Archive for September, 2015

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2015 week five

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

In which an ancient Neil Gaiman project is resurrected for the first time in over 21 years. Also: SANDMAN: OVERTURE #6 is out this week!

Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 (£2-99, Boom) by Dan Abnett & Ian Culbard…

“Mr. Cornfelt, I have little liking for the current trends in the genre. I am a man of science. Everything I write is based upon rigorous speculation as to what might be conceivable in terms of scientific fact.”
“Well, indeed, but…”
“I believe the extrapolation of science is the cornerstone of science fiction. Informed speculation, sir. Your prose is very fine, sir, but it is your content…”
“My, uh, content?”
““Scientific romance” is a poor cousin of the genre, and sadly seems to appeal to the masses. To call it science fiction tarnishes the credibility of proper science fiction.”
““Proper science fiction? ” Sir, I take offense… ”
“Then take it, Mr. Cornfelt. What you peddle is fanciful juvenilia.”

Ha ha, I suspect Lewis Cornfelt and the somewhat acerbic Herbert Runciman, both very successful in their <ahem> respective fields, are going to be my two favourites in this second series of the anthropomorphic homage to the War of the Worlds. The first series, very shortly to be collected, WILD’S END VOL 1: FIRST LIGHT, was already chock full of colourful characters, most of which survived the aliens’ failed attempt at establishing a beachhead on Earth, and they also make their return as our two literary giants arrive at the village of Lower Crowchurch.

They believe they’ve been invited to be speakers at a literary conference, but in fact the army, who have quarantined the area and managed to prevent word getting out to the world at large, are quietly trying to assemble people who might have some ideas, any ideas, however outlandish, regarding alien life, which means the most pre-eminent minds on the subject are, of course, science fiction writers…

The army has also quarantined our heroes from the first series: the doughty Mr. Slipaway, grumpy recluse Susan Peardew, Alphred the piglet who saw his mother so spectacularly turned into pork scratching in the first series, Mr. Minks and sly old Fawkes the Fox. Mr Minks has a theory that the army are worried the aliens could be shapeshifters, which makes all of them suspects. Contrary to the military opinion, though, our heroes believe that the world needs to know about the first invasion as soon as possible, forewarned being forearmed. Simply because the army would have zero chance of preventing a full-scale assault from the technologically advanced aliens. And so our heroes decide to mount an escape which is where shifty Mr. Fawkes is going to come into his own…

What a brilliant opening issue! Sometimes you don’t realise just how much you’ve missed something until it’s back again. Just like death-dealing invading aliens, obviously! The new major characters including the otherwise severe sci-fi fangirl Warrant Officer Upton are all hilarious additions. The bumptious Brigadier (a deer obviously) Winterbottom in particular has some excellent scene-stealing one liners and putdowns. So far, however, the aliens are very conspicuous by their absence… Which, whilst I initially thought Mr. Minks’ theories were a tad paranoid, has now set me wondering…

Lovely art as before from Ian. It’s the facial mannerisms of the various characters that crack me up. He definitely seems to be adopting a slightly finer line these days. Also, it amused me greatly that Mr. Runciman and Mr. Cornfelt are a cat and dog respectively. No wonder they don’t get on! I’m expecting more fur to fly between these two as the series continues!


Buy Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Tommysaurus Rex (£8-50, Scholastic) by Doug TenNapel.

What an unexpectedly moving little book with the most gigantic co-star!

I am, I concede, quite easy to reduce if not to tears… then at least to swallowing hard in a bid to stave off such embarrassing soppiness when it comes to films, TV shows and graphic novels. However, pets are going to hit me where it hurts, particularly if the pet gets hurt, and sure enough within the first few pages young Ely’s beloved dog lies six feet under.

To try to mitigate his son’s distress, Dad sends Ely to stay on his grandfather’s farm.

“I thought you said I was too young to go work for Grandpa!”
“When a boy loses his dog he gets a lot older,” replies Dad with perception.

There Ely stumbles first upon a bully and then upon a living, breathing and improbably cute T-Rex, drawn in beautiful Bill Watterson fashion (see CALVIN & HOBBES). The beast is loyal, playful and stupid but also, unexpectedly, petrified of fire. Why? Well, there’s a great sequence later on involving real or genetic memory (depending on where you think the T-Rex came from), in which fire sends our Tommysaurus Rex into another blind frenzy as the reader sees what the dinosaur sees in its mind’s eye: flaming meteors and lava.



It’s an all-ages coming of age story in which Ely learns the painful extent to which a pet may prove both tenacious and loyal (those last dozen pages really put me through the wringer – I’m such a big boy’s blouse!), plus the nature, power and true value of forgiveness.

The bully’s well evoked and his portrayal well judged: he really pisses you off, then you begin to understand why he does what he does… and then he pisses you off even further. As bullies do.

There’s a cameo by Ray Harryhausen (he of stop-motion film fame) and those final forest-fire scenes are nothing short of blistering, particularly the light playing on the big lizard’s form.

Doug’s cartooning is an expressive joy throughout, his T-Rex top notch, and I’d surmise from the greatly improved reproduction that every page has been reshot. The blacks are now black rather than a grainy grey so that the inverse silhouettes are crisp and clean greatly enhanced by the new colours which are rich and warm and thrilling. It’s like the whole thing’s been reborn.



Jeff Smith, creator of BONE and RASL gave this a big thumbs-up, as did Guillermo del Toro.

P.S. Sorry the interior art is a bit wonky. I could only find two early images in colour online, so had to photograph these myself, holding the book open and at the only angle which would minimise a reflective shine on the paper. Worth it, though. Aren’t the colours fabulous?


Buy Tommysaurus Rex and read the Page 45 review here

Fires Above Hyperion (£10-99, NBM) by Patrick Atangan…

Now, both Stephen and myself were sufficiently intrigued by the strapline amongst the publisher blurb which read, “Imagine if Sex And The City were written by a gay Charlie Brown” to get this in. Having read it, I have come to the conclusion the most apt Peanuts analogy is when Lucy keeps offering to hold the American football upright for Charlie Brown to kick, despite his protestations that he knows she is going to whisk it away, which, sure enough she does every time, sending him flat on his back.

That rather appears to be the theme of this work, in which the author seemingly contrives to find himself involved with, or trying to be involved with, people who just are not marrying material. There has to come a point when you would think – and  as the creator comments, “One day I woke up and realised I had been dating for twenty years. Twenty years…” – that you’re simply going about it all the wrong way.

Which ought therefore to be the source of some darkly rich comedic material, and it is, to a degree, but I did find it a touch “o, woe is me” in places. Much like Sex And The City, thinking about it. There is a definite distinction between self-deprecation and touting for sympathy, and I do think this strays into the latter, albeit fractionally.

Anyway, what is fantastic about this work is the art. It very, very strongly minded me of Shag, whom we used to have the odd art book of, and if you want to see his work to make the comparison you can do so at his website, This has a very similar style of illustration and warm palette, and it does create a very cosy feel to the proceedings. Disturbed only by Patrick’s awkward attempts at social couplings!

Something else that work extremely well in this instance, which I’m not normally a fan of, is the complete absence of speech bubbles. Instead the text is simply placed at the top of each panel. It works, probably because 99% of it is narration rather than conversation, with the odd bit of reported speech. It really lets the poster-style art stand out and shine through. The pedant in me feels compelled to inform you I spotted not one, not two, but three spelling errors. So a minor slap on the wrist to the editor for proof reading with their spellchecker turned off… Possibly a disgruntled ex- of Patrick’s getting the final misspelt word in…


Buy Fires Above Hyperion and read the Page 45 review here

Free Country: A Tale Of The Children’s Crusade h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman, Jamie Delano, Toby Litt, Alisa Kwitney & Peter Gross, Peter Snejbjerg, Al Davison, Chris Bachalo…

“Mostly grown-ups don’t notice you.
“Mostly grown-ups don’t notice other people’s children anyway. I mean they see us, but they don’t see us. We walk in their blind spots.
“When you’re dead it’s just more so.”

My memory of this material from the first time around in 1993-1994, (when I was buying comics from Stephen and Mark in their pre-Page 45 days!) is that it was a rather discombulated affair; that whilst all the individual parts were rather enjoyable, it just seemed a somewhat… uneven read. The introduction from Neil Gaiman, therefore, explaining how this most unlikely crossover came about and how it all subsequently came together, of a fashion, was a most illuminating explanation. In short, pretty much all of the creators involved felt the same way about the finished whole. Thus it was never collected into one book, until now.

What I didn’t realise, until again Neil enlightened me, was that this edition has been substantially reworked by Peter THE UNWRITTEN & LUCIFER Gross and Toby Litt, to create a whole new bridging middle section and open out the final third. The result is something wonderful: a real testament to energy, enthusiasm and talent of the creators who helped to build that wonderful Vertigo imprint without any sort of road map in those early days. So what we now have is a complete, flowing narrative with a very defined structure that works perfectly as one book.

As Neil says, he’s still not entirely convinced that Vertigo all those years ago was the right time and place for a crossover. I think he is right, it does still feel like the various characters of the Black Orchid siblings, Tefe (the offspring of Swamp Thing), Maxine (Animal Man’s daughter) and Timothy Hunter have been somewhat shoehorned in, but you don’t mind because it is always lovely to see appearances by them, and they do provide some fun and frivolity in what is actually a very dark tale about the disappearance of an entire village of children.

So you can’t compare this, say, to Neil’s seamless epic Vertigo- (and DC)-spanning THE BOOKS OF MAGIC. You can definitely still see the joins here but, if you are prepared to overlook those and appreciate the endeavour, it is well worth it for there are some wonderful moments in here. The Dead Boy Detectives, Charles Rowland and Edward Paine, hired to investigate the disappearances by a distraught sibling, are the stars of the show. Their naive otherworldliness, born of a different time, made me chuckle on several occasions. In many ways, this reads like one of the more esoteric arcs of SANDMAN, or THE UNWRITTEN, you can definitely see both Neil’s and Peter’s hands in here, plus also a dash or three of dark Delano. I would be intrigued to know whether certain lines of dialogue or narrative were penned by Jamie. I have a sneaking suspicion I can pick some of them right out.

It’s possibly one for completists, this, or just those with very fond memories of the early days of Vertigo. It certainly made me reminisce and wish that that they hadn’t let the imprint go to seed in recent years. It’s a decision that looks stranger and stranger with every decent new Image title that comes out.


Buy Free Country: A Tale Of The Children’s Crusade h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Y – The Last Man Book vol 3 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra.

Gripping premise in which everyone on the planet in possession of a Y chromosome haemorrhaged in an instant. Now every male on the planet is dead except escape artist Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. What happened and why?

I love a premise you can précis so succinctly.

From the writer of SAGA, EX MACHINA, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD etc come a series whose ramifications have been so well thought through as I explained in our review of Y – THE LAST MAN BOOK 1 so if this is new to you I suggest you start there.

Y – THE LAST MAN originally ran for ten shorter volumes now being repacking as thicker books so if you want the thicker editions look for “book” on our site rather than “vol”.  This collects vols 5 and 6.

Here’s Dr. Mann who can explain things in much longer words than I:

“For the last few months, I’ve been looking for an external source that allowed both you and your pet to escape whatever killed all the other males. Environmental exposures, your nutritional intake, shared fucking belongings, whatever… I’ve been insanely careful to study your biological samples independently, in order to isolate whatever the x-factor might be. But then it hit me, what if one of you is the x-factor? What if an internal variable somehow shielded both of you.”
“So… you think I’m what kept Ampersand alive?”
“No, I think he’s what kept you alive.”
“Oh. Wait. Huh?”
“I finally started combining different samples from you two, and observing the reactions with immune electron miscroscopy. At first there was nothing, but then I used purification immune adherence hemagglutination, and ran those results through microtiter solid-phase -”
“Doc, when I tried to build one of those baking soda volcanoes for the second-grade science fair, I nearly blew off my own testicle. Is there any chance we can dumb down the technobabble about a thousand percent?”
“It’s a bit like the trivalent antitoxin I doped you up with to protect you from any further exposure to botulism…but on a much different scale. When I compared your altered cells to my male embryonic specimens that were destroyed during the genderside, I founds yours synthesized proteins differently than -”
“Something inside of Ampersand masked you to the effects of the plague.”
“Inside? Then… how did it get inside me? ‘Cause if you’re accusing me of blowing this thing…”

She’s not. So what did save Yorick and how did it get inside him? It’s got a great punchline. And rather a pungent smell.

So. Having trecked across an America populated by militant, self-styled “Amazons” (amongst whose number is Yorick’s own sister), communities of escaped prisoners, warring intelligence agencies, rogue factions and a thespian outfit, Dr. Mann thinks she’s found the answer and therein a potential longshot of a solution: Ampersand himself – or at least the bits he likes to fling across the room.

But the monkey’s manky biological by-products have gone missing along with Ampersand himself, so Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann have to follow the trail of his abduction across the Pacific to Japan where they find themselves in a war between smugglers and a trigger-happy Australian navy. Plus, those are very small cabins, so who knows what will happen?

Also: Yorick’s sister’s back, she’s armed to the teeth, and she has Agent 355 in her sights. She’s not the only one.

The strengths of this series lie in Vaughan constantly thinking up new ramifications of the gender fallout, and Yorick’s vulnerability which he masks under a veneer of banter. Being a much earlier work than SAGA and EX MACHINA that banter’s not as polished, I concede, but it begins to really hit its stride. The twists are all here, though. *zips mouth tightly shut*

Pia Guerra’s art is sympathetically soft and gentle, her characterisation ensuring a sense of the ordinary so grounding these individuals within the extraordinary that envelopes them. Even Agent 355 – she’s very much an individual human being who once learned to knit. There’s plenty of downtime spent lounging on beds in jim-jams.

Don’t think this means there aren’t sequences so harsh you won’t wince, but when one of our posse picks up a great big sword, for example, they don’t transform into the ultimate warrior unless they already are. They’re shown to be precisely who they are: someone unused to wielding a sword in self-defence.

Finally, for the moment, and this is a thing: people’s hair grows. It gets messed up. It gets tied back or otherwise tidied up. It gets cut. Honestly, look around you: this happens, and so it does here.


Buy Y – The Last Man Book vol 3 and read the Page 45 review here

Something At The Window Is Scratching h/c (£13-99, Titan) by Roman Dirge.

Richly coloured version of a 15-year-old tweeny-goth black and white classic from what was then a hugely popular sub-genre which Page 45 christened “Cute But Dead”.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that LENORE Roman Dirge is an enormous Tim Burton fan and, just like Burton’s THE MELANCHOLY DEATH OF OYSTER BOY, this a collection of illustrated nonsense rhymes in the vein of Edward Gorey’s earlier AMPHIGOREY antics which I adore.

On each left-hand page you’re given a brief burst of verse; on the facing page, a cuddly moment of mock-macabre art which is undeniably lovely.

You can call it ”inspired” by Burton if you like… or you can be a little less charitable because titles like ‘The Guy With A Thing On His Head’ and ‘Pear Head Man And Bread Boy’ are so similar to Burton’s own silliness that they verge on copyright infringement.

‘Pear Head Man And Bread Boy’:

“Nature did not have a plan
when it created
the Pear Head Man.
He had one friend
who was made of bread,
but the birdies ate him.
Now he’s dead.”

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the transparency’s a virtue.


Buy Something At The Window Is Scratching h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Orphan Black (£14-99, IDW) by John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, Jody Houser & Szymon Kudranski, Alan Quah, Cat Staggs…

“I don’t think the study…”
“No, you don’t think. You leave it up to the people who actually know how. Like it or not, you’re a tiny cog in a machine, the importance of which you can’t even begin to comprehend.”

Now, I will confess at this point, I haven’t seen the titular TV show. I know our Dominique is a huge fan, as are several customers whose televisual tastes I do trust quite implicitly. So I have therefore been trying to work out exactly how this material fits in with the show. As far as I can see, it isn’t new material per se, more a slightly expanded retelling of certain major characters’ stories and the main plot points from, I think, the first season.

I suspect therefore this work is intended as a primer to get new people, comics fans, into watching the show, rather than a companion or continuation work like, say, the excellent SERENITY graphic novels. I do question precisely how wide an appeal this gives it, I would have personally thought brand new material aimed at people who love the show would have been a better approach.

It is, however, excellent speculative fiction penned by the creators of the show and, having read this, I am now determined to watch the show! The basic premise is that a group of scientists calling themselves Neolutionists, operating out of the Dyad Institute, undertook an illegal human cloning programme some thirty years ago which proved very successful indeed. The resultant clones, all of one woman, are being now covertly monitored by people strategically inserted into their very different lives. There is a wider next phase of the plan hinted at, hence the monitoring.

Some, however, have worked out that they are clones and begun to communicate with each other. One, a con artist called Sarah, has taken on the identity of another, a policewoman called Beth who committed suicide in front of her. There is also a cult-like religious organisation called the Proletheans who somehow know of the clones and, viewing them as aberrations, are determined to eliminate them all. That their chief assassin is one of the clones is merely a further level of intrigue.

From what I can gather, it seems like the show features a different clone week by week, with the story of recurring important characters and groups also being developed, and this comic series follows the same premise with each of the five issues being titled after a different clone. It is extremely well written and the art is competent enough, but nothing to get excited about.

[Editor’s note: I respectfully disagree. I’ve only seen these two pages but – middle tier below aside, and I liked that too – I think they’re pretty decent stabs at Tony Harris circa Brian K. Vaughan’s magnificent EX MACHINA.]

The show and comics do also raise some genuinely interesting questions surrounding the moral implications of human cloning. Because let’s not kid ourselves if we seriously think that various nations around the globe aren’t undertaking precisely such research in direct contravention of the global treaty banning it. I think only an idiot would seriously believe the various superpowers and their militaries aren’t conducting human cloning experiments on the quiet. So perhaps this isn’t quite as speculative a premise as one would initially think…


Buy Orphan Black and read the Page 45 review here

Flash: Season Zero s/c (£14-99, DC) by various.

Comic I’ve not read tied into a TV series I’ve never seen, but I thought it worth mentioning that this is, improbably, collects all twelve issues.

All twelve issues coming in at little more than a quid each! And only a couple of weeks after the release of the last one.

FAQ: I have no idea how publishers price their collected editions. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it other than, at times, what they think they can get away with. Certainly there’s no consistency in terms of page count.

I do love that almost every first volume published by Image is just £7-50, though: that’s a very attractive entry point and shows confidence in their material – confidence that you’ll enjoy the first book enough to come back for the second.

There, I think I’ve typed enough paragraphs to fit the cover art in.


Buy Flash: Season Zero 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.

Wizards N Stuff (£2-99) by Stanley Miller

Bad Island (£9-99, Scholastic) by Doug TenNapel

Becoming Unbecoming (£14-99, Myriad) by Una

Cardboard (£9-99, Scholastic) by Doug TenNapel

Dressing (£14-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge

Ghostopolis (£9-99, Scholastic) by Doug TenNapel

It Will All Hurt #2 (£5-99, Study Group Comics) by Farel Dalrymple

Lose #7 (£7-50, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge

MAD’s “Original Idiots” Complete Collection Slipcase Edition (£33-99, Mad Books) by Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Will Elder

Material vol 1 (£7-50, Image) by Ales Kot & Will Tempest

Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game h/c (£25-99, Archaia) by Luke Crane & David Petersen

Northern Lights: The Graphic Novel vol 1 (£12-99, Doubleday) by Philip Pullman, Stephanie Melchior & Clement Oubrerie

Palefire (£8-99, Secret Acres) by M. K. Reed & Farel Dalrymple

Rachel Rising vol 6: Secrets Kept (£12-99, Abstract Studio) by Terry Moore

Showa 1953 – 1989: A History Of Japan vol 4 (£18-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Shigeru Mizuki

Smoke (£10-99, Alternative) by Gregory Benton

Arrow Season 2.5 s/c (£14-99, DC) by Marc Guggenheim, Keto Shimizu & various

Batman vol 6: Graveyard Shift s/c (£12-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Moon Knight vol 3: In The Night s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Ron Ackins, German Peralta

A Silent Voice vol 3 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Yoshitoki Oima

Fairy Tail vol 50 (£7-99, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Vinland Saga Book 6 h/c (£16-99, Kodansha) by Makato Yukimura


Will return next week, hopefully.

Here’s a preview: I’ll have been teaching comics in Kendal and you will have missed Page 45’s 21st Birthday Party on Saturday 3rd October including our all-night booze bash after the magnificent Simone Lia & Hannah Berry had been Signing & Sketching for free!

You won’t really, though, will you? You’ll have been here with us all day long!

You are so loved!

– Stephen x

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2015 week four

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Includes signed bookplate ed of NO MERCY VOL 1 by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil with Jenn Manley Lee! Just £7-50!

News section below features Simone Lia, Tom Gauld, Jon Klassen, Dave Sim, Page 45 history, banned books, creator survey and family fun at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015! Oh yes, and Page 45 21st Birthday Party Reminder with Simone Lia & Hannah Berry signing!

The Fade Out vol 2 (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips with Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Period prime crime from the creators of CRIMINAL and FATALE, set in the city of secrets and lies.

“Charlie doesn’t notice. He’s already being pulled back under the waves.
“He’s written a dozen murder pictures, or parts of them, at least…
“But all he’d been thinking about the past few weeks is who could’ve murdered Val…
“He’d forgotten to ask why.”

He’d forgotten to ask why.

Poor Charlie – he’s so driven he’s distracted. Clues are now surfacing in the most casual of conversations and Charlie’s finally beginning to piece some of them together with earlier hints he’d previously missed that Hollywood has been far from healthy. We’ve all heard of the casting couch but some abuses of power are even worse than others. Yet not every secret, however vile, is a motive for murder and I myself am beginning to look in another direction as well…

In Page 45’s review of THE FADE OUT VOL 1 I write extensively about the fantasy and lies of Hollywoodland – of the writing and the acting and the myth-spinning slights of hand.

They’re lying professionally before they’ve begun to be truly mendacious, but at Victory Street Pictures they’re all of them at it, even screenwriter Charlie. For that and the set-up please see THE FADE OUT VOL 1 but basically this:

It’s Los Angeles, 1948.

Charlie woke up in a bungalow in Studio City built to keep stars close to the set. The night before is an alcohol-induced mystery to him, but there’s a lipstick kiss on the bathroom mirror that reminds him of a smile, the smile leads to a face, and that face belongs to the woman lying dead on the living room floor.

It’s Valeria Sommers, young starlet of the film Charlie’s working on. She’s been strangled while Charlie was sleeping. Slowly, assiduously, Charlie begins to remove all trace of his and anyone else’s presence. But that’s nothing compared to the cover-up the studio’s about to embark on. They’re going to make out it was suicide and it’s going to make Charlie, now complicit, sick to the stomach.

As for Gil, it’s going to make Charlie’s old friend, mentor and covert co-writer very angry.

Unlike the CRIMINAL books which are all self-contained, this extended series allows room for Brubaker to examine relationships in richer detail. Gil and Charlie’s co-dependent career ties them inextricably together. Gil has been blacklisted while Charlie’s lost his literary spark so the former dictates to the latter. This could make them allies for they both seek the same thing, albeit searching in different directions. But since both abuse booze for different reasons – Charlie for oblivion, belligerent Gil for release – they’re set on a collision course instead. What one does will inevitably impact upon the other but, as I say, they’re not working together: Charlie doesn’t trust Gil to act rationally, with restraint; Gil doesn’t trust Charlie to act at all.

Actual plot points I’m steering well clear of. We don’t do spoilers around here. But, boy, there are some pretty brutal (if strategically brilliant) scenes of intimidation and one huge misstep when intimidation gives way to condescension.

The recasting of Valeria Sommers with the similarly styled Maya Silver – and the subsequent reshooting of the film – allows Brubaker to examine the worst of Hollywood and its interminable, often last minute rewrites ruining what was originally inspired. It’s cleverly done with the film’s eloquent and affecting first shoot recalled, immediately juxtaposed by the second lacklustre effort.

As to Phillips, an early morning beach scene gives him a rare opportunity to show what he can do in full sunlight rather than the twilight or midnight he normally resides in. Here the lines unfettered from their shadows are unusually crisp, smooth and delicate. Lit more lambently still by Breitweiser with a palette of sand, green and aquamarine and the sea becomes almost irresistible.


Both their endeavours enhance what is a similarly rare stretch of innocent play free from subterfuge. Of course, that would also be the perfect time to lob in an equally innocent question and a guileless answer which will nonetheless send your mind spinning back to THE FADE OUT VOL 1 then right through volume two again.

Because Charlie remains haunted by Valeria there are also some scenes depicting both actresses. Maya was cast partly on account of her striking similarity to Val but thanks to Phillips you couldn’t mistake one for the other for a second, either on the beach or on set. Maya is beautiful, talented, intelligent and caring; so was Val but her deportment is instantly recognisable as far more experienced, confident and – there’s no other word for it – classier.

For further history and its emotional complications between Charlie and Gil you’ll have to wait for THE FADE OUT VOL 3. Or not, for THE FADE OUT #9 which follows straight on from this very volume is on sale right now.


Buy The Fade Out vol 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Ruins (£19-99, SelfMadeHero) by Peter Kuper…

“Look, Sam, I understand why you’re upset… I know you want a child, and my resistance is a huge disappointment.
“My logical mind just tells me this crowded world doesn’t need another soul.
“Maybe it’s the margarita, but I’m tired of being logical… so let’s get back to the room!”

“Oh Sam!”
“Oh George!”
“OH NO.”
“What? What’s wrong??”

Oh George indeed. I think while our unhappily married couple are, ahem, in flagrante delicto might be one of the very few times we see Sam smile. There might be a couple of other occasions, but certainly not in George’s company. I think perhaps for Sam the phrase ‘marry in haste, repent in leisure’ is highly appropriate, having picked solid, dependable entomologist and aspiring artist George whilst on the rebound from a then pretty traumatic period in her life.

I won’t state precisely what occurred to Sam as that is gradually revealed to us over the course of her story, which she narrates to us through the book she is working on, but suffice to say she feels that bringing new life into the world is the only thing that will ever make her feel whole again. George, meanwhile, having lost his job cataloguing insects at the Museum of Natural History in New York isn’t remotely keen on starting a family, and is simply now drifting along somewhat morosely. He seems uncaring about his wife’s precarious emotional state, though to give him the benefit of the doubt he’s perhaps not aware of the extent of her sadness. But he’s quite determined that having a child is not the answer. To his problems, at least…

Their extended holiday to Oaxaca, Mexico, whether they’ve verbalised it or not, is very much perceived by both as a make or break trip. Even once they arrive though, they’re like ships that pass in the night, fluent Spanish speaking Sam keen to explore, interact with the locals and experience the culture, whilst working on her novel. Whereas the rather more reticent and monolingual George is seemingly just content to do some bug spotting with his camera and browse the local book shop run by an expat, whilst getting freaked out by barking dogs, speeding cars, well, pretty much everything.

Thus they both find themselves developing friendships with rather different characters, the vacation that was supposed to bring them back together only serving to give them more reasons to grow even further apart. Sam is befriended by a charismatic local artist who’s keen to show her his… artwork, and George by a bitter, alcoholic, former photojournalist who is as at much of a crossroads in his life as George is. His solution to everything, which he exhorts George to try, is Mezcal.

As the building social unrest in Oaxaca finally comes to a head, much like the tension in George and Samantha’s marriage, with striking teachers being tear-gassed and baton charged and indeed shot at by the local police, our duo find themselves dramatically thrown back together in the heat of an extreme, bloody and traumatic protest march.

But the question remains whether too much damage has already been done to their relationship for it ever to be truly repaired. A trip out to the ruins of Mitla then a butterfly sanctuary, where our duo are unwittingly reunited with a butterfly that has migrated all the way from their own starting destination (and I was surprised by a most unexpected three-page fold-out), to escape the deaths and devastation wrought by the protest, are almost certainly their last chance to make it work together.

Ah, Mr. Kuper, I have been waiting for this graphic novel for almost exactly twenty years since Mark recommended STRIPPED to me, which I absolutely loved. He has done some other bits and pieces which have been published since, but I have always felt he had a piece of really spectacular long form mainstream fiction in him, and finally it is here. Peter does state in the afterword that much of this graphic novel is inspired by the two years he spent living in Oaxaca with his wife and daughter between 2006 and 2008. I’m suspecting (and hoping) he means the authentic look and feel of the backdrop and characters, rather than marital strife! Knowing his talent for autobiographical material it doesn’t surprise me that he’s leaned heavily on his own experiences to create such a rich, vibrant setting for this work.

The dynamic between the two main characters, seemingly almost unrelated passengers in the same narrative only tenuously connected by dint of their matrimony, creates all the tension required to generate a compelling story, particularly when set against the social strife in the otherwise sleepy town. I was very satisfied indeed by the ending – or I should perhaps say endings – which is as complex as the duo’s relationship, but makes perfect sense for all concerned.

The metaphor of the butterfly, as we also follow the tagged one on its own long journey from New York to the sanctuary of Mexico, serving as short chapter breaks between Samantha and George’s story, is an entirely appropriate one. For there is indeed a metamorphosis occurring. And much like the caterpillar transforming into a hard, rigid chrysalis, what then emerges, unfettered and free, is completely different from what it was before, despite it being the same creature.

When we talk about creators’ works over long periods of time, we often talk about their art developing. Actually stylistically, Peter’s has stayed much the same, but that’s a wonderful thing. I can see the way he has drawn certain characters, holding a cigarette or taking a drink, and it’s exactly how I remember it from STRIPPED. It’s a quite distinctive style. In the black and white form, as most of STRIPPED was, it will almost certainly make you think of woodcuts. (Actually, I remember him illustrating a book called WORDLESS BOOKS: THE ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVELS by David A. Berona that was all about the woodcut novels of the early twentieth century.)

Coloured, it loses that association completely, partly because he has pencilled differently, with a considerably thinner line, but the style of illustration is still very apparent. His palette, and I actually mean this as a compliment, seems to be composed entirely of the few strong, distinct colours you’d find in a kid’s crayon set. It’s probably perfect for the bright light of the Mexican climate, and you can practically feel the sunshine splashing off the markings on the butterflies’ wings. I really hope this work is a huge success for him, and it spurs him on to get a follow up out sooner rather than later.


Buy Ruins and read the Page 45 review here

No Mercy vol 1 (with bookplate signed by Alex, Carla & Jenn!) (£7-50, Image) by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil.

Straight fiction so contemporary it will cut you.

From the creator of FINDER and the writer of SMOKE / ASHES, something completely different lobbed lovingly onto our shelves.

I now provide you with several paragraphs of complete misdirection but only in the spirit of the first chapter itself which comes with a jaw-dropping, whiplash moment hinted at on the cover which will change everything for those who survive it. And for those who don’t.

The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you!

Princeton University sent out a call to its eager, hyper-achieving new students for a pre-freshmen trip to build much needed schools in Central America. After four years struggling to be model Ivy League applicants they were practically preconditioned to accept. Now they have landed, it is a bright and sunny, aqueous-blue day and they are texting, tweeting and grinning away like nobody’s bright-and –bushy-tailed business!

“So here we are, all present and accounted for. (Though Tiffani hasn’t been totally present anywhere since she got her first iPhone.) … Tiffani?”
“Squeeee! Nun!!!”

Consider the Nun pic.twitter’d.

The nun greeting and shepherding the kids, however, is far more concerned with practicalities and her reaction to the unexpected arrival of a tenuous relative intent on boarding their hired bus is ever so slightly ominous.

Oh, this is so well set up! Alex De Campi nails late-teenage interaction and its naivety when it comes to the presumption of safety and recourse abroad purely based on American or British citizenship. Some of them may have issues with one other – particularly the twins – but on the whole it is seems on the surface to be big, broad grins with Carla Speed McNeil lighting up their eyes as these young strangers get to know and enjoy each other’s company.

Truly this is an adventure and the prospect of a trip meandering high above this undiscovered countryside – although painfully long and without toilet facilities – is just another part of that thrill. One amongst them, Travis, is a seasoned traveller in India. He’s so impressively worldly-wise, eco-friendly and resourceful when it comes to being freegan that it’s sickening.

But even Travis is going to find what comes next almost impossible to grasp and those smiles will be wiped off their jejune faces in a catastrophic instant which is agonisingly teased out across five tortuously tense pages as time expands, the bus almost collides… and they’re all sent careening over the precipice.

Now they’re in trouble: more trouble than they can conceive of.

Half of them are dead and most of the rest are mentally fractured. Some have broken bones – specifically broken leg bones – and so cannot move. They are 20 miles from the nearest minor town. Their gleefully worshipped and overworked, high-tech mobile phones have no signal. Their one source of local knowledge, Sister Innes, is so damaged that she’s drifting in and out of consciousness.

“This is – This is – not good territory. We have, we have to leave here at once.”

As night falls, it’s not just the coyotes she’s talking about, and everyone is about to behave very, very badly. Some will be rash, some will be brash and although some will be kinder and more resourceful than others (especially deaf Antony), some will be downright nasty. I’d watch out for those twins.

Alex De Campi has thought this all through: what the young people would pack, how they’d react (short-term self-indulgence rather than long-term survival is rife) and then there are toilet issues for those who can’t stand. There’s quite the cliffhanger too.

(That wasn’t it. It would have worked for me, though! Such a clever composition, the punchline both bottom right and out of sight.)

What an exquisite and witty free bookplate, designed by Jenn Manley Lee and signed by all three! Bless you to bits, Jenn, Carla and most emphatically Alex for sending us enough to keep our customers lucky for the book’s first month at least.


Buy No Mercy vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Tokyo Ghost #1 (£2-99, Image) by Rick Remender & Sean Murphy…

“Davey Trauma.
“A psychopathic narcissist and millennial nostalgist who got his mind trapped in the net.
“As soon as we grab one o’ his geeks, Davey shuts them down.
“The world’s a video game to Davey. He can control anyone with a nanopac in’em.
“Meanin’ everyone.
“Everyone except me. Straight edge perks.”

Rick Remender seems to be on a one-man mission to demonstrate the many possible flavours of speculative and science fiction these days. After his turns doing comedic / weird:  BLACK SCIENCE, post-apocalyptic / aquatic: LOW, plus super-heroic: UNCANNY X-FORCE, UNCANNY AVENGERS, and even his CAPTAIN AMERICA: CAST AWAY IN DIMENSION Z involved Steve Rogers being castaway into a dimension where time travelled at a far faster rate to our own (possibly meant metaphorically as well as literally as he did adopt a child whilst there. I feel like I have spent considerable time in Dimension Z, wearing out and aging rapidly, over the last four years since Whackers was born…), he’s now crafted something that is straight-up cyberpunk.

The year is 2089, the location the Isles of Los Angeles. Society has most definitely polarised even further between the haves and have-nots, to the degree that the streets are basically one big floating cesspool of humanity, tranquilised on cerebral implants pumping out endless entertainment programmes directly into their vision, and nano-tech continuously adjusting and maintaining their emotional states, and even their physical appearances. All at a punitive financial cost, of course.

That vicious cycle of consumption, addiction and consequent fiscal slavery is not the worst of the population’s problems right now though, at least for the duration of this issue. No, that would be Davey Trauma. When Constable Debbie Decay says the world’s a video game to him, she’s not kidding. To Davey, the Isles Of Los Angeles right now is like his own personal Grand Theft Auto as he goes crashing, smashing and spree-murdering his way to fame and high score glory. Davey has his own twisted gaming rules though, such as not taking control of Debbie’s police partner, and lover Led, who is practically catatonic  in real-world terms, being utterly addicted to, and permanently immersed in the virtual world, plus superjacked up on steroids, bone growth stimulators, adrenaline and various other physical enhancers. He’s not above taunting her about the fact he could, though, or with his theories about why she’s involved with Led. Ouch.

You can see this series is going to be as much about Debbie and Led’s peculiar relationship as the central conceit of technology warping the behavioural mores of the individual and wider society. In fact our bipolar duo are just about to be given a mission that will take them to the last straight edge country on the planet: The Garden Nation of Tokyo. For Debbie that’s her idea of heaven. As for how on earth Led will cope getting back to basics and living the good life like Felicity Kendal, well, I guess we’ll find out in issue #2!

I have commented before that Rick’s artist cohort on BLACK SCIENCE, Matteo Scalera has a style very similar to Sean Murphy. I do wonder if the choice of Sean for this title is based entirely on Rick’s personal artistic preferences? Plus I’m sure he saw the speculative fiction gold Sean wrought with his own PUNK ROCK JESUS. Combined with the choice of Greg Tocchini for his aquatic artistic endeavours on LOW, messers. Jerome Opena and Daniel Acuna on the Uncanny X&A material, plus Romita Jr. doing a damn fine and trademark distinctive Cap’n A., I can see Greg really seems to appreciate an artist that stands out from the crowd.

Here Sean’s typically dense use of ultra fine myriad parallel black lines and complex detailing is perfect for rendering the frenetic hyperspeed streets and angular lunatics of the not so Angelic Isles. Intrigued to see what his take on the hopefully more tranquil and presumably a tad more salubrious well swept streets of the Garden Nation of Tokyo will be like!


Buy Tokyo Ghost #1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Dharma Punks (£18-99, Conundrum) by Ant Sang…

“Did you know that Buddhists believe that after we die, we’re reborn again?
“That this could be you or me next time around.
“I dunno… maybe it’s a comforting thought that we never truly die…
“That if we really screw up, at least we get another chance.”

What I loved about this angsty coming of age story set in New Zealand, 1994, is that it is completely and utterly believable. A group of teenage punks are simultaneously perilously close to being sucked into some seriously hardcore ‘social activism’ that’s far more… explosive than they realise and getting battered by the local chapter of ‘White Front’ skinheads. Set over one long night it has the feel of a screenplay written for a low budget, independent film. The characters and the story, therefore, have the punch and power of, say, a Romper Stomper and there are some incredibly violent moments, racially motivated, which are as uncomfortable and disturbing to read as anything in that particular film.

Happily, though, this is a story revolving primarily around a group of decent kids, who whilst they might be struggling to come to terms with the world and their place in it, indeed whether they can even cope with being in it, aren’t advocating kicking people’s heads in and hurting them. In particular there’s Chopstick, a rather sensitive soul who, unsurprisingly given his self-appointed nickname, is of Asian descent. He’s become deeply interested in Buddhism, studying the Dharma (Buddhist teachings) and practising meditation over the course of the last year. All since a founder member of their group of friends left extremely abruptly, an event which greatly unsettled him because, like most teenagers do, they all thought their little world was going to last forever.

No wonder these troubled teens are easy recruiting fodder for Jugga, an intimidating Maori running a local crew of anarchists with plans to disrupt the opening of a local branch of a national fast-food chain restaurant. The kids have been given the task of planting a small homemade firebomb made from weedkiller which will destroy the premises during the grand opening without hurting anyone. Well, that’s what they’ve been told by Jugga. The truth is rather different.

Fortunately for Chopstick, at the time he’s meant to be planting the bomb, he’s off gallivanting with a mute girl, whom Chopstick thinks he’s rescued from jumping from a local bridge and well known suicide spot. Unfortunately for Chopstick, and unbeknownst to him, the White Front are hard on his heels armed with an assortment of weaponry to avenge a slight he’s perpetuated on a member. If he somehow escapes that little lot, then he still has the psychotic Jugga to deal with!

It’s a testament to the writing that the violence and action, when it arrives in short staccato punctuating bursts, is very much secondary to the real story, that of Chopstick’s fraught journey from tender youth to fully fledged dharma punk, free to finally make his own decisions, not hamstrung by the events of the past or fear of the future. There’s a saying in Buddhism that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Often the teacher is not who you would expect, and so it is here.

The art contributes enormously to the appeal of this work for me too, with a powerful, heavy black and white illustration style. There are a lot of close-up talking head shots, which are clearly a strength of the creator. Again, consciously or otherwise, they certainly add to that art house film feel. Even the appearance of the ghost of Kurt Cobain, which as a device is incorporated extremely well into the work, and I think put into the context that this work is set in 1994 and Chopstick’s own musical predilections, which do earn him some scorn from his more hardcore friends, is rather appropriate.

I do have a minor gripe with the mixed message given out by one of the characters that Buddhism is akin or close to nihilism. Admittedly when you reflect upon the particular character that is making these assertions – once you know the whole of their story – it is explicable, probably even a deliberate conceit. I’ve just seen too many real-world essays by those wishing to denounce Buddhism for their own ends, stating that it is a nihilistic faith purporting that life is meaningless, when in fact the exact opposite is true.

So it always concerns me slightly when I perceive there is a potential for dissemination of misinformation in that direction. I’m quite certain Ant Sang wouldn’t want this, either. I’ve no idea whether or not Ant is a practising Buddhist, but I suspect so, given the appropriate quotations that form each chapter heading, so I think I’m just going to have to accept this is a personal issue and let it go! Whether Chopstick can let all of his issues go, plus avoid the cross-section of nutters gunning for him, and get his enlightened happy ending, is an entirely different matter…


Buy The Dharma Punks and read the Page 45 review here

When Anxiety Attacks (£7-99, Singing Dragon) by Tieran Koscik…

“Hi, I’m Tieran.
“I live in Portland, Oregon with my best friend.
“I’m a software engineer.
“I make comics.
“I also regularly visit a therapist to talk about anxiety.
“But it wasn’t an easy decision to start going.”

From the publishers of the excellent PAIN IS REALLY STRANGE comes another medical missive, again on a subject we can I’m sure all relate to. For whilst not all of us might have been gripped by anxious thoughts and feelings to the degree that we are unable to function normally, whatever that is, being crippled by doubts and insecurities we simply cannot shake, we’ve all undoubtedly had the odd moment where our blood pressure shoots up and tension grips us in a vice-like state. I certainly observe the symptoms in Stephen every month as the PREVIEWS deadline approaches with all the inevitability of the tide rolling in towards a man stranded on the beach wearing only a pair of concrete wellingtons…

So, I thought this might be an exploration of what causes anxiety and which techniques can be applied to ameliorate or even extinguish the symptoms entirely. And it is to a degree. But whereas PAIN IS REALLY STRANGE is presented from an objective, entirely empirical perspective of cause and effect, this is most definitely Terian’s subjective experience of both anxiety and her attempts to obtain relief from it through therapy. So a personal memoir then, rather than a scientific analysis. With a topic as amorphous as anxiety though, talking about one’s own experiences anecdotally is probably as an empirical based approach as it gets.

Terian’s art style is definitely inspired by Scott McCloud in his UNDERSTANDING COMICS mode, albeit somewhat looser, adopting that talking head, breaking the fourth wall style which Darryl Cunningham uses to such great effect in his PSYCHIATRIC TALES (and also SCIENCE TALES and SUPERCRASH).

This is an extremely well intentioned comic, in which Tieran wants to impress upon people that engaging in therapy really doesn’t have to be something to be so… anxious about. And whilst sufferers might always experience relapses and recurrences and crushing cul-de-sacs of doubt and despair, there is almost certainly no such thing as being ‘fixed’. In fact, thinking of mental matters in those terms is probably not particularly helpful.

I don’t see this comic breaking any new ground in the presentation and exploration of mental wellbeing, or the lack of it, but it’s always nice to have positive affirming stories for those going through the maelstrom to understand that they are most definitely not alone.


Buy When Anxiety Attacks and read the Page 45 review here

Heart In A Box (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Kelly Thompson & Meredith McClaren.

In which a young woman called Emma gets her heart-broken by a two-timing cad, retires to bed potentially for life but is coaxed out again by her best friend, Xan.

On her first evening out on the town, however, it’s still all too much and she wishes she didn’t even have a heart to feel all this pain. One consultation later with a mysterious stranger and Emma has no heart – it has been dispersed. Blessed relief!

“I’m glad for you Emma,” says the enigmatical ‘Bob’. “Here’s my card, in case you should need anything.”
“You have a mobile phone?”
“I’m not a savage, Emma.”

Of course Emma swiftly realises that feeling nothing at all is even worse than the rollercoaster ride that is the gnawing, gut-grinding feeling of rejection and betrayal tempered by the kindness of friendship. So she summons ‘Bob’ only to discover that all but a slither of her heart has been redistributed to six more souls in need of it. If she wants to feel whole again she’ll need to steal them all back by stealth or more… lethal means. And she’s given a box to put them all in.

Artist Meredith McClaren you may know from HINGES which she both wrote and drew and indeed coloured to perfection: fabulous sense of cool, clean light which I described as Optrex for the eye. The folds in the clothes and clumps of hair are equally sensual here but I’m afraid it’s far more cluttered and the clarity’s impeded by chaotic colouring which often erodes rather than enhances the forms.

But that’s not my chief problem with the book. Although the dialogue dances gaily enough in places, the rules and logic and execution of her quest – who actually has her pieces of heart, why they would need them, when they acquired them and what she must do to retrieve them – don’t make sense. On top of that Emma herself is so inconsistently compassionate and dispassionate and outright vicious that she’s neither credible nor likeable, and you wouldn’t have a best friend like Xan if you were prepared to beat your ex’s new girlfriend to a pulp.


Buy Heart In A Box 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.

Free Country – A Tale Of The Childrens Crusade h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman, Jamie Delano, Toby Litt, Alisa Kwitney & Peter Gross, Peter Snejbjerg, Al Davison, Chris Bachalo

Y – The Last Man Book vol 3 (£14-99, Vertigo) by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra

Avatar Last Airbender vol 10: Smoke And Shadow Part 1 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru

BPRD Hell On Earth vol 11 – Flesh And Stone (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & James Harren

Orphan Black (£14-99, IDW) by John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, Jody Houser & Szymon Kudranski, Alan Quah, Cat Staggs

Something At The Window Is Scratching h/c (£13-99, Titan) by Roman Dirge

The Hellboy 100 Project s/c (£9-99, Dark Horse) by 100 amazing artists

Amazing Spider-Man: vol 5 Spiral s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Gerry Conway & Carlo Barberi

Black Widow vol 3: Last Days s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Nathan Edmondson & Phil Noto

Loki Agent Of Asgard vol 3: Last Days s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett

The Punisher vol 3: Last Days s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Nathan Edmondson & Mitch Gerads, Moritat, Brent Schoonover

Judge vol 5 (£8-99, Yen) by Yoshiki Tonogai

Judge vol 6 (£8-99, Yen) by Yoshiki Tonogai

Mobile Suit Gundam Origin vol 11: Cosmic Glow (£22-50, Random House / Vertical) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

One-Punch Man vol 1 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

One-Punch Man vol 2 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

Skip Beat vol 35 (£7-50, Viz) by Yoshiki Nakamura


ITEM! Interview with Simone Lia on the creation of FLUFFY and so much more! Stuff even I didn’t know there!

REMEMBER! Simone Lia & Hannah Berry will be signing and sketching for free at Page 45’s 10th Anniversary Booze Bash on Saturday October 3rd!

ITEM! From the creator of GOLIATH and YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK (includes the below), Tom Gauld’s Tumblr features page after page of satirical strips and culturally informed cartoons

ITEM! Important Guardian survey if you work in the arts, culture or creative industries. Comicbook creators, have your voiced heard.

ITEM! Bristol comic & zine fair on Saturday October 3rd But you’ll be in Nottingham for our 21st Birthday Party, won’t you?

ITEM! From the creators of SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE, this (in text): Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen in conversation about the creation of SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE.

ITEM! You won’t believe which books are banned and challenged in the USA. Or why. BONE! MAUS! PERSEPOLIS! Prehistoric! Let’s not learn anything!

ITEM! Retailers! The UK’s Avery Hill Publishing and the USA’s Retrofit Comics announce a transatlantic deal so that each publishers’ comics are readily available in the other’s country!

ITEM! A Moment Of Cerebus archives Page 45’s Dave Sim interview about GLAMOURPUSS, my article on JUDENHASS and Dave’s tribute to our beardly beloved Mark. Left to right at the top: Gerhard, Dave Sim, Mark. Underneath? That’s me in the corner…

ITEM! So many family-friendly events and workshops creation cool comics at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th October!

REMEMBER: Page 45 is at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th October 2015 with gorgeous graphic novels for sale and Page 45 Guests Signing & Sketching For Free (linked to their websites):

Jon Allison, Dan Berry, Jonathan Edwards, Sarah McIntyre, Felt Mistress, Philip Reeve, Jade Sarson, Richard Short, Emma Vieceli


– Stephen

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2015 week three

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Comedy legend Kate Beaton rides again with STEP ASIDE, POPS! Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples return with SAGA VOL 5 . Plus: Alan Moore, Becky Cloonan, Maggie Thrash, Mark Millar, Sean Murphy, Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, Gabriel Ba, Vasilis Lolos, Fabio Moon, Ryan Heshka and a cracking adaptation of an Anthony Trollope novel.

Step Aside, Pops – A Hark! A Vagrant Collection (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Kate Beaton.

Inspired, iconoclastic and infused with a lot of lateral thinking, I rate Kate Beaton right up there with Tom Gauld (YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK) for culturally informed comedy.

Her first collection, HARK! A VAGRANT, had the funniest Jane Austen jokes ever whereas here it’s Bronte time with Cathy and Heathcliffe brooding up the rooms at Blithering Heights so badly that they desperately need to open the windows. There’s a panel where they’re pawing each other’s faces obsessively and another strip in which they’re discovered at night and caught in lamplight, wide-eyed Heathcliffe looking both livid and feral:

“It’s a lovely young lady…. And a large, angry squirrel.”

Beaton manages to distil the much-loved novel to her own ridiculous core, reducing it to a comedic soup of unrestrained melodrama rendered in wilder, more ragged lines than usual.

The titles are often as funny as the strips themselves, as are the annotations. She takes highly regarded, even venerated figures from history and High Culture then pops any associated pomposity with a pin by making them behave not necessarily out of character (for there’s often a key element of truth) but certainly… badly. You don’t even need to know anything about the individuals beforehand. Kate sets up her own rules or references and takes it from there.

The opening rivalry between Chopin and Liszt is a perfect example, Beaton quickly establishing the difference in their music then translates it into their characters while uniting them in unbridled egomania.

Liszt’s intensity and hair has him coming off like a cross between Michaels Heseltine and Foot. In ‘The Later Years’ Liszt mourns Chopin’s passing and decides to pay tribute to his dearly beloved friend with a biography whose title ‘Life of Chopin’ is dwarfed by his own credit on the cover. And in ‘For King And Country’ after they initially concede each other’s musical territory / sovereignty, Liszt simply can’t help himself from adding a final jibe of sexual one-upmanship, bending down behind Chopin’s piano and cupping his hand to one side of his mouth to mutter with naughty, knowing eyes, “I have also slept with a lot of Polish women though, just throwing that in there”.

That’s another element which characterises Beaton’s comedy: the incongruous, the anachronistic, putting modern idioms like “Unrelated” and “Asking for a friend” in the mouths of historical figures like Julius Caesar or an English, sixteen-year-old soldier fighting the Hundred Years War:

“Those French guys were like, WHOAAAA. And my army was like EAT IT. Ka chow!!”

Zeus will appear later on putting his legendary, master-of-disguise, mad dating skillz into practice, there’s an extended Janet Jackson ‘Nasty’ video joke, Spider-Man doesn’t just exhibit the proportional powers of a spider but also its innate proclivities (“Ooh – a crevice!”) while Louis Lane’s traditional, fawning and far from feminist role is turned on its oh so wrong head. Instead of being portrayed as obsessed with a Superman she’s too dim-witted to identify behind the spectacles of the reporter she works with every week day, she’s infuriated by the egomaniacal lunatic’s stalking which threatens to ruin her career.

I should have found you one of those strips, but instead here’s a femme fatale who refuses to be pigeon-holed. See right if you’re reading this in the product page, below if in our weekly reviews blog.


Buy Step Aside, Pops – A Hark! A Vagrant Collection and read the Page 45 review here

Dispossession: A Novel Of Few Words (£17-99, Jonathan Cape) by Simon Grennan…

“See that woman in a straw hat?”
“I have seen her every day. I have been watching her for half an hour.”
“She is very attentive to her sewing.”
“She is watching now. You have spoken to her?”
“A word or two yesterday. She is going out to earn her bread; but when I asked how, she wouldn’t tell me.”
“Her name is Mrs. Smith. I hear she went on the stage, married an actor who treated her cruelly and then died of drink.”
“She told me that we three ought not to be here. We ought to be gentlemen and she a lady.”
“She struck me as talking better than her gown.”
“We are gentlemen. Mrs. Smith is a mystery. I shall go to work to unravel her.”

John Caldigate is many things: a foolish son and heir, a caddish womaniser, an incompetent gambler who may well be a gentleman by birth, but certainly not by his actions or comportment. No, a blithering idiot who has managed to waste the good fortune of being born into the landed gentry to the extent he finds himself disinherited by his despairing father would be a better description. Now, seemingly convinced that all he has to do to become a successful gold prospector is merely set foot in Australia, where he is currently voyaging to with his loyal and steadfast best friend Ned on their latest hare-brained scheme, he’s caught the eye of a lady of scandalous background and potentially rather dubious virtue. Had the term ‘carriage crash’ been coined in Edwardian times to indicate a catastrophic penchant for devising ever more elaborate ways to get yourself into socially scandalous trouble, it would almost certainly have been used in describing John Caldigate.

This is a wonderful adaptation of the Anthony Trollope novel, John Caldigate. I’ve no idea why renowned academic, and talented artist, Dr. Simon Grennan chose to amend the name of the work, but his choice of title has a very appropriate and I’m sure quite deliberate polysemy to it.

In a historical sense dispossession refers to depriving people of the possession or occupancy of land and property, something which the British did rather expertly to the aborigines in Australia laying claim to the territory using the blatantly inappropriate concept of terra nullius, meaning quite literally “nobody’s land”, which shows you precisely what the good gentlemen of the Empire thought of the locals. It also quite adroitly sums up John Caldigate’s perpetually recurring life experience, always at his own hands, even though he doesn’t ever quite see the root cause of all his difficulties.

Even when, seemingly against all the odds, he makes his fortune in Australia and returns home triumphant to marry the sweet and trusting Hester Bolton, who has waited patiently for him, it’s his previous dalliances with the distracting Mrs. Smith that are going to cause him no end of trouble, as he finds himself accused of bigamy.

This is a great example of how a true classic can be kept alive and find a whole new audience. I can’t imagine Trollope is high on many people’s reading lists these days, and yet his works, underpinned with witty commentary and satire, particularly on the greed and corruption found within the upper echelons of the class structure, have never been more relevant than they are today.

This work was commissioned for Trollope’s bicentennial by a Belgian university (there being a familial connection between Trollope and Belgium), and Dr. Grennan has done a sterling job in producing a graphic novel that neatly captures the farcical elements of the main character, which is the essential core of the prose novel. His chosen faux-woodcut style of  illustration, albeit coloured, really does remind me of the delightfully ludicrous WONDERMARK series, the deliberate choice not to have any close ups, with every panel capturing a scene, only adds weight to the conceit.

I do hope this spurs a few more quirky, clever adaptations of classics like this. I think the great thing about comic readers as a whole is that we are open minded enough to give something different like this a try, purely based on how intriguing it looks, curiosity perhaps being piqued further by a glimpse inside, even if we would probably never pick up the original. And thus discovering something wonderful we might never have otherwise found. I’ve certainly chanced across some brilliant graphic novels like that.


Buy Dispossession: A Novel Of Few Words and read the Page 45 review here

Descender vol 1: Tin Stars (£7-50, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen.

Perfectly paced, action-spliced science fiction in the vein not of the Moebius-inspired PROPHET but of SAGA or OCEAN or TREES.

There’s such beautiful, bright light and a vast sense of space that I’m immediately reminded of Jon J. Muth’s MOONSHADOW. The watercolours here are equally lush and loose, and in half a dozen paragraphs it will become clear that Dustin Nguyen’s command of scale is vital.

The opening shot looking out and over one of the nine Embassy Cities of the planet Niyrata with its fume-free traffic criss-crossing on multiple tiers is an almost electrical thrill, while the cars themselves are the sleekest and juiciest that Matchbox never made.

This is the cultural and technological hub of the nine Core Planets where resides its United Galactic Council.

It all seems pretty idyllic and I can quite clearly see how culture could thrive even if not everyone is relaxed.  There’s one director or delegate striding through a crowd bellowing about her right to exploit resources in spite of the Gnishes’ complaints. Her baby’s begun crying in spite of its android-nanny’s best efforts but big business comes first, does it not?

And then there’s young, lean and clean Dr. Quon’s oh-so chic bedroom with glass floors, glass doors, glass open-air balcony and big glass tanks full of bright little flecks that are fish! Love the cherry blossom floating in from outside.

Dr. Quon is held in very high esteem. After all, the prodigy practically invented modern robotics. He single-handedly created the little Tim line, indistinguishable from ordinary boys and programmed to be family companions.

Unfortunately everyone’s in for an almost immediate and very rude awakening when Dr Quon is summoned by General Nagoki into orbit for something’s appeared in the heavens above them and everything changes forever.

Unimaginably vast, it appears to be a celestial machine, humanoid in shape and roughly the same size as the planet itself. One has materialised beside each of the eight other planets and when their blank eyes flare red it looks as though they are about to communicate. They are not.

10 years later and young Tim-21 wakes up on the mining moon colony of Dirishu-6. Everyone is dead.

Bodies litter both the sealed lunar walkway and the gangways below that. He can’t find the family he was assigned to – Andy and Andy’s Mum – but he does find the Communications Hub and manages to access its database. It looks like a lot has happened in the last ten long years, none of it good.

The gigantic Harvesters (as they came to be called) didn’t communicate anything other than their wrath. They opened fire on all the nine planets, obliterating life forms and their precarious harmony, sparing only the androids. Then they disappeared. Subsequent suspicions catalysed a robot cull verging on genocide, the militant, tusked Gnishes at its forefront. They’re still on the warpath and – now that Tim-21’s woken up and logged into the multi-worldwide-web – a Scrapper Elite Squad is heading his way.

Also heading Tim’s way is an expedition led by Captain Telsa, daughter of General Nagoki. She’s drafted a down-and-out Dr. Quon who’s no longer so highly regarded nor half as handsome but unshaven, paunchy and consigned to a lowly bunk bed at home. His reputation was shot during the robotic backlash and now it’s in tatters because it has just been discovered that the impossibly advanced Harvesters had precisely the same, complex codex as his Tim-21’s. Whom Dr. Quon created.

Two things: the science is a convincing as it is penetrable. You can understand it. Think of the robotic codex as our DNA with its nucleotide sequences. Prior to the Harvesters, the most complex robotic codex invented had an eight-pronged digital lattice. Now we’re looking at fifty-six.

Secondly, you wouldn’t even care were Tim’s past not so tenderly evoked both by Lemire and Nguyen in a series of flashbacks which make clear that young Andy and his mother doted on the boy and how much he too loved his new family. There’s also a lovely moment in the present when Tim first finds his robot dog whose bark has gone wonky and backwards. He’s been active all this time.

“You must have been so lonely. It’s okay… I’m here now.”

In the back there’s a brief breakdown of each of the nine planets so you can learn what each species has been up to over the last game-changing decade and what they may be planning now. Jeff’s left you plenty to puzzle on, and if his name rings a bell then think SWEET TOOTH, ESSEX COUNTY and TRILLIUM etc.

What still hasn’t been explained is what happened to Tim when a Scrapper blasted a circular hole in his chest, causing him to – well – die. As far as the eye could see the Harvested stretched before him in greeting – all the robots who had been discarded and destroyed. They asked him to join them, then, just as Doctor Quon repaired and rebooted Tim and effectively withdrew him from that dream, they begged him to find them.

“But you know robots can’t dream. Tim-21. That’s impossible.”
“But if it wasn’t a dream – then – where was I?”

Where indeed? Also, what exactly is the Hardwire movement? I infer we’ll find out very swiftly in volume two.

The final chapter’s a flashback to a few years before the opening sequence when Jin Quon is only on the verge of obtaining his doctorate. He and his tutor make a discovery. This – and what Jin Quon does with it – will change everything you thought you knew.

You now have around seven months to join the dots for yourselves and discover if you’ve drawn an accurate picture.


Buy Descender vol 1: Tin Stars and read the Page 45 review here

Crossed + 100 vol 1 (£14-99, Avatar) by Alan Moore & Gabriel Andrade.

Whatever your preconceptions of CROSSED, this is, I promise you, as clever as you’d expect from Alan Moore. I unequivocally understand if the subject matter is too repugnant for many of you to risk opening the cover but Moore has not only thought these hundred years through, he’s laced this six issues with cunning clues to an increasingly worrying mystery which only reveals its true horror right at the end. Also, you need not have read a single sentence of this series to launch straight in now.

One hundred years have passed since The Surprise.

And it was quite a surprise, let me tell you. You’d be quite surprised if you found yourself in Nottingham city centre and it was suddenly writhing in howling, bellowing, jabbering hoards of half-clad cretins, urinating in doorways and leering lasciviously at anyone who passed by.

Outside of a Saturday night, anyway.

Yet that’s what has happened in CROSSED, kicked off by Garth Ennis a dozen or so volumes ago: a worldwide pandemic of sexually insatiable savages in which no one – no matter how old or young or how closely related – was safe. “This is what the worst of humanity looks like uninhibited by law” is what Garth seemed to say; and you look at some geographical regimes and cannot help but agree.

I enjoyed the first book, if “enjoyed” is the right word. I was actually vicariously terrified, peering through my fingers as I tentatively turned the pages – which isn’t easy using only your elbows. I initially promoted the series thus:

“Whatever your most terrifying nightmare, this is infinitely worse.

After that, I’m afraid it lost me. The genuine, stomach-churning tension which made me invest emotionally in each individual or shudder at their complete callousness and disregard for their fellow fugitive was replaced by such grotesquery that it repelled me with its not-necessary nastiness and so from what was occurring. Jonathan assured me that its spin-off series CROSSED: WISH YOU WERE HERE by Si Spurrier was a huge return to form but I hadn’t been sufficiently intrigued until the words “Alan” and “Moore” lured me back, and look: he’s brought a rather fine artist with him.

The textures on this detritus-strewn landscape are as rich as its detail: there’s so much to look at surrounding the more obvious focal points of the plot: the libraries, churches and the rusted stream train carrying this cast of archivists across a thinly populated wilderness where you can almost hear the silence.

There is, surprisingly, even beauty to behold in the form of brightly coloured butterflies and parakeets taking flight above the debris. Buddleias have rampaged across the ruins – a buddleia can take route in even the smallest concrete crevice, I warn you – and a rusted iron steamer has it charms.

The Crossed are so called because of the cross of red blisters which erupts across their faces upon infection like some pustular St George’s flag. The disease which turns its victims into such single-mindedly savage and sexually insatiable beasts that they are barely cognizant any longer is as contagious as the worst we know of that isn’t airborne, the transformation is almost instantaneous. It first broke out on July 27th 2008 when the world’s population had reached 700 thousand million. Within a decade the uninfected human population was down to 2 million with 100 million infected on the loose.

But this trend has since reversed itself, largely because The Crossed eat their own children before they’re old enough to breed.

With far fewer nests it’s become relatively (relatively) safe to venture from the heavily fortified stockades to see what can be gleaned from what’s left of the relics of their past – video recordings, non-fiction, manuals, journals – in order to better understand both what happened and what used to be considered their culture. Although even the most intrepid rarely stray far from their armoured bus and everyone goes armed with a shotgun.

Just as well, because one such expedition of archivists is startled to be set upon by a second nest of nudists in two days, covered in blood and faeces, the men as priapic as ever. Then there’s a third attack inside a Memphis mansion (broken signs will make you smile throughout with a recognition no longer shared by the archivists) and the narrator, Future Taylor, begins to suspect something’s up. But what truly confounds her are the shrines she starts finding with lit candles, one with a framed portrait of a man with a goatee that isn’t quite a photograph but close. On the back are broken bits of sentences, some of which you may well puzzle out long before Future does. But The Crossed have no religion – they’re not organised enough for it – so what’s up?

This is far more culturally orientated than before, Moore extrapolating from the Ennis scenario and musing on what might have happened one hundred years on. For a start, the ozone layer has repaired itself. Well, all our smoke-billowing industries have shut down. So it’s not all bad. It’s still pretty bad and I very much appreciated the safety of my study and my steady supply of Sauvignon Blanc.

In particular Moore is considering what may have happened to language and its slang in a world where there are isolated packs of human beings rather than an instantly accessible global information hub. There are neologisms aplenty, many of which made me smile, but rather too many too soon. Language should enrich a story, not obfuscate it, and I wince typing this for Alan Moore is one thousand times the writer that I will ever be but the number rendered the narrative just a little too opaque until I finally adjusted three chapters in.

I liked that the teenagers had adopted a stylised version of The Crossed’s red disfigurements as a tribal fashion statement like punks’ Mohicans or goths’ heavy eyeliner.

But what I loved above all was the plot itself – the mystery whose clues lie in corners you’ll never suspect at first, hidden as they are in plain sight.

What I must, however, do before closing is remind you that this is top-shelf material with scenes so horrific that FROM HELL looks like fun.


Buy Crossed + 100 vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Chrononauts (£7-50, Image) by Mark Millar & Sean Murphy…

“How old did you say this was?”
“The temple? It predates Stongehenge by six thousand years. The oldest place of worship anywhere on the planet.
“But that’s not the interesting part. It’s what the megaliths have been built around that’s causing all the excitement.
“You have to remember this predates metal tools, Doctor Quinn. This was before man even had pottery…
“I told you it was worth the trip.”

As prologues go this one packs quite the punchline delivered by Sean Murphy to eye-stopping effect.

For what were those megaliths were built around, perched atop ornate columns inside that temple is a fully armed F-14 Tomcat: a fourth-generation, supersonic, twinjet, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft first introduced in 1974. And, funnily enough, one of those did go missing back in the 1970s.

How did it end up in South-East Turkey six thousand years before Stonehenge was built?

That mystery – along with the fleet of sports cars found under Mayan temples and other strange temporal anomalies – convinces Doctor Corbin that he’s on the right track, that time-travel is possible, which is just as well because his prototype satellite equipped with a television camera is about to be bent through a time-stream tunnel to transmit 1863 AD live to a frankly astonished worldwide audience.

It’s quite the success.

Do you think it would have your attention?


Good, because Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly are planning their first manned mission in eighteen months time with their hi-tech – and indeed high-fashion – time suits. No point in travelling through time if you can’t look suave whilst doing it.

That our intrepid duo intend to take man’s bold first steps backwards through time, becoming the world’s first chrononauts in the process, all whilst televised absolutely live to the watching billions, possibly suggests an element of foolhardiness that doesn’t bode well for their smooth passage. Inevitably therefore, like in every good time travel yarn, something immediately goes awry, and with Corbin Quinn seemingly lost in time, there is of course only one man up to the task of trying to retrieve him…

Given that Danny Reilly seems like an egomaniacal jack-ass of the first order, again whilst raising our amusement value considerably, well, it doesn’t suggest his rescue mission is going to be remotely straightforward. Indeed, a spectacular double-page spread leaves us absolutely no doubt as to where Danny immediately finds himself. Deep in the proverbial temporal doo-doo, that’s where! The when is the siege of Kabul in Samarkand, 1504. Right slap bang in the absolute middle of it…

Once the extratemporal extrication of Quinn is achieved, the only question that remains is where, or indeed when, our chronally challenged chums are going to go next. You don’t seriously think these two grandstanding galoots are just going to head straight home in time safely for tea do you?!! No, of course not, and once timeline tweaking temptation gets the better of them, the fun really starts in what is basically a wickedly daft buddy caper.

Superb art from Sean THE WAKE / PUNK ROCK JESUS Murphy as Millar continues his own personal Pokemon quest to collect all the best artists in the comic industry for his Millarworld imprint before he expires. Fair play to him in that respect for it’d be very easy to stick with a winning formula, but I think given every yarn he writes is pretty distinct, they actually benefit from having very different artwork styles. That’s my theory anyway.


Buy Chrononauts and read the Page 45 review here

Saga vol 5 s/c (£10-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.


Are you seriously not reading SAGA? Let’s see what I can do about that.

At its heart SAGA is a visually sexy, wickedly inventive, highly irreverent and astutely observed comedy about love, war and human behaviour. Oh, and parenthood, for it’s narrated from adulthood by Alana and Marko’s daughter Hazel, the first of her hybrid kind who’s currently just above knee-height.

“Ask a child’s guardians what it takes to be good at their jobs, and most will answer with a single word… SACRIFICE.
“Parents give up so much: time, sleep, freedom, money, intimacy…
“Pretty much everything except complaining about how much they sacrifice.”

Regular readers will be dismayed but far from surprised to learn that there is even more sacrifice in this book than any of the others.

It stars two lovers from separate species, their daughter (don’t little ones say the darnedest things?), their daughter’s grandmother, an ex-lover, an assassin’s similarly skilled sister, a robot prince with television for a head and a giant, turquoise Lying Cat, which is basically a cat compelled to growl “LYING” whenever you’ve popped out a porky pie. These are some of my favourite panels for Vaughan has managed to wring from the conceit both comedic and quite unexpectedly moving moments too.

I’ve reviewed all four previous books but the SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOL 1 is possibly my best overview even if you end up buying its three constituent softcovers instead. In each Fiona and Brian – who seem such lovely people – manage to startle at least once with something of a sexual nature so laugh-out-loud explicit and wrong that you can’t actually believe they’ve committed it to print. It’s usually then that you remember you’ve just leant a copy to your mother-in-law.

Here it involves a male dragon. You have no idea.

Fiona’s dragons are sleek, salamander-like beasts. Her designs are as thrilling as her storytelling skills, key amongst them being heart-melting expressions, even on a cat. There’s a flashback to Marko’s childhood when he was protecting his dog from a neighbour’s delinquent daughter who was practising fire spells on the poor creature with no care or consideration for the poor pet’s pain. I defy to swear you wouldn’t use violence yourself to protect your pet from such cruelty. Marko lashes out. You’re not shown that scene but you are shown Marko’s father’s reaction. When little Marko realises what’s possibly in store his deer-like ears droop down and doe-eyes look up quizzically, a little pleadingly, and it is the very essence of vulnerability.

Bringing you up to speed will only serve up spoilers and we don’t do that here. As I say, try some of those other reviews. Instead I can reveal that it does involve captivity, being separated from your loved one, protecting your child, an all-consuming desire for revenge, violence and compassion and – oh dear – sacrifice.


Buy Saga vol 5 and read the Page 45 review here

Honor Girl (£14-99, Candlewick Press) by Maggie Thrash.

“What was I doing before? Was I just… floating along? Maybe I was better off that way. Because what’s ironic is that being in love doesn’t actually make you happy. It makes it impossible to be happy. You’re carrying this desire now. Maybe if you knew where it came from, you could put it back. But you don’t.”

Maggie is only fifteen and she’s just fallen in love for the first time. With a woman. With a summer camp counsellor.

Maggie’s stomach is churning and she hasn’t the first clue what to do about any of it.  She can’t get Erin or her feelings towards her out of her head and she’s stuck there for the summer. What if any of any of her friends find out? What if any of the counsellors find out? What if Erin finds out? What on earth is she supposed to do with all this?

Oh, the space and the light!

I knew this was graphic memoir was going to be a pleasure to read as soon as I opened it and the colours flooded out. But, being set in a remote, American summer camp for girls, I had no idea it would tick so many recognition boxes.

I’d praise Thrash’s memory – her ability to put herself back in her head aged fifteen – but my own memory’s appalling yet I remember every little bit of falling in love for the first time when my nascent self-awareness was too new to comprehend or cope. It’s not something you forget.

Still, there were a lot of surprises and this may not come with the conclusion you expect.

Thrash goes to great pains to emphasise right from the beginning how traditional this particular summer camp was. Unchanged since 1922, “There were mandatory Civil War re-enactments every morning. It was literally the blues screaming “blue” and the greys screaming “grey” for twenty minutes.” Grim. There’s also flag-raising and flag-lowering at morning and night, and singing lots of lovely Christian songs to each other.

Being a good little girl, Maggie had a pillow with all her merit patches sewn on; being a somnambulist, she also had Somnambu-leash she was supposed to attach to her ankle every evening. I don’t think it counts as a spoiler to tell you she doesn’t – not every evening – and it’s worth bearing that in mind later on.

There were uniforms for uniformity (“I was used to environments where it was important for everyone to be the same”) and zero diversity bar one blonde Jewish girl so seemed to set each year’s fashion trends. Oh, and then there was the whole Honor Girl system.

“On the first night, we always serenaded the Honor Girl, a 16-year-old camper appointed the previous summer… Everyone would light a candle, and at the end of the song, we’d each touch our flame to hers. It was meant to be symbolic – the Honor Girl imbuing us with her perfect spirit.”

Are you getting a sense that this might be one of the least hospitable environments for anyone suddenly stumbling upon the notion that they might be gay? Add in a mass of insecure teenage peers and being trapped there with them morning, noon and indeed overnight… There were a couple of girls the previous year about whom rumours swirled and they were ostracised all season long.

As I say, I think this is going to surprise you, and it’s got 270 pages in which to do so.

I’ve seen this sort of stripped-down style done so badly, so blandly – most recently in a reasonably high profile Young Adult graphic novel I decided didn’t merit a review – but this is full of nuance and character and great body language. It’s amazing what you can do with a few simple lines as long as they’re placed just-so. The expressions often contradict what’s expressed like tells at a poker game. It falls under the umbrella of minimum fuss for maximum empathy, and the colours ensure it’s certainly no mope-fest.

There are great many giggles to boot. I loved the old camp commandant – sorry, director – popping out on the odd occasion to wave a canoe paddle furiously and bellow prohibitions before collapsing, pooped out on the deck.

The storytelling is crystal clear with plenty of variety – another of the problems I had with that YA graphic novel was it was as so repetitious, so deathly dull, like someone telling you a story with “And then he did this and then she did that and then he did this and we didn’t” – opening up at exactly the right moments with landscapes to let you linger and ponder like Maggie herself.

As the memoir kicks off and concludes she’s had two years to do precisely that.


Buy Honor Girl and read the Page 45 review here

Pixu – The Mark Of Evil s/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, Fabio Moon.

Not a sequel, but a softcover.

“It’s too soon. For now, I wait.”

Clammy, sweaty and thoroughly unnerving, sometimes horror is at its most frightening when it’s most nebulous. If you can confront it – if you can shoot it or stick a stake in its heart or at least run screaming – then there’s hope. I foresaw little hope here.

Six denizens of a house divided into four separate apartments find themselves caught in the cross-fire of each other’s making, the sinister tendrils creeping up the walls but a catalyst for the conflagration to come. For none of them seems stable from the start. There’s a man who sits and waits by the telephone, OCD his only companion. A woman on the edge of her nerves rejects her boyfriend who declares that he will never come back – and really, he shouldn’t. Meanwhile a middle-aged man mourns a woman who left him from reasons unknown. He’s visited in his bedroom by a prepubescent girl whose guardian (grandfather? no, not necessarily) has a strange hold over her and keeps a neat dresser of formaldehyde jars for protection. One of them has been broken.

Ah, that’s my interpretation – or half of it – but you decide for yourself.



Buy Pixu – The Mark Of Evil s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Mean Girls Club (£6-50, Nobrow) by Ryan Heshka.

Lurid, burlesque, groovy and grotesque!

Pretty gritty in pink, this one’s for Scarlett Daggers of Nottingham’s Dr. Sketchy’s fabulously welcoming, all-inclusive “not up its arse art-class” which Page 45 is very proud to sponsor with free graphic novels as prizes.

Meet the vamps of the Mean Girls Club: Wanda, Wendy, Pinkie, Blackie, Sweets and McQualude! You’ll only do it once.

These sisters are most emphatically doing it for themselves: self-medication, self-examination, auto-operations, on-the-spot diagnoses and even instant “euthanasia” if you define euthanasia as putting someone out of your misery.

This is a pill-popping, binge-drinking, hallucinogenic adrenaline rush with snakes, rats, bats and Venus flytraps everywhere. Innocence is upended, boutiques are broken into and lingerie scattered all over the road. Guns, clubs, hypodermic needles and, err, dress-up paper dolls.

Imagine Bettie Page in a rage and you’re pretty much there.


Buy Mean Girls Club 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.

The Fade Out vol 2 (£10-99, Image) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Fires Over Hyperion (£10-99, NBM) by Patrick Atangan

Heart In A Box (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Kelly Thompson & Meredith McClaren

How To Pass As Human: A Guide To Assimilation For Future Androids by Android 0 h/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Kelman Nic & Pericles Junior, Rick DeLucco

No Mercy vol 1 (with bookplate signed by Alex & Carla!) (£7-50, Image) by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil

The Princess And The Pony (£6-99, Walker Books) by Kate Beaton

Ruins h/c (£19-99, SelfMadeHero) by Peter Kuper

Tommysaurus Rex (£8-50, Scholastic) by Doug TenNapel

War Stories vol 2 (£18-99, Avatar) by Garth Ennis & David Lloyd, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Gary Erskine

When Anxiety Attacks (£7-99, Jessica Kingsley Publishers) by Terian Koscik

William Shakespeare’s Tragedy Of The Sith’s Revenge h/c (£10-99, Quirk) by Ian Doescher

Batman vol 7: Endgame h/c (£18-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Flash: Season Zero s/c (£14-99, DC) by various

Uncanny Avengers vol 1: Counter-Evolutionary (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender, Gerry Dugan & Daniel Acuna

Astro Boy Omnibus vol 1 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Osamu Tezuka


ITEM! Sublime! See Babouche adding watercolours to the above, ending up with what’s below. It’s a fascinating lesson it wet watercolour technique.

ITEM! See PLUTO’s Urusawa drawing fluidly in pencil.

ITEM! Read why ‘Jealousy Is Creative Poison’. It’s actually poison full stop, but most of us have been guilty of it from time to time.

ITEM! Fab, in-depth article on PHONOGRAM by Elana Brooklyn. It’s so in-depth there are inevitably SPOILERS but if you’re not reading Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s PHONGRAM at all perhaps it will tempt you, or start with the new PHONOGRAM IMMATERIAL GIRL #1 reviewed right here.

ITEM! In time for his new comic, Warren Ellis’ thoughts on James Bond – the novels. Pre-order Warren Ellis’ new James Bond comic here.

– Stephen

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2015 week two

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Includes the finest series ever published by Marvel – by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos – which I’ve reread and reviewed from scratch!

(In A Sense) Lost & Found (£12-99, Nobrow) by Roman Muradov.

“Go back to your room and remain prudent.”

Absolutely exquisite.

I love all the curls and swirls representing both form and movement. I love the geometrical intersections complemenedt by contrasting colours and of course I love all the leaves.

This is the surrealist stuff of dreams, a journey through an exotic, old-fashioned city of steep steps, odd angles and looming shadows; of vast edifices towering over water, some of their facades scooped out; of sequestered gardens, secret passageways and subterranean shops selling stolen goods – like Miss F. Premise’s innocence!

It’s populated by a right old crowd of high-fashioned humans and the sort of eccentrics you’d have expected to find in Paris’ St Germaine way back when, along with anthropomorphic chickens, foxes and free-floating fish, and the eyes – oh, how they stare!

At times it’s as overpowering as Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, especially to Miss F. Premise who’d had the audacity to venture outside without the aid of her innocence. So immodest!

Miss F. Premise wakes one morning in her dowdy, spinsterish gown to find that her innocence has gone. She’d worn it for donkey’s years as bow round her neck and it was certainly there when she went to bed. Now only the ghostly reflection of it remains in the mirror.

In its place, however, she finds a newfound willingness to rebel for when her bullying beast of a father (quite what sort of a beast, I don’t know) demands she leaves the breakfast table, retire to her room and, of course, “remain prudent”, she hops out of the window instead.

And that’s how F. Premise’s journey begins.

It’s not without its set-backs and her father isn’t the only source of repression. Even the kindly if pessimistic bookshop owner who takes her in suggests she give up.

“The only way to get through the days without losing your mind is to accept.”
“That’s a defeatist attitude.”
“On the contrary, it takes courage to give up, to greet the bleak prospects with quiet resignation.”

But after a few similarly dreary and deflating bons mots, Miss Premise declares, “I’m sorry, I can’t take this anymore,” and sets off again.

It’s a journey of discovery both for the newly inquisitive and determined protagonist and for the reader. What you get from this art-driven adventure depends on what you put in – how long you linger on each sensational page and its panels which, I concede, could have done with being a little less opaque. If the online images are anything to go by, my ill-educated guess is that the publisher never intended the printed publication to be quite so dark. It’s certainly a peeve I’ve heard voiced privately from many an artist when they first see their work on the physical page in the shop.

No matter! Read in full sunshine or steer your Anglepoise lamp directly on top for this is a miniature masterpiece which luxuriates in its word play:

“Mapologies, jung lady.”

There’s an air of Lewis Carroll or Edward Gorey to the literary proceedings, while the following smacked to me of a cryptic crossword clue:

“Stop shovelling bland whimsy, bathtime fowleries are all the rage now.”

There’s even an element of Eric Drooker’s THE FLOOD in its noisy, secret-city journey and the dancers discovered within, though the emphasis here is much more on the magical and the natural than the oppressive and inhumane.

Lastly, given how many of our customers have voiced fantasies of kipping down at Page 45 overnight, I smiled at this line when the elderly bookshop owner takes Miss F. Premise in and sets her up in a bed on a couch before leaving her to it.

“Good night then.
“And do try to feel at home.
“As much as one can feel at home in a shop.”

We really should rent out hammocks.


One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Mike Medaglia…

“Love one another and you will be happy. It is as simple and difficult as that.” Michael Leunig.

The creator of this exquisitely illustrated treasure trove of wise sayings, Mike Medaglia, and I have something in common. Both of us are practising Zen Buddhists. I would love to say that we also share a talent for drawing, but sadly that would be a complete and utter lie. For whilst he has mastered the art of… well… art, I am currently in danger of being surpassed by my four-year-old daughter in terms of illustrative abilities…

When Mike told me that he was planning to create this work I was delighted, and mentioned that it sounded like a book I had read when first beginning to meditate over twenty years ago, called Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections on Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Which contains ‘365 thought-provoking meditations on life, death, doubt, mindfulness, compassion, wisdom, work, and more!’ He mentioned that book was indeed also a favourite of his. This work, also containing 365 meditations, is like that book with one superlative difference: every single daily espresso shot of enlightenment is accompanied by equally powerful art.


The pearls of wisdom you’ll find within the covers of this book are not contained to any one faith, or indeed purely religious in nature. Some do come from Buddhist masters and teachers of other faiths, but also philosophers, poets, artists,  musicians, gurus, playwrights, scientists, politicians, ku fu masters, even comicbook creators and retailers. Okay, well maybe not retailers, but Mike has included a wonderful Osama Tezuka quote that is accompanied by Astro Boy gently holding a snowflake on his outstretched hand.

“What is one man’s life compared to the eternity of time and space? No more than a snowflake that glitters in the sun before melting into the flow of time.”

Actually, the word “accompanied” does Mike a total disservice, for here the art empowers and invigorates the prose words, bringing them vividly to life using many different artistic devices which convey additional interpretation, emphasis and depth to the phrase in question. Indeed often the words themselves form part of the fabric of the design of the artwork. People who have read his moving, and very touching, SEASONS will know just how clever this approach can be. This work is in fact some of the finest iconography I have ever seen. There were several pages that moved me deeply, caused pause for thought, and generated a deep swell of emotion within me. Exactly as it should be when taking in such powerful packets of wisdom.


This really is the perfect gift for a loved one who you think might benefit from some beautiful moments of serene reflection. In fact I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from the sage words of wisdom contained within and feel spiritually uplifted by the emotive artwork. And you should include yourselves in that. For whilst Sogyal Rinpoche commented in his best known work, The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying, that “The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life”, and that is undoubtedly true, I think Sogyal himself might concur that picking up a copy of Mike’s book would be a close second…


Buy One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations and read the Page 45 review here

Sacred Heart (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Liz Suburbia…

“So how’d you get out?”
“Don’t really remember that part… no one’s seen Mark since, though.”
“Wait, that’s bullshit! Everyone knows Mark drowned in the river last summer!”
“You sure about that?”

Nope. I really don’t believe that for a second, such is the catalogue of murders, apparent suicides (definitely murders) and other apparently random attacks (they’re not) that seem to be happening with disturbing frequency to the teen population of Alexandria.

This work has been compared favourably to LOVE AND ROCKETS and I can see why. I would specifically make the comparison with the Blood Of Palomar storyline which is found in LOVE AND ROCKETS: HUMAN DIASTOPHISM. For there, like here, a serial killer is stalking the mean streets, whilst social cohesion seems to be terminally on the wane between the residents. There is also a very dramatic ending, which in turn reveals all. Well, not all, but certainly things make a lot more sense afterwards. In the meanwhile, the teenagers just carry on as normal. Messing about, going to parties, getting drunk and high, falling out, fighting, getting off with each other, all seemingly without a care in world. Well, aside from the usual crippling teenage angst and insecurities, that is… (Ah, those were the days! I think!)

There was also a certain suspicion that gradually began to occur to me, initially gleaned from some of the conversations between characters, before it was definitively confirmed for me towards the conclusion. Actually, I’ve just realised I wouldn’t spoil anything by mentioning it, as it asks this very question in the blurb on the back cover…

“Also: where are all the parents?”

Where indeed…? I wonder… There’s also one another reason why this work reminded me of the Blood Of Palomar, and whilst I will say it doesn’t involve monkeys, I will keep that to myself!

Very, very accomplished debut work from Liz Suburbia, she certainly can write. I’m struggling to come up with an exact comparison for her black and white art style, but if you were to put 50% Gilbert Hernandez and 50% Bryan Lee O’ Malley in a blender and whisk ‘em up, I think her illustrative style well be the result.


Buy Sacred Heart and read the Page 45 review here

Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City s/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Guy Delisle…

“I got news about your coordination request for Gaza…”
“They refused.”
“No way… damn it…”
“How come? What was their excuse?”
“They said , ‘The guy who draws comics? Forget it.’”

“Maybe they got me mixed up with Joe Sacco?”

Ha ha, very funny! In fact, as ever, there’s a lot to smile wryly at in Guy Delisle’s latest travelogue, this time to the Holy Land. Once again he’s playing house husband looking after their two kids as his wife’s latest year placement with Médecins Sans Frontières takes the family to Jerusalem, where almost instantly his romanticised preconceptions of the place are utterly dashed and so his usual explorations and excavations of the absurdities of everyday life for the locals can begin in earnest.

One of the many great things about Guy’s work, having been to one of the places he’s written about (see BURMA CHRONICLES), is that he does completely capture exactly what life is like, down to its frequently confused minutiae, for those who have to live there, and this time is no exception as he shows the cramped and convoluted living arrangements that currently passes for Palestinian society, compressed and literally incarcerated in Gaza and the West Bank as they are by the Israelis. Guy being Guy though, he does try, and admirably manages it, to show the story from both sides without particularly taking either.

Though with that said, when he goes on a tour with a group of Israeli settlers (at the request of the Palestinian tour guide whose tour he’d been on a week previously, again to be fair and to see things from the other perspective) he simply reproduces the settler tour guide’s own words verbatim and lets the man damn himself. And when he’s not finding out about local political intrigue or getting into trouble with the police for picking yet another inappropriate sketching spot, he’s hunting out little oases of calm like the zoo or playgrounds to keep the pesky children entertained and give himself a much needed breather.

Jerusalem is probably his finest work yet, possibly because there’s just so much packed into one year compared to anywhere else he’s been and Jerusalem is such a fascinating place with all its contradictions and contrasts, but also artistically too, as whilst he adopts his usual laconic style there’s subtle additions such as extra background detailing or occasional splashes of colour onto his duotone, single-colour-per-panel palette which add a certain little something.

This would actually be an ideal work for anyone who is interested in finding about the day to day politics of the city and its inhabitants, and the history of the city itself, but isn’t ever going to have the time or perhaps the inclination to visit for themselves. It’s certainly one of the most confusing places you could ever go by the sounds of it, in every respect, but Guy almost always manages to find someone who can talk some sense about any given situation…

“It’s always surprising who you meet at these expat evenings. There are basically three categories: journalists, aid workers and diplomats. I meet a Scotsman who works for the Middle East Quartet. Since 2007 Tony Blair has been its official envoy. So here’s a guy who’s high up on the political and diplomatic ladder. This is my one chance to get some firsthand information.
“What your work like on a daily basis?… Are there optimistic moments once in a while, or do things look pretty bad most of the time?”
“Things look pretty bad most of the time.”
“Ah… and how’s Tony?””


Buy Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Democracy (£18-99, Bloomsbury) by Abraham Kawa & Alecos Papadatos…

“There’s something monstrous about crowds, you know.
“Solon saw it in the disenfranchised, the poor masses not benefitted even by his laws.
“In horror, he saw that to control, he’d have to become a tyrant.
“So, when his time as magistrate was up, he stepped down.
“Pesistratus came to power because of Solon’s reluctance to act.
“And even the Tyrant didn’t slay the monster. He manipulated it, controlled it.
“And now that he’s gone, it’s about to wake up.”

Good to see that historical political leaders had about as much respect for the masses as current day politicians.

There is a well known quote from Churchill from 1947, some two years after winning the war yet promptly being defeated in a general election some two months later (July 1945) that perfectly sums up my own feelings about the current state of parliamentary (and indeed Presidential)-led democracy. It goes along the lines of “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

But at least we have the right to choose between our politicians, if not much else. For as Churchill also commented, upon hearing that he’d lost the election, whilst taking a bath, “They have a perfect right to kick me out. That is democracy”. Quite so.

Neither of those quotes feature in this epic study of our most seemingly civilised arrangement of the structures of power and those who wield it. On our behalf and at our behest, obviously. If not always for our benefit… Because this work focuses squarely on the where and when the creators perceive that democracy itself was painfully birthed: 490BC in Athens.

Obviously a concept as grand as democracy itself can’t really be pinpointed to any specific time or place as such, but the creators make a compelling case for supposing this region was sufficient a nexus of influential people and their conflicting, competing and occasionally even overlapping and even mutually beneficial interests, as to be the melting pot from which a cohesive elected structure that hadn’t been previously seen on such a large scale, to emerge and take the reins and responsibilities, and of course, rewards, of power. All is told through the fictional eyes of Leander, an idealistic young man whose eyes are dramatically opened to the power struggles of the not-so-great or good with the death of his father in a riot.

I can’t help feeling a shade disappointed by this work. In comparison to the magnificent LOGICOMIX where I was utterly engaged by the story they were telling, I found my attention waning slightly as I read through this. It is undoubtedly a very well researched exploration of events at that time, but it just didn’t captivate me in the same manner. I note with interest it is the same Greek artist as LOGICOMIX but he’s written this himself, in conjunction with a Greek ‘cultural studies theorist’ writers, so I wonder if that was the difference for me. In some ways I think I would have preferred a look at the ‘development’ of democracy through the ages to our modern day, but I quite understand that would have been a gargantuan undertaking.

Anyway, what is painfully apparent from reading this is that no one back then was involved for purely altruistic reasons. Manipulation, spin-doctoring, blackmail, rigging of elections, intimidation, murder, all were prevalent, perhaps even tacitly accepted as merely part of the process by those involved. In a word, politics, of the dirtiest possible kind, is what was practised at the time. You can make a case for saying that nothing much has changed over the years, even in our civilised Western democratic societies. Just perhaps the scale of these malpractices has been ratcheted down, replaced by an ever more devious sophistication and accomplished concealment.


Buy Democracy and read the Page 45 review here

8House #3: Kiem (£2-25, Image) by Brandon Graham & Xurxo G. Penalta…

“Suddenly the world seems quieter.
“My treasure is still here.
“Treasures I’ve found since coming to the crèche.
“They were going to be for my brother…
“My twin.
“Before I knew where he was.”

Sometimes comics really do send your brain moving in the strangest directions. It has to be many a year since I thought of Victor Kiam, the man who ‘liked his razor so much he bought the company’, before launching into an ill-advised attempt to solve a non-existent problem, but apparently vital to him, possibly due to the outrageous number of mohair jumpers his vast, face-scraping fortune had allowed him to buy, with the Remington Fuzz-Away…

Anyway, I mention this purely because your mind will undoubtedly be bent into a similarly distorted state by this next issue of 8HOUSE featuring the titular Kiem. Who whilst she might not have anything to with the removal of facial, or indeed garment-based, hair, is rather good at eliminating aliens. By mind control, utilising the body of her long dead twin who is orbiting a strange object far, far away, along with a whole army of such desiccated puppet warriors…

“We are monozygotic twins.
“Sharing a chromosome profile.
“I stayed in the crèche while he was sent ahead in a skillsuit to this once cognisant transpacial mass…
“I try not to think about brother.
“How it felt, how he died.
“Our twins make it possible to travel this far.”

I was once a cognisant transpacial mass, I think…

Anyway, I am intrigued to see precisely how the whole 8HOUSE universe fits together eventually. If there really is some master design that Brandon and the other writers have to make it all one coherent time-spanning, space-stretching story. Surely not, it has to be a simple conceit to allow the telling of diverse stories with beautiful art by Brandon and his chums. And yet… I wouldn’t put it past him or them…

So after the first two ethereal and magically mediaeval-flavoured issues, 8HOUSE #1: ARCLIGHT and 8HOUSE #2: ARCLIGHT, both also penned by Brandon but drawn by Marian BEAST Churchland, this is straight-up hardcore PROPHET-esque sci-fi with more than a nod, practically a head-butt, to Moebius and THE INCAL in the art. In fact, I’m pretty sure the artist, the exotically dangerous-sounding Xurxo G. Penalta, must have a mild fetish for Deepo, ingestor of the THE INCAL and dispenser of deep wisdom, who also happens to be a seagull, as there are a fair few flocks floating around the vast, desert cityscape. Including two I have just noticed on the cover nesting atop the inverse, eight-shaped stone duolith our hero is passing through!

Most odd. I have just had an incredibly strong sense déjà vu of typing that last sentence before. Ha ha, how appropriately surreal. Anyway, Brandon pens a great teasing opener of an issue here before, I note, he will pass on writing duties to other people, and fresh artists once again. Issues #4 and #5 are both titled Yorris, written and drawn by a team I must be totally honest I’m not remotely familiar with, but I have absolute faith in Brandon’s choices, before Emma Rios launches into a four-parter sub-titled Mirror with issue #6.

I really hope we do return to the Arclight and Kiem stories before too long, they are both too good not to be continued. But as I say again, how it all fits together, if it does, goodness only knows?!


Buy 8House #3: Kiem and read the Page 45 review here

Jessica Jones: Alias vol 1 s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos with Bill Sienkiewicz.

“I don’t know what to do.”

Over and over you’ll hear that phrase. Does it seem quite familiar to you?

The finest series ever published by Marvel, this isn’t superheroes at all. It’s the messed-up life of a woman who cares and who gives as good as she gets. She could have given and gotten a great deal more except that something so harrowing happened to her years ago when she was once a cape that it’s set her down a self-perpetuating spiral of self-loathing.

Night after night Jessica wanders around from bar to bar drinking whatever she can and sleeping with whoever will have her. She wakes up in the morning and hates what she did, so she wanders around from bar to bar, drinking as much as she can and sleeping with whoever will have her. Just to feel something different.

Set at the peripheral, adult side of the Marvel universe where ladies do lunch and individuals actually swear, have sex and suffer from chronic period pains, it’s a journey during which Jessica Jones finally comes to terms with the fact that she’s been not a failure but a victim of one wretched bastard’s callous and cruel objectification and – anyway, you’ll have to wait for book four. It does have a happy ending whose seeds are sown so early on here, but it’s a tortuous path till we get there.

Don’t get me wrong: this is very, very funny with such smooth, silky and wink-ridden dialogue full of the false starts, stuttering and back-tracking which reflect our own real-life interactions that you will be utterly immersed in up to sixty consecutive panels of talking heads without blinking once before coming up for air. Then you’ll be craving the next.

It’s riddled if not with misogyny then at least balls-out chauvinism as Jessica attempts to earn a living through private investigation while encountering walls of lawyers, corporate cover-ups, political intrigue and street-level lies and deceit. Men and women hire her to find their spouses or find them out. One guy is cheating on his missus not with a woman but with multiple men whom he meets online and if you think these chat-room exchanges have been edited into something more acceptable to the average, American and easily outraged male Marvel reader, please think again!

My rule number one is “Never ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to”. This goes double for employing P.I.s. You may not like what you find.

Like HAWKEYE it’s completely accessible to newcomers with no knowledge at all of the Marvel universe because this was Jessica Jones’ first-ever appearance. It guest-stars Luke Cage, Carol Danvers and Matt Murdock. Indeed there’s a certain degree of cross-over with Bendis’ concurrent DAREDEVIL series which was similarly street-level and out-shone even Frank Miller’s.

Michael Gaydos employs the same repeated panels Miller utilised there but to different effect as Jones listens to her clients witter on. Their expressions change: hers don’t. She’s listening. She’s assessing the veracity of their stories. She doesn’t always trust her own instincts or get it right.

In the first major episode of several here Jessica is employed to find a sister who’s gone missing – a woman who’s gone to great lengths not to be tracked or found. She finds the sister safe and well but visited at night by a broad-shouldered blonde bloke whose pager receives a call-out at 2am. Is he a doctor? Pfft. No. He doesn’t even leave by the front door. Why would the sister not want to be found if she’s happy and beginning a brand-new relationship?

The answer makes so much sense but it’s the question which you should concentrate on. As should Jessica. Because she’s being set up by those several tiers above and it’s how she handles that which will make all the difference in the world to what follows.

Superheroes don’t just have secret identities. They have private lives. Or at least they do here and they’re… complicated.

Complicated by sex. Here’s Jessica out to lunch at a street-side cafe with Carol Danvers. They’re rekindling their friendship after letting it lapse. It’s amazing how much you can do for a friendship if you’re prepared to reach out. See above for first two pages, then…



I don’t post that sequence at random, either. Cage will be playing a very significant role, effectively reintroducing him to the Marvel universe in far more contemporary manner, eventually leading into Bendis’ NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: BREAK OUT.

This is a series about accepting your limitations without being bullied by them, recognising your real strengths, looking forward not back, and going with the risk of letting new people in. Actually, it’s about relearning how to love yourself in the way that you should.


Buy Jessica Jones: Alias vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Plutona #1 (£2-25, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Emi Lenox…

“What do you want, Ray?”
“Nothing. What are you doing out here, Tugger? “Dr. Bion… possible sighting over Twayne Tower, October.” What the hell is this, Tugger?”
“None of your business!”
“Okay, okay. Sorry. What is it? Seriously Teddy, I really want to know.”
“I’m capespotting.”
“What the fuck is capespotting?”
“I watch and catalogue the skies over Metro City and then catalogue any hero sightings on my blog. I’m part of the Northwest Capespotting Society. We all cross-reference and correlate our findings online.”

Poor old Tugger, I mean Teddy. You can well imagine why his tormentor Ray has given him that nickname.  Still, when Teddy points out that at least he has friends and why doesn’t Ray just go home, he is surprised by just how aggressively Ray reacts to that suggestion. Maybe Ray didn’t get that black eye in a fight with a ninth grader whose ass he kicked (as he boasted) after all?

Meanwhile, Mie and her best friend Diane have a seemingly slightly unequal relationship too. Initially you get the sense that Diane is the one who’s too cool for school with her studded leather jacket Mie is keen to borrow, but quickly it becomes apparent Mie is taking her friend for granted, and in fact it’s Diane who is just a tad too keen to retain Mie’s friendship. Unfortunately for them, they’ve been asked to look after Mie’s little brother Mike whilst they go for an evening walk, which is just the most ridiculously inconvenient and socially onerous thing her mother could ever have asked Mie to do, obviously.

So it’s somewhat unfortunate that when they chance upon Teddy and Ray, who is finally actually being nice to Teddy (until an audience turns up, of course), in the distraction of Ray outing Tugger as a capespotter to the girls, that’s when Mike promptly decides to wander off into the dark and spooky woods by himself. Our gang do find him eventually, stood shocked and distraught over the beaten up dead body of a superheroine bearing the Plutona symbol on her costume.

Cue a five pager ‘back-up’ story to finish that is presented as #126 of the Plutona comic featuring a young single mum – looking remarkably like the prone figure in the woods – trying to juggle superheroing, working in a diner and raising a family. Hmm…

Great opener from Jeff as he sets up what are presumably most of the main characters, their typical teenage social dynamics, and also builds the intrigue to fever pitch by the finale. Whereas the five pager ‘back-up’ is illustrated in a traditional looser Lemire style, akin to his SWEET TOOTH work, the art for the main story by Emi Lenox bears a much simpler, cleaner line with troubled, haunted or angry eyes.

I really have no idea where he is going to with this, so much so I just had a peak at the Diamond solicitation information for issues #2 and #3, which gave absolutely nothing away!!! Consider me hooked!


Buy Plutona #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Mad Max: Fury Road s/c (£10-99, Vertigo) by George Miller, Mark Sexton & Riccardo Burchielli…

“Suffice to say, I’d never seen anything like it. I was hooked.”

Ha, the above quote comes from an excellent foreword by Mark Sexton, long-time collaborator with George Miller and co-scribe of these tie-in comics. He’s referring to Mad Max 2, which he saw as a twelve year old. I have to say I retain a similar affection for the first Mad Max film, which I saw at a similar age. It remains a very firm favourite of mine to this day for relatively inexplicable reasons. The combination of hokey acting and ridiculous characters shouldn’t work, but somehow it all just comes together in a full-throttle collision of action and insane nonsense that imprinted itself on my mind to such an extent I could probably quote much of the dialogue verbatim today.

Anyway… when I heard the long-gestating Mad Max Fury Road was finally going to hit the screens, (I mean what, this sequel had been talked about for practically thirty years?) I was excited enough that I simply had to make a rare cinematic outing myself. Even so, it had practically gone off by the time I managed to see it, and in the interim I had heard nothing but near-universal, indeed breathless, praise. My expectations were high. I loved it, yet I can’t say I felt as deeply affected as I did as a young lad, eyes wide, watching the first adventures of Max Rockatansky. I’m not sure I can be that affected anymore by an action film frankly, but still, I can understand why it utterly blew people away. As action films go, it was rather good.

So, these comics are basically prequel material showing how the main supporting characters – Furiosa, Immortan Joe and Nux – rise to prominence and how Max eventually happens to cross their paths. There have been a few comics in recent years actually that have apparently enhanced the cinematic experience. Two, STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN and PREDATORS, even managed to achieve the neat trick of being both prequel and sequel simultaneously, and in the former’s case, also explaining a plot device that had baffled me completely in the film. So, tie-in comic material can work well, if done properly. These are fun enough, I most enjoyed the Immortan Joe and Nux tales, actually, I felt they genuinely added something to the milieu, though the Max and Furiosa ones felt a tad spurious.

Overall, if you loved the film, and seemingly everyone who saw it did, and you need a bit more Max in your life whilst we all await the next sequel, which I sincerely hope will be sooner than thirty years, although given the box office success of this caper, I’m sure it’s well into pre-production already, it is well worth giving these a read.


Buy Mad Max: Fury Road 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.

Saga vol 5 s/c (£10-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Step Aside, Pops – A Hark! A Vagrant Collection (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Kate Beaton

Chrononauts (£7-50, Image) by Mark Millar & Sean Murphy

Crossed + 100 vol 1 (£14-99, Avatar) by Alan Moore & Gabriel Andrade

Descender vol 1: Tin Stars (£7-50, Image) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

The Dharma Punks (£18-99, Conundrum) by Ant Sang

Dispossession: A Novel Of Few Words (£17-99, Jonathan Cape) by Simon Grennan

Honor Girl (£14-99, Candlewick Press) by Maggie Thrash

Pixu – The Mark Of Evil s/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, Fabio Moon

Virgil (£7-50, Image) by Steve Orlando & J. D. Faith

Batman Beyond 2.0 vol 3: Mark Of The Phantasm s/c (£12-99, DC) by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel & Phil Hester, Thony Silas, various

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 vol 3: Love Dares You (£13-99, Dark Horse) by Christos N. Gage, Nicholas Brendon & Rebekah Isaacs, Megan Levens


ITEM! Page 45 at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015! Win £100’s worth of Festival Tickets to see comicbook creators Dave McKean, Stuart Immonen, Darwyn Cook, Mary Talbot, Bryan Talbot, Ian McQue and Jock for free!

Also on that blog, Page 45’s own Special Comicbook creator guests: Jon Allison, Dan Berry, Jonathan Edwards, Sarah McIntyre, Felt Mistress, Philip Reeve, Jade Sarson, Richard Short, Emma Vieceli signing and sketching for free!

Oh yeah, you do know that entry to LICAF is overwhelmingly free, right? It’s only the ticketed talks that cost money. And, if you win our prize competition, they don’t!

ITEM! Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki to build chrildren’s nature retreat on a Japanese island!

ITEM! Sarah McIntyre’s illustrated blog on creating art for PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH

ITEM! UMBRAL’s Antony Johnston on his new series BABOUSHKA

ITEM! Update on all things Brubaker & Phillips including news on the length of THE FADE OUT

ITEM! BROKEN TELEPHONE crime comic seen from six perspectives. Includes Will Kirkby art!

ITEM! I once dreamed that Page 45 had relocated to a cathedral, its pews our comic shelves. Now I discover there is actually a bookshop in a church in the Netherlands. Heavenly!

– Stephen

Page 45 At The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Page 45 Guests Signing & Sketching For Free (linked to their websites):

Jon Allison, Dan Berry, Jonathan Edwards, Sarah McIntyre, Felt Mistress, Philip Reeve, Jade Sarson, Richard Short, Emma Vieceli


Competition! Win Free Tickets To 9 LICAF Events

See Dave McKean, Stuart Immonen, Darwyn Cook, Mary Talbot, Bryan Talbot, Ian McQue and Jock for free! Normal cost nearly £100. Please see below!

Page 45 Brings Beautiful Graphic Novels to Kendal


On Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th October Page 45 will have multiple tables stacked high with gorgeous graphic novels, quality kids comics and special creator guests in The Georgian Room upstairs in the Comics Clock Tower. The entire room is ours and entry is free!

Ask for recommendations tailored to YOUR specific tastes!
We’ll help find your friends presents too!
We’ll be providing show-and-tells on any book you fancy all weekend long!

Important: Page 45 will be accepting cash AND credit cards!

Sarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve Signing & Sketching for free!



Thrill to the fabulous Sarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve signing & sketching in their all-ages books! Do bring a camera: I promise you a spectacle!

The venue: Georgian Room upstairs in Comics Clock Tower
The date: Saturday 17th October 2015
The time: 2.30pm for as long as we can keep them!

Entry is free, no tickets required but please turn up on time to avoid disappointment.

Books on sale (reviewed with interior art):

24 BY 7

& more!

Page 45’s Creator Special Guests

Also selling their wares in our room throughout the weekend, signing & sketching for free, the heroes of the Lakes 24-Hour Comics Marathon 2015:



Jon Allison
Dan Berry
Jonathan Edwards
Jade Sarson
Richard Short
Emma Vieceli

With even more ‘special’ guest, Felt Mistress.  She’s the co-creator of DESTINATION KENDAL!

Warning: she may not actually look like this.



Warning: she actually does.

Follow us on Twitter @pagefortyfive as other creators pop in to draw free, impromptu sketches like last year!

Page 45’s review of 24 BY 7, the collected edition of the Lakes 24-Hour Comics Marathon 2014

Page 45’s photo-filled review of The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014! Oooh, graphic novels!


Win Free Tickets To 9 LICAF Events!

Thanks to the kindness of customer Craig Dawson we have a set of the following fab events normally costing nearly £100 with for you to attend for free! Craig has effectively curated your stay! Each event has been linked to so you can see exactly how lucky you’ll be.



DAVE MCKEAN presents LUNA (15) on Friday, 8-15pm-10-30pm, Brewery Arts Centre Screen 2

A VISION OF UTOPIA: MARY TALBOT on Saturday, 10am to 11am, Comic Clock Tower

THE ART OF JOCK on Saturday, 11-45am to 12-45pm, Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

NEW FRONTIERS: THE ART OF DARWYN COOKE on Saturday, 2-30pm to 3-30pm, Shakespeare Centre

CHAMELEON: THE ART OF STUART IMMONEN on Saturday, 4pm-5-30pm, The Shakespeare Centre

DAVE MCKEAN PERFORMS: 9 LIVES on Saturday, 8-15pm to 9-45pm, Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

THE ART OF DAVE MCKEAN on Sunday, 11am to midday, Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

ARKWRIGHT: WHERE BRITISH GRAPHIC NOVELS BEGAN on Sunday 12:00 to 1pm, Brewery Arts Centre Screen 2

THE BIG COMIC DRAW on Sunday, 1pm to 2-30pm, Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

The Immonens are amazing! See our review of RUSSIAN OLIVE TO RED KING



To enter: simply email with “I’m Coming To Kendal Competition!” in the subject header and your name and address (and Twitter handle if you have one) in the body and we’ll get a random customer to draw one lucky winner in a fortnight’s time and send you the physical tickets! You don’t even have to answer a question!

Buy other tickets:

Lakes Festival Saturday Events in full!
Lakes Festival Sunday Events in full!


Keep up to date with the free, open-door Festival:

Twitter: @comicartfest
Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015 Website
Full Festival Programme 2015
Festival Family Zone
Accommodation And Travel

Page 45 credentials

Page 45 is a proud Patron of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
Page 45 is the executive sponsor of the British Comics Awards.
Stephen was a judge of the British Comics Awards in 2012 & 2013.

Page 45 won the first award for Best Independent Retailer in Nottingham 2012.
Page 45 won the Best Independent Business in Nottingham 2013.
Page 45 was shortlisted for the Bookseller’s Independent Bookshop Of The Year 2014.
Page 45 won the only ever Diamond Comics Award for Best Retailer in the UK in 2004. That was pretty sweet. Thank you!

Kids Comics Are Cool!

And we will be bringing so very many of these!


Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews September 2015 week one

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Ted Rall explores American surveillance and whistleblower Edward Snowden, there are top-notch superheroes too, but we open with a wealth of All-Ages brilliance including new Craig Thompson, Adam Murphy and the latest Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntryre triumph, PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH!

Space Dumplins (£10-99, Scholastic) by Craig Thompson…

“I’m so happy to see you!”
“Isn’t it the BEST THING that our dismal old school was eaten?!”
“Wait… where’s your uniform?
“You didn’t get accepted to Station School, Violet.”

You have to admire Craig Thompson for, much like Bryan Talbot, he is a man who’s not remotely afraid to tackle something completely different for each project rather than ploughing the same, albeit highly successful award-winning furrows. It’s difficult to think of five more disparate works from the same creator than GOODBYE CHUNKY RICE, BLANKETS, CARNET DE VOYAGE, HABIBI and now SPACE DUMPLINS. One could easily imagine that if he told his agents his next work was going to be a gore-filled slasher horror they’d probably just say, “Okay Craig, sounds great, same terms, alright?”

This is a perfect example of how to do a gripping all-ages read. Whilst on one level, for the younger kids, it’s the madcap adventures of plucky Violet Marlocke, searching the galaxy for her missing father who’s been swallowed by a planet-eating whale, on other levels there is much social commentary and satire about the ills of modern society for adults to digest.

Particularly the snobbery of those, adults and kids alike, who think they are a cut above Violet and her hard-working parents, who despite their best efforts are constantly struggling financially and battling against a system that seems determined to keep them in their place. Which is on a battered old space ship moored up in the equivalent of a trailer park. Well away from the gleaming space stations with all the luxury mod cons which the hoi polloi can’t even board without a work permit, and even then only allows them day visitor status. But also environmentally, as the colloidal collection of space stations and asteroids, inhabited by more kinds of aliens than you’d see in an entire series of Star Trek, are coming under attack from space-whale diarrhoea which has already flooded eighty percent of the asteroid belts, destroying the homes of many poor species and rendering the areas uninhabitable…

Happily for Violet, her dad is proving far less digestible to the blubbery behemoth in question so a happy ending is assured, but not before Violet and her collection of odd-ball cohorts, all social outcasts in their own ways, have several perilous escapades en route to rescuing him! It’s not often you come across something, for kids, all ages or adults alone where the secondary and even tertiary characters and their machinations and motivations are so well fleshed out. I lauded THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN for just such depth of characterisation and this is exactly the same. The rich, vibrant storytelling is a delight to immerse yourself in. And this is before we’ve even got onto the art!

For this to my mind is just as much of an artistic masterpiece as HABIBI. There is not a millimetre of space wasted. For example, the backgrounds on space station are filled with gantries, walkways, airlocks, random aliens of every shape and size! In terms of panel composition and some of the crazy tricks he pulls, it is just as sophisticated as HABIBI, but then why should we expect anything less just because it’s a comedy / fantasy all-ages graphic novel? What comes across so strongly is just how much Craig must love drawing, because the sense of fun and glee apparent in practically every panel is, again, a pleasure to observe. You could not put as much effort into your illustrations as this if you weren’t having a blast drawing them. If all kids’ graphic novels were as brilliant as SPACE DUMPLINS, the term “reluctant reader” wouldn’t even exist.


Buy Space Dumplins and read the Page 45 review here

Pugs Of The Frozen North (£8-99, Oxford) by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre.

“Shackleton Jones laughed. ‘The Kraken? You don’t believe in that old story, do you? It’s just a legend of the sea, like the Bermuda Triangle, or the Night of the Seawigs.’
’Idiot,’ muttered Sika.”

Idiot indeed!

Young Sika knows the Night of the Seawigs is real because she’s almost certainly read this Team Supreme’s award-winning OLIVER AND THE SEAWIGS, that Richard Attenborough-style natural history documentary on the migratory lives of the Rambling Isles and the Night of the Seawigs itself. You couldn’t make it up – though they have.

Effortlessly inventive – like Reeve’s and McIntyre’s CAKES IN SPACE – it has a lovely lilt to its language fully integrated into sweeping landscapes of sneaky Sea Monkeys, sarcastic seaweed and semi-sentient islands with a penchant for beautifying their barnets with shipwrecks and submarines then entering annual competitions to see who brings the best bling.

The competition is equally fierce here and the imagination brought to bear on the book no less thrilling. For if you thought that the Arctic was a vast expanse of featureless, flat ice, oh no! This is a True Winter in which waves flash-freeze in a second and Sarah had created the most luminous icescapes out of giant, white, jagged and crystalline shards juxtaposed against backdrops of majestic, sweeping curves and aquamarines which manage to be both warm and sub-zero at once. It’s like the most modern, outdoor cathedral!

Likewise I swear you have seen nothing like this particular Icicle Palace which lies at the heart of the book and competition, but I’m not about to spoil the surprise. If you’re imagining traditionally pointed spires or castellated walls or really walls or any sort at all, you are going to be out-invented. This is the land of the Northern Lights, remember, so light plays a significant part in its aspect. And in any case truly magical monuments don’t conform to mundane laws of physics.

We’ll encounter the Yetis later on (as will Shen and Sika!) but McIntyre’s monsters are always amazing, and when her Kraken awakes chaos is unleashed. Its eyes glare up from beneath the frigid depths as tentacles thrash across the page, tossing the yip-yapping sixty-six pugs this way and that as they gamely chomp down on its octopoid extremities.

I think I need to pull back.

Cabin-boy Shen is abandoned in the Arctic by his captain when his ship, Lucky Star, proves unequal to its name by becoming frozen in the North. He’s left on the ice with its cargo of sixty-six pugs and a package of pullovers whose sleeves Shen snips off to slip over the excitable pooches like body muffs.

Without food or shelter their prospects look ever so bleak, but somehow they make it to the ‘Po Of Ice’ outpost whose sign is missing an ‘s’ next to a ‘t’ then an ‘f’. It is a very convenient store, just like all our own used to be. (Ooh, countryside politics!)

There he finds Sika living with her Mum and her ancient, bed-ridden Grandpa who once knew a True Winter just like this. They only come round once in a lifetime and when they do they catalyse a now legendary race to the North Pole where materialises a magical Icicle Palace with its kindly Snowfather granting the contest’s winner their heart’s desire.

Sika’s grandfather took part in the last one and came back with a treasure trove of stories, but unfortunately he didn’t come first and he’s not fit to ride again. So now it’s up to Sika and Shen, her grandfather’s whalebone sledge and their sixty-six yip-yipping pugs. If Sika wins she would wish her Grandpa another lifetime. Shen’s not sure what he wants because he’s never had anything to call his own – not even a family. He was discovered, lost at sea, in an upturned umbrella. It could only have been worse if it had been a handbag, buoyancy factor zero.

So what of their competition? It’s high-tech, low-tech and downright dastardly, but some are more kindly than others.

Take Helga Hammerfest with her two pet polar bears, Snowdrop and Slushpuppy. That’s some serious, indigenous pulling power for you! She’s grown a beard just to keep warm and that’s seems admirably practical to me. Our tongue-poking pugs will be grateful now and then. Awwww!

You’ve already met Professor Shackleton Jones whose faithful assistant and robot SNOBOT are pulled in his slick, sleek, scientifically sourced sledge by a crew of equally inorganic Woof-O-Tron 2000s. Then there’s Mitzi Von Primm with her pack of four pink-dyed poodles who reminded me of Penelope Pitstop. Those poor poodles are so embarrassed!

There are many more besides, but the Arctic is a land so freezing that if you twirl your Machiavellian moustache it’s likely to snap off in your fingers. That’s precisely what happens to wicked Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling, so determined to win this Wackiest of Races that he comes off like Dick Dastardly. How low will he go? So low!

Reeve as ever brings his natural, lateral thinking to bear for it’s not just Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling’s moustache that feels the polar pinch:

“The night grew so cold that pieces of the Northern Lights froze and fell out of the sky. They lay strewn about on the ice, glowing gently.”

Of course they did! And you know how they say that Inuits have 52 different words for snow and ice? (They don’t.) Here Sika and Shen discover 50 different sorts of snow!

“They crossed patches of blindsnow and patches of echosnow. They plunged through warbling drifts of songsnow and screaming mounds of screechsnow. They crossed a broad, rolling plain of slumbersnow, which snored and mumbled and farted like someone asleep under a huge white eiderdown.”

Brilliant! Why not make your own snow up? I vote for nosnow in which a consonant is swapped and instead of turning up for work on time I lie peacefully home in bed.

There’ll be werensnow, smelly stinksnow and THERE WILL BE YETIS!

Yetis play a big, big, big, big part in this book! I don’t want to give too much away but once again McIntyre excels herself by ensuring that each Yeti is an individual with different  hair styles, banded beards, headgear and waistcoats. There may be a good reason why!

Reeve’s even written them a song for you to sing along to, and I’ve already composed my own tune and rhythm. This is a book that demands to be read aloud at night to children – there are so many different voices to do!

Oh, but this has a big heart of gold and a finale that’s far from obvious which draws on much that has been so subtly introduced along the way. I leave you with this; infer what you will.

“All old things die in the end, but not stories. Stories go on and on, and new ones are always being born.”

P.S. This year Sarah McIntyre has been campaigning for illustrators to receive their rightful credits within the books and on their covers, but also in databases which retailers use to gauge potential sales when ordering etc.. Shamefully so often only the writer is credited. On Twitter Sarah (@jabberworks) has been using the hashtage #PicturesMeanBusiness. In PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH Reeve and McIntyre have come up with the perfect template for others to adopt which shows their mutual respect and reflects their equal contribution. I thought it worth reproducing here.

There’s much more from Sarah in the News section below!


Buy Pugs Of The Frozen North and read the Page 45 review here

Little Robot (£11-99, FirstSecond) by Ben Hatke.

“It’s a flower. It’s alive too.”

Two panels later, it isn’t.

From the creator of the ZITA THE SPACEGIRL trilogy, a book of newfound friendship for a slightly younger audience which touches briefly on identity and belonging and comes with one moment of quite unexpected, jealous betrayal which is echoed towards the end with a much more sanguine outcome.

Both worked for me. I think the possessive jealously will be widely recognised and we’re none of us above making mistakes. I foresee this as a graphic novel being read together and wondered at by families, perhaps discussing what’s happening for the first twenty pages are silent and quite a lot too later on.

There’s some spectacular lighting for both midday and night and one double-page spread at sunset seen across a small, leaf-lined lake which lets so much light through that it’s surely executed either in coloured inks or very wet watercolours indeed. We’ll come back to the cracking design work for the robots in a bit. Oh, our titular Little Robot is far from alone, I promise you!

It begins late one crescent-mooned night with traffic speeding across a bridge for a city. A lorry loses a box which tumbles out of its back and into the river below. It’s discovered way downstream the next morning by a young girl who’s cautious but ever so curious and a dab hand with her back-slung tool kit. That will come in very handy indeed later on!

In it is she finds a metal object which at first resembles a giant silver yoyo, but on a press of a button on top of its bonce expands into a wobbly-legged, cylindrical, two-eyed, bipedal robot. Initially frightened, the young girl can see that it’s struggling, floundering on its back with its legs in the air like a beetle. Instinctively she breaks cover to help.

“That’s it,” she says supporting new friend like a crutch. “One step at a time.”

Interlude: meanwhile back at a factory so automated it might even have conceivably been built by robots – there’s not a human in sight – an alarm goes off.

“Missing Unit 00012. Locate and recover.”

The robot dispatched looks a lot less human and a lot less friendly.

Although a bright, clean yellow it has an angrily red Cyclops eye over which frowns a black triangle pointing down; it scuttles slowly out on six, segmented, scorpion-like legs, boasts two sharp, pincered claws, a weaponised bum and a big, broad, flat mouth you could easily fit a little robot into.

“ZOM!” it will say, and that’s not a sound to make you feel safe, is it? Sensors running, it picks up speed in search of its prey…

Oh, it’s all been very well thought through, including other elements which immediately flash danger signs like a chain-link fence which you’ve always been told you’re not supposed to go past or through trampled into the ground, its boundary breached.

There are many more robots to come, huge battle action, rain, lightning and learning curves.


Buy Little Robot and read the Page 45 review here

Corpse Talk Season 2 (£7-99, David Fickling Books) by Adam Murphy.

“This week, one of history’s feistiest fighting females! It’s the Tudor Tigress, the lean, mean Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I!
“Elizabeth, you might be the world record holder for the most insane family drama of all time!”

Our cadaver-questioning host then catalogues what is probably the most insane family drama of all time by hailing two Marys (sister and cousin) a furious father bent on beheading (Henry VIII – amongst those on the chopping block, Liz’s own mum), family fights over the throne, further bumpings-off and finally Philip II of Spain, former husband to her dead sister, asking for Betty’s hand in marriage and not taking rejection too well. Most young men would have slunk off sheepishly and ordered in pizza. Philip II ordered out the Spanish bloody Armada!

“First we blasted them with cannons! Then we sailed shops of fire into them! Then God got in on the action, and stormed them to death! Don’t mess with The Bess – she gon’ open up a can of whoop-ass!”
“Aw yeah!”

Was history ever this energetic?! I love how Adam Murphy introduces his victims (well, they’re all dead) like Kermit The Frog or potential pugilists in a boxing ring. He does give some of them what-for, mocking Guy Fawkes’ chronic incompetence like nobody’s business.

I wasn’t going to review this purely because with the best will in the world I can’t review multiple volumes and every single series and sales of CORPSE TALK SEASON 1 have been so spectacular here that this will be snapped off our shelves as fast as we can stock them. Then I made the mistake of reading at random the headstone-like headlines of a couple of these corpses and couldn’t put it down.

There’s an annotated poster postscript to Queen Elizabeth I’s interview which is equally riotous, revealing the domino effect which began with smallpox and was escalated by her decision to cover up the scars with her trademark, trowelled-on white slap which contained poisonous lead which robbed her of her hair and possibly even her life. Who knew that she wore a dress embroidered with fantastical sea monsters to declare that she ruled the waves? (Those sea monsters are worthy of fellow PHOENIX funster Gary Northfield, by the way.) There’s also a fab Fire Of London double-page spread.

Please see my review of CORPSE TALK SEASON 1 for a more detailed exhumation of this grave old world, but let me remind you of this: like Simon Schama, Adam Murphy – with arms admittedly more flailing; oh dear me, but the exuberant cartooning is exquisite  – proves that history isn’t inherently dull. It’s only tarnished by those already worn out themselves.

Don’t think it’s dumbed-down, either. Entertainment and accuracy aren’t incompatible, and high scores are always achieved by getting straight to the points. The amount of information Murphy can cram into two comicbook pages with unerring coherence (not just eloquence, but by joining up the thematic dots) is masterful and provides a vivid snapshot of at least one aspect of these celebrities who have long ceased to be.

Also this volume: Laurel & Hardy, Sir Christopher Wren, Pocahontas, Billy Shakespeare, Vlad The Impaler, Henri Matisse, Oliver Cromwell and Maria Sibylla Merian. Who? Well, that’s part of the point. Let’s keep these living legends alive! Umm…


Buy Corpse Talk Season 2 and read the Page 45 review here

Nimona s/c (£9-99, Harper Collins) by Noelle Stevenson…

“Video games are a waste of time.”
“And board games aren’t? Why do you even have these? No one lives here but you!”
“I used to have some henchmen. Game night was a big hit.”
“Henchmen? What happened to them?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Available again at last! The first edition disappeared out of print practically before it had even hit the shelves back in May, such was the advance buzz surrounding this work by the co-creator of the LUMBERJANES. In the interim whilst we’ve been waiting for the second printing, it’s been announced that 20th Century Fox are going to make an animated version. Which doesn’t surprise me at all because when I read it, I was immediately struck by how wonderfully daft it was, in the exact same vein of bonkers as the ADVENTURE TIME cartoon.

The titular character Nimona is a brash young shapeshifter who’s desperately trying to impress – and thus become the sidekick of – the not-so-dastardly Lord Ballister Blackheart. He’s the boo-hiss villain of the piece, seemingly at irreconcilable odds with his one-time best friend turned arch-nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. But is anything or anyone what it seems in this crazy, mediaeval town?! No, in a word.

The Institution would have everyone believe that Ballister is evil personified, but actually he seems a rather misunderstood knight turned mad scientist, with a soft spot for his young wannabe charge. He’s not convinced he needs or even wants a teen henchperson, but gradually Nimone’s infectious personality and prodigious polymorphic powers, handy for implementing many a mischievous masterplan and performing those vital in-the-nick-of-time rescues, begin to win him round. By the time he learns the sad secret behind Nimona’s abilities and those dark, dirty secrets of the Institution he’s already three-quarters of the way down the road to knightly redemption!

This is possibly one of the best comedy fantasy graphic novels I have ever read, the intricate, witty storytelling is just wonderful. It is real heart-warming stuff too, as we quickly work out Lord Ballister’s been framed and cast in the role of public enemy number one by the devious Institution for their own nefarious spin-doctoring ends. Don’t fret, though, they’ll get their justly come-uppance in a truly riotous finale.

Great artwork too from Noelle, who’s clearly as talented an artist as she is a writer. She’s like a neat and tidy Kate Beaton, if that makes any sense!


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

Snowden (£12-99, Seven Stories) by Ted Rall…

“In [George Orwell’s] 1984 the telescreen could never be turned off. The NSA brought that dystopia to life. The agency can use your smartphone to track your movements and listen to conversations in your home, even if your phone is powered down to ‘off’. Program name: Captivated Audience.”

Just digest that fact for a moment. You can be monitored inside your own house, in fact anywhere, by the security services using your own phone, even whilst it is completely turned off…

But surely, they aren’t doing this to everyone, right? So it doesn’t matter, it’s just an extremely useful tool in the war on terror.

“A program called ‘Mystic’ records 100% of the audio content of phone calls in some countries. Some say it captures 80% of U.S. calls as well. NSA programs called ‘Blarney’, ‘Fairview’, ‘Oakstar’, ‘Lithium’ and ‘Stormbrew’ can intercept and store 75% of all internet traffic in the US: e-mail, text messages, web browsing, app activity, voice over internet phone calls, online banking, video.” In fact the NSA also “intercepts and stores 99% of the metadata (number called from, number called to, duration of call, location of caller, and recipient) of Americans’ phone calls.”

Hmm… you can begin to see why people might be mildly perturbed by this information, the NSA being authorised by its charter to spy on people only overseas, but not domestically. That is in fact illegal without the expressed permission of a judge. And yet it is still happening. And let us not kid ourselves that this isn’t going on in the UK, to the same extent, by our security services too. Of course it is.

So, why did Edward Snowden choose to whistleblow (or betray his country, depending on your perspective)? He had from the outside a fairly idyllic life living in Hawaii with an extremely well paid job, an attractive girlfriend. Why did he decide that he needed to inform the people of what the US government was doing?

This is an excellent, insightful piece of graphic journalism, piecing together the Edward Snowden story from the beginning and simply presenting the facts, much like Darryl Cunningham’s SUPERCRASH did with the global financial crisis. It opens with a few pages recounting the fictional totalitarian world that George Orwell created in 1984, the degree of surveillance that population was subject to, and then invites us to draw the comparison with what the US security services are up to now. It’s extremely unsettling that the fiction Orwell created can now be held up as a near perfect allegory to what is occurring today.

Ted Rall (SILK ROAD TO RUIN) forensically examines the early life and upbringing of Edward Snowden searching for the clues as to what made him different from virtually every other employee or contractor of the US security services. Why was he prepared to throw away his perfect life when all the others were content to simply carry on being cogs in the machine? Especially knowing as he did that whistleblowing and working within the system to achieve change wasn’t a serious option, because those who had tried to do so in recent US political history were inevitably destroyed by the system.

So, if he was really determined to reveal the truth, it would then leave him no option but to go on the run and spend the rest of his life as an outcast. Even now, his asylum status in Russia is anything but certain and could be revoked at any moment. If he ever does end up back in the US, lifelong imprisonment with little chance of parole would be extremely likely. So why do it? What in his makeup or upbringing made Edward Snowden take such a momentous, life-changing decision?

Ted Rall does an extremely good job of trying to answer that question, painting a portrait of a good and honest man tormented by what he has learned. I find myself wondering whether I would have had his courage were I in the same position. It is undoubtedly true that the world needs people like Edward Snowden, who are prepared to stand up and be counted, and make those impossible decisions. How much difference his sacrifice will ultimately make is debatable. The cynic in me suspects none at all, but still, I’m glad he did what he did.

I think we do have a right to know what our governments are doing. I do accept there are specific facts that need to be kept secret, but not the means and mechanisms and reach of their surveillance capabilities, not when it affects us so directly. Undoubtedly every government’s response to that would be, “Well if you’re not doing anything wrong, what’s the problem?” I think I’ll leave the last word to Ted on that, who towards the conclusion of the book posits an extremely interesting observation that shows just how radically different people’s perception of Edward Snowden and – to some degree, by extension – the United States government, both from an international and domestic perspective, can be…

“Where you stand on Snowden tends to be linked to how much you trust the government. If you see the U.S. Government as a flawed institution that employs patriotic people trying to do their best to keep the country safe and strong, you’re likely to take politicians at their word when they say they don’t abuse their power, that their surveillance targets are all terrorists.
“If on the other hand, you see the United States as a militaristic empire out to conquer most of the world and dominate the rest, defined by a long history of genocide, systemic racism, and ruthless suppression of dissent, then you probably think that the government can’t be trusted.”


Buy Snowden and read the Page 45 review here

C.O.W.L. vol 2: The Greater Good s/c (£10-99, Image) by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel & Rod Reis.

“Trust. The foundation of any long-lasting relationship.”

Just remember as you read this that Geoffrey Warner said that.

Every time I think I’m done with superheroes along comes something genuinely fresh and thrilling like JUPITER’S LEGACY and, yes, I rank this right alongside Mark Millar.

Usually it has to involve politics for me, like Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris’ EX MACHINA but whereas that’s as contemporary as it’s possible to be, this, set in the 1960s, has a deliciously period feel complete with wallpaper designs, carpets, dining-room decor and those Eero Aarnio-designed Ball Chairs. Even the lipsticks are pale.

In C.O.W.L. VOL 1 I made much of the Bill Sienkiewizc-inspired art with its pale palette. I love the way Rod Reis uses circles to denote points of pain like a sprained or broken ankle but here he does something I’ve never seen done before except as a brief break-the-fourth-wall gag.

There’s a nasty, contemptuous masked man called Doppler whose preternatural ability is to manipulate sound: to divert, rework and amplify it. This is represented on the page as the curve of someone’s scream being redirected so that the sound effect clobbers someone upside the head. Or, on another page, when a hostage shouts “Oh thank GOD!” Doppler grabs the giant ‘D’ out of the speech balloon and whacks his assailant across the face with it. Purely representational because it’s actually the sonic boom that’s done that, but it’s all the cleverer for it.

As to the politics, they’re city-hall, Mayor-level and if you want a comparison point it’s very much TV’s ‘The Wire’. In fact, if you’re bored with the corporate-superhero machinations of Marvel and DC, well, this is about the machinations of a superhero corporation called C.O.W.L.. Only it’s not a publisher; it’s a private, professional, for-profit law enforcement agency run by a master manipulator Geoffrey Warner whose unpowered detectives and powered patrolmen and women don’t even own their code names. They’re very much employees just as C.O.W.L. itself is employed by the city of Chicago.

Or rather, it was. As the second volume opens, C.O.W.L.’s contact is up for renewal but the Mayor’s playing hardball because there are no more super-powered villains to protect Chicago from: by one means or another C.O.W.L. has contained them all, effectively succeeding itself out of a job.

As the negotiations stall C.O.W.L. goes on strike. But the problem with striking is that the public has got to miss you. People have to notice that their lives are worse off without you. For Geoffrey Warner losing that contract is not an option. So he’s gone and done the unthinkable.

This wouldn’t work if the C.O.W.L. employees weren’t individuals first and foremost, some with families, all with different perspectives on what’s right and wrong. Some are more complicit than others. Unpowered detective John Pierce of its Investigations Division has already been murdered leaving a wife behind, and a behind-the-scenes cover-up and misdirection is already in full swing.

Some are prepared to break the picket line in order do the job they’re on the verge of losing which only weakens Warner’s hand and so potentially work themselves even further out of a job.

It’s so well observed, Higgins and Siegel having paid very close attention to when teachers and particularly firemen go on strike. It is riddled with complex manoeuvres and just when you think Geoffrey Warner’s run out of options, oh but he’s a devious, quick-witted devil.

Whether or not there’s more on the way you can consider these two volumes, taken together, as a complete and singularly satisfying story with a beginning, a tense and unpredictable middle, and an end.


Buy C.O.W.L. vol 2: The Greater Good s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. Complete Collection s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen.

“You think Cap’s dead?”
“He’s a guy. How would you be able to tell?”

The second NEXTWAVE book was called ‘I Kick Your Face’, officially the finest title to any book in the world. This contains both.

Highly recommended to readers of Fraction and Aja’s HAWKEYE, this is cartoon comedy violence in which Ellis gets to indulge his love of fine timing without having to bother with anything like a serious attempt at characterisation. You couldn’t get more two-dimensional character traits, yet once Ellis sets up those two dimensions they’re all he needs to wring line after line from them, whilst Stuart Immonen – one of comics’ finest chameleons – pulls off the visual gags with relish and apolmb. The result is a monkey house of anarchic, pugilistic pageantry, as a bunch of C-list superheroes make things ‘splode.

It hardly matters why.

Here they take on the giant, green, purple-panted dragon called Fin Fang Foom:

“FIN FANG FOOM!  Mommy was a slut-lizard that did the bad thing with suggestively-shaped piles of nuclear waste, and nine months later —
“FIN FANG FOOM!  Has been burning with the need to mate since 1956!
“FIN FANG FOOM!  Has absolutely no genitals whatsoever!
“FIN FANG FOOM!  Oh, you cannot imagine how annoyed he is.”

It’s basically Warren Ellis cackling to himself and it reaches its apogee of insanity in six outrageous double-page spreads as the team silently smack their way across the page and down the corridor through waves of ludicrous foes from gladiatorial wheelchairs, through apes dressed as Wolverine, to spitfire-flying serpents, each accompanied by single-sentence proclamations like:

“NEXT WAVE are in your room and touching your stuff.”
“NEXT WAVE should only be taken in 100 mg doses and never through your urethra.”
“NEXT WAVE blatantly wasting your money since 2006.”

Blatantly. And all in blazing Kaleidoscopicolour.



Buy Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. Complete Collection s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Inhumans s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee.

“Imagine you could never make another sound. Not for the rest of your life.
“Not a sigh. Not a yawn. Not a single word. Ever.
“Then, imagine you were given one chance to speak. What would you say?”

So begins what was the single most intelligent and engrossing work published by Marvel some fifteen years ago, and the closest you would have found there in tone to Neil Gaiman; although now you’ll find Neil himself there with MARVEL 1602.

Black Bolt, Medusa, Triton, Gorgon, Karnak and Crystal are the Royal Family of the Inhumans, a race of beings so diverse that each individual is a sub-species of one. In Attilan, a city isolated from humanity with deliberate intent, diversity is admired and prized above all else: to be different is to prove invaluable. So at an age when we hit puberty, the ostensibly ordinary children enter the Terrigen Mists in a daunting ceremony which resembles confirmation or graduation and they emerge, their genetic codes catalysed, as strange and wonderful creatures, as ugly to our eyes as they are beautiful to their parents.

If they’re lucky. Because, you see, in this perfect society ruled by an ideal regent, there is an unpleasant secret, a tacit agreement to something tantamount to slavery. And – in the defences which keep these powerful Inhumans remote and safe from our toxic society – there is a flaw. One which is about to be expoited…

Within this sweeping catastrophe Jenkins delivers a series of considered, poignant and contrasting perspectives, sometimes with a quiet irony, but always with a tenderness and compassion greatly enhanced by Jae Lee’s perfectly posed and gently poised figures. Each group or single panel is a triumph of chiaroscuro.

Silent panels add weight and timing to a deceptively simple but remarkably clever script. And of course Dave Kemp and Avalon Studios deserve as much attention as anyone else for their rich, lambent colouring, which keeps the whole thing alive.

The interlude featuring the Inhumans’ giant, teleporting hound, Lockjaw, is worth the price of admission alone. He cannot comprehend the scale of the disaster desperately being staved off by alll those around him and why he isn’t being played with or fed; but he takes instant delight in rediscovering a plastic doll of Ben Grimm, the Thing.

“Toy! Oh toy! Toy! Toy! Toy!”

It’s funny, but also deeply affecting.

In addition the role of male regent and indeed masculinity are explored using the very epitome of the strong-but-necessarily-silent-type for if the Inhumans’ king Black Bolt speaks, mountains are levelled in his wake.

I never expected to see such an astonishingly moving work from what used to be such a predictably crass company. I suspect its tainted provenance may prove fatally repulsive to so many who would, with an act of faith, adore it. Had this been it’s first edition I would almost certainly have made it Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, and I’m not even ruling that out. So thanks to all of you who trusted me enough to buy it in its earlier incarnations, and thanks for your overwhelmingly positive feedback. I hope newcomers enjoy it as much as I am on my fourth reading.

This expansive edition comes with preliminary sketch designs, process pieces wherein you can see individual pages evolve for pencils to inks, an interview, and the script to the complete first chapter. £25-99 may sound like a lot but it’s twelve chapters long with exquisite reproduction values. That’s less expensive than buying the individual issues separately.


Buy Inhumans 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.

(In A Sense) Lost & Found (£12-99, Nobrow) by Roman Muradov

aama vol 4: You Will Be Glorious, My Daughter h/c (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Frederik Peeters

Democracy (£18-99, Bloomsbury) by Abraham Kawa & Alecos Papadatos

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor vol 1: After Life (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Titan) by Al Ewing, Rob Williams & Simon Fraser, Boo Cook

Gigant h/c (£10-99, AdHouse Books) by Rune Ryberg

It Will All Hurt #1 (£5-99, Study Group Comics) by Farel Dalrymple

Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City s/c (£14-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Guy Delisle

Lady Killer vol 1 (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich

Mad Max: Fury Road s/c (£10-99, Vertigo) by George Miller, Mark Sexton & Riccardo Burchielli

Mean Girls Club (£6-50, Nobrow) by Ryan Heshka

One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations (£12-99, SelfMadeHero) by Mike Medaglia

Sacred Heart (£18-99, Fantagraphics) by Jaime Hernandez

Flash vol 5: History Lessons s/c (£10-99, DC) by Brian Buccellato, Christos N. Gage, Nicole Dubuc & Patrick Zircher, various

The New 52: Futures End vol 3 s/c (£22-50, DC) by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen & various

Wonder Woman vol 6: Bones s/c (£10-99, DC) by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang

Jessica Jones: Alias vol 1 s/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos, Bill Sienkiewicz



ITEM! Page 45’s 21st Birthday Party is on Saturday October 3rd 2015! Everyone’s welcome!

Please click on that link for details! Our Jodie Paterson’s created the most beautiful poster for the shop! (Art by Simone Lia.)



ITEM! Squeal! Flying ponies! ‘The Dartmoor Pegasus’ a short story online by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre whose PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH is reviewed above!

ITEM! Also, Sarah McIntyre blogs about creating SCRIBBLE, her 24-Hour Comic for The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and publishes the whole thing online!

All seven 24-Hour Comics are collected into the most the excellent anthology 24 BY 7, reviewed and in stock at Page 45.



ITEM! A little off-topic, but Neil Gaiman reveals the ending his dear friend Terry Pratchett wanted for ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’. It would have been so appropriate! Gaiman & Buckingham’s MIRACLEMAN #1 is out today, by the way. We’re still in reprint territory, but they’ll be finishing their story soon, I promise you.



ITEM! I liked this a lot! It’s addressed to those who look at abstract art and say “I could do that!” Neither dismissive nor patronising, the presenter / curator is thoughtful, eloquent and enthusiastic. But yes, you probably couldn’t – and you certainly didn’t!



ITEM! Did you enjoy Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month, THE BLACK PROJECT? It was about a young lad with little understanding of the world around him creating his own girlfriend from scraps. It will make you laugh and wince all at the same time, so get ready to gurn!

Its creator Gareth Brookes is interviewed about his own creativity, crayons, the English suburbs, landing a job he loathed…. and how dogs might see themselves in a human world.



ITEM! From the creator of TRICKED and TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN, here’s an 8-page preview of Alex Robinson’s OUR EXPANDING UNIVERSE graphic novel on parenthood.

 – Stephen