There are thirteen chairs set round a circular table, one of them waiting for you.
In each other chair sits a stranger. In turn they tell stories by candlelight. None of their stories end well.
– Stephen on Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton.
Baby Bjornstrand (£14-99, Koyama Press) by Renée French.
“You don’t have to touch it.”
“You can touch it if you want.”
Well, now. A new Renée French is always an event. Also, a mystery.
Previously she’s had Neil Gaiman singing her praises after picking up her comics at Page 45. Oh yes! This time it’s the unlikely pairing of Guillermo del Toro and Warren Ellis. The latter writes:
“Like watching David Lynch and Samuel Beckett get mean-drunk: a demented comedy from one of the medium’s authentic geniuses.”
“Surreal”, you’ll be thinking and it won’t disappoint, but Samuel Beckett is particularly perfect as a benchmark. This takes place in a limbo of sorts, a bit like Anders Nilsen’s BIG QUESTIONS and, as with BIG QUESTIONS, there is plenty of empty silence so that what is said attracts your eye and fires your curiosity.
It’s all in the few carefully muted colours, so cleverly deployed.
Played out on a sepia shore so shrouded in fog that the islands to begin with are blurred and unknown, three child-sized playmates wearing elasticated masks discover Baby Bjornstrand, a bird-beaked blob of no words, little movement, and only one sound – “Hoooooo!” – emitted sparingly. It just sits there, inert. Its very inertia is compelling.
Now, here come the colours (slightly more vivid on the printed page than here): each sprog sports a slightly different mask – variations on a theme – but they each also light up, along with the words that they speak: Cyril in yellow, Mickey in red, Marcel in turquoise. Baby Bjornstrand glows in green.
Formal word balloons with their tagging tails are therefore redundant and so discarded here, adding to the ethereal. The landscape, interaction and sparse sounds are as one, floating together just as they do in real life. Seriously: take a couple of friends out onto some misty moors, then watch and listen as they speak.
Three-quarters of the way through the landscape comes into focus: a vast, Scottish-like lake with sheer, vertical cliff tops on the other side. Are you wondering why this is so?
I was as mesmerised by this as Cyril himself is by Baby Bjornstrand. Marcel and Mickey stage a play of the proceedings. That was funny. There is also a very funny moment involving a ringed doughnut, but throughout I wasn’t sure whether I should be worried or not and that kept those pages turning.
Finder: Third World (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Carla Speed McNeil…
The debonair and devilish Jaeger, knower of hidden short-cuts and errr… much other useful stuff, takes centre stage in the first colour FINDER material!
It took me a little bit of getting used to that, actually, it being in colour, though I’m not sure exactly why. I guess I’m just subconsciously familiar with how it has always been before. It’s a statement on the quality of the previous material perhaps that I actually found it a little distracting at first, but ultimately the colour is a very welcome addition.
So, what we have here is something which actually adds as much to the mystery of the man as sheds lights on his many secrets, as he forced to take a job, a proper job, and so becomes a parcel delivery man. Which, you might think, would be a waste of his prodigious talents. But no, because these parcels are in places virtually impossible to make a delivery to… For any ordinary person, that is.
And, of course, along the way, Jaeger as ever finds time to become unnecessarily embroiled in other peoples’ business, as well as just doing the odd good deed like getting an old lady home safely. Mainly just getting himself neck-deep into trouble, though.
I think this volume may prove a very good jumping-on point for new readers in that it starts off all fun and froth before descending into typically darker territory as the level of drama – and danger – escalates apace. Carla really does manage to pack a huge wealth of the diversity of the FINDER milieu into just this one book, a really great showcase for the spectacular speculative fictional world she has created.
Void h/c (£8-99, Titan) by Herik Hanna & Sean Phillips.
It’s been a complete and utter bloodbath.
Goliath 01 is a prison ship, lost in space. Its inmates – low-level threats like thieves and bankers* – have been slaughtered along with its crew.
It wasn’t aliens; it was a single human being: its commander, Colonel Mercer, officially marble-free and lying in murderous wait somewhere below decks.
There remains a solitary man in orange overalls recalling it all while desperately trying to find some means of escape and avoiding the fate of his fellow felons. Without food or water for two days now and surrounded by entrails and body parts, he’s beginning to lose the plot, hallucinating about an ex-girlfriend, naked. Then there’s the talking banana.
You never thought you’d see Sean Phillips draw a talking banana, did you? Sean is the artist behind FATALE, CRIMINAL, SLEEPER, THE HEART OF THE BEAST, 7 PSYCHOPATHS, INCOGNITO, SCENE OF THE CRIME and indeed THE ART OF SEAN PHILLIPS (one presumes). He’s well known for noir, but not for science-fiction nor comedy peeled fruit.
He does, however, bring all the nerve-wracking twilight he’s renowned for, and there’s one feverish sequence which has been lit like the nocturnal zone of a zoo’s Tropical House in electric blues and neon purples. He’s also emphasised the relatively low technological feel of a physically flown ship with submarine gauges, gangways riddled with thick electrical cables and heavy iron levers which require real elbow grease to grapple with.
All of which would be – and indeed was – a pretty intense read. However…
Oh, yeah, you’ll be wanting to read this twice.
* … he explains, tautologically
Amulet vol 6: Escape From Lucien (£9-99, Scholastic) by Kazu Kibuishi.
“Cogsley, we need to tell the Captain about this! If there’s something hidden in that cloud, we need to go back and investigate.”
“We won’t have to go back.”
“What do you mean? Why not?”
“Because it followed us.”
Cue yet another Hayao Miyazaki-inspired double-page flourish! You won’t have long to wait this time, the action kicks off immediately.
Second only to Luke Pearson’s HILDA, this is our biggest-selling Young Adult series of graphic novels and if it wasn’t already one of my all-time favourites (it was) it would most assuredly be now.
So much happens, and so much is revealed that makes perfect sense of the strange allegiances in this far from black and white war. But, oh, no spoilers! Why don’t you go back and read our previous reviews of AMULET – each of them extensive – instead?
Suffice to say that for once younger brother Navin takes the lead in a desperate mission to reactivate a beacon in the burned-out city of Lucien below and promptly gets trapped there along with Colossus co-pilots Aly, Trish and Rob. Is anyone still alive there? Anyone – or anything – at all?
Meanwhile his older sister Emily and fellow Stonekeepers Vigo and Trellis are captured by another, part of whose past is played out in front of them while they seek to keep their amulets unaware of what they’re all up to. What are they up to?
There’ll be plenty of new faces along with some old friends long thought lost, and a great big secret, which I’d forgotten was a secret, from the very first book is explained. There will also be fatalities, I’m afraid.
There are so many landscapes to swoon over here, even in the rain, and one of AMULET’s strengths has always been Kazu’s eye for design, like the Elf King’s metal mask whose shallow, vertical, curved trenches are coloured to highlight their topmost ridges. It’s a design reflected in their airships and elsewhere, but I don’t recall seeing that mask applied before, direct to the face, its razor-sharp, thin, conical spikes slipping into the flesh with a sinister “SHK!”
Long Gone Don (£6-99, David Fickling Books) by the Etherington Brothers.
Don drowned in a bowl of oxtail soup. “Which smelt a bit like wet dog.”
It was a freak accident.
It was a really freak accident.
Okay, it was a succession of really freak accidents which fell like dominoes in the form of custard, cards, the caretaker’s leg and a poor, startled hamster. Did I mention the step-ladder? I don’t think we’ll talk about the puddle of puke. That school’s Health & Safety needs a certain degree of attention.
This is perfect for kids aged 5 through 15 to 5,015 which is, I’m afraid, where I come in.
It is full-on mirth-making mentalism replete with puns like The Demon Drink’s salutary slogan: “Cures What Ales You!” Now that’s a pub after my own heart. And probably my liver.
It all takes place in the netherworld known as Broilerdoom with its holy Krapookerville and its less divine, adjacent Corpse City. There Don encounters Castanet the crow with his mortal terror of flying, experiences the Welcome Arena and is showered with gifts only to fall foul of its Unwelcome Arena where he is swiftly relieved of them.
“Lesson number one: Broilerdoom gives with one hand and takes with the other. This is an opportunist’s underworld, Don, which means if you think you can get away with something, you probably can.”
Point in question: the stall called Stolen Stuff which happily sells its second-hand goods back to their original owners.
The demon who’s been getting away with everything up to this point is General Spode, high up in his ivory Bone Tower Monolith. Ruling aside his Regina, he has stolen the crown from rightful king Ripley who has since retired to sign books and shrubs as a celebrity gardener. Think Alan Titchmarsh as a dilettante and dandy. Spode’s right-hand man is Count Valush, a red-eyed shadow in a cape and a tall hat that he is inordinately protective of. Excellent for target practice.
In the opposite corner sit Lewd and Safina back at The Demon Drink, along with many a hidden ally like Viktor Rictus, the sentient squid with sloppy pink tentacles and a singular eye for invention.
Don will encounter and make use of a Brick Licker (armadillo/slug/hedgehog hybrid), Castanet’s tail-feather plumes and a great big bucket of black paint. Also, a lamprey-like giant worm called Thanatos with terrible tombstones for teeth.
If all this wasn’t enough, the art is insanely detailed and lush, with exotic, Eastern architecture not even hinted at on the cover. There are maps and monsters and a magnificent, walled, tiered garden. Moreover, if this was really serialised in THE PHOENIX COMIC, I cannot see the joins.
Also, I have a new favourite expletive:
“Sweet Sherbet Dipdabs!”
Lorenzo Etherington you may already have encountered in the VON DOOGAN puzzle adventure.
“The work those guys put into LONG GONE DON blows my miiiiind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are many, many creators whose work I love and admire and gasp in awe at, but Lorenzo is the only guy I know whose work I look at, and pause, and ask “are you actually HUMAN?””
– Neill Cameron of the awesome comic called HOW TO MAKE AWESOME COMICS
(Errrrr, in a private email which I haven’t even asked if I can quote. I am so indiscrete.)
Thirteen Chairs h/c (£10-99, David Fickling Books) by Dave Shelton.
Put yourself in young Jack’s shoes:
There are thirteen chairs set round a circular wooden table, one of them waiting for you.
In each other chair sits a stranger. There’s a big, bearded man with a bellowing voice; there’s a small girl with thick glasses who speaks in a swift monotone as if empty inside; and then there’s the pale man with well-behaved hair whose presence is commanding and whose posture is excellent.
In turn they tell stories by candlelight. None of their stories end well.
You know what they say about curiosity, and Jack is a curious boy. Come to think of it, each of these strangers in their own way is curious, as are their stories. Some sound like fables, others like confessions but they all are claimed to be true. Each involves death and most come laden with the weight of poetic justice, although one of the culprits is prose. Who knew that writing could kill you?
We stock very little prose at Page 45. For us, it is all about comics. Sure, we stock a full range of Neil Gaiman, but then he is ever so slightly renowned in our graphic world for things like THE SANDMAN and DEATH. There’s the heart-breaking A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay which you must never, oh never, read in public. But it’s packed full of the most jaw-dropping, Sienkiewicz-via-Steve-Bissette illustrations and – aside from the stories’ chapter breaks – this isn’t. What this has in common, however, is its horror yet humanity and its literary craft. I stole a little bit of it for my introduction. Here’s the pale man, the gathering’s compère:
‘He is a small man, soberly dressed in a dark suit that is neatly tailored and primly buttoned; a crisp white shirt with a wing collar; a plain dark tie. His hair is short and well-behaved. His posture is excellent.’
Try this, too:
‘”Come on in then,” she says, raising an arm and beckoning with long fingers, tickling at the air. “No skulking in the dark. Over here where we can see you.” Her voice is a soft and lovely thing, round and warm and with a sweet tang of teasing laughter.’
Dave Shelton is the author of the delightful all-ages comedy we also broke our no-prose policy to stock, A BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT, which we still seem to be selling at least one copy of every single week – usually to adults for adults. My Auntie Squee adores it. This is all-ages too, but emphatically not comedy. I was worried throughout, and so was Jack, and there is an ice-cold, chilling secret lying within which will reveal itself as soon as you’re ready to see it. The finale’s pay-off is sublime.
In the meantime you’ll enjoy multiple stories from diverse voices, each as distinct from each other as this is from A BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT. I was beseeched by its publisher to announce my favourite but I quite simply can’t. It could be the phantom in and of the deluge which I picture in my mind’s eye drawn by Will Eisner or coloured by Bettie Breitweiser. It could be Mr. Fowler’s childhood recollection of shirking work in his uncle’s tavern, spellbound by a ship all at sea and the cost to its crew of two brothers at war. Or maybe it’s matter-of-factual Amelia:
‘”I am not loud or funny or cheeky or popular. I am quite clever and quiet and not cool, and the other children make fun of my glasses, which are held together by sellotape at the moment because Dad fixed them with not very good glue in a hurry after Ellie sat on them, and so they broke again really easily when Sam kicked a football in my face, which was an accident again.”’
So no, actually, this isn’t without laughs.
‘”If Callum wants to try to make me cry he should call me something to do with being little, like ‘titch’ or ‘stick insect’ or something, because that would make more sense (even though it still wouldn’t make me cry because I don’t care about that sort of thing because I have a Positive Self Image because Dad told me I should).”’
She’s worried that Callum will “want to do revenge” on her because she got bored of him throwing her school bag in the air because it contained her school lunch and that contained tomatoes which could go squishy (they did) and so she punched him in the tummy and that made him sick all over his silly trainers.
‘”I try to keep an eye on them, but I drop some tomato on my biscuits (Dad gave me biscuits today because it is a Wednesday and Wednesday are biscuit days, and Mondays and Fridays are too, and Tuesdays are Healthy Choice days), and so I have to pay attention to that and get the seeds and juice off the top biscuit as fast as possible to stop it from being too tomatoey to eat (the bottom one is absolutely fine). I’m just deciding that the top biscuit is not OK to eat because it will be too tomatoey but that from now on I’ll ask Dad to wrap the biscuits in cellophane as well for extra safety, when I realise that I can’t see Mrs Fleet at all any more.”’
It reads breathlessly, like an infant’s school essay, doesn’t it?
I might have to concede, however, that my biggest soft spot is for big, bearded Piotr who repeats a story with a very grisly end told to him by his grandmother. (”My grandmother swears by her moustache that is true. So must be so.”) This is what I mean by completely different voices:
‘“So they take him to house, give him soup and bread and they tell him legend of silver ghost and red tree. Only they argue and can’t agree how story go. There is red tree and there is silver ghost, and some children and menfolk go missing in woods, and some cattle and plants die. This much they all agree. But rest? Oh boy! One say silver ghost live in red tree. One say, no, you fool, red tree grow fruit to protect from silver ghost. Another one say, you both wrong, silver ghost guard red tree. This all go on very long time and woodcutter bored. Also, soup is no good.”’
I’ve just realised I’ve picked out the two comically delivered monologues. I can assure you the rest will make you very uneasy.
So masterfully told are all these tales that only towards the end of each does it dawn on you where it is heading and whence it came: how expertly its outcome has been presaged. Within every one lies this moment of minor satori and that’s very clever, Mr. Fowler’s particularly so. All of which can be said for the book as a whole, but I see I must say no more.
So pull up a chair – any one from this spot-varnish cover, each as individualistic is its occupant – and prepare to be deeply unsettled by cats and by clocks and by things which are Not Quite Right.
The candles are burning low now.
But you may have just enough time.
Above The Dreamless Dead: World War I In Poetry And Comics h/c (£18-99, First Second) by various.
“It’s a bit preposterous us thinking we can illustrate this stuff that we know nothing of – sitting here in our air-conditioned rooms trying to imagine the horrors of being knee deep in mud with your feet rotting off.”
Nevertheless, Eddie does a convincing impression of knowing precisely what it felt, looked and smelled like, at night, and throws it in front of your face. Towards the end there is a close-up of what left of a clod-encrusted cadaver, its skull-thin face with opaque eye-jelly being crawled round by maggots.
“A barb had pierced his eye and stuck there, rusting in the socket from which sight was gone.”
It opens with the occasional crack of sniper bullets whipping the sandbags as soldiers stumble about like phantoms in the miasmatic fog, barbed wire lit up in ghostly electric arcs or, later, glistening with spiders’ webs and dew drops as it resists being dragged down and sucked into the mud by the weight of what’s left of a once-living human being. What’s left of Loos church and graveyard is also lit up in a ghastly, bone-strewn son et lumière. The overall effect is like staring into old-school black and white photographic negatives: indistinct, often terrifying.
Campbell chose to condense the closing chapter of a novel by Patrick MacGill, The Great Push (1916), but the rest of this black and white book is given over to the World War I Trench Poets – writers on the frontline responsible for breaking through the propaganda with their terrible truths – interpreted by an impressive array of comicbook creators:
Hannah Berry, Stephen R. Bissette, Lilli Carré, Lisbeth De Stercke, Hunt Emerson, Garth Ennis, Simon Gane, Sarah Glidden, Isabel Greenberg, Sammy Harkham, Kevin Huizenga, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Peter Kuper, James Lloyd, Pat Mills, Anders Nilsen, Danica Novgorodoff, George Pratt, Carol Tyler, Phil Winslade.
George Pratt takes on Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est and Greater Love. He notes in the back that, wishing to avoid overshadowing the words, he deliberately used thick tools like paint rollers and knives which wouldn’t allow him to overwork the images with details. It works.
My other favourite is Simon Gane’s second piece here, Osbert Sitwell’s The Next War, using war memorials from Britain and France, trailed with ivy, their age and textures perfectly rendered, each improbably well chosen to match and so evoke what was written. I urge you to hit the internet and gawp at the man’s architecture and landscape sketchwork.
Here you go, a rare external link: http://simongane.blogspot.co.uk/
There is an excellent introduction by Editor Chris Duffy, and commentary by the creators bringing up the rear. Kevin Huizenga’s is particularly worth noting.
Truth And Dare: A Comicbook Curriculum For The End And The Beginning Of The World (£6-99, Ecosocialist Horizons) by Chris Cardenale, Ethan Heitner, Seth Tobocman, Kate Evans, Paula Hewitt Amran, Jordan Worley, Mac McGill…
Do you think the world is unfair? Specifically, do you think capitalism is an unjust system which can only inevitably end in the destruction of our planet if left unchecked? Many would agree, I think, to some degree at least, and so consider this a primer.
First of all in ‘Creation to Extinction’ and ‘the nightmare is real…’ we see it graphically explained where this path of rampant consumption is taking us. Then in ‘The Enemy of Nature’ we see how the capitalist juggernaut was created, and thus precisely why and how we find ourselves in a situation where over 99% of the world’s material wealth is in the hands of less than 1% of the population, and what that inequity inevitably causes to happen to those at the opposite end of the fiscal scale. For the creators of this work, capitalism is simply a cancer which, if left untreated, can only lead to a painful demise for us all.
Next up, leavening what is obviously a somewhat serious read is Kate Evans using the Three Stooges to explain why ‘Money is Green too’, ‘Environmentalism for Dummies’ and ‘Socialism for Suckers’. Here we see why even what most people would consider tools for good, like environmentalism, have been subverted by the capitalist structure and how what most people would consider as the obvious alternative to capitalism, socialism, has been expertly and quite deliberately demonised by those in control, particularly in American, as akin to communism.
Finally, alternative solutions to the impending apocalypse are pro-offered, along with a further reading list of some several hundred prose titles covering such diverse topics as ‘The Ecosocialist Horizon’, ‘Fighting Oppression’, ‘Anti-Capitalist Energy Transition’ and ‘The Solidarity Economy’.
I admire the enthusiasm and endeavour of all the creators. I agree with them to some extent, though I don’t entirely share their views by any means. But what this certainly is, though, is indeed a curriculum. The addition of the reading list, for those who do wish to learn more about class activism and the socio-economic chains that bind virtually all of us to lesser or greater degrees, is a fantastic collation of essential critical thinking and instructive works. A very worthy endeavour, which is also a fascinating and thought-provoking magazine-sized comic collection.
El Nino h/c (£26-99, Humanoids) by Christian Perrissin & Boro Pavlovic.
El Niño, of course, is the name for the massive warming of coastal waters around South America resulting in freakish storms, shifts in currents, raisins in jam and huge piles of pasta all over the floor.
Well, it does if you’re on board a boat in one of those storms. Guess where Vera is? On board a boat in one of those storms.
Returning to Paris from a gruelling Red Cross mission, Vera, a self-confessed Gadjo (non-Gypsy), visits her father’s grave in Père-Lachaise to find some of her old folk there, eating brunch. When she visits them later in a flooded suburb, they reluctantly tell her about Kolya, her supposed Siamese-twin brother, who joined the merchant navy before disappearing, never to be heard from again. The last thing they received was a letter from one Jean René Isnard in Polynesia, who claims Kolya’s safe and on his way back home.
Confused by the medical knowledge that Siamese twins can’t be of different sexes, and restless to leave Paris in any case, Vera flies out to Polynesia to discover that Jean René is dead and his son, now a captain of a vessel himself, isn’t best pleased to see her. Now obsessed, Vera tries to intercept the boat in Bora Bora, which brings us to the storm.
Prime European drama (he says, sweepingly), with exotic landscapes perfectly evoked and the mandatory gratuitous nuddie scene. I’m a third of the way through and I can’t put it down…
… I wrote back in 2005.
I did put it down eventually: once in 2009 to celebrate Page 45’s 15th Anniversary with Jonathan, Dominique, Bryan and Mary Talbot, dear Liam Sharp, Dr Mel Gibson and over a hundred of you lovely wastrels; twice in 2011 to go to the toilet; then once during our recent Bryan Lee O’Malley signing when I dropped it on my knee. It’s very heavy, and I’m still wearing a Tubigrip to bring the swelling down.
We should probably celebrate Page 45’s 20th Anniversary in some fashion this October. Fancy coming along?
Death Of Wolverine #1 (£3-99, Marvel) by Charles Soule & Steve McNiven.
I warn you about that right now. Process pieces are fascinating, and in the second half Steve McNiven takes you through pages as they evolve and shows you a few he simply binned because the composition wasn’t right. He pays tribute to Barry Windsor-Smith’s work and shows have he’s incorporated that double-barrelled influence.
Then there’s an extensive interview with Wolverine’s co-creator Len Wein who pays tribute to Dave Cockrum and explains that the name came from Roy Thomas and how he lined Logan up in case the X-Men were ever revived from their hiatus.
Fab. I’m just saying, brace yourselves for the credits to roll halfway through: it’s a right downer hitting To Be Continued when you thought you’d another 20 pages in store.
Anyway, yes, Steve McNiven you may know as Mark Millar’s artist on WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN, NEMESIS and Marvel’s CIVIL WAR, all of which come with the highest recommendation to superhero fans, the first one being my favourite Wolverine book to date. Obviously to become an old man he’ll need to last a lot longer than this title implies which should probably be Looting Logan For All He’s Worth Although It’ll Be Pretty Damn Lucrative When We Bring Him Back Too.
As the weekly, five-issue mini-series kicks off, Logan is sat on a battered porch clutching his Mom’s sick note so he can skip P.E.. Both he and his claws are covered in blood, which is bad news because as Reed Richards explains, without his healing factor…
“You’re a prime candidate for heavy metal-related leukemia. If you don’t get endocarditis from all the bacteria you pull into yourself every time you use your claws.”
So far neither Stark nor McCoy nor now Reed Richards have been able to revive Wolverine’s healing factor so staying out of brawls until they do is Logan’s best bet. Unfortunately the second word gets out that small, dark and hairy is vulnerable brawls are going to be unavoidable. Word gets out.
There’s not a great deal more to report on the story front. You can expect at least one supervillain per issue and I suspect that will only escalate. It’s Steve’s art that impresses, increasingly so with each project he graces, and the double-page spread here may not be the flashiest you’ve ever seen, but its composition is impeccable: those man’s shoulders are very broad indeed.
No, no, you’re quite right: this may be the dullest review I’ve ever written.
Thunderbirds vol 1, vol 2, vol 3 (£6-99 each, Egmont) by unknown & Frank Bellamy.
You’ve got to love that tune: a jaunty little western number given the Flight of the Valkyries treatment.
Just like the films of Ray Harryhausen, Gerry Anderson’s puppetry – or supermarionation – represented class and craft, as well as an easy-to-mimic wibbly-wobbly walk in the school playground.
The Thunderbirds themselves were some of the most thrillingly designed crafts of all time, none more so than Thunderbird 2: ribbed, thick and sturdy in army olive green, boasting two enormous red engines and a series of interchangeable, central pod / hangars to carry industrial drilling machines or, most often, subaquatic, canary-yellow Thunderbird 4. Ahead of the craft’s take-off from the Tracy family island, twin rows of palm trees would flop obligingly over to let it through. I built a gigantic beast of a version in Lego (complete with slide-down hangars, yes) and would flick my own Lego trees over manually, two at a time.
Thunderbird 1 exploded out of a hidden central silo, Thunderbird 3… well, we rarely saw that, nor does it appear here except on the third volume’s cover! But each was reached by secret metal chutes hidden behind trapdoors hung with their respective pilots’ portraits (whose eyes lit up during communication!).
And oh, those pilots were fit! Scott Tracy of Thunderbird 1 was one of my very earliest crushes. The other Tracys were way too blonde and Captain Scarlet had a propensity for six o’clock shadow which, as a five-year-old, I simply couldn’t get into.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Thunderbirds was thrilling, and something we could all act out between episodes. Equally thrilling here is the F.A.B. art because, if I haven’t already succeeded in tripping your nostalgia switch, let me just repeat the name Frank Bellamy: Frank Bellamy, Frank Bellamy, Frank Bellamy. There is the sleekest foreshortening from behind or in front as each super-jet hurtles full-throttle towards you. And the colours, oh lord, the colours…
Of course, if you stop to think for five seconds, the whole Tracy set-up was one hell of a patriarchal boys-only club – science boffin Brains bobbing obediently alongside them, wittering “G-g-g-gee, Mister Tracy” before even evacuating his bowels – wisely eschewed by aristocratic super-sleuth Lady Penelope (who must surely be some sort of an influence for Lara Croft) who preferred to park up that pink Rolls Royce alongside her own English mansion, thank you. Or get Parker, her swarthy-faced butler, to do it for her.
At which point I’d like to close by ruining your childhood with one of my favourite jokes. You need to get into character for it, so practise Lady Penelope’s purring lilt and Parker’s sinus-troubled subservience…
Lady Penelope returns to her stately home after a night out on the town to find her butler Parker waiting dutifully at the door.
“Parker,” she murmurs in her sultry, upper-class accent, perhaps a little sloshed on champagne, “Please come upstairs to my bedroom.”
“Now, Parker, I want you to take off my coat.”
“Take off my boots.”
“Take off my stockings.”
“Take off my blouse.”
“Take off my skirt.”
“Take off my bra!”
“Take off my knickers!”
“And never, ever let me catch you wearing them again!”
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 Wrenchies (£14-99, First Second) by Farel Dalrymple
Zero vol 2: At The Heart Of It All s/c (£10-99, Image) by Ales Kot & Vanesa R. Del Rey, Matt Taylor, Jorge Coelho, Tonci Zonjic, Michael Gaydos
BPRD Hell On Earth vol 9 – Reign Of Black Flame (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & James Harren
Crossed: Wish You Were Here vol 4 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Simon Spurrier & Fernando Melek
Cyanide & Happiness vol 3: Punching Zoo s/c (£10-99, Boom! Box) by Kris, Rob, Matt, Dave
Shoplifter h/c (£14-99, Pantheon) by Michael Cho
Uber vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Kieron Gillen & Canaan White
Y – The Last Man Book vol 1 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
Justice League Of America vol 2: Survivors Of Evil h/c (£18-99, DC) by Matt Kindt & Doug Mahnke, various
Justice League vol 4: The Grid s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, various
Justice League vol 5: Forever Heroes h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke, Joe Prado, various
All New X-Men vol 5 One Down h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen, Sara Pichelli
Castle: Calm Before Storm s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Peter David & Robert Atkins
Thor God Of Thunder vol 1: The God Butcher s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic
Thor God Of Thunder vol 2: Godbomb s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic, Butch Guice
Uncanny Avengers vol 4: Avenge Earth h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender & Daniel Acuña
Winter Soldier Brubaker Complete Collection s/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Butch Guice, Michael Lark
Attack On Titan Guidebook (£10-99, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama
Bleach vol 61 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo
D. Gray-Man vol 24 (£6-99, Viz) by Katsura Hoshino
Legal Drug Omnibus (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Clamp
Noragami Stray God vol 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Adachitoka
Rosario Vampire Season 2 vol 13 (£6-99, Viz) by Akihisa Ikeda
The Seven Deadly Sins vol 4 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Nakaba Suzuki
ITEM! Tom Gauld’s hilarious Guardian comic on grammar-correcting gits – oh god, I may be guilty, myself!
ITEM! Come along, creatives! Neill Cameron has big blog of free resources to go with his awesome comic, HOW TO MAKE AWESOME COMICS! He even links to our review where you can buy it directly from us. Bananas!
ITEM! Awesome photos as ever: Sarah McIntyre’s blog on GARY’S GARDEN graphic novel launch night! Are your eyes boggling? Page 45’s review of Gary Northfield’s GARY’S GARDEN.
ITEM! Sarah McIntyre writes about why she loves teaching kids to create, she doesn’t want any of her own. Clear, candid and lovingly expressed.
ITEM! ‘Morrissey Gets A Job by Brian Brooks’. ( I Know It’s Going To Happen Someday — To Me.)
ITEM! Infiltration, ahoy! Susie Cumberland has taken it upon herself to promote quality British Comics – on a website which seems dedicated solely to American superheroes. Love the subversion! Love her choices, too. What a kick off!
ITEM! Following last week’s article by Leigh Alexander, Penny Red on how and why women in games and comics are winning the war against online misogynists. Brilliant!
ITEM! Oh dear lord, but I love me some neo-classicism. Paul Reid’s ‘Cernunnos Study’. Oil on canvas
ITEM! Our Jonathan will be speaking at this free Nottingham Trent University Event for Small Businesses. Please see “programme” for the, err, programme.
ITEM! Nottingham’s GameCity 2014 (25th October to 1st November) clashes not with the Lake District’s Comic Art Festival 2014 where Page 45 will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary! Both events linked to there, yes!
My own ticketed talk, The Art Of Selling Comics, which you will need to book in advance is, incredibly, one of the best subscribed to, so please book now so I can call my next one The Art Of Selling Bums On Seats.
I refer, of course, to bottoms (and so often I do) not the vagabond chic I doubt you’ll be dressed in. You leave that to me.