Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews February 2015 week four

Latest graphic memoir from Lucy Knisley, Jim Henson’s DARK CRYSTAL, UMBRAL VOL 2 by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten, CRIMINAL VOL 2 by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, Young Adult Graphic Novels from Andi Watson and Raina Telgemeier, several self-published comics and Jodorowsky’s FINAL INCAL from Humanoids Press.

Displacement (£14-99, Fantagraphics) by Lucy Knisley…

“Help! Why am I here taking care of my grandparents by myself!? Maybe I’ll get novovirus and they’ll airlift us out!”

That is a very good question. Why is Lucy looking after Alzheimic, nonagenarian grandparents on – of all the potentially hazardous places – a cruise ship around the Caribbean by herself?

Leaving aside the answer to that question for a moment, what I do know is that this scenario makes for great comics! This is definitely my favourite Lucy Knisley work so far, it really did make me chuckle and shake my head in disbelief throughout. You might not think escorting elderly relatives on holiday has much potential for drama but, believe you me, you’d be very wrong.

It does slightly beggar belief that her family have let her take sole charge of what everyone believes will be Phyllis & Allen’s last holiday. And you do definitely get the impression everyone is absolutely delighted they haven’t got the responsibility of making sure said holiday isn’t the actual reason for their demise. Phyllis’ Alzheimer’s  is by any standards pretty severe indeed, with her barely being able to remember where she is from one moment to the next, and whilst Allen is more compus mentis, his frequent bouts of incontinence, and his lack of concern regarding them, present their own challenges. Indeed, you might think a member of the family would have voiced the opinion that a holiday destination with the immediate and ever-present danger of falling overboard and drowning might not be the best choice…


It certainly means Lucy is kept on her toes and that continuous sense of stress she has to endure provides the perfect backdrop for some rather touching and tender moments of connection with her grandparents, plus her reminiscences regarding her grandparents’ younger days and their place in her own childhood. That sense of love shining through the drudgery of duty certainly comes through strongly, and it’s clear that whilst Lucy doesn’t exactly get to enjoy her vacation, she does appreciate the chance to spend some genuine extended quality time alone with her grandparents, probably for the last time.

Nice to see that this work is in full colour, too, as we only had flashes of it in her last work, AGE OF LICENCE. She has a lovely, delicate, precise art style that looks really clean and simple, but I am sure is rather difficult to execute with such panache. I think the truism of less is more certainly applies with illustration, as you have absolutely nowhere to hide if your drawing abilities are not of the highest standard. I also loved how each chapter heading, one for each day of the holiday, is just a full page of waves, different every time, mind you. It seems highly appropriate for what I am sure felt like an endless perpetual motion endurance test of a vacation at times. Happily, it’s much more fun for us to read.


Buy Displacement and read the Page 45 review here

Umbral vol 2: The Dark Path s/c (£10-99, Image) by Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten.

“The war is over, Rascal. The world is ours.
“You have the power to avoid all the bloodshed that is to come. Just give me the Oculus.”

Everyone’s after the Oculus. It’s the magic equivalent of the 40-inch flatscreen on last year’s Black Friday.

“Oh. My. God.
“Anyone else want to remind me I’m just a stupid little girl?”

At which point I’d remind you that Rascal is far from being a stupid little girl, and when you get to the last five pages, do remember I said that.

Rascal is a resourceful young thief who stumbled upon the Umbral – pitch-black, metamorphic nightmare creatures with slashed-out, razor-tooth grins – just as they slaughtered the royal family, stole the throne and acquired some serious real estate.

In return Rascal stole the Oculus just as they were about to use it, and now they want it back. Since they are shape-shifters impersonating those at the highest levels of power and therefore in charge of the entire kingdom, UMBRAL VOL 1: OUT OF THE SHADOWS was one long, frantic chase through Strakhelm’s secret caverns and its less cooperative taverns, but this second volume has quite a different angle and pace.

Rascal is now riding towards Sunrise with the foul-mouthed bastard smuggler called Shayim, a one-eyed woman who effectively brought Rascal up; also green-skinned lard-bucket and daytime drunkard, Profoss Munty, former soldier turned academic; and Dalone, a grey-bearded man who claims to be a 500-year-old wizard who fought in the war by Strakan’s side and maintained the Orbis, the shield over the Pit to prevent the Umbral escaping. There are a few problems with that. Firstly, he appears to be singularly useless at magic. Can’t cast a spell. Not one. Although he is trying to teach Rascal. Secondly, there is no mention of Dalone or the Orbis in any history books.

“It’s as if someone rewrote history.”

Or he’s lying. The Umbral say he is lying. Oh yes, our gang of four may have escaped Strakhelm but every time Rascal falls asleep she returns to their nightmare realm to be goaded about her parents and past. And most of what is said makes sense.

Thirdly – and this is a problem for our entire gang of four – the Umbral are shapeshifters, right? Who is to say that any of our gang is who they seem?

Johnston has smuggled all you need know into this book and hidden every piece in plain sight. But he has hidden it so well that on a first reading you don’t have a clue what you’re looking at. Either you don’t trust it or it doesn’t sink in. It’s only on a second reading – after the Phoenix-like finale where the anger will out – that you start chuckling to yourself every half-dozen pages.

We’re also welcomed to Tolgleam, a sylvan city sequestered in The Bulaswode forest, spiralling up the cliff-face behind it, we’re introduced to The Kin Of The Whispered Blade (if one of them asks for a word in your ear, run like crazy, run like hell) and we’re kept appraised of movements at the subterranean Mist Mountain where developments occur with a certain degree of detachment far from shared by the Umbral. Funny! I like funny, foul-mouthed villains.

All of which is rendered deliciously by Mssrs. Mitten, Boyd and Mauer predominantly in purples and greens. I go on at greater language about the magic language etc in UMBRAL VOL 1: OUT OF THE SHADOWS but here your first sight of Tolgleam rising from canopy to canopy and lit by a drizzling of mist will send you scrambling for superlatives while the second of three big reveals concerning our gang of four at the end of chapter eleven will have you turning the page back and forth, wondering if the words have been wrongly assigned. They have not! Hahahahahaha! Makes you think, eh?

Lastly, can I heap and extra dollop of praise on Team Umbral for the Umbral’s calling cards: those slashed-out, razor-toothed snarls, lit from within as if by a furnace and which make just as much sense when they (wildly) exceed the sides of their faces as when they don’t. No easy trick to pull off. If they didn’t work half so well – if as recurring images they hadn’t embedded themselves so emphatically in your brain – well, yeah…

UMBRAL VOL 1 was possibly our most popular Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month of all time. The feedback was deafening. See you back here for round three! It does seem that anything could happen.


Buy Umbral vol 2: The Dark Path and read the Page 45 review here

Criminal vol 2: Lawless s/c (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

“Before it was over Tracy did get the answers he wanted, and a few he didn’t. But it seemed to him that was just the nature of answers.”

Is family a trap? Tracy Lawless might come to believe so.

A soldier court-martialled, confined and now released after some “episodes” in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, he returns to his home city to solve the riddle of his younger brother’s death nearly a year earlier. It’s a long game involving patience, surveillance, and infiltration after building a reputation, for Ricky had fallen into his father’s life of crime and become involved with a particular group of heisters and more than involved with the woman in their midst.

So does Tracy.

Wracked with guilt about what he sees as abandoning his brother, he recalls their different relationships with their father, and the separate courses which those relationships and their difference in age set them on.

“If only you’d been a couple years older… If only your legs were long enough to reach the gas pedal.”

Phillips gets slicker and slicker, his twilight faces effortlessly expressive, and I know it’s a little thing, but I love the shapes of the speech balloons, slightly more ragged than most: it helps integrate them into the artwork.

Brubaker as always knows his stuff, like what makes the ideal model for a getaway car. Once again he builds a compelling narrative around a couple of “jobs” which themselves are bursting with tension, but it’s about what makes people tick underneath, how they got where they are, and whether they understand that before it’s too late.

We keep the other volumes in stock as well, but all six volumes of CRIMINAL are structured so that you can pick up each one separately if, for example, you prefer this scenario to the last. As with the new edition of CRIMINAL VOL 1, the original landscape covers are now included in their ISBN-free glory.


Buy Criminal vol 2: Lawless s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Princess Decomposia & Count Spatula (£10-99, FirstSecond) by Andi Watson.

Young B’Adult Literature At Its Best!

What can I even mean?!?

Poor Princess Dee is so very industrious.

Well, she has to be: there’s mail to be minded, state papers to be signed, laws to be licensed and delegations she’s been delegated to attend! The Underworld doesn’t run itself, you know!

This should all fall to her father, the king. Alas, he is utterly exhausted from so many hours devoted to bed, attending assiduously to each of his own ailments and really putting his back into putting everybody out – especially his daughter and chef. He’s so addicted to Wellbeing Weekly and each of its dull-as-dishwater fads that he’s demoralised his last royal chef into seeking alternative employment where the food is more nourishing and tasty: Dismal Vista Prison!

And that’s what I mean by B’Adult:

The king is a bad adult – an emotionally manipulative and selfish shirker, evading every exertion and exigence. He relies instead on the limitless patience of his doting daughter who takes his responsibilities very seriously indeed.


“Just when I think I’ve cleared my desk, CLUNK, down comes another pile of papers.”
“You need a holiday.”
“Then I’d never be able to catch up.”

I hear you, hon! I hear you!

Into this limp and unleavened mix comes Count Spatula, master pâtissier with a shaved head, slightly pointy ears and twin gaps in his teeth where some would sport fangs! Oooh!

But young Count Spatula has a rare sense of perspective, a heart of gold and a recipe for the most unconventional lemon-drizzle cake you can imagine! Umbrella required! He picks our Dee up when she’s at her most down and even attempts to bring a zing of zest to the dining table of the old king himself. Unfortunately that may get him noticed…

From the creator of Young Adult soaraway successes GUM GIRL and GLISTER, plus British adult classics which we cannot sell you for shame that they are out of print (BREAKFAST AFTER NOON and LITTLE STAR, our first-ever Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month), comes the sort of kids’ comic I crave: one which, as ever with Andi Watson, neither underestimates nor talks down to its audience with linguistically or visually infantile clichés.

PRINCESS DECOMPOSIA AND COUNT SPATULA, for example, owes everything in its inking to silent cinema creep-fests ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari’, hence the misty mid-day focus when Dee and Cee are out and about in the Overworld summer-sunshine, and all the speckled, flecked and flickering, scratched-black-celluloid effects at night!

So much of this art is to die for. I love Princess Decomposia’s minimal, pointy nose, often appearing so far to the right that it’s merely representative. I love the shiny adoration in her eyes at the climax of her six-page plea for reason and reaction – for responsibility – from her father. I love the black, bat-winged buns of her hair! I love her father’s face, a wizened black-hole of wrinkled skin being sucked into itself through sheer lassitude. And I laughed out loud at the Lycanthrope delegation’s debonair dismay when offered a biscuit in the form of a Winalot Shape.

Give the dog a bone!


Buy Princess Decomposia & Count Spatula and read the Page 45 review here

Drama s/c (£8-99, Scolastic) by Raina Telgemeier.

Everything about this book begged me to hate it.

I’ve read neither SMILE nor SISTERS so had no preconceptions, but I’m allergic to the melodramatic strain of cartooning wherein every character in every panel gesticulates wildly with their mouths wide open as if they are shouting even when they have nothing whatsoever to say.

I also harbour an extreme aversion to this sort of “Gosh!” and “Wow!” over-zealous glee which makes me shudder as much as the threat of a group hug. And then there’s that other ‘Glee’ factor for this is indeed focussed on the build-up to a theatrical performance during which you just know that people will “discover themselves”.

Ugh! It’s all so wholesome that I soon felt the need to cull kittens.

Except. The twins won me over. Let’s back up, shall we?

Callie has a crush on Greg and stuck-up, self-centred Bonnie has finally ditched him, hurrah! Shy Callie then makes the move she’s been dying to make for ages but, umm, Greg just doesn’t see her that way and it all grows a bit awkward. Thankfully there’s the distraction of ‘Moon Over Mississippi’, this year’s Spring musical production, and Callie just loves the theatre. She has no aspirations as an actor, mind, but she loves set designs and has loads of ambition.

And that’s when the twins appear – Justin and Jesse – as Callie’s pinning the auditions notice to the board in the corridor.

Equally ‘theatrical’ (read: camp as tits), it’s Justin who’s most outgoing and stage-struck and (of course) gay of the two, while Jesse is perfectly happy to sit back, admire and support his brother. Callie may have a crush on him. Jesse may have a crush on Callie.

Anyway, the pages that got me hooked against all odds (because musicals too make me vomit) involve Callie, Justin and Jesse buzzed up after a trip to an independent book store, Jesse and Callie stepping in and out of a giant book on set design. Jesse suggests Justin sing Callie the part he’s gunning for in ‘Moon Over Mississippi’ which is the romantic lead. Obediently Justin hops over to the car park palm tree and begins to act his socks off and sing his heart out. Then comes the pregnant pause in which the lady-love-interest is supposed to respond. Jesse smiles shyly at Callie, blushing, before clip-clopping over to his brother, staring into his eyes adoringly:

“I’d no plans for a man from a northerly land, till I first saw your face. But I knew, yes I knew, though my daddy hated you, we’d meet again… in a special place.”
“That’s the part where they kiss,” says Justin with a big, broad grin, Jesse smiling ever-bashfully.

“Obviously!!!” shouts Callie, traumatised.

Infer what you will. Structurally it’s all rather clever with that moment reprised to perfection and, no, this is emphatically not about Callie getting a boyf. Being single is a perfectly viable option, you know.


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

She Always Looked Good In Hats (Signed & Numbered) (£7-00) by Matthew Melis…

“You’re my hero! If a theatre was closing and I had the money…”
“But that’s the point, Donnie. Jodhpurs doesn’t have the money.”
“I thought this was just a summer job, not a dream thing.”
“Does it have to be a dream? Can’t it just be an opportunity?”
“It’s an expensive bit of serendipity to chase after.”

She may have looked good in ribbons too, but Matthew Melis’ self-published work concentrates wholly on the magnificence of millinery, and the desire of Alice, a.k.a. Jodhpurs, to carve out a meaningful and enjoyable career for herself, rather than just slavishly follow a pre-programmed path of wage slavery. A summer job selling hats at a store run in a quiet part of town by the elderly Ollie proves to be a revelation, and when his landlord decides not to let him renew his lease, it seems like it might be time for him to call it a day, close the shop and retire gracefully.

For Alice, though, Ollie’s stock represents a possibility, to pursue something that she’s become truly excited about, by setting up a shop of her own. She knows she’ll need a far more prominent location to make it work, though, and they don’t come cheap. Cue some serious soul-searching and discussions with family members and friends concerned she might be about to make an extremely expensive mistake.

What a wonderfully well written passion piece about the joys of independent retailing and hats both! Matthew captures Alice’s character and dilemma so well: this is first and foremost a character study of an individual who yearns for fulfilment, and how pursuing your dreams should be something that’s given the utmost consideration, rather than just dismissed as a flight of fancy. Just imagine if twenty years ago our Stephen and Mark had decided that starting a comic shop was just too much of a risk – it doesn’t bear thinking about!

I greatly enjoyed Matthew’s art too. He clearly likes his portraits, as many of the panels revolve around talking heads, which helps to really drive this work forward and pack in an enormous amount of storytelling into the also ample 43 pages, but he does like his curvy ladies too, hence Alice’s nickname. When you hear about thighs that could crack a walnut, well, Alice certainly possesses such a pair.

I also love a work where I find out a great useless fact I was previously unaware of. In this instance that Harold Lloyd, yes the silent movie star of ‘a pair of glasses and a smile’ fame and indeed an ever-present straw boater, was partly the clumsy, buffoonish inspiration for the secret identity of Clark Kent. I never knew that, and yet it makes perfect sense. But, like Harold after another round of chaotic upheaval, will Alice end up with a smile on her face, and perhaps even a hat at a suitable jaunty angle…?


Buy She Always Looked Good In Hats (Signed & Numbered) and read the Page 45 review here

Dangeritis (£7-99, Great Beast) by Robert M Ball, Warwick Johnson Cadwell.


Like the award-winning NELSON, this is a comicbook relay race although – come to think of it – relay races you practise. This has been entirely extemporised in the vein of a game of comicbook consequences perpetrated by reprobates Robert and Warwick AND I THOUGHT THEY KNEW BETTER.

It’s a daft, day-glo cross between Jackie Chan and Hong Kong Phooey starring a dude with shoulder-length ginger hair and an equally dubious ‘tache. As the petrol station cashier sits idling texting and tweeting, our Derek is set upon by ninjas. There: that’s the protagonist and plot in all its intricate detail. There’s a pie gag that takes 2 minutes and 10 pages to bring to the boil in a microwave while Robert and Warwick take turns on the left and right respectively before clashing like the titans they are on the same explosive page.

Seriously, though, when was the last time you saw a ninja knocked out by a “Get Well Soon” card?

My favourite page is an angular cross between Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko – a splash-page that isn’t, with panels slotted into the spaces left over by the centre-piece assailant – which is immediately answered by Derek legging it Steranko-stylee with such a severe degree of foreshortening that it could give you the bends.

Ideally I should be analysing the far from complementary art styles in depth, dropping names like Rian Hughes on the left and Mike McMahon on the right but such an endeavour would be entirely at odds with the proceedings which the pun-prone might call criminal.

We ordered copies of this from Mr Ball three years ago and finally they have arrived. I will not be putting him in charge of emergency evacuation procedures any time soon.


Buy Dangeritis and read the Page 45 review here

Hepatic Portal (£5-00) by Emix Regulus.

Reading this for review I had to open my dictionary and my Biology A Level notes a total of thirteen times. (I got an ‘A’, since you ask.)

It’s a visually delicate affair with a thin but far from frail line whether in black and white or coloured in pale pinks, mauve, flesh, green, blue, browns and… no idea what that colour is.

‘The Allotment’ stars a potato plant whose subterranean tubers are alarmed by the metamorphosis of one of their own from common or garden spud to the sort of giant gem which John Pertwee wielded in his final Doctor Who story ‘Planet Of The Spiders’. Thence it disappears. As a helpful, peanut-shaped gourd explains:

“As soon as his subtle body became denser than his physical one, he simply ceased to manifest in this dimension. Indeed! He still exists, just in a different, more advanced dimension to ours!”

Let us just say that the potatoes are far from impressed and resistant to change / ambition.


‘Professional Phagocyte’ is a one-page rap and indeed wrap as a bunch of white blood cells chow down on bacteria, parasites and your own dead cell debris before the resultant pus combo erupts as volcanic acne on your post-pubescent cheek. Pop music indeed!

Paging Planet Asia…

“Can’t escape – you’re white and celly”
“Get digested in your belly”
“Livin’ in the immunity melee”
“Microcopically merciless like Machievelli.”

Your hepatic portal vein, by the way, is the vessel conducting blood from your gastrointestinal tract and spleen to your liver. The vein can therefore rich in nutrients depending on whether or not you live off Haribo Tangfastics like me.

The title’s relevance becomes clearer during ‘The Ark’ whose opening joke takes smart-arse too far and it was at this point that the crystals began to irritate me. There are more crystals in this comic than can be easily absorb – you could almost say it was saturated.*

‘WhyBalls’ is a welcome warning, presenting the latest human upgrade in a pair of eyeballs which provides the viewer with way too much information. Worse still, avoid True Eyes at all costs unless you think telepathy would be a blessing. (It wouldn’t.)

‘Dream No 4,096’ is, I suspect, a stab at LITTLE NEMO but it’s only a flesh wound with no comprehension of the mechanics of Winsor McCay’s panel dynamics, but then all is redeemed by the final four-pager involving a sonic purge for bile. Mostly the journey is more important than the destination unless you’re in dire need of a toilet, but here it is the punchline after such a density of information which proves itself laugh-out-loud funny.

* He wrote, taking smart-arse too far.


Buy Hepatic Portal and read the Page 45 review here

Final Incal h/c (£22-99, Humanoids) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Ladronn…

“Got him! He’s falling towards the great acid lake!”

Which, as devotees of the original THE INCAL material will know, is precisely where we left class R detective John DiFool, and indeed also where we first met him, due to the cyclical nature of said work.

Now, given how perfectly and magnificently complete THE INCAL is, with its expansive metaphysical themes, you might think I would have reflected before now, why did Jodorowsky ever feel the need to write this sequel? I didn’t, simply because I was incredibly excited to read it, this material never having been translated from the French before. I’m sure you can guess where this is going…

So, I am now left wondering if the real reason Moebius quit the project was his heart just wasn’t in it. Yes, he did complete about half of it, originally released as one album-sized book entitled AFTER THE INCAL in French, but then the project languished until Jodorowsky brought Ladronn on board, and decided to completely rework the story, and so Ladronn drew the whole thing starting from scratch.

If THE INCAL did not exist, I would be extolling the virtues of FINAL INCAL to high heaven, for it is intelligently and hilariously written, and is certainly an absolute visual feast, this material being just as beautiful in its own right as anything else produced within the INCAL / METABARONS / TECHNOPRIESTS milieu. But – and it is a big but – it feels like such an unnecessary, watered-down sequel when compared to the magnificence of the original that I just couldn’t help feeling disappointed upon completing it. It has little of the philosophical sophistication or multi-layered elegance of the original. Yes, Jodorowsky throws a couple of very minor devices of that ilk in, but overall it just feels like an incredibly slick and beautiful speculative action comedy adventure.

Is it wrong for me to feel disappointed by a work of such an incredibly high standard? If it is, it’s only because Jodorowsky pushed the bar so impossibly high for himself with THE INCAL. I do get the impression from what I have read about him that he doesn’t like to leave any idea unused, and I just wonder whether this isn’t a case of a sequel simply for the sake of it, entirely to satisfy himself. Also, the foreword is provided by Kayne West…? But given how much of an egomaniac Jodorowsky allegedly is, Yeezus himself is possibly the most apposite choice!


Buy Final Incal h/c and read the Page 45 review here

In God We Trust h/c (£17-99, Knockabout) by Winshluss…

“Don’t the find that the world has gone crazy?! Those once sacred values corrupted… Murder, corruption, pornography… I tell you truly, the end is nigh!!! And why you ask? Well because people have forgotten all the marvellous teaching contained in the Bible!

Hmm. My sarcasm-sense is tingling. Note: anyone considering this as a present for a Christian friend, I’d advise you to give it a miss as Winshluss’ epic reimagining of biblical events sways back and forth, from the ribald to the cruel, from hilarious to blasphemous, more often than a trappist monk who’s over-wet his whistle with the monastery ale. Probably safer to go for GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU instead…

I wonder whether Winschluss was inspired in part by Crumb’s THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED? But whereas the genius of that work is the story is presented completely straight, the events themselves thus providing humour in abundance, this is very much gag-strip laffs of the more puerile kind. It does make some fairly salient points regarding the problems of past and current-day establishment Christianity, and pokes fun at the ridiculousness of taking some of the events of the Bible as verbatim fact, but it’s done in a somewhat schoolboy fashion and comes off as entirely mean-spirited, which doesn’t really work for me humour-wise on  this particular topic.

I fully get that the Christian churches deserve this lambasting of their conduct and canon to an extent, and it is well done for what it is, but there’s nothing remotely new here comics-wise, and it just feels like someone taking repeated potshots at an easy target. With God portrayed as a fag-smoking, curly-haired, childish reprobate it actually all comes off a bit FURRY FREAK BROTHERS. (I’ve just remembered I felt exactly the same about Alan Grant’s TALES OF THE BUDDHA BEFORE HE WAS ENLIGHTENED.) So this will therefore undoubtedly have great appeal for some, but certainly none for others.


Buy In God We Trust and read the Page 45 review here

Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal vol 1: Creation Myths s/c (£10-99, Archaia) by Brian Holguin, Brian Froud & Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John.

“… But as I drew and designed, I seemed to discover creatures and places from a civilization that had been long lost. It was more like archaeology than art, yet art it was.”

 — Brian Froud, from his introduction.

Has it really been thirty + years since this beautiful fantasy first came to the cinema?

Brian Froud’s designs for this film gave the story a weight the technical skill of the Jim Henson Co. couldn’t carry alone. While in the film we see a dying world populated by mysterious characters, the world they inhabited was by far the most intriguing aspect of the whole. Its ruined structures hinted at past prowess through the undergrowth, and a lot of thought went into what exactly they meant. The strange glyphs and diagrams carved into the buildings and stones weren’t just throwaway aesthetic garnish, but based upon an understanding of the astronomical knowledge of this fictional world’s tri-star system which, if you remember from the film, orbited the planet Thra and “sung” to the Crystal deep in its bowels. This is symbolised by a series of concentric circles encasing an inverted triangle.

From this emblem Henson & Co created not only a world, but a religion, a complex society. Then they destroyed it, leaving us with arcane hints in the fantastic dystopia of Thra.


The first in a trilogy of books (of course!) explaining the legend of how Thra came from nothing, gave life to the ancient witch Aughra and how her wisdom cost her an eye, the loyalty of her son and the eventual genocide of her beloved Gelflings. This is a gorgeous object, as you would expect from the company that brought you MOUSE GUARD [and Toppi’s THE COLLECTOR], and Alex and Lizzy’s art is indistinguishable from Froud’s timeless designs.

[Editor’s note: one of my nicknames at university was Gelfling. I too was beloved once.]


Buy Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal vol 1: Creation Myths s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire vol 2 (£8-99, Viz) by Naoki Serizawa

Can I just apologise to any customers I served with a croaky throat recently? Every time I said “Thank you” I sounded like the cowled arms dealer from Resident Evil 4. I hope you went away with suitable upgrades and not some enormous floppy fish. Where you stash your missile launcher and medicinal ‘erbs is entirely up to you.

Has anyone reading this played Resi 5 or 6? I’d be genuinely grateful for feedback if your considered 4 the height of the property so far. I adored every element of it from packing and stacking my suitcase (it started out as a briefcase but by the time I finished filling it wheels were required) to its geographical twists, turns and reprises, the most satisfying shotgun action of all time and especially wetting the sofa when surrounded in that two-story shack in the middle of nowhere. Some games take a while to warm up. Cut scenes aside, R4 threw you straight in. Oh, and shooting crows: best sport ever!

Anyway, this work which I’ve not read at all is apparently a lead-in to Resident Evil 6… which I’ve not played.

I do all my own research. I am methodical!


Buy Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire vol 2 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?

Criminal Special Edition #1 (£3-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Chew vol 9: Chicken Tenders (£10-99, Image) by John Layman & Rob Guillory

Hinges Book vol 1: Clockwork City (£11-99, Image) by Meredith Mcclaren

Justice League Dark vol 5: Paradise Lost s/c (£10-99, DC) by J. M. DeMatteis & various

Love vol 1: The Tiger h/c (£13-50, Magnetic Press) by Frédéric Brrémaud & Federico Bertolucci

Scooby Doo Team-Up vol 1 s/c (£9-99, DC) by Sholly Fisch & Dario Brizuela

Seraphim 266613336 Wings (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mamoru Oshii & Satoshi Kon

Sex Criminals vol 2: Two Worlds, One Cop (£10-99, Image) by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

The Fade Out vol 1 (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

The Manara Library vol 6 h/c (£45-00, Dark Horse) by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Milo Manara

When The Wind Blows (£8-99, Penguin) by Raymond Briggs

Zero vol 3: Tenderness Of Wolves s/c (£10-99, Image) by Ales Kot & various

Avengers: Time Runs Out vol 2 h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Stefano Caselli, Mike Deodato, Kev Walker, Szymon Kudranski

Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther? s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Reginald Hudlin & John Romita Jr.

New Avengers vol 3: Other Worlds s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Simone Bianchi, Rags Morales

Rocket Racoon vol 1: A Chasing Tale (UK Edition) s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Skottie Young, Jake Wyatt

Uncanny X-Men vol 3: The Good, The Bad And The Inhuman (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Chris Bachalo, Kris Anka


ITEM! Page 45 Pronounced Patron of The Lakes International Comic Art Festival! Well, I am, anyway. It amounts to the same thing except that I’m the one who’s going to be teaching in Lake District schools while Jonathan languishes in his lakeside Italian villa knocking back bottle after bottle of  Prosecco and then TEXTING ME PHOTOS OF HIM DOING SO.

Given that the other patrons are comicbook creators Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Emma Vieceli and now Boulet, I cannot believe this is happening. They may have confused me for Gregg Wallace.

On the subject of which:

ITEM! “Nobody Really Knows What They Are Doing.” So true! You can buy it as a Lizz Lunney art print art print here: Also, I do believe it’s on t-shirts as well.

ITEM! Canadian comicbook creator Seth is a Man Out Of Time. He really is. See GEORGE SPROTT, WIMBLEDON GREEN etc. Click on that first link for a film of you showing him round his house, which is almost exactly as you’d expect it to be.

ITEM! The Art Of Christian Bravery – what a website! Beautiful, fantastical paintings.

ITEM! Returning to The Lakes International Comic Art Festival – which we will on Friday 16th October 2015 – here’s the original announcement in full about me an’ Boulet and Boulet’s beautiful, beautiful poster for LICAF 2015!

Yes, Poblin is back and I couldn’t be happier! Reminder that he starred in his own comic called DESTINATION KENDAL.

– Stephen

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