen

The Fuse vol 1: The Russia Shift s/c (£7-50, Image) by Antony Johnson & Justin Greenwood

Tomboy (£11-99, Zest) by Liz Prince

How To Be Happy h/c (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Eleanor Davis

Invincible Days h/c (£14-99, NBM) by Patrick Atangan

The New Wipers Times (£5-00, Nottingham City Museums) by various

Sisters (£8-50, Scholastic) by Raina Telgemeier

The Star Wars: Lucas Draft s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by J. W. Rinzler & Mike Mayhew

Even More Bad Parenting Advice s/c (£9-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Guy Delisle

Fables vol 20: Camelot (£14-99, Vertigo) by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Russ Braun, Barry Kitson, Andrew Pepoy, Gary Erskine

Green Lantern – New Guardians vol 4: Gods And Monsters s/c (£12-99, DC) by Justin Jordan, Robert Venditti & Brad Walker, Geraldo Borges, Andrei Bressan, Sean Chen

Avengers Undercover vol 1: Descent s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Dennis Hopeless & Kev Walker, Timothy Green, Francesco Mattina

Deadpool Vs. Carnage s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Salva Espin

Fantastic Four vol 1: The Fall Of The Fantastic Four s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by James Robinson & Leonard Kirk


ITEM! Video of Dan Berry sketching in copies of THE END which you will find reviewed up above. All of our copies are sketched in, yes!

ITEM! Sean Phillips interviewed about THE FADE OUT! Which has SOLD out! Review more likely when a second printing arrives. There is a reason it’s sold out, so grab one wherever you can as soon as you can!

ITEM! Eleanor Davis diary comic days one (see HOW TO BE HAPPY in new arrivals).

ITEM! Marc Laming does not skimp on detail. Look at this HULK page!

ITEM! New Tom Gauld cartoon. Funny! Also: guilty!

ITEM! Farel Dalrymple interviewed about THE WRENCHIES – coming soon – which looks utterly phenomenal!

ITEM! Beautiful and tender new comic by Sally Jane Thompson called SCARS free to read online.

ITEM! Publisher First Second’s article on the importance of creator fanbases.

ITEM! Jamie Smart’s online Whubble comic!

ITEM! David O’Connell’s incisive article on the organisation of comicbook conventions: the bare minimum of what should be happening when quite clearly it’s not.


ITEM! Page 45’s signings past and future revealed in a lavishly illustrated Pulp 365 article by Lynda Clark. Thank you, Lynda, so very kind!

– Stephen

Reviews August 2014 week three

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

“It’s raining out, Rick.”
“I walk between the raindrops.”

Aloof, insouciant, he’s exactly like you want your wannabe pop idols to be.

 – Jonathan on Metroland #1

The Heart Of The Beast – A Love Story h/c (£18-99, Dynamite) by Judith Dupré, Dean R. Motter & Sean Phillips.

“Don’t be so nervous, Michael. The masks are simply buffers. They protect us from our real selves.”

Spot the predator!

Four panels later Dr. Wright places a hand proprietorially on Michael’s shoulder, and Sean makes Michael look very unsure.

Welcome to opening night at Dr. Wright’s New York gallery where pretension is de rigeur – and I don’t just mean young huckster Jacob’s flimflam. It’s packed full of self-proclaimed and self-regarding cognoscenti. Investors rather than art lovers salivate over the commodified canvasses while they are liberally plied with any opening night’s main attraction: the free booze.

Tonight it’s being served by aspiring actress Sandy who takes a shine to the surgeon’s right-hand man, the well-built if taciturn Victor who seems curiously always on call. Still, he goes to see her perform; she takes him to the zoo; and Victor shows her the painting he loves most, Rembrandt’s Bathsheba.

Art seems to stir something inside him, while the polar bears elicit an altogether different reaction. As to his past friends and relatives, goodness they seem an unfortunate bunch…! A poet who drowned very young, and a nephew called William murdered by his Auntie Justine who was then hanged for her sins. Something’s just not adding up…

The draw for me is studying the increasingly confident watercolours by a relatively young Sean Phillips (CRIMINAL, FATALE, SLEEPER, THE ART OF SEAN PHILLIPS etc) for this was first published by Vertigo twenty years ago!

There’d been a spate of painted comics like Jon J. Muth’s MOONSHADOW, Kent Williams’ BLOOD, Bill Sienkiewicz’s STRAY TOASTERS followed by Duncan Fegredo’s KID ETERNITY and George Pratt’s ENEMY ACE, and this is closest in style to the first with photorealistic pencils softly enhanced by loose, lambast washes which left a lot of white to keep the pages bright and fresh. The odd bit of photography’s slipped in and jars not one jot after the initial three holiday snapshots, which is extraordinary given that these were the days when Photoshop was just a retail outlet where you got your film developed. Additionally there’s some rather clever work when a second Bathsheba’s discovered. His sneering Jacob is a hideous joy while Sandra herself is an angel.

No, she really is, for enduring Victor’s pontifications and oh-my-god issues! Victor has ALL the issues, tossed out ridiculously early into the dating game and I spent most of the graphic novel screaming at Sandra to run!

And this, I confess, is where the graphic novel falls short. The dialogue is very… stilted in places and its ties to its source material are too tight. (Clues: Victor, Shelley, poet drowning young, those scars on his arm and he’s really much older than he looks: Dr Wright had his surgical work cut out for him, certainly.) On the other hand, “Uh – make that more blue!” made me laugh after another of Jacob’s tirades.

Judith Dupré’s introduction provides a fascinating insight into the 1980s’ art scene (she was a “gallerina”!) while Sean Phillips exhumes some fascinating thumbnails, early design work plus the original Dave McKean-esque cover which was perfect for (and very much of) its day, and he happily chats about the lot.


Buy The Heart Of The Beast – A Love Story h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dark Ages #1 of 4 (£2-99, Dark Horse) by Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard.

“Never have I asked the Lord our God for much, for I never wanted to owe him.”

Very wise, very wise.

“I feel his disapproving eyes on me, most days, and I fear his wrath.
“For it is sudden and it is awful.”

My headmaster had a temper on him too.

Still, there are worse things in the world and indeed off-world as Captain Hawkherst and his not-so-merry men are about to find out.

It is early winter, 1333, in Europe. The Captain’s cadre are tired and hungry. War profiteers, right now times are tough and food is thin on the ground. What they desperately need – and are tempted to pray for – is for hostilities to erupt. Be careful what you wish for.

Up in the sky they spy brand-new heavenly bodies: five oddly shaped stars dancing like diamonds in the night. They appear to be in formation. They are. And they are far from heavenly.


From the creators of NEW DEADWARDIANS which we loved so much we made it a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month comes another historical mash-up, this time medieval in nature: aliens versus chain-mailed, human predators.

Crucially the aliens are indeed suitably alien in aspect, their otherness truly terrifying to Hawkherst, Galvin, Aelfric and co. The hardened veterans actually turn tail and run. They run and seek sanctuary in a mountain-top monastery, but its resident monks prove equally unnerving. Their faces hidden under cowls with but silver beards shining through, they say nothing. They talk to no one. And up in the evening’s cold, obsidian sky something even darker approaches… Something much, much bigger.

Stupendous final and full-page flourish from Ian “I.N.J.” Culbard after an already-chilling opening chapter while Dan Abnett will put the fear of God into you. On so many levels as well.

Its dialogue is suitably sparse and direct, his superstitious soldiers pragmatic all the same. As to his monks, one at least has a tongue as well as an ear to floor, for he has been waiting.

“They’re here.”


Buy Dark Ages #1 and read the Page 45 review here

How The World Was – A California Childhood (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Emmanual Guibert…

“I have wondrous memories of my country before the war.
“It was during the war everything changed.
“A tremendous number of people, soldiers, factory and shipyard workers, spent time on the Pacific Coast. A whole lot of people who knew nothing about California passed through it.
“After the war, which for us lasted four years, the population had doubled.
“That’s a lot, doubled.”

It is indeed. Fascinating biographic prequel from Emmanuel Guibert, the author of ALAN’S WAR: THE MEMORIES OF G.I. COPE, as he delves into the early years of his late friend Alan Cope’s childhood in California. Much as with his wartime memoirs, nothing particularly exciting or untoward happening to Alan during his formative years, spent in the relatively tranquil and idyllic settings of undeveloped 1920s and ‘30s California. The title says it all, really: this is a glimpse into a bygone era, one of neighbourly community and necessary thrift, which would seem like a different planet to the modern-day residents of a State which today compared to nations, ranks all by itself as the world’s eighth largest economy, with all the development for good and ill that entails.



The concept of a silicon valley, to those living amongst the vast lemon groves of yesteryear would, I am sure, seem a concept so fantastical as to be the subject of a Orson Welles-esque, science-fiction, radiophonic drama. That’s if you even had a radio or electricity. Alan’s family did have a radio, but it ran from a car battery that lasted an hour. They didn’t have a car, so it required charging up in the town nearby… Works like this one are important, as they do form part of our shared cultural history. Wars we will never forget, though even those will fade in intensity in the wider public consciousness with time, but sometimes the little things, such as how families and communities in a given locale, in a certain era, interacted and just got by are also extremely important.


Buy How The World Was – A California Childhood and read the Page 45 review here

Metroland #1 (£4-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Ricky Miller & Julia Scheele, Rebecca Strickson, Jazz Greenhill…

“It’s raining out, Rick.”
“I walk between the raindrops.”

Ha, some people just do pretentious spectacularly well. Rick, or Ricky Stardust to give him his full stage name, is one of those people. Obviously his louche life is something of a car crash, as he glams and jams along with his band Electric Dreams, seemingly without a care in the world. I chuckled throughout at his near-continuous snappy comebacks and one-liners. His riposte to an elderly couple sat opposite him stretched out on train is typical of the man…

“These young people have taken this country to the dogs.”
“Your generation took it to the dogs, we’re just living in the kennel.”

Aloof, insouciant, he’s exactly like you want your wannabe pop idols to be. He does have a soft spot for his fellow band member Jess, but you get the impression she’s grown tired of his emotional front and game-playing.



Not sure how much I should read into writer Ricky Miller giving the main character the same first name as his own…! Anyway, just when you think you know precisely what this comic is – a cheeky romcom with a musical backdrop – there’s an existential shift, two in fact, which seemingly bookend the main story. Both are illustrated by different artists in completely contrasting styles, portraying the apparent first meeting, as children, between Ricky and Jess at the seaside, and then an old man, sat alone with his memories in a bed. He’s recounting stories to someone who only he can see. Who the man and his illusory companion, a young girl, are, isn’t revealed to us, but we can perhaps speculate from the context of their conversation. Lovely example of how you can do something bubble-gum fun yet also thought provoking, and indeed stylish if you put your mind to it.


Buy Metroland #1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Beginner’s Guide To Being Outside (£5-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Gill Hatcher…

“I never wanted to sit in the car for five hours just to stay in some freezing shed in Scotland! Why couldn’t we go to Tenerife like last year? That was amazing.”
“Megan, we’ve already been through this…”

There is a wonderfully telling moment early on in this story where Megan’s mother passes her a book, a present from her Gran that is a guide to Scottish wildlife. Obviously her Gran thought it would make perfect educational holiday reading. Utterly unimpressed, Megan notes, however, she can download a free wildlife app, to her ever-present smart phone. Her phone, ipod and handheld games console are her ritual escapes from the mundane world of her mother’s failing relationship with her boyfriend. It’s history repeating itself all over again as far as she is concerned, and she’s not afraid to let her mum know it. Her dig that her dad would probably take her to Tenerife is a bit below the belt, though. Yes, Megan fears she is going to have to endure a very boring and excruciating holiday, but in fact what unfolds is a charming story of connection, perhaps more accurately reconnection, with both her mum and nature itself.


It did also make me smile that said wildlife app proves of far better use and provides considerably more enjoyment to Megan than the book possibly could. It’s a neat little comment on today’s technology, that it needn’t only be used for sequestering ourselves away, but also engaging with, indeed embracing, and learning all about the wider world we live in. I enjoyed Gill’s art too, she manages to express vast landscapes incredibly beautifully with what is a relatively simple style, very different to Oliver East’s, but to the same effect as in his THE HOMESICK TRUANT’S CUMBRIAN YARN. The highlight artistically for me, being an extended daydream sequence where Megan finds herself at play with various animals on land, at sea and in the air. Heart-warming stuff that will have you wanting to grab your walking boots and head out into the countryside for a stroll. Or perhaps your phone and checking out your friends’ holidays on Facebook…


Buy The Beginner’s Guide To Being Outside and read the Page 45 review here

Days (£11-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Simon Moreton…

“…Our street was roof and rhythms, washed out colours and scents of lavender, hot tarmac, watered gardens, big skies.
“But things change.
“By the time I became a teenager this place with its alleyways and hedges, houses and houses, cars and lawns, became a tapestry of banality, an oroborous of suburbia, endlessly eating its own tail.
“’In such streets you could outdream everybody,’ wrote Alan Sillitoe, though I don’t know where he wrote it.
“We tried, with truancies and petty thefts, smoking in woods, with parties at strangers’ houses, and strangers at parties.
“We became cartographers and architects of tiny revolutions.”

Sometimes you need a weight of material for it to make its real impact upon you. Especially auto-biographical work. Take Eddie Campbell’s ALEC, for example. Its individual component books are all wonderful, but taken together, the whole really becomes something more than the sum of the parts, a true chronicle of a life. I had read one or two of Simon’s SMOO comics before, and enjoyed them, but the material compiled here provides an intriguing snapshot into Simon’s formative years, which I suspect were not that atypical to many of us in our various urban boroughs and suburbs.

The closest comparison I could make would be John Porcelino and his KING-CAT comics, though. Both have an elegance and economy of form artistically which suggests the simple yet often emotionally sophisticated messages they wish to convey. I can well imagine Simon could write some pretty good haiku if he was so minded, actually, as I have no doubt could John. Here is a little excerpt that sums up Simon’s time shortly after starting at University…

“Life was strange…
“…and I was lonely.
“But it was an okay sort of lonely.”

If you like autobiographical minis with heart like KING-CAT or perhaps Carrie McNinch’s YOU DON’T GET THERE FROM HERE, I think you will enjoy.


Buy Days and read the Page 45 review here

I Was The Cat h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Paul Tobin & Ben Dewey…

A slight confession at this point… I don’t particularly like cats. There is just something devious about them to my mind that makes them inherently untrustworthy and unlikeable. I am therefore delighted to say… I knew I was right! For Burma the talking cat, currently living the last of his nine lives, is intent on world domination. Again… He always has been for as long as he can remember, which is a very long time indeed, but despite his best attempts, total global domination has always just eluded his grasp. Possibly due to the lack of opposable thumbs making grasping difficult, but still.

So why, now, has Burma hired a journalist, Allison Breaking, to write his memoirs and reveal his existence to the world?! Because he thinks he’s finally going to succeed this time, that’s why! He doesn’t tell Amy his current megalomaniacal plans of course, professing himself to be a reformed feline felon, but we the readers are privy to all the details his dastardly insane plot.


You can tell Paul really enjoyed putting this story together, it is a fabulously funny read, as was a personal previous favourite of mine penned by him, GINGERBREAD GIRL. He really knows how to build a complex story whilst simultaneously keeping the comedy sideshow in full flow. As Burma recounts the sordid tales of his previous eight lives, all the while attempting to influence powerful figures like Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon and various US presidents for his own illicit ends, our journalist and her sidekick chum listen ever more enraptured. There is a very good reason for that rapt attention, all to do with Burma’s latest fiendish scheme…

Exquisitely lovely, indeed felicitous, art from Benjamin Dewey, whom I must profess I am only aware of doing some bits and pieces in HUSBANDS prior to now. But based on this he needs to be doing a lot more because he is extremely talented. I hope Paul and Benjamin have a huge hit with this work, it would be enormously well deserved, and I think they may well might, for whilst I am not a cat lover, I know pretty much everyone else is. Indeed, you might well feel there are worse things than the ruler of the entire world being a talking cat. So, the only question that remains I suppose is will I be more satisfied by the ending or will you…?


Buy I Was The Cat h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Street Angel h/c (£14-99, Adhouse Books) by Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg ~

“STREET ANGEL might not be the kind of comic (excuse me, “graphic novel”) that the New York Times is writing up these days. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun than those books are. I like fun comics that knock me on my ass. That’s why I like STREET ANGEL. Rugg and Maruca handle comic book and action genre tropes, pop culture kitsch, superhero parody and other beaten horses with aplomb. Yes, that’s right, I said aplomb. I’ve been saving that word for twenty years now just to use it here.”

– Evan Dorkin, from his introduction.

Jesse Sanchez is Street Angel. Homeless, skateboarding defender of the ghetto. Whooping the butts of Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Rednecks, Were-Sharks and Evil Scientists everywhere, while managing to stay in school just long enough for morning registration. It’s like I’m 10 again and someone’s emptied out my toy box and started making all the assorted figures have a huge brawl. STREET ANGEL has all the traits of a boy’s favourite toy too. Consider the facts:

a) She got wheels. Everyone knows skateboards make toys 100% cooler.
b) She’s a she. Boy’s don’t tend to have lots of female action figures, the ones they have they cherish. Or maybe that was just me…

Enough of the dodgy analogy. Maruca’s art is kinetic when action is called for with compositions that the likes of Frank Miller should be doing. Titles spelt out in the glass from the window Jesse’s has just been thrown through – class! It pops out at you from the page. From the moment you see its striking pink cover to the dark Nickelodeon-esque adventures inside, this book demands your attention. I suggest you take notice.


Buy Street Angel h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Doctor Grordbort Presents Onslaught h/c (£15-99, Titan) by Greg Broadmore.

I say, young man, do get a grip!

Fillies, avert your fluttering eyes for fear of faint-heartitude!

This is the roast beef of cartoonographs: old school, cocksure Colonialism gone steampunk in space. A balanced education is vastly overrated, but patriotic propaganda can never come too early into a child’s life! This edition collects all three of the previous books.

“Unnecessarily violent tales of science adventure for the simple and unfortunate,” it stars Lord Cockswain – “the man, the myth and the muttonchops” – in explosive, expletive-ridden episodes of comicbook triumphalism immolating google-eyed aliens, be they semi-sentient like Johnny Foreigner or fit for the trophy room. Join him as he blasts his way through alien civilisations until they’re no longer alien. Or civilised. Until, in fact, they are simply no longer.

Lord Cockswain will not be tricked into getting “in touch” with his feelings either by lackey or the rudest aliens ever encountered throughout the whole of Christendom. Do you think that their goading jibes are the result of nature or nurture? The answer is sure to astound!

Betwixt these incendiary outings designed to offend vegetarians, people of peace and other defects of nature there will be found film and beverage posters sure to strengthen your bow, put the kiss in your curl or just make their corporate originators a piss-load of lolly.

Additionally we present honest advertisements for ray guns of a ‘retro’ persuasion like The Deal Breaker and The Saboteur during which the copywriter “paid a pittance to write this tosh” may stray into sassing the prospective purchaser with an elaborate string of Yo Mama jokes. Unorthodox!

Take a closer look at the Ray-Blunderbuss affectionately known as ‘The Unnatural Selector’ with an Interesting Scientific Fact: “The Unnatural Selector will render a yard-wide aperture in a giraffe at 60 feet, and give a blue whale a nasty rash through 200 yards of saltwater.”

Perhaps you are a maiden in want of munitions? Try the Silver Mantiss 99se Thin Cone Death Beam: “This cultured ray-pistol is the weapon of choice for young ladies around town these days. Its sublimely polished exterior and refined aesthetics mean you can turn a common brigand into common chemical constituents, and not for a moment seem uncouth or affected. Once fired, the now-heated barrel could be used to roller your hair and the mirror finish could be used in a pinch to check your blusher and rouge. It probably does other girly things too, like flower arrangement, but that’s just a guess.”

There’s a special feature on the Venusian savages, none of whom can be relied on to accomplish decent trigonometry, one strain of which, moreover, has “quite disgusting tentacles – like he started eating an octopus then got bored and gave up”.

I was so stiffened by this stirring tome that I myself have already registered with the Earth Elite Forces, and hope to rise through their ranks at a swift yet gentlemanly pace, thence to the far reaches of space in the name of Queen and Country.

Also, I may not know my pile-plagued arse from my lawn-tennis elbow, but I can assure you of this: Baron von Broadmore can paint! What he paints is not pretty but it is lovely to look at. Does that make any sense to you? Nor does this. Utter balderdash!


Buy Doctor Grordbort Presents Onslaught h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Preacher Book vol 5 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon.

Attitude on a stick, reading this series is like listening to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads. It’s brutal and bloody and fucking hilarious. It stars a wayward preacher whose parish has been nuked by a force from Heaven and Hell which gives him the power of God’s Word. When he uses The Word his eyes glow red, and you will do what he tells you to no matter how anatomically improbable. Now he’s off in search of God to make Him apologise for abandoning His creation, and along for the ride are his ex-alcoholic ex-hitwoman ex-girlfriend and a vampire with an uncanny resemblance to Shane MacGowan. I’m not saying Shane MacGowan necessarily drinks blood, but look at the bloody state of him!

Along the way they’ll bump into Jesse’s own family, the vituperative Herr Starr who loses at least one limb per volume, impressionable Kurt Cobain fan Arseface who tried to emulate his idol and is now left with a gaping hole in his mouth and a subsequent speech impediment, plus the last remaining bloodline of Christ who is a delinquent and drooling moron.

Deliriously funny, spectacularly violent and highly blasphemous to boot, this nonetheless boasts at its heart a strong moral core: it’s about friendship, loyalty and doing the right thing.

Exceptional character acting by artist Steve Dillon.

(Have some fun: print this out, bring it in without telling me and ask me to describe this series on the shop floor. I’ve used exactly same words ever since it first came out!)

These are new, chunkier editions without individual titles, this one contains #41-54


Buy Preacher Book vol 5 and read the Page 45 review here

Kings Watch vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Dynamite) by Jeff Parker & Marc Laming.

Oh, this is terrific!

And I’m specific about “terrific”, an adjective that conjures up Boys’ Own action, adventure and full-out fun!

Brace yourselves!

“It’s happening all over the world, you know. The people you used to protect, they’re all having nightmares of what’s coming. You wouldn’t know that, magician. You keep your dreams sealed, don’t you –“
“Silence, demon. You have no knowledge that I want.”
“Then why did you enter this room, where you keep me imprisoned? It’s okay, Mandrake. I’ll tell you what it is. It’s the end of the world.”


The action kicks off with the same Bam! Bam! Bam! as the penultimate episode of Doctor Who – Catherine Tate’s season. Each protagonist gazes up at a sky that should not be: Mandrake the magician turns away from his East Californian window and the demon who goads him; the Phantom in his East African jungle shields his eyes; Dale Arden’s sentence trails off in sheer disbelief. Something is coming…

I’ll be perfectly frank: I read this because I saw the artist of THE RINSE on the credits, and I will read anything drawn by Marc Laming. It’s not that his chisel-jawed men wink like nobody’s business – though they do – or that his women are some of the most curvaceous in comics – though they are, and with the best hair ever! It’s the sheer thrill of seeing immaculate, beautifully finished layouts whether quiet and measured as in Dale Arden’s office or filling the entire page when an African Elephant is startled and savaged by some red, reptilian, bipedal beast so massive it virtually smothers the bull. Cue tree-top choreography and yowsa! He doesn’t skimp on details, either, like a driveway’s locked gates.

I really have no idea who The Phantom or Mandrake are, though I am peripherally aware of their existence, nor do I have any lingering love for Flash Gordon let alone read of his exploits in comics. But this snaps together seamlessly, and – you know what? – we are allowed to have fun!

Great big tip of the hat to colour artist Jordan Boyd whose palette glows with red, purples and green while keeping the whole soft with careful lighting and by refraining from throwing everything at us at once.

So yes, there is a spatial anomaly slithering and crackling in the sky; visions abound of whip-wielding, spear-throwing nightmares on rough-horned steeds; the media is full-throttle in scare-mongering mode and, oh… look who’s just made the perfect landing in a spaceplane on his dad’s carefully manicure croquet lawn. It’s the permanently thirsty Professor Zarkov and his irrepressively chirpy blonde pilot. I imagine there’s a universe to become saviour of.

The plane is powered by a Quantum Crystal whose ion pulses shortcut space and gravity. Unfortunately it’s not the only one on the planet. Mandrake’s missus and The Cobra have the other and they too will be using it to shortcut space and open a channel to a world of warriors where a maniac called Ming has been waiting. Waiting for the people of Earth to become so reliant on technology that whipping it away will prove crippling.

Under Jeff Parker Flash Gordon has becoming a polo-playing dab hand at almost everything that seems unimportant but may just prove vital, while Professor Zarkov is an iconoclast who doesn’t take himself too seriously. And I like that.

“The ionic drive is reacting oddly – it’s not done that before!”
“I trust it. You’re the most brilliant physicist alive.”
“That’s just what I tell you, you loon!”

There’s lots and lots of back-matter including the first chapter’s script and that monkey Marc’s always-impressive design work including multiple covers that never quite made it whose compositions fill without overcrowding the page, each of which would have been terrific anyway. There’s that word again: terrific.


Buy Kings Watch vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Thanos: The Infinity Revelation h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin…

“But the more complex my existence becomes, the more often I stumble upon questions without answers. What drives me on is the unravelling of these riddles.”

The latest release in Marvel’s ‘OGN’ (original graphic novel) range sees the mad Titan and his long-term nemesis and sometime ally, Adam Warlock, partnered up to investigate a cosmic disturbance. Something unsettling is occurring and it would seem our grandiose, granite-chinned philosopher, quite unbeknownst to him, is firmly intended to be at the very epicentre of events by the likes of Infinity, Eternity and the Living Tribunal.

I do understand the concept behind Marvel’s OGN series, that there should be interesting and enticing material which people who perhaps are not currently surfing the continuity conveyor belt of monthly titles ought to be able to just pick up and read. To lure them onto said conveyor belt, obviously. Much like classic one-offs such as X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS used to do. These current OGN’s don’t necessarily have the same appeal to the these-days saturated masses of Marvel fandom, possibly also conversely in part because they aren’t considered sufficiently canon, but still, it is a worthwhile premise if executed well.

Which this most assuredly is. To me, characters who don’t have monthly series are ideal for this type of work. And, if they have a certain cachet with readers, then obviously so much the better. This type of story is also perfect for Starlin, the writer, to work his magic on. Esoteric, existential, encompassing the more mysterious elements (the few there are left in the Marvel Universe), it in places did remind me of his early WARLOCK material. It isn’t quite so out there, but still, it’s nice to see a Marvel comic that actually makes the reader think and reflect a bit.

Note: Art-wise, he’s clearly still got it as well. Also, he has the most surreal bio picture I think I have ever seen. It’s certainly a statement… Fans of INFINITY GAUNTLET-related malarkey should lap this up as a nice little coda. Or, perhaps in fact it’s an interlude… I am sure we will find out.


Buy Thanos: The Infinity Revelation h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Uncanny X-Force: Rick Remender Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena, Leonardo Manco, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Robbi Rodriguez…

Here was my review of the original volume one. Note: I actually do think it can now be considered a classic run*. For my mind, Remender is up there with Jonathan Hickman for his ability to blend and blur the lines between sci-fi and superheroes, as with his UNCANNY AVENGERS run which is in effective a quasi-sequel to this material.

“The game is on… probably has been for some time. Which means we’re already out of time. God as my witness, Logan, one way or another, no matter what the cost… I’m going to kill Apocalypse.”

Perhaps like me, at the conclusion of the excellent X-over SECOND COMING, you inwardly groaned at the prospect of yet another X-Force reboot (it’s never been the strongest X-title, let’s be honest, firstly because of the writing and secondly because of the art!) containing not only those hardy perennial fanboy favourites Wolverine, Deadpool, Archangel and Psylocke but also the – no doubt next to take the title of the most overexposed and overused X-character – Fantomex.

Happily, though, UNCANNY X-FORCE has completely confounded all my doubts and appears, at this very early stage, to have the potential to be a classic run* in the making. The writing from Rick Remender is thankfully of the more speculative fiction approach successfully adopted by Ellis on his X-runs, with some delightfully choice splashes of dark Deadpool humour injected in suitably small doses here and there.

If future plot arcs compare to this first outing where the team decide that killing the recently reincarnated Apocalypse whilst he’s still an innocent, angelic schoolboy would be a rather sensible idea (albeit whilst he’s protected by his most extreme bunch of equine enforcers yet), then we could be in for a real treat. And gone too thankfully is the whirling dirge-ish art from the previous run. As I noted in X-NECROSHA, there were portions in the X-Force sequences where you really couldn’t tell who was who, it literally was so dark. Instead both Leonardo Manco and Jerome Opeña impress, and I should actually also compliment the two colourists whose choice of palette, in combination with the fine illustration, very much helps give this the feel of a different, more worthy X-title. Less superhero, more sci-fi. So far, so good.

Collects UNCANNY X-FORCE #1-19 and #5.1, and material from WOLVERINE: ROAD TO HELL #1.


Buy Uncanny X-Force: Rick Remender Complete Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Terra Formars vol 1 (£8-99, Viz) by Yu Sasuga & Ken-Ichi Tachibana…

I finished the first volume of this and I couldn’t actually decide if I had enjoyed it or not. Given it is on Viz’s Signature Ikki imprint that usually denotes a strong storyline, this just felt like far too much of a battle manga, as did MARCH STORY which we barely sold any of, as opposed to the rest of the Signature Ikki titles which have been brilliant. It might develop, I guess. I liked the initial premise that a group of astronauts were being sent to Mars to reconnoitre whether the terraforming had been successful. The three-century process had involved vast quantities of cockroaches, which actually does make perfect sense scientifically when it is explained, thus part of this mission was to subsequently eradicate them. Under the harsh Martian conditions and the extreme process, however, the cockroaches have evolved at a rapidly accelerated rate, becoming humanoid in size whilst retaining the proportional strength and speed à la Spider-Man.

So far, so plausible, just about, but where it started to get a bit ridiculous for me was when it is revealed that each of the astronauts, who we find out are not willing explorers at all, have had different insects’ DNA combined with their own to give them powers which are temporarily activated by the injection of a serum. There’s also a slightly pantomime side-plot between rival national elements within the global space agency responsible for the mission. Like I say, it might develop, I do love GANTZ after all, which is as absolutely preposterous as it gets plot-wise, and still unfathomably increasingly so as it careens to a conclusion whilst retaining its addictive rush. But this didn’t have the immediate grab for me that GANTZ, or indeed say the Signature Ikki title BIOMEGA did. I will probably give the second volume a go and see, I guess.


Buy Terraformars vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?


Fish (£6-50, Nobrow) by Bianca Bagnarelli

The Killer Omnibus vol 2 s/c (£18-99, Archaia) by Matz & Luc Jacamon

Hip Hop Family Tree vol 2 (£20-99, Fantagraphics) by Ed Piskor

Jellaby vol 2: Monster In The City (£9-99, Capstone) by Kean Soo

Jim h/c (£22-50, Fantagraphics) by Jim Woodring

Bravest Warriors vol 3 s/c (£10-99, Kaboom) by Joey Comeau & Mike Holmes

The Death Of Archie: A Life Celebrated (£10-99, Archie Comics) by Paul Kupperberg & Fernando Ruiz, Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy

Judge Dredd Casefiles 23 (£19-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Pat Mills, Garth Ennis, Robbie Morrison, Gordon Rennis & Carlos Ezquerra, John Higgins, John Burns, others

Lucifer Book 4 (£22-50, Vertigo) by Mike Carey & Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, Marc Hempel, P. Craig Russell, Ronald Wimberly

Zaya h/c (£22-50, Magnetic) by Jean-David Morvan & Huang-Jia Wei

Batman Incorporated vol 2: Gotham’s Most Wanted s/c (£12-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham

Batman: Arkham Unhinged vol 3 s/c (£12-99, DC) by Derek Fridolfs & various

Batman: Arkham Unhinged vol 4 h/c (£18-99, DC) by Karen Traviss & various

Justice League Dark vol 4: The Rebirth Of Evil s/c (£12-99, DC) by J.M. DeMatteis, Jeff Lemire & Mikel Janin

Daredevil vol 6 s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Javier Rodriguez, Chris Samnee, Matteo Scalera

Journey Into Mystery: Kieron Gillen Complete Collection vol 2 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Matt Fraction, J.M. DeMatteis & Carmine Di Giandomenico, Richard Elson, Alan Davis, Stephanie Hans, Barry Kitson

Loki: Agent Of Asgard vol 1: Trust Me s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett

The Punisher vol 1: Black And White s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Nathan Edmondson & Mitch Gerads

Attack On Titan vol 13 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

Attack On Titan: Before The Fall vol 2 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

Dorohedoro vol 13 (£9-99, Viz) by Q. Hayashida

The Heroic Legend Of Arslan vol 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Yoshiki Tanaka & Hiromu Arakawa


ITEM! Things That Make Angry one-page comic by Lizz Lunney! I cannot play lute.

ITEM! Magical stop-animation: Soft Spot by Philippa Rice and Luke Pearson

ITEM! Delightful comics by Tara Abbamondi. Hoping to stock her stuff soon!

ITEM! Autobiographical online cookery comic by Becky Cloonan – as you’ve never seen her before!

ITEM! Preview of Liz Prince’s TOMBOY!

ITEM! Eloquent and perceptive, in-depth article on the very nature of comics and our inadequate vocabulary when discussing their creation and absorption by Paul Duffield. Much food for thought!

ITEM! Bill Sienkiewicz and David Mack both deliver passionate, eloquent and inspirational interviews on what being an artist means to them, and being involved in Allan Amato’s The Temple Of Art project.

ITEM! Acclaimed games writer Leigh Alexander interviews Bryan Lee O’Malley about SECONDS!

Thanks to everyone who flocked to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SECONDS signing this Monday and filled the shop with such fun. Even by my standards I was a disgrace (drunk, disorderly and utterly rapacious), but everyone left grinning their socks off.

SECONDS is out of print now until September but At The Time Of Typing we have 28 copies signed by Bryan to see us through! We do mail order worldwide or you can select “collect in store” and one will be waiting for you.

So grateful to Bryan Lee O’Malley and to Sam at SelfMadeHero for making this happen, and to Dominique and Jonathan for running the signing so smoothly.

Photos by Sam Humphrey at SelfMadeHero. Possibly one by me. I lost track. Of everything.

– Stephen

Reviews August 2014 week two

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Cracks quickly appear in some relationships as things start to go wrong, sometimes in quite shocking ways. And when those cracks cause a split, they do so in the panels themselves which divide into two as the lovers go their separate ways. Then some very interesting things start to happen…

 -Stephen on Ray Fawkes’ The People Inside.

The Ring Of The Nibelung h/c (£22-50, Dark Horse) by P. Craig Russell after a bloke called Wagner.

I had four full pages of notes on this, three more than I managed for Chemistry ‘O’ Level which kind of explains my results back then.

This big, thick hardcover contains all four operas in Wagner’s Ring sequence: The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, The Gotterdammerung.

To deliver a truly faithful adaptation – one with even a hope of stirring a reading audience as the original moves a crowd – Craig cannot and does not rely solely on plot and dialogue; a visual interpretation of mere lyrics would omit most of the power and the subtle weave of any opera delivered by the music. ‘O Mio Bambino Caro’ is, on paper, y’know, a fine set of poetry, but when sung so tenderly, so majestically in harmonious concert with music so heart-rendingly poignant (plaintive, aspirational, delicate?), it becomes something extraordinary. And that’s just a single aria.

An opera uses many devices to convey ideas and development to cue the audience subconsciously throughout its duration and Russell has thought long and hard about translating these into sequential art. He’s taken musical leitmotifs – signatures denoting individual characters, objects and even concepts such as love, regret, power and choice (sometimes combined in a single sequence, hinting at thoughts, informing the action and even able, I’d imagine, to add therefore a level of dramatic irony) – and turned them into visual cues.

One glimpse at the prelude is enough to prove just how accomplished, how ingenious an adaptation this is. The opening sequence is ‘silent’; it begins quietly with a single finger in blue line and pencil, on which a drop of water swells. It falls into its own ocean to form ripples then waves in an expanding aqueous body, from which a fresh green seedling – the first hint of colour – emerges. By the bottom panel on that first page the tree has grown older than the oak, joined to three shrouded women by twine; and from its roots flows a river, reflecting the aurora above.

That’s the creation of the universe on page one. It also sets up three of the four central elements which bind the four operas: water & light, the tree and the sword. Three further pages, reduced to a sandy tone, provide the rest of the background whilst implying consequences for the events to follow. The great god Voton, introduced by his shadow, wanders into picture, stoops to drink then spies, beyond the thread of fate, a woman who will be his wife and goddess of wedlock, Fricka (three small panels inlayed repeat the earlier sequence, as a drop of water falls from his chin). One of the three hooded women (or Norn) then plucks out Voton’s left eye, leaving behind the gift of inner vision, but suddenly her knowing confidence is shattered as Voton reaches up into the tree and breaks off a branch. He fashions it into a spear, takes Frika by the hand and departs, leaving behind him the tree fast falling into autumn then winter. The final four panels close in ominously on the wound inflicted on the tree, until all we can see is the hollow darkness.



Several of these images and refrains will be reprised within the major body as the story unfolds. It’s a classic, dynastic tale of love, lust, envy, power, greed, wealth, rejection, duty, treachery, sacrifice and progeny. The dynasty involved is that of the gods of German mythology, and what a familiar pantheon they are! Voton, one-eyed and lustful, as impetuous in love as he is in wrath and for all his supposed wisdom, the perpetual victim of his own stupendously rash promises. He bears the weight of his responsibilities on his own faltering shoulders, and since his wife is goddess of marriage, you just know he’s going to be unfaithful. One of his stormy sons wields a hammer, one of his daughters has been sworn as payment to a couple of giants (none of Voton’s children receive much in the way of paternal care), and although he doesn’t appear to be related as he is in Norse mythology, there’s Logé, the flattering trickster.

The Rhinegold is essentially a fable of power versus love, of the choice between them, catalysed by the theft of said gold from the waters of the Rhine. Alberich the troll, cruelly taunted and scorned by three prick-tease mermaids has nothing to lose in love, so rejects it to steal the metal then fashion it into a ring which gives him absolute power over his race. And love must be rejected to wield that power, that’s the bargain. But news spreads fast of this new poisoned chalice, and when it reaches the heavens, via Logé of course, the consequences may prove devastating.


The Valkyrie moves some of the action back down to Earth where Voton’s been a busy boy. Once more the set up is a combination of familiar themes and plot points: lost siblings, unholy love, the treachery of children, the will of the gods, and the duty of husbands and kings. In the previous opera Voton has been warned about the Twilight of The Gods, the doom that awaits them, and in the sequence which links the two (once more combining water, light, the tree and now the sword, in panels that echo the prelude), Russell shows us Voton’s solution, the creation of a sword. This he hopes will be unsheathed from the tree into which he thrust it, by someone worthy, someone over whom he has no direct influence. But he only goes and shags a mortal to sire this someone! And if that weren’t enough to raise Frika’s ire, that very son soon falls in love with his own twin sister, already married to the man whose house is built round this tree. None of which is going to go down well with protectress of wedlock. Add in another tragic offspring, Brunhildé, one of the Valkyrie, Voton’s daughter once again and the literal embodiment of his will (his actual will, not his stated position), and you’ve one family circle that’ll never be squared. I can’t tell you how cleverly it all comes together – the whole sword, fate and progeny thing – because there’s a final twist, a ramification of the incest which has yet to be played out, with Craig once more excelling himself in the final panel foreshadowing the next round.

If all of this wasn’t enough, it’s just occurred to me that there may be many as yet unfamiliar with P. Craig Russell as an artist. On the basis of his work on SANDMAN #50 alone he is justly celebrated.


His command of symbolism through design is beautiful to behold, and above all he’s just one of the most flat-out attractive visual craftsmen. And if you’ve never seen his pencils you’re in for an additional treat, for some of the preliminary sketchwork is reproduced in the back, bursting with a Renaissance eroticism reminiscent of Donatello, Caravaggio and the less burly examples of Michelangelo.

In some ways it’s not an easy book – it’s only fair to warn you that the language throughout retains the original formality which some may find initially stilted or foreboding – but its appeal is broader than I initially suspected. I’ll probably receive some flack for this comparison, but the combined scenario and linguistic approach is really not far from a cross between Shakespeare and SANDMAN.

Which should shift a few units.


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

Lazarus vol 2: Lift s/c (£10-99, Image) by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark.

I swear this will speak to you: a series centred on family, loyalty and power.

In the very near future America’s economy has imploded, its political system has collapsed and its State structure has melted away, replaced by territories ruled by families with the most money. Money buys food, money buys guns and money buys people.

It is a feudal system, an archetypal pyramid structure with each Family at the top, a selected few Serfs with key skills in the middle, and the Waste toiling the land or eking out whatever living they can with little or no protection while paying a punitive tax.

The Family Carlyle have invested heavily in augmentation technology, bestowing it on daughter Forever who now acts as their ultimate protection. She’s been trained to the peak of human physical fitness in both armed and unarmed combat. She has enhanced regenerative capabilities closely monitored and backed up at base. But in LAZARUS VOL 1 someone sent Forever a message:


This is where it gets really juicy.

Out in rural Montana, farmers Joe and Bobbie find no help forthcoming as their land is deluged with rain, the river bursts its banks and their home along with everything they own is swept away by the flood. Leaving their land means losing it, but they see no other option than to journey 500 miles to Denver in the hope that their daughter Leigh, their son Michael and his girlfriend Casey be elevated to Carlyle Serfs in the next Lift Selection in a fortnight’s time. They will have to compete with 100,000 others for very few places, but first they will have to survive bandits roaming the open country.

Meanwhile, Forever discovers corruption in the Guard Corps and an active terrorist cell whose attentions seem focussed on Denver where the eldest Carlyle son Stephen is overseeing The Lift. And then there’s that message:


I think I know who sent it.

Flashback to the Southern Sierra Navada Facility where a young Forever is in training:

“I’m trying to remember… when was the last time I saw her, James?”
“On her birthday, Mister Carlyle… so just over five months ago.”
“Then this should be a pleasant surprise.”
“I’m sure it will. Forever! There’s someone here to see you.”

A thrilled Forever throws herself across the lawn, hugging her father at the waist, her beaming face pressed against his stomach.

“I’m so happy to see you! No one told me you were coming!”
“And is this the proper way to greet your father?”

She steps back, head bowed, ashamed.

“No, sir. Sorry, sir. It’s a pleasure to see you again, father.”

I said this was a series about family and power. That and subsequent scenes are very telling: Carlyle doesn’t want Forever’s love; he demands her loyalty instead, using her status as a family member – and a subservient one at that – to consolidate it. He sets her in combat against her skilled trainer, Marisol, and though she acquits herself well, Forever fails.

“I think we both know your apology is meaningless. Our enemies would not hear it, because you would be dead. Your mother and I and your siblings would not hear it, because we would likely be dead too.
“You’re not ready to wear the sword. I wonder, in fact if you should be allowed to wear the name Carlyle at all. The next time I visit, you will defeat Marisol… or you will no longer be permitted to call yourself my daughter.”

In a later visit he even addresses her as “my daughter”. Who does that except royalty, and in the expectation of obeisance?


Forever’s relationship with Marisol is very touching, their mutual affection strained not for one second by what they are commanded to do or ordered to endure. They endure quite a lot.

As for Bobbie, Joe, Leigh, Michael, and Casey, one of them too will discover harsh truths about the Carlyle family, the Lift Selection (Rucka’s really thought that through, including scanning for physical impairments not for automatic exclusion but so that they can be compensated for during the tests if easily corrected at a later date), but above all they will witness first-hand how much loyalty is prized above all else.

LAZARUS would be immeasurably poorer without artist Michael Lark, here with Brian Level and colours by Santi Arcas. Quite why he’s not on the cover is beyond me (Note: the above isn’t the actual cover). He does youth – as well as age, wear and tear of which there is much – phenomenally well. There’s both a natural softness (vulnerable is not a word I’d employ) and a resilient determination in the younger Forever’s face and posture. Her body may be slight, but it is already precociously capable, Lark giving you no doubts whatsoever about that.

I’ve always loved Lark’s urban landscapes, but here he proves master of hard-earth textures and sweeping, country panoramas even within a third-of-a-page panel overlooking the rain-drenched procession towards Denver. Arcas’ subtly clouded skies are worth poring over too.

As for the crowded camp scenes at a distance, those are so, so tricky, but Lark pulls them off with the exact amount of detail a human eye would be able to take in and no more.

I will shut up now before I’m accused of gushing.


Buy Lazarus vol 2: Lift s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The People Inside h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Ray Fawkes.

“Look what you did to me.”

This a book about love in its myriad guises and even disguises so whatever you think that means, you’ll be thinking again when you get to it.

From the creator of ONE SOUL which stunned us so much we made it a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month – and indeed MERCY which I don’t believe anyone else has for sale in the UK – this sets out to achieve something similarly inclusive but not the same, in a format that’s similarly ingenious… but not the same.

For most unsettling results, read when my age or older.

For most effective results I suggest reading it as soon as possible after your teens.

Of course we don’t necessarily know whether we’re in love or in lust, merely infatuated or completely insane. I’ve been in relationships under all four of those spells and sometimes it’s only in retrospect that you can tell one from the other. What this will make starkly clear, however, is that there is no time to lose by settling for lies or second best when aware that you are doing so.

It begins with six square panels on one page and six square panels on the other, each containing couples in a “Here we are” on-the-threshold moment: the current status, ostensibly, of their relationships. These and subsequent snapshots are either married to or contradicted by the private thoughts – brief mental impressions – of the panels’ occupants and, obviously, the couples aren’t always in synch with each other.

Cracks quickly appear in some relationships as things start to go wrong, sometimes in quite shocking ways. And when those cracks cause a split, they do so in the panels themselves which divide into two as the former lovers go their separate ways. Then some very interesting things start to happen…

Like ONE SOUL, the individuals’ stories continue until they don’t and the panels black out one by one as they die either alone or leaving their partners bereft. Or not. As you can probably tell I’m trying to avoid any form of spoiler whatsoever, but I can assure you that Fawkes has thought of almost every possible permutation, confrontation and complication in a relationship.

Some of this is unbelievably harsh, some of it very affecting.

Some pages move on by mere moments, between others there is an autumnal interlude which may last more than a single season or year. Trajectories aren’t always linear. Relationships need to be worked at, constantly and some can be repaired just as others can be sabotaged. Beware the distraction.

To say “the art does its job” would be to understate the accomplishment, for whilst Fawkes isn’t a very accomplished draughtsman he is a superb visual storyteller, as clear as clear can be, and there are new innovations here on top of the massive leap that ONE SOUL represented which kick off so cleverly after the first twenty-five pages.

Fawkes is also a fine designer and I love the matching covers between the two books which are very much companion pieces.

Just… don’t leave this until your dotage.


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

Gary‘s Garden Book 1 (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Gary Northfield.

“I fear the jungle is all too quiet, Chompy. Danger hides behind the silence, ready to pounce.”
“What are you talking about? What jungle?”

Have you even seen my garden?!

It’s like something out of Sleeping Beauty. Apparently there’s a canal at the bottom of it, but unless you have a machete then you will probably never know.

Welcome to the garden, dear readers, home to world-renowned, instantly recognised household name… Gary Whatsisface.

So much happens there both behind Gary’s back and right under his nose. By day there is danger! By night there is bin-raiding derring-do! His kitchen and store-cupboards are subject to daylight robbery. Even Gary’s boxer shorts are on the line! The washing line, that is. Or they were.

From the creator of THE TERRIBLE TALES OF THE TEENYTINYSAURS, I gleefully present barrels more buffoonery in which the Cartoon King of bugged-out eyes and shriek-squealing shenanigans sets his sights on suburban denizens of the dank, its tree-top scurriers and worriers, its frond-fond failures and other long-grassed losers: spiders, caterpillars, butterflies; worms, moles and tadpoles; rats, bats and bluebottle flies… all going about their day-to-day, survival of the twittest, ultra-competitive business.

In ‘First Legs’ you will weep when witnessing the loneliness of being a late developer.

In ‘Terrence The Snail’ you will slime as fast as you can slither straight back to Mum.

And on page 45 (of all places) you will wonder whether you can love a girl with a poo hanging out of her bum. Can you?

(Clue: guppies in a fish tank: they have strings of poo hanging out of their bums. They really do!)

Once more, it is the innate understanding of what will make a kid cry with laughter and squeal uncontrollably “Ewwww!” that so successfully informs a comic like this: the one-two punchline of ‘Noisy Neighbours’ is designed specifically to send its readers screaming back to their parents and thrust it in front of their faces. Warning: may prove counter-productive to your parental 5-a-day drive!

There are recurrent jokes you may only spot in the background, I love the slightly outmoded names (Penny the pigeon, Cyril the bumblebee, Rupert the squirrel, Ronald the spider) and the colours… oh, the colours are sublime! I take you back to those tadpoles.

Perspective also plays a vital role: what to this diminutive, ugly-bug ball of buffoons is a Transdimensional Televisor is to us but a toilet roll they’re treadmilling through the open French Windows. What to Gary is a delightful bird-twitter of song is a mockery through mimicry of what our bearded baboon really seems and sounds like. Self-deprecation is a superb source of comedy and Gary Whatsisface – here like the Johnny Morris of mismanaged comics – has mastered it.

In the back as a bonus feature is a game of Gary’s Garden Top Chumps as in Trumps. I loved Top Trumps! It acts both as a character guide and as a fully playable game. You don’t have to cut out your comic but can download and print out then cut out the lot from THE PHOENIX comic website. Brilliant!

Skill sets are: Intelligence, Heroism, Grumpiness, Ickiness, Legs.

Each is scientifically calculated out of ten unless you’re a caterpillar. That means molluscs score low on legs (one), but don’t bet on them being lowest (no clues).

Outrageously, however, there is a Top Chump for Gary Northfield who scores himself 10, 10, 10, 10 and 10. Now, I will give Gary 10 out of 10 both for Grumpiness and Ickiness, but Intelligence and Heroism is pushing it.

As for the legs…



Buy Gary’s Garden Book 1 and read the Page 45 review here

How To Make Awesome Comics (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Neill Cameron.



Neill Cameron has art down to a science.

All education should be entertainment and creativity is coolest when fun.

This is bundles of fun. It’s instructive, interactive and each step is a full step, but not too steep a step so that budding comicbook creators won’t run out of puff. Nor will they know that they’re climbing a mountain until they reach its summit then feel like they’re on top of the world!

By the time you and / or your young ones have finished this essential guide to comicbook storytelling with practical notes on how to pop your own comic together you will feel empowered enough to tell any story in many ways.

Just watch out for the bananas.

“Something’s wrong with Mecha Monkey! He’s gone into overdrive! … And he seems to be completely obsessed with bananas!”

No, Neill, that’s you.

So meet Professor Panels and his Art Monkey. They’re given up their free time at a mental health institution to teach you how to make comics, and not just any old comics: how to make awesome comics! All you‘ll need is paper, a pencil or pen and your brain.

“Note: do not remove from head.”

Starting with stick figures, filling in blanks at the end of short stories Art Monkey has already drawn, you’ll soon progress onto a variety of simple body shapes broken down into basics in the useful and reassuring knowledge that cartooning is all about is about simplifying: Keep It Simple, Stupid! Faces and emotional ranges swiftly follow on precisely the same principles, focussing on three key elements: the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

However, cartooning is also about the stories themselves, so you won’t just learn how to draw, but how to set up short sequences yourself with an introduction, confrontation and resolution, how to make that physical, mental or emotional, and how to turn the whole shebang into slapstick comedy, including how to draw a doofus. (I will sit and model for your children, yes.)

Before all that you need ideas and Professor Panels has some simple exercises to help you generate the awesomest ideas of all. Try the equation above! I did, below:

Page 45 + Winning The Lottery = THING THAT IS TOTALLY SUPER AWESOME (for both of us)!

Okay, what he really meant is something like this:

Bananas + Ballet = Bananarina! (See is believing.)

There are also lessons on lettering, and how cool it is to make your sound effects the visual equivalent of onomatopoeia, appendices on things like robot accessories (wheels, jets, missiles, claws, more missiles, chainsaw and a nice pretty bow!), dinosaur shapes, penguins, ninja penguins, and more stories to complete in your own insane manner.

Best of all, however, is that all these examples can be downloaded from the Phoenix Comic website then printed off so you can create as many versions as you fancy without drawing on the book itself!

I wholeheartedly recommend this as a starter guide to anyone of any age, so whip out some paper and sharpen your pencil right now!

Bring your own bananas.


Buy How To Make Awesome Comics and read the Page 45 review here

Trillium s/c (£12-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire.

From the creator of ESSEX COUNTY, THE UNDERWATER WELDER and SWEET TOOTH comes a deliriously coloured piece of science fiction whose twin narratives dovetail beautifully when they meet at the middle during the first episode’s conclusion.

Now, that may sound like a gimmick – albeit a clever one – but it is integral to this transtemporal and reality-reconfiguring piece where perception and perspective are all.

1921, and William is determined to find the fabled Lost Temple Of The Incas deep in the Peruvian jungle even though Sir Terrance Morgan’s old escapades ended very badly indeed. His older brother is sceptical, but find it they do, along with the bodies tied to stakes which they assume are from the previous, doomed expedition. Perhaps they should have inspected the clothing more carefully.

In 3797 on a remote human settlement in space, Nika has found the Lost Temple Of The Incas and its blue-skinned, Atabithian inhabitants. What she desperately needs is some of the Trillium flowers within to cure a sentient and singularly virulent virus which could wipe out all mankind. Beyond her own only one other colony remains. Unfortunately Nika is running out of time and her commanding officer may have to resort to less verbal methods of negotiation. Her space suit’s artificial intelligence is scrambling desperately to translate the Atabithians’ language but manages mere snippets. But then Nika ingests one of the flowers and the result is a perfect comicbook moment!


After the first chapter a more regular approach to the two time frames sets in until a dramatic shift in the protagonists’ circumstances creates a wobble in reality and each two-tiered page is played like a face card (Jack, Queen, King), one reflecting the other. Oh yeah!  You wait until you get to the real confluences!

Best of all is the colouring: old school washes bleeding beautifully and – as required – eerily. The corpses as recalled by William on the battlefield, drowning in muddy water, are horrific. Lemire’s spindly art really takes off in the space-set sequences, with a gloriously detailed, flower-strewn inner temple which, in chapter seven, grows even more epic once Nika discovers its real secret and so finds herself dwarfed under The Mouth Of God.

I should probably spare you my one consternation because it’s difficult to unlearn things without the aid of copious amounts of alcohol and you might not have spotted it yourself. But in the interests of honesty the Peruvian jungle looked far from jungular, and when one of the expedition members declared, “Dear Lord, I didn’t think the underbrush could get any thicker!” I looked around and all I could see was a perfectly accessible, knee-level grassland, three or four trees per hectare and a couple of random vines.

Bonus in the back: Jeff Lemire and letter artist Chris Ross divulge the secret of the fictional Atabithian language which is nothing of the sort (it’s not Klingon) but a code substituting our own letters of the alphabet with symbols cleverly constructed around the concept of a three-fingered race. However, because it isn’t a fully formed language it does mean that you can go back and decipher the extensive exchanges which Nika couldn’t comprehend without the aid of a GCSE in Atabithian.

Someone send this lazybones a transcript, please. Thank yooooooo!


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

Monster Perfect Edition vol 1 (£12-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa.

From the creator of PLUTO and 20TH CENTURY BOYS, at a guess this contains the first three volumes of the previous series.

Welcome to Altruistic Avenue off Right-Thing Road, paved by Good Intentions Inc.

Hell lies straight ahead.

It’s 1986 before the Berlin Wall came down: Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a young Japanese immigrant working as a neurosurgeon in Germany, and very grateful to be doing so. He’s a prodigy sponsored by Dr. Heinemann, the Head Director of Eisler Memorial Hospital in Düsseldorf, and dating his daughter who’s all easy smiles and eyebrow pencil.

Oh yes, Kenzo has it made but he’s not that kind of guy. He’s eager to please – to the extent that he’ll write papers outside of his own gruelling operating hours and allow Heinemann to claim them as his own – but he knows right from wrong, and his first lesson in wrong comes in the form of a Turkish woman and child whose husband/father is brought in for surgery before a premier opera singer collapses and Dr. Tenma is directed to divert his attention from the first patient to the more prestigious one. He complies, of course, but the Turk dies without Kenzo’s personal touch, leaving his grieving widow to berate him in the corridors and a sympathetic fellow surgeon to warn him about game-plans. At least his fiancée is there to soothe him jauntily with the indisputable truth that “People’s lives aren’t created equal”.

At this point I thought the monsters of the series were actually going to be Dr. Heinemann and his superficial, over-privileged daughter, but no. For Dr. Tenma is offered a chance to redeem himself when a defector from East Germany and his young family are targeted by parties unknown and slaughtered in their residence. Their daughter goes catatonic, while their little boy requires immediate and intricate brain surgery to save him from the bullet in his skull.  Kenzo preps himself but at the last minute the local Mayor, a financial supporter of the hospital, collapses and once again our beloved doctor is reassigned to the more politically advantageous operation. With the heart-felt reprimands of the Turkish woman still in his head, does Dr. Kenzo bite the hands that feed him and stab the eyes that seduce him or does he comply once more and live to be promoted yet another day? He does not.

And you cheer, yes you cheer, but everything that follows from demotion to promotion, from police investigation to the most awful revelation, will make you wish that he had.

I’ll be back with more, as will Inspector Lunge of the German Federal Crime Unit – he of the clickerty fingers – and none of it will look good for our dear cousin Kenzo.

With a fine line that speaks as much French as it does Japanese with its exaggerated features and arch expressions, Urasawa is very much worth investigating. Same goes for Dr. Tenma, unfortunately.

What I particularly loved about this was the skills of deflection, evidently hereditary, which both the domineering doctor and his debutante of a daughter apply to so successfully scupper any chance young Kenzo seizes to vocalise his misgivings, leaving him… well, not exactly exasperated because he’s too much of a puppy… but desperate and deflated with the whole world against him. It’s another one of those horror stories that strikes home because the horror is as much about no one taking you seriously, no one believing what you alone have witnessed, because it’s so much more credible that you’re the guilty party yourself.

If only Inspector Lunge read more manga!


Buy Monster Perfect Edition vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Scott Pilgrim vol 5 h/c Colour Edition (£18-99, Oni Press) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“Hey Ramona… have you ever dated anyone that wasn’t evil?”
“Once, this guy Doug. He was kind of a dick, though.”

Yes, he’s back! World class slacker and most oblivious hero of all time, Scott Pilgrim is in for some double trouble!

This volume kicks off with Scott’s birthday and him solemnly vowing to be the best 24-year-old ever, before going straight into evil overdrive with the entrance of Ramona’s — [redacted – ed.]

But will his martial skills be enough to save his relationship with Ramona? Are they even destined to be together after she confesses to an aghast Scott she doesn’t even like his band Sex Bob-omb? Is she really the clean-cut heroine she seems to be? Why does her head sometimes start glowing?!! Will Scott ever realise Kim Pine his oldest and dearest friend is still in love with him!?!?! Dare they tell Ramona about Scott’s innocent sleep-over as he forgets his key for Ramona’s apartment yet again?!!! Will Steven ‘The Talent’ Stills finally finish mixing the Sex Bob-omb album? Just who is Wallace’s mysterious new boyfriend? Can Knives Chau ever get over Scott and stop being so goddamn annoying and clingy? And will Young Neil ever find someone who’ll actually just go out with him?

Ahhhh, so many different plot strands tangling, weaving and inter-twining this time around as Bryan Lee O’Malley skilfully mixes things up yet again to mangle Scott’s heart-strings as well as our own and leave us wondering exactly what happy ending it is we all want to see.

Colour Edition extras include a behind-the-scenes process piece on how O’Malley approached each book from script through thumb-nails for full pencils, lettering and inks, as well as initial designs and ideas jotted down on paper, some of which never made the final cut.  Also: loads of poster and t-shirt designs, plus a couple of watercolour paintings.


Buy Scott Pilgrim vol 5 h/c Colour Edition and read the Page 45 review here

Reads vol 2 #1 (£4-00, Avery Hill Publishing) by Tim Bird, Luke Halsall, Ricky Miller, Edie O.P., Owen D. Pomery…

“Othniel Charles Marsh was the pre-eminent palaeontologist of the day, his wealth of dinosaur discoveries and prowess were renowned…
“Edward Drinker Cope described him as a ‘prize bellend’.”

Ha. I ordered this mini-anthology purely on the strength of it containing new MEGATHERIUM CLUB material, but actually each of the four strips is a winner in their own right. The opener, The Bullpen by Luke James Halsall and Tim Bird, despite the characters names being changed to presumably avoid any possible legal issues, is prefaced with the comment that if you would like to know more about the early days of Marvel Comics to read MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY by Sean Howe, which I would heartily endorse. In this strip, we see a bespectacled huckster-type blatantly fuck over the diligent, hard-working artist by taking the entire credit for creating their new characters. Now, I wonder who that particular potshot is aimed at…?

Then, after the delightful nonsense of the Club’s latest ill advised booze-addled exploits, there follows Hitchcock & Film in which the esteemed director charts the very beginnings of cinema and also his own intertwined childhood years. It’s by Ricky Miller and Tim Bird, and I believe this is the first chapter of what will be a longer work. You can tell it’s extremely well researched, and I’m really looking forward to seeing considerably more of this material. I found it fascinating, both from the historical as well as the biographical perspective. I should add at this point I loved Tim’s previous homage to the Great British institution of the motorway GRAY AREA: THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK. I really enjoy his art style, I think it’s immensely well polished for such a relaxed approach.



Finally, we have something completely different art-wise from EdieOP. I’ve seen some bits and pieces from her forthcoming MALEFICIUM and I think she’s a real talent. Much like Brecht THE WRONG PLACE / THE MAKING OF Evens, I like the fact she’s not afraid to plough a unique artistic furrow. Her tale here, The Story Of Lucius Jellybean, is a random bit of craziness about a whole new lifeform created from a dissolved slug. He’s a well meaning freak of nature, despite being prone to causing the odd pandemic by accident! Very amusing.

This collection is a primer / advert for the fledgling (set up in 2012) Avery Hill Publishing, whose publications so far, I have found to be of impeccable merit! Keep up the good work!


Buy Reads vol 2 #1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Collected Works Of Filler Bunny (£7-50, SLG Publishing) by Jhonen Vasquez.

(Call the police.)”

In which a pink bunny is jabbed repeatedly in the head by a hypodermic needle and injected with whatever it takes to keep the comic going.

Yes, it’s mother of invention time.

When creators attend conventions they find it useful to have something to sign and to sell – a print or a comic – to help pay for their way and give their readers an incentive to visit their tables. Jhonen Vasquez, creator of JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC and SQUEE, found himself in need ahead of a San Diego Comic Convention so turned the first of these four fillers around in 24 hours.

That’s what these are: fillers. Far from deceitful, Vasquez set out his stall immediately: he had to fill fifteen pages without a clue how to do so except subject poor Fillerbunny to as much pain as possible. He ran out of ideas of page six. Didn’t matter: that was the joke.


“This book is a bestseller at Page 45. Hordes of dark munchkins sweep through the shop on a Saturday, examine the same shelf as always, point at a few things and then leave. It’s a thing.”

He wasn’t joking.

Includes Fillerbunny in a bee costume. If you like bee costumes, try Jamie Smart’s  KOCHI WANABA


Buy The Collected Works Of Filler Bunny and read the Page 45 review here

Henry And Glenn: Forever And Ever (£13-50, Microcosm Publishing) by Tom Neely, more.

Henry & Glenn are housemates. Glenn’s on the road and sends Henry a postcard:

“Dear Henry,
“How are you? The tour is going ok. I miss you and the dog so much. Give her a kiss for me. Yesterday this lead singer slapped me. It hurt so much I wish you were there to have held me. Well I have to go there is a great documentary on about werewolves.
“Miss you,

So much funnier when you realise that it’s Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig.

Fear not, this is completely smut-free. It is instead a light-hearted romcom featuring the unlikeliest of lovers trying to sort out their issues. The main issue is that Glenn is a self-centred, melodramatic cry-baby whose career has dead-ended, leaving our stoical Henry to deal with the domestic practicalities and bring home the bacon by appearing as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race (true fact – I’ve seen an episode, and good for him!) and indeed The Henry Rollins Show where he interviews Kevin Smith:

“So, Kevin… how big is Ben Affleck’s dick? Sorry, I meant: how big of a dick is Ben Afleck?”
“This interview is over.”

Tom Neely’s cartooning is a fun-filled joy with elements both of Peter Bagge in Glenn Danzig and square-jawed Chester Gould in Henry Rollins. Benjamin Marra, meanwhile, delivers a back-stabbing satani-cult romp in the style of Golden Age superheroes inked in Rotring. Erick Yahnker’s photo-realistic portrait in grey washes was actually quite touching. Coop’s homage to Frank Frazetta wasn’t!

Daryl Hall and John Oates, meanwhile, are the long-suffering neighbours, while Morrissey finally brings accord to their discord, albeit in opposition.

The bumper edition collects all five mini-comics of full sequential art, single cartoons, cry-fest diary entries, and the sort of notes you’d leave your housemate on the refrigerator. I’ve read the hatemail some humourless loons sent the creative crew, while Henry Rollins said:

“Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would NOT be amused.”

He wasn’t.

You’ll find Glenn Danzig’s real-life, recorded reaction to the first mini on the very last page. Hahahahaha!

Aww, there, there. I’m not going to kiss you better.


Buy Henry And Glenn: Forever And Ever and read the Page 45 review here

Charley’s War Omnibus vol 1 s/c (£18-99, Random House / Vertical) by Pat Mills & Joe Colquhoun.

First four volumes of the iconoclastic World War I series that fills some browsers with so much nostalgia their eyes begin to well up.

Includes August 1st 1916 – Charley’s seventeenth birthday – when the British forces begin bombing their own side. Which is nice.

I saw a BBC programme on the Battle of the Somme, and whereas the British forces were totally screwed by their own superiors, our French allies manage to achieve their objectives. So that’s one in the eye for the boringly, belligerently anti-French. Anyway, the programme I saw didn’t paint a particularly pretty picture nor does this, deliberately, which wouldn’t be so surprising if it was Garth Ennis’ recent BATTLEFIELDS or earlier WAR STORIES at Vertigo.

But it’s not, it’s from the very early ‘80s and was aimed squarely at kids.


Buy Charley’s War Omnibus vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?


Final Incal h/c – Numbered Oversized Slipcase Edition (£59-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Ladronn, Moebius

The Guns Of Shadow Valley h/c (£18-99, Dark Horse) by Dave Wachter, James Andrew Clark & Dave Wachter

The Heart Of The Beast – A Love Story h/c (£18-99, Dynamite) by Judith Dupre, Dean R. Motter & Sean Phillips

Kings Watch vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Dynamite) by Jeff Parker & Marc Laming

My Little Pony vol 3: The Return Of Harmony s/c (£5-99, IDW) by various

Preacher Book 5 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Flash vol 3: Gorilla Warfare s/c (£12-99, DC) by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul

Flash vol 4: Reverse h/c (£18-99, DC) by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul

Deadpool: Complete Collection vol 4 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Daniel Way & various

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 1: Cosmic Avengers (US Edition) s/c  (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Steve McNiven

Dragonar Academy vol 2 (£9-99, Seven Seas) by Shiki Mizuchi & Ran

Fairy Tail vol 41 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Monster Soul vol 2 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Ranma 1/2 2-in-1 vols 5 & 6 (£9-99, Viz) by Rumiko Takahashi

Samurai Executioner Omnibus vol 2 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima

Terra Formars vol 1 (£8-99, Viz) by Yu Sasuga & Ken-Ichi Tachibana



ITEM! Hugely entertaining LeftLion interview with Matt Brooker AKA D’Israeli conducted by Robin Lewis about Matt’s early days, current comic ORDINARY (in stock now!) and the immediate future.

ITEM! Swoonaway komodo dragon by Marc Laming.

ITEM! Jamie Smart on creating the fabulous MOOSEKID COMICS including costs in terms of both time and money. Some of you may find that useful as well as fascinating

ITEM! Lucy Knisley on creating autobiographical comics including RELISH and (soon) SOMETHING NEW, and indeed on promoting them

Err, that’s all I got. Been on holiday, that sort of thing.

See you on Monday for the Page 45 Bryan Lee O’Malley signing of SECONDS.



Reviews August 2014 week one

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

I was particularly tickled to see Parker, Lady Penelope’s chauffeur from Thunderbirds, as a petrol pump attendant.

 – Stephen on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century h/c

Gast s/c (£16-99, Fantagraphics) by Carol Swain.

Such a melancholy book, full of silence.

And it’s a silence which implies decades of silence preceding these pages.

Remember when you were young and granted new environments to explore?

The thrill of the unusual and unknown, where any twist in a high-hedgerow road could present a magnificent house, a strange-looking shack, an enticing gate, or an object you’ve never seen before. What was that object, who used it, and what was it for?

In urban terms, perhaps you encountered odd shops, alluring alleys which led who knows where, a park with paths which bifurcated tantalisingly over a ridge, round a corner so demanding a decision…

Maybe you moved house, visited relatives or went on holiday? Who hasn’t when young collected seashells at the seaside, stones and minerals which struck you as magical and wondered at whatever else was washed up onshore?

This is Helen, aged 11, who has moved from the city to a rural Wales rolling with hills and dipping down dales, populated by livestock and soared over by swallows. So much space, so much sky! Left to her own devices and armed with a pair of binoculars, Helen carefully jots down new observations in her Nature Notes book and sketches the bird life above.


Naturally inquisitive, Helen is by chance given hints of a new mystery by old Bill the eggman whose hens are upset – so failing to lay – by the death of what Bill calls “a rare bird”. A rare bird called Emrys up at Cuddig Farm.

“How do you know it upset your chickens, Bill?”
“They told me.”

So it is that Helen sets off for Cuddig farm and stumbles on a stack of discarded timber, barbed wire and empty cans of sheep dye – the sorts of things you’d find on a farm – and a make-up bag containing foundation, compact, lipstick, and a single, spent shotgun shell.

Helen lets the two sheepdogs out of their shed. They’d been there for days; there’s no one left to feed them. She talks to the tup, a ram with horns coiled like a Spirula seashell who tells Helen of the sheep dye they shared.

“He used more on himself than he put on me.”

Gradually, as Helen attends Emrys’ funeral and follows in his footsteps she uncovers echoes of a life lived alone and apart.

The book is full of faint, empty echoes. So much has evidently gone unsaid until now as Helen’s questions are answered directly and with a quiet remorse. The trip to Oswestry with its livestock markets and its auctions is haunting, cows’ fetlocks fettered with manacles. Those animals don’t speak but moo or bleat bleakly.

The cover looks like it’s been created with oil pastels, yet there’s a tremendous sense of light. And sadness. And space. That it is in the early stages of sunset is far from a coincidence.

The interior art is executed in charcoal. It’s stark yet gentle, and, built on a consistent, nine-panel grid like Bryan Talbot’s THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT, it has a perfectly controlled sense of equally measured time – a monotone which amplifies the silence.

“You humans are the saddest of animals.”


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

Low #1 (£2-99, by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini.

“Without optimism for the future how can we hope to shape a better one?”


The crisp yet soft and lithe-as-you-like strokes here smack of the sort of 1960s’ fashion and romance line art which Posy Simmonds was referencing in her MRS WEBER’S OMNIBUS where the secretary loses herself in daydreams. Feed it through a futuristic filter then add a little John Bryne at his loose-pencil best in the figures, smiles and eyes and you have a very attractive package.

There are six pages of classy, unsensationalist and quite natural nudity, modestly portrayed with deftly deployed holograms and colours, all drawn in life-class poses then artfully arranged so they communicate with one another, and there’s one panel in which Johl Caine playfully pokes his son Marik in the ribs and young Marik positively dances in response, one arm raised, his leg leaping up and away.


It’s very, very beautiful, with subaquatic, man-made leviathans which might put you in mind of Sean Murphy’s THE WAKE.

So it has come to this:

In the future our sun will expand then go supernova, at which point the Earth itself as well as its inhabitants will more than Factor 500. We will be engulfed. Obliterated. And that will be the end of our story. This isn’t speculative, it is a scientific certainty.

Long before then the radiation levels on the Earth’s surface will have exceeded intolerable, so if he haven’t already escaped his solar system we’ll have needed to move undergroud or in LOW underwater.

In LOW we haven’t yet found an alternative, habitable planet but Johl’s wife Stel remains optimistic and focussed. Johl is focussed but more on the immediate: feeding the subaquatic city of Salus by way of hunting using vast, submerged vessels and personal, watertight exoskeletons keyed to family DNA. His son Marik has followed in his mother’s footsteps so Johl is keener than ever for his two daughters, Della and Tajo, to follow his and become pilots. Tajo is dubious but Della’s all for it and keen to take her first helm, so mum Stel reluctantly – yet with good humour – agrees: today will be the first family outing!


The problem is, the problem is, the future is not what it was. The problem is, the problem is, if you’ve shot their cat, they’ll shoot your dog. And there is someone out there in the freezing, oceanic depths with a long-held grudge.

Unexpectedly brutal after so much familial, high-spirited devotion, what I loved was Stel’s unwavering optimism and maternal determination in the wake of so much adversity: that Remender kept her true to her nature. It was poignantly expressed, while everything which preceded it was eloquently expressed.

Don’t be alarmed by what may seem at first to be an overwhelming amount of world-building. Hell, you could accuse The West Wing of that, so fast and furious came the first episode’s exchanges; but it turned out to be one of the five finest television series of all time partially through not underestimating its audience and knowing it would swiftly catch up. As with The West Wing all of the scene-setting in LOW is done through quick-fire dialogue without resorting to overt exposition.

“Time to come to terms with it, Stel. One of your children must take the helm. They all carry the potent blood of the Caine.”
“Not so potent this morning.”
“Oh, that’s low.”


Buy Low #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Murder Mysteries h/c new edition (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell.

Russell has breathed such life and colour into Gaiman’s story-within-a-story that it’s hard to remember how clever it was in the first place.

Ten years after the event, the English narrator recalls how as a young man he was once stranded in Los Angeles. He hooked up with a girl he’d met briefly in London but like most of us his memory is only sure about certain sequences. Quite how he came to be sitting on a bench with an older man, he’s not sure. But in exchange for a cigarette, the stranger tells him his story, set in the celestial Silver City, as God instructs his angels on the creation of the universe.

“The sky above the city was a wonderful thing. It was always light, although lit by no sun — lit, perhaps by the city itself — but the quality of the light was forever changing. Now pewter-coloured light, then brass, then a gentle gold, or a soft and quiet amethyst…”

Lucifer visits him and instructs him on his Function:

“You are Raguel. The Vengeance of The Lord. There has been a… a Wrong Thing.”

An angel, Carasel, has been killed, and Raguel must find out how and why; then he must perform his Function.

Gaiman’s vision of heaven is wittily conceived, as the angels go about working on their projects, creating ‘regret’, ‘sleep’, ‘agitation’ under the guidance of Phanuel. It soon transpires that the dead angel, Carasel, was last working on the concept of ‘Death’ with his partner Saraquael. Did he become overly involved in his own work? Did he want to experience that which he was working on? Or did it have more to do with their last project, for which Phanuel took all the credit? In any case, why would God allow this to happen, and how much does it have to do with Lucifer, walking alone in The Dark?

This is a murder mystery so, although it breaks my heart, I cannot reveal any more.

But I can implore you to take a look yourself because you know how I feel about THE FAIRY TALES OF OSCAR WILDE’s  P. Craig Russell, and if you enjoyed his collaboration with Gaiman on THE GRAVEYARD BOOK GRAPHIC NOVEL, CORALINE or SANDMAN: DREAM HUNTERS you will not be disappointed. His illumination of the Silver City – pure, translucent, with its own lambent glow – is every bit as exquisite as you’d expect.

As for the angels, if you like your men young, winged, naked – and without genitalia – then this one’s for you.


Buy Murder Mysteries h/c and read the Page 45 review here

League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 3: Century (Complete Edition) h/c (£22-50, Top Shelf) by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill.

Collects LOEG: CENTURY 1910, LOEG: CENTURY 1969 and LOEG: CENTURY 2009, all reviewed individually if you fancy a gander. It’s a good job what’s left of our League are immortal. Or at least… they don’t age.


Another highly inventive collage culled from works of other authors, this time with the added entertainment of songwriters Brecht and Kurt Weill.

Quartermain, Hyde and the Invisible Man are all dead now, whilst Captain Nemo is not much longer for this world. Yet Mina Murray – she of the scarf or very high collar – remains as vigorous as ever. Infuriated too, mostly by the ineptitude of her new team of sleuths: Allan Quartermain Junior (hmmmm…), burglar Raffles and the immortal if not immutable Orlando who preens himself hilariously throughout, name-dropping like a Timelord:

“Lando, that has to be the most stupid thing you’ve ever said.”
“Oh, I don’t know. There was, “Oh look! What a wonderful horse!” That was at Troy.”


Lastly there’s Tom Carnacki whose disturbing premonitions of impending disaster are what drive this new series. For the seer has twin visions: one of a sect preparing to create a Moonchild or Anti-Christ; the other of Captain Nemo’s daughter rejecting her father’s inheritance and abandoning him and his Nautilus for foreign climes – which to her means here. Unfortunately as the team concentrate on the former along with what appears to be the return of Jack The Ripper in the form of Mac The Knife, Mina is warned too late by Norton, a man trapped physically in London but free to roam through time, that it’s their very investigation that will, in an impetuous raid, precipitate and perhaps exacerbate exactly what they’re seeking to avert, setting the scene for 1969.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken their collective eye fatally off the crystal ball which warned of human heads piled up on the docks outside a London hotel which is exactly where Captain Nemo’s daughter Janni has sought employment and attracting a worrying amount of salacious attention from its drooling, drunken patrons. This is where Moore has so cleverly adapted Brecht and Weill’s Pirate Jenny, recasting the song’s victims as culpable rapists thoroughly deserving the wrath and carnage as each verse inevitably builds towards from its initial ominous warning:

“And the ship… the black raider… with a skull on its masthead… moves in from the sea!”

Kevin O’Neill is on magnificent form as ever, particularly during the harrowing Pirate Jenny refrains although you’ll also get the big bang for your buck by the end. My favourite this time of the many side-references Moore packs in, is the gossip about the Chatterleys!

I can’t help you with the rest of the Threepenny Opera, but if you’ve never heard Pirate Jenny we’ll be playing Marc Almond’s ivory-hammering 1987 Melancholy Rose b-side version in the shop. Just ask us to slap it on next time you’re in!


Ravaged by time, the once-mighty League is now down to three members: Mina Murray, preserved by her vampiric hickie, Allan Quartermain who is also a lot older than his aspect would suggest, and the immortal but far from immutable Orlando who is back on the turn and once more growing breasts.

Now they’ve returned to London in 1969 and immediately set about investigating even though Oliver Haddo supposedly died in Hastings back in 1947. Well, someone did, and it’s a scene which Moore and O’Neill play to perfection. Who then is the mysterious Charles Felton courting vain and gullible pop star Terner of The Purple Orchestra whose front man, Basil Thomas, was drowned in his swimming pool by robed monks in front of his pilled-up boyf, Wolfe Lovejoy?

It’s a special Same-Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll edition of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, as the once-prudish Mina strives to stay hip to the times but finds she’s not as au fait as she thinks. Indeed this second part climaxes in a stunningly bad trip by the Edward Hyde memorial statue surrounded by the art and artefacts of the day from Spacehoppers and Daleks to Tony the Tiger, after which Mina’s fate will genuinely shock you.

The title has always been a collage of borrowed fiction so although London does exist, none of its shops, clubs or inhabitants here have save in books, films, television programmes and songs. Half the fun is spotting what Moore has appropriated and where from, especially now that as the years progress the variety of media Moore can choose from expands. Michael Caine’s Jack Carter plays a pivotal role in tracking down Basil’s murderers, and although Get Carter didn’t actually appear at the cinema until 1970, cleverly here he has yet to head north on that family business in Newcastle. I’ll leave the rest of you to puzzle over yourselves, but I was particularly tickled to see Parker, Lady Penelope’s chauffeur from Thunderbirds, as a petrol pump attendant.


In which the identity of the Moonchild is finally revealed.


Buy League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 3: Century (Complete Edition) h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Bodies #1 of 8 (£2-99, Vertigo) by Si Spencer & Megan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay, Phil Winslade.

Longharvest Lane, London 2014, 1890, 2050 and 1940.

Four artists for four time periods in which a naked male corpse is discovered in the same position, with the same mutilations and the same mark slashed on its wrists.

2014 sees East End Muslim, D.S. Shahara Hasan, in police riot gear leading the charge against an aggressive, racist demonstration. She is philosophical about the thugs and amused by her subordinate’s sense of humour:

“Tell me again why I’m the one in the armour and you’re swanning about in Hugo Boss?”

“Because your people are on a ruthless Jihad to set up an Islamofascist annex of Mecca on the Mile End Road?”

“And don’t you forget it. Your head’ll be first to roll as soon as my schimitar arrives from Taliban Central.”

She’s about to have that smile wiped off her face.

In 1890 Inspector Edmond Hillinghead strays on a top-hatted toff receiving relief down a dark alley before tripping in flight over a hacked and slashed corpse.

“Someone really didn’t like him.”
“Or really liked doing this to him.”

Dutiful and diligent, Hillinghead will do his best for the victim in spite of his colleagues’ less than enlightened attitudes towards society’s lowly and outcast.

Armed with a bow and arrow, Maplewood discovers hers in the scantily populated capitol in 2050, along with a brightly coloured ball and a girl called Bounce. Maplewood struggles with labels and barely remembers her own name.

During an air raid in 1940’s East End, we find one Inspector Weissman with unorthodox methods of policing his turf.

“The blackouts and the raids mask a multitude of crimes. Most of them mine.”

But not all of them, apparently.

All four artists bring distinct atmospheres to their eras: forensic, grotesque, ethereal and Butch Guice brand of photorealism, respectively.

Spencer and his colleague set up the prejudices – and presumption – in one particular period cleverly and you can colour me intrigued, but I do hope I haven’t already got it.

“And so it begins, Frater Ladbroke.”
“To the Long Harvest.”


Buy Bodies #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Reel Love Act One (£3-99, Do Gooder Comics) by Owen Johnson…

“This is your first memory of dreams in the dark…
“This is your first memory of me.”

I am sure we can all remember our earliest trips to the cinema and the impression they made upon us. Probably like a lot of kids of my generation, the first time I went to the cinema and was utterly blown away was to see Star Wars. I have some vague recollections of seeing a Disney animation, possibly The Rescuers just before that, but it certainly didn’t make the same hammer-like impression upon my brain.

I absolutely loved this story of a young boy’s initiation into the world of celluloid, as part narrated by the disembodied voice of cinema itself. In our modern society of on-demand, any-time viewing of pretty much anything you could possibly want, I doubt a first trip to the cinema today could have the same impact as it did for our generation. Back in our day, aside from the odd gem on television (if you actually caught it when it was on, that is), there wasn’t a great deal for kids to watch. Thus a trip to the cinema really did seem like an other-worldly experience, a genuinely special event.


And, after an initial false start being taking to see a Robin Hood film at possibly just too tender an age by his dad, our main character here also receives his ‘baptism cosmic’ at the hands of Luke and Han. What then follows is a rapidly burgeoning obsession with films and indeed film-making set against the backdrop of a coming-of-age friendship yarn. I can see why Jeff Lemire was sufficiently impressed to provide a cover pull quote, and actually, you can see comparisons with Jeff’s work both in terms or storytelling and artistically, in this black and white work. It’s not ESSEX COUNTY by any means, but exactly as with Jeff’s early work from 2005, LOST DOGS, you can see Owen’s talent. I think this is probably more polished than LOST DOGS, actually. Plus it’s certainly a very different piece from Owen’s other work we are currently stocking, the sonically themed and psychedelically powered RAYGUN ROADS, so he’s clearly a versatile creator to watch out for.


Buy Reel Love Act One and read the Page 45 review here

X-Men: Magneto – Testament s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Greg Pak & Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neal Adams.

“It can’t get any worse than this.”


I’ll be recommending it to every school as a set text on The Holocaust or at the very least an essential part of their library. It’s not as powerful as JUDENHASS but it’s far more accessible for younger readers, being a gripping narrative which whilst fiction is still informed in minute but by no means intrusive detail by historical fact. It was the extensive annotations by Greg Pak in the back that I actually read first, and I’m glad that I did so. For although there are the occasional snatches of perfectly judged narrative anchoring the events in history, the annotations themselves – brief, precise, and well argued with references – show that Greg did everything in his power to ensure that Max Eisenhardt’s story fits within historical records in every conceivable way. Moreover I’ve argued before that most superhero stories involving real-world horrors have a tendency to trivialise those suffering by suggesting solutions unavailable to those concerned, whereas here Pak has done the exact opposite:

“In our story’s climax, we wanted our hero to take action. But we felt it was important not to depict him as the actual leader of the Sonderkommando revolt. Real human beings led this revolt — we didn’t want to detract from their almost unthinkable heroism by suggesting that the revolt was only possible because a super hero took charge.”

The revolt happened, by the way. Similarly, when discussing the tattooing process and numbering schemes, Greg writes:

“We made the decision not to show Max’s actual number in this tattooing scene. The more I read the testimonies of actual survivors, the more uncomfortable I became with the notion of giving our fictional hero a number that a real human being once bore.”

Absolutely right, Greg, and if you’d made one up that was never used, that would have broken your record of historical accuracy.

But surely, you’re thinking, historical accuracy goes up in smoke the second the future X-Men leader/villain (pick your era) starts using his powers…? Err, what powers? Aside from a school javelin throw and a certain knack for spotting metal where others might not have noticed it, that’s it, guys. Even at a key climax halfway through the book, when his family fleeing through the woods is caught by German soldiers and lined up in front of a firing squad, and you just know that Max is finally going to unleash his magnetic power against the bullets flying towards them… And you know that because Greg has encouraged you to expect it by reprising his father’s considered exhortation (“Sometimes you get a moment… when everything lines up. When anything is possible. When suddenly… you can make things happen.”)… Pak flips that deliberate misdirection around in a manner which is perfectly devastating.

Germany 1935, then, just prior to the Nazi’s announcing the Nuremberg Laws, and young Max is already suffering Anti-Semitism at school, but nothing will prepare him, his family, or the young Romany girl called Magda for what lies ahead: Kristallnacht, Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz. If there’s one thing Pak’s characters focus on above all others it’s weighing the balance about when to fight when the repercussions for every act of defiance were for dozens, hundreds or thousands to pay the price. It’s very well argued indeed. Also, for every moment of hope, there is a crushing blow.

Combined with Max Hollingsworth’s moody palette which produces more than a little Tim Sale in the final effect, Giandomenico has done an exemplary job of illustrating some very difficult scenes, from the Jewish arrivals stripped of their clothes at Auschwitz to the knock-out, double-page spread of the book in the fourth chapter when Max stumbles upon the room piled almost to the roof with glass spectacles: stunning.

The covers by Marko Djurdjevic are pretty haunting too, but just when you thought you’d got as much as you could from this volume, there’s a biographical piece in the back on Dina Gottliebova, a woman interned in Auschwitz and forced by Mengele to paint portraits of those undergoing his horrific, nonsensical experiments… brilliantly illustrated by Neal Adams with Joe Kubert. And it’s the best Adams art I’ve seen in decades. Kubert, of course, produced the similarly themed YOSSEL which I praised to the heavens, but can you imagine what Adams could have contributed to this medium if superheroes hadn’t been the only form of real bread and butter back then…?


Buy X-Men: Magneto – Testament s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Abnett & Lanning Collection vol 1 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Paul Pelletier, Brad Walker, Wes Craig…

Spinning out of the ANNIHILATION and shortly thereafter ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST cosmic event epics that firmly re-established fan-interest in off-Earth tights and capery, this was a radically updated version of the classic space-faring team. I can remember being sceptical at the time that the all-new roster of members comprising of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Quasar, Adam Warlock, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Groot could get close to recapturing the magic of the original material. And whilst it certainly wasn’t as surreal or at times frankly weird as that initial run, now available again in two volumes: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: TOMORROW’S AVENGERS VOL 1 S/C and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: TOMORROW’S AVENGERS VOL 2 S/C, it was exceptionally good fun. Certainly on a par with the ‘90s reboot material featuring the original team that ran for sixty-odd issues before running eventually running out of warp power.

This run also coincided with an excellent run on NOVA by Abnett and Lanning that was almost entirely space-based too, which is currently out of print but hopefully will also be recollected. It probably will given the Richard Ryder character is about to reappear in the current GUARDIANS saga. I was somewhat surprised when both titles were cancelled after only about 25 issues each, as I actually thought they were amongst the better titles Marvel were putting out at the time. This material had strong storytelling and certainly remains worth reading.

I think, therefore, Bendis clearly took a look at everything that was right with this run such as the character line-up, just tinkered with it a little bit, then sprinkled some of his magic dialogue-dust on, and hey presto, suddenly it is a massive title again.


Buy Guardians Of The Galaxy: Abnett & Lanning Collection vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Marvel Masterworks: Spider-Man vol 8 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & John Romita, John Buscema.

“Boy! This secret identity jazz can sure be a strain!”

In which Peter is a hipster and I get my old-man hat on.

Oh, how these covers are gorgeous!

I don’t mean this one – though Romita’s composition is exceptional – I mean the original covers, each and every one, coloured to striking perfection using red, blue with yellow and a verdant green.

John Romita Sr. knew how to fill but not overcrowd a cover. Essentially you are given Spider-Man big and bold, swinging over campus crowds, walking away from a victory distraught or being pinned, punched and wrestled to the ground by the Kingpin, Man-Mountain Marko or The Lizard. Anything else would be superfluous. Multiple Quicksilvers smack him all at once like some Final Fantasy assault you’ve pre-programmed using concurrent attacks. The Shocker blasts away at a midnight wall spot lit by the iconic Spidey Signal.

Yeah, the Spidey Signal projected from the wall-crawler’s belt. That was a thing, once.

I don’t believe superhero comic covers have ever attained these heights since, other than a clutch of Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL efforts often marred by bicycle adverts. Seriously, by bicycle adverts. How sad was that? Maybe a few of his Romita Jr.’s IRON MAN pieces and – in a completely different way – David Aja’s chic and contemporary HAWKEYE designs. The sequential storytelling inside is good but it’s on the cover than Romita ruled.

Unusually you are by chance here presented with a complete, extended story arc involving an engraved tablet akin to the Rosetta Stone which no one so far has been able to decipher. It’s displayed on Peter Parker’s campus, the residential ramifications of which spark student riots headed by the disenfranchised African-American contingent demanding an egalitarian outcome. Peter reacts badly to their peer pressure so alienating his girlfriend, Gwen, who wonders if he’s a coward. Her father, police Captain Stacy, wonders if he’s Spider-Man.

It’s stolen by the Kingpin (people forget he was created as a recurrent Spider-Man villain long before Frank Miller saw his costumeless, mobster merit and potential as a crime-lord DAREDEVIL adversary) and from then on it’s a pass-the-parcel, snatch and re-snatch officially branding Spider-Man a wanted thief until it falls into the hands of a desperate, aging Maggia chief called Silvermane. At which point, be careful what you wish for!

Even on a re-read, forty years later, this seems seamlessly constructed, especially the outcome until “Jazzy” John Romita dispels your illusions in its introduction by revealing that it was all constructed on the hoof, an issue at a time, without a clue as to where it was all heading. Neil Gaiman maintains the same thing about SANDMAN, though I have never believed him but, to my mind, that makes both all the more impressive.


Buy Marvel Masterworks: Spider-Man vol 8 and read the Page 45 review here

Rat Queens vol 1: Sass & Sorcery (£7-50, Image) by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch…

Sometimes, things are just so preposterously outlandish they work. The Rat Queens are an eclectic bunch of hard-drinking, drug-taking, monster-bashing ladies of pretty much every fantastical ethnicity. Starved of excitement, barely tolerated by the local constabulary on the basis that they do occasionally help keep the locale safe (when they’re not busy smashing it up during yet another booze-addled barroom brawl, that is), they are in desperate need some shenanigans in their lives. Cue an assassination attempt on them and several of their dungeoneering rivals – for some mysterious reason possibly not entirely unrelated to their continued collateral damage of their city – and finally it’s time to have some fun!

Like some insane Dadaist revision of a staid and boring Dungeon and Dragons module, liberally coated with mead and then set aflame, this is utter nonsense. It should by all rights be rubbish, but instead it’s hilarious. As parodies of fighting fantasy go it’s amongst the best I’ve read. It’s certainly as ridiculous as (the currently re-printing) DUNGEON QUEST, a personal favourite of mine which mercilessly satirises the genre thus neatly appealing to both fans and haters of the archetype. I was also strongly minded of the recent DISENCHANTED, though this is definitely played far more for laughs. Anyone who reads / watches ADVENTURE TIME is almost certain to love it too, I would think.



Kurtis Wiebe may have struck a potentially rich seam of comedy gold here. With gold, though, inevitably comes trouble…


Buy Rat Queens vol 1: Sass & Sorcery and read the Page 45 review here

Metal Gear Solid Deluxe Edition h/c (£55-99, IDW) by Kris Oprisko, Matt Fraction, Alex Garner & Ashley Wood, Rufus Dayglo.

At least, we think this is in stock. Like everything we order it arrived in a cardboard box, and this one was last seen scuttling towards the locker room…

This massive doorstop collects both the original METAL GEAR SOLIDS books and both SONS OF LIBERTY books, plus the five-page #0 written by Matt Fraction. All ten sentences of it! In fact, it contains everything.

So many licensed properties get lumbered with half-assed amateurs on visuals, but this is pure, painterly quality, full of atmosphere, in gun-metal grey and a steely green-blue.

It is, on the other hand, exactly the same story as the games.


Buy Metal Gear Solid Deluxe Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?


The Beginner’s Guide To Being Outside (£5-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Gill Hatcher

Blood Blokes #4 (£2-99, Great Beast) by Adam Cadwell

The Collected Works Of Filler Bunny (£7-50, SLG Publishing) by Jhonen Vasquez

Corpse Talk Season 1 (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Adam Murphy

Days (£11-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Simon Moreton

Dexter Down Under h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jeff Lindsay & Dakbor Talajic

Gary’s Garden Book 1 (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Gary Northfield

God Is Dead vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Mike Costa & Juan Frigeri, German Erramouspe, Jacen Burrows

Henry And Glenn: Forever And Ever (£13-50, Microcosm Publishing) by Tom Neely

How The World Was – A California Childhood (£14-99, FirstSecond) by Emmanual Guibert

How To Make Awesome Comics (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by Neill Cameron

I Was The Cat h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Paul Tobin & Ben Dewey

Long Gone Don (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by the Etherington Brothers

Metroland #1 (£4-99, Avery Hill Publishing) by Ricky Miller & Julia Scheele, Rebecca Strickson, Jazz Greenhill

The People Inside h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Ray Fawkes

Reads vol 2 #1 (£4-00, Avery Hill Publishing) by Tim Bird, Luke Halsall, Ricky Miller, Edie O.P., Owen D. Pomery

The Ring Of The Nibelung h/c (£22-50, Dark Horse) by P. Craig Russell

Scott Pilgrim vol 5 h/c Colour Edition (£18-99, Oni Press) by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Star Wars: Jedi Academy vol 2: Return Of The Padawan h/c (£8-99, Scholastic Publishing) by Jeffrey Brown

Constantine vol 2: Blight s/c (£10-99, DC) by Ray Fawkes & Aco, Szymon Kudranski, Ben Lobel

Trillium s/c (£12-99, DC) by Jeff Lemire

Thanos: The Infinity Revelation h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jim Starlin

Uncanny X-Force: Rick Remender Complete Collection vol 1 s/c (£29-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena, Leonardo Manco, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Robbi Rodriguez

Black Butler vol 17 (£9-99, Yen Press) by Yana Toboso

Dragonar Academy vol 3 (£9-99, Seven Seas) by Shiki Mizuchi & Ran

Les Miserables: Manga Classics (£14-99, Udon) by Crystal Silvermoon, Stacy King & SunNeko Lee

Mobile Suit Gundam Origin vol 6: To War (£22-50, Random House / Vertical) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

Monster Perfect Edition vol 1 (£12-99, Viz) by Naoki Urasawa


ITEM! Brubaker & Phillips’ FATALE is over (fifth and final collect imminent). The final two pages were perfect! But wait –! Arriving 20th August: THE FADE OUT #1 by Brubaker & Phillips! Preview!

ITEM! Preview pages of Carol Swain’s GAST (reviewed above).

ITEM! Preview pages of P. Craig Russell’s THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG (in this week so listed above, review next Wednesday).

ITEM! Sarah McIntyre posts the best comic blogs ever! They’re packed full of wit, drama, spectacle and spectacles.

ITEM! Professor Lizz Lunney begins her ONE A DAY COMICS FOR AUGUST

ITEM! Dan Berry’s THE CAKE MAN comic: a conversation in Algeria.

ITEM! Evan Dorkin’s HOW TO DRAW MARVEL COMICS THE EVAN DORKIN WAY. The pitch is priceless, the project doomed.

ITEM! Ah, Comics Bubble, there you are again. Remind me, what did you do last time…? Oh, that’s right, you burst.

If you think it won’t happen again when we are repeating exactly the same mistakes, I call you Ostrich.

Mile High’s full San Diego exclusive-variant-cover-fiasco newsletters are here and here.

Thankfully none of this is remotely relevant to Page 45 because our revenue from graphic novels (so far free from shenanigans) exceeds our sales of periodicals by a factor of four the last time I looked, and I would never even consider exhibiting at a convention like San Diego!

ITEM! Here’s where we are going instead: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October 2014 with Page 45 signings by Scott McCloud and Glyn Dillon and far, far more.


– Stephen