Archive for December, 2015

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2015 week four

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Brand-new John Allison GIANT DAYS story hidden in an anthology and Page 45 News underneath including Christmas opening times, New UK Comics Day details and our very own Queen’s Christmas Speech.

Boom Box 2015 Mix Tape one-shot (£7-50, Boom) by various inc. John Allison.

“103… 104… 105… My olives are diminished!”

Quelle catastrophe!

Includes a brand-new GIANT DAYS short story not only written by the creator of BAD MACHINERY but – like the original self-published GIANT DAYS mini-series – drawn by John too! Exquisitely lithe lines and Daisy on quite ridiculous physical form in the very first panel. I do believe I have a piece of interior art for you to demonstrate this.

Do you remember your university daze? John Allison’s memory is astounding. I don’t think he drank enough.

Here it’s the all-too-familiar plundering of fridge-food that’s encountered, whether from halls of residence or shared flats and houses. I never resorted to labelling mine, but others did. It made not one jot of difference.

First-year university students Esther, Susan and Daisy have congregated in the Catterick Hall’s communal kitchen where each has discovered that the larder has been looted and their prized midnight feasts have been carried off by some scrounging scoundrel. But who would do such a thing? Who?! Perhaps a stake-out is in order.

“It’s a “kitchenette”. They don’t trust us with a) nooks or b) crannies.”

Maybe a steak out instead?

No, it’s their own food they’re craving – that and the sweet taste of justice. I hope they find both before they fall out. Poor Daisy!

“You two aren’t nice with low blood sugar!”

Also in this annual, album-sized anthology (with French flaps and everything!): ten other contributions including some CYANIDE & HAPPINESS strips and a new LUMBERJANES short story by Shannon Watters and Carey Pietsch which is absolutely adorable. It centres on what has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures and treasures: the making and receiving of mix-tape music compilations as a token of your undying adoration. I have a dreamy, faraway smile on my face.

Mal has made Molly just such a CD, and Mal knows her music so well. Molly blushes with pride and joy as she absorbs at its track list, gazing at it as fondly as she might if it were a wide-eyed, lolloping puppy before declaring, “I’d like to make one for you too!”

But Molly knows nothing about cool music and is feeling woefully inadequate. Awww. What’s she to do? Time to explore some new, unusual and ever so exotic music scenes! Then time to remember what’s really important.


Buy Boom Box 2015 Mix Tape one-shot and read the Page 45 review here

Trauma Is Really Strange (£7-99, Singing Dragon) by Steve Haines & Sophie Standing…

“The goal of this book is to be a non-scary introduction to trauma. For many people, understanding what the brain is trying to do protect them helps healing.”

Follow up by the same creative team to the excellently explicative PAIN IS REALLY STRANGE. This time around chiropractor Steve Haines and illustrator Sophie Haines tackle the subject of precisely what happens to our brains when we experience traumatic events. Acute and chronic, physical and mental, our duo forensically break down the internal processes at work of how we respond neurologically and thus physiologically to such situations. Plus, as Steve states in the quote above, how we might be able to apply some degree of conscious control to improve the outcome rather than just being swept along by the tumultuousness of it all.

Steve, once again in talking head mode, thus diagrammatically takes us through the myriad different forms that trauma can take and what responses we can expect. As before, it’s the incredible degree of symbolism and visual metaphor that Sophie puts into every single illustration which transform this from merely being a succinct and extremely clear explanation of the facts to a fun filled pamphlet of pictorial educational enablement. I think the beauty of this and their previous work is they manage to deal with such complex topics in a manner that would be perfectly digestible and understandable even for primary school kids without remotely compromising on the scientific facts. Brilliant!


Buy Trauma Is Really Strange and read the Page 45 review here

Violenzia & Other Deadly Amusements (£12-99, Fantagraphics) by Richard Sala.

“I find people are less reticent about sharing information when they can see their own blood.”

I find people have more time to share information when they’re not being bludgeoned to death by blue-suited cultists plastered in Gary Numan eyeshadow. I may be at odds with orthodox thinking.

From the spookster supreme of MAD NIGHT and THE HIDDEN fame etc, in full-colour and even more absurd form than ever, at least on either side of what may be some surprisingly serious thoughts on man’s very real history of relishing truly grisly images of ritual torture, devils and demons, and shrouded, skull-faced, scythe-wielding avatars of death.

Just type “medieval monks torture” into your search engine and click on ‘images’ if you doubt me. The racks and entrails are everywhere.

This takes the sepia form of ‘Forgotten’ which begins innocently enough (for Sala!) with a respectable-looking gentleman with neatly cropped hair wandering into an old town, head-down, oblivious to the ghouls and ghasts which populate its bridges and walkways, shambling by or leering at him over low stone walls.

“Where am I going?
“How did I get here?
“Try to remember… Oh yeah, I’ve got an appointment. I’m on my way there. And I seem to know the way.”

I can think of countless similarly somnambulistic scenarios from Sala: the straying of lost souls into an eerily empty town, danger lurking but a doorway away or perhaps in an ill-advised acceptance of an offer of a lift. But this is where I began to take this episode more seriously:

“The next step in evolution is already happening: Empathy is dying out. The world of your children will be viewed from the cast-iron minds of sociopaths, shielded from all caring and sincerity.”

Nothing in the art betrays any such departure yet: it’s still all squint-eyed hunchbacks, Nosferatu silhouettes and bats as balloons, blowing in the wind. Still, there’s a very good reason this man knows his way, even if he’s forgotten it.

I own that I could be way off-base: it could be just another exercise in self-amusement, but it did make me think. And shiver. And strengthen my resolve never to enter doorways I haven’t been invited through, preferably by people I know.

In addition there’s a colour poster gallery of ‘Malevolent Reveries’ – an A to Z of assonance and alliteration in which I obviously felt thoroughly at home – which might be book covers or B-movie posters with far more “Boo!” for your buck than most. We were lucky if Lon Chaney Junior wired his jaw for a single grotesque in any given celluloid outing, but almost all of these propositions like ‘Bad Business Brewing’ are overflowing with assorted monstrosities. ‘A Quagmire of Qualms’ was more favourite title. It spoke to me.

It made me laugh too. If there’s more than that behind the titular Violenzia episodes then, some satisfying story structure aside, I have no idea what it is!

The interior art image I’ve captured here says it all: into many a melee – each and every one of them ridiculous – slips, slides and somersaults the silent Violenzia, dressed like a modern Robin Hood (ooh, gender non-specific!), bang-banging out barely aimed, double-barrelled justice with economy and equanimity.

She is implacable, unstoppable and although I cannot quite picture Richard Sala playing early Tombraider that, nonetheless, is the comparison I’d make.

I do not, by the way, consider that lowering the tone.


Buy Violenzia & Other Deadly Amusements and read the Page 45 review here

Harrow County vol 1: Countless Haints s/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook.

Bucolic horror set in the American South starring a seventeen-year-old girl called Emmy, raised alone on a farm by her father, Isaac.

“Look at all them fresh graves! You had a spot of misfortune, Isaac?”
“Nothing I can’t handle. Just a fever running through the livestock. And nothing you need worry yourself with.”
“You sure about that? Emmy’s almost of age.”

What do you think they are worried about?

Many moons ago the good folk of Harrow hanged a Healing Woman called Hester from an old oak tree.

Then, for good measure, they set fire to her gasoline-soaked corpse. Except it wasn’t a corpse and, as the flesh of her face bubbled away in the conflagration, she hissed out a promise:

“Not the end… never the end for me… I’ll be back…”

Now I’ll have you know that Emmy’s a good girl, she is. Devoted to her Dad whom she knows needs her, she hasn’t travelled far, never cussed nor never kissed a boy, neither. But Isaac’s cattle are beginning to suffer: calves being born deformed with too many legs or pustules round their eyes. And Emmy can’t do a thing about too many legs, but one bright morning she cures a calf of its blisters with but a touch, and even the most doting Dad would start to harbour niggling suspicions…

Community is a mighty fine thing, isn’t it? I’m serious, it is: neighbours looking out for one another when the authorities won’t. But there’s a flipside to that – the sheep mentality, the mobs and the masses, turning on those who do not fit in. Young Emmy fits in fine right now and has the kindest heart you could ever imagine. It would be the most godawful, crying shame if her neighbours, friends and even family turned her into the enemy which she most emphatically is not. Is she?

Hmm, shades of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, there – creating your own monster through rejection and adversity.

Haints, by the way, are lost souls; restless spirits of the dead who have failed to move on from the physical world. You’ll find plenty of them here and I’ve cut back on the variety of interior art with its nasty, nasty entities to ensure there are plenty of visual surprises, to focus instead on the landscapes which are glorious whether wintry or in their fiery, autumnal splendour. The oak tree is oh so surely an oak tree with all its gnarled, knotted, pock-marked bark.

For me the star of the show so far is the woodland itself.

Although I did like Emmy’s unexpected, floppy-skinned ally with its skinless counterpart straddling the trees up above. I’ll need to read more before making my mind up, but the final few pages certainly promise the unexpected!

The colours are ever so rich, ripe, muddy, waxy and rancid as required.

For more comics which rich in the witch, please see RACHEL RISING by STRANGERS IN PARADISE’s brilliant and blessed Terry Moore.


Buy Harrow County vol 1: Countless Haints s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Second Book of Hope (£16-99, Bries) by Tommi Musturi…

“Sniff. Sniff. What’s that smell?”
“Ahem… must be the dog.”
“The dog’s been dead for years.”
“Well… I guess it’s me then. Tee-hee. The truth may lurk anywhere.”

I am mainly reviewing this self-published work which we got in via John Porcellino’s Spit And A Half US distribution channel because there is a collected edition of the first swath of material entitled, surprisingly enough, THE BOOK OF HOPE coming from Fantagraphics very shortly, plus it is downright hilarious. I think the simplest way I can start to describe this material is it has the feel of Chris Ware’s JIMMY CORRIGAN, albeit living in a cabin in the arse end of nowhere. Tone-wise too this is just as downbeat and melancholic as Jimmy’s urban non-exploits, but there are some significant differences.

For whilst Jimmy is a kind and simple mouse of a man, destined to never succeed, instead being continually trampled and trammelled down by life (and his relatives), here our middle-aged, moustachioed married lead is left wistfully wondering how it all got away from him. Just how did he end up right here in this moment, in this place so far removed from anything? An unusual palette of tertiary colours, purples and mustards, only adds to the backwoodsy, isolated feel.

For the most part there is silent contemplative acceptance of his lot, punctuated with daydreaming moments of inner flights of surreal fantasy or the occasional utterance of some choice savant philosophy to no one in particular. Here’s one such soliloquy offered to the universe, brought on by staring into the remaining eye of a tatty old childhood teddy bear whilst attempting a bowel movement on the outside privy at in the lonely cold depths of night, full moon shining down through whispy clouds and bats fluttering through the air…

“Childhood ends when the fight begins.
“Youth fades when the word falls from your lips for the first time.
“Say it slowly, and you can hold on to it for an instant…
“… before you are overwhelmed by the wary weight of midlife…
“… you console yourself, saying…
“… perhaps there was no before…”

Movement complete. I was too. Moved that is…


Buy The Second Book of Hope and read the Page 45 review here

Facility Integrity (£8-50, Pigeon Press) by Nick Maandag…

“One of a number of bodily functions that we deal with on a daily basis. Not something to think too much about about, right?
“Well it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about.
“More specifically, I’ve been thinking a lot about the bathroom habits of our over one thousand employees working for us here in our corporate headquarters.
“This report on the investigation I commissioned has confirmed my suspicions. It concludes that the practice of allowing our employees to take a shit on the job accounts for a productivity loss of over four percent. That we deal with on a daily basis.”

Mr. Azwype has his mind in the toilet, quite literally. It’s been bothering him recently, the amount of deliberate dilly-dallying and time-wasting taking places in his business’ bathrooms… He’s long suspected that people aren’t pooping promptly enough and taking unauthorised breaks on his time and now he has the evidence to prove it! The question is… what is he going to do about it?!

Now, the concept of firms monitoring their staff’s toiletry tardiness is certainly nothing new. A good friend of mine got fired from a certain large call centre in Leeds over twenty years ago due to routinely needing longer than was allowed for a loo break. The firm was able to monitor their staff’s <ahem> movements because they had to log in and out of their call software every time they left their desk. His protestations of irritable bowel syndrome were to no avail.

Mr. Azwype however, has decided to take things one step further. He’s simply decided no one will be allowed to do a number two during working hours. Lunch hour excepted, of course – what a benevolent boss! A tinkle in the trap at other times is fine, but nothing more, and to enforce this new constipating corporate policy he’s brought in a security guard to ensure people can’t access the cubicles! The cunning staff, though, are determined not to let their boss have the final word if it’s the last thing they poo, I mean do! Some of them are planning on causing a real stink…

Haha, he does daft very well Mr. Maandag. I also loved his other current work THE OAF about a couple of extremely mis-matched housemates. Here he does that classic trick of picking one already ridiculous concept and just letting the nonsense grow and grow to the point of utter ridiculousness. Yet let’s be honest, it’s really not that much of a stretch of the truth given the pressurised working conditions we hear about in the factories producing Apple products in China and the like.


Buy Facility Integrity and read the Page 45 review here

The Oaf (£5-99) by Nick Maandag…

“How did tomato sauce get on my dress shirt?!
“… Oh, that…”
“What do you mean “Oh, that”?”
“I forgot about that. That might have been my fault.”
“How do you get tomato sauce on my… this isn’t coming out!”
“Don’t you have another dress shirt?”
“No! This is my only one!”
“So buy a new one.”
“There’s no time! The interview’s at two! I have to leave NOW! I’ll have to wear THIS!”

The huge stain is all over the back of the shirt, which means the Oaf’s housemate has to ensure he remains strictly face-on to the interviewer at all times! One hilarious interview later and of course he doesn’t get the job… which means he is stuck with his crap job as a pizza delivery man, and thus can’t afford to move out. It’s almost like the Oaf wanted that to happen…

The relationship between the slovenly, unemployed Oaf who seems practically welded to the settee in their horrible apartment and the fastidious friend is classic Odd Couple material, yet I’m not entirely sure the Oaf’s friend is quite so different from the Oaf as he’d like to believe which is probably the real reason he’s still living there, or perhaps at least he’s not murdered him yet… For that’s certainly something he’s given some serious consideration to!

Even so, despite their evident apparent differences, the escalating tension, and the friend’s ever increasing blood pressure, this work had one of the most amusingly appropriate ‘happy’ endings I’ve read for a while. Great fun.


Buy The Oaf 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.

BPRD Hell On Earth vol 12 – Metamorphosis (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Peter Snejbjerg, Julian Totino Tedesco

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor vol 1: Terrorformer (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Titan) by Robbie Morrison & Dave Taylor, Mariano Laclaustra

Gunnerkrigg Court vol 2: Research s/c (£12-99, Archaia) by Tom Siddell

Future Imperfect: Warzones! s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Peter David & Greg Land, Daniel Valadez

American Jesus (£7-50, Image) by Mark Millar & Peter Gross


ITEM! New Raymond Briggs interview!

We love Raymond Briggs! Please see:

ETHEL & ERNEST – the biography of his parents and a brilliant piece of British social history.

WHEN THE WIND BLOWS – a searing indictment of the atomic con: i.e. that we could survive such an assault.

GENTLEMAN JIM – about a gentle man who cleans toilets.

ITEM! Angouleme’s Official Selection for 2016 – the most prestigious comics awards in the world. Some belting nominations there!

ITEM! 2016 UK exhibition Comix Creatrix featuring female comic creators. I could personally lose that excess of ‘x’s but perhaps that’s just olde fashioned me. Some of my all-time favourite creators of any gender there!

ITEM! Joan Cornella animation project on Kickstarter. The video has to be seen to be believed, but seen right to the end. Have you watched it now? Yeah, I know!!!

I hope his MOX NOX comix collection is reprinted soon!


ITEM! The Sequential Artists Workshop! Learn to craft comics and become completely obsessed with spiders.

Am I selling that to you?

ITEM! And now we break for Christmas! Merry Christmas!

Next New Comics Days:

Wednesday 23rd December as per normal
Thursday 31st December (New Year’s Eve! We may close around 4pm)
Thursday 7th January…. then back to Wednesdays as normal

Please note: the comics will only arrive on our doorstep during those Thursday mornings so they will take some processing! Please don’t expect Page 45 regular Standing Orders to be ready for collection immediately. The laws of space and time apply – which not even I can override in spite of my deal with the devil.

Page 45 Holiday Opening Hours:

9am to 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays as always
11am to 4pm Sundays as ever
Closed: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day – or my family would kill me.

Please note: we usually close early around 4pm on Christmas Eve because

a) everyone else does
b) I’m usually half-cut by then.

Pictured is my favourite-ever Christmas present as a kid, aged around 7. This is the actual copy, well leafed-through, still treasured and roughly the size of your abdomen. I read it 8 billion times and then learned to draw from it. Comics of any genre were a rarity back then, so lord knows how my parentals acquired it. Look at all the loveliness we’re so lucky to choose from now!

That’s it, we’re done! Thank you so, so much for a fabulous 21st year selling very cool comics to the most beautiful people in the world. We wouldn’t be here without you.

– Stephen xxx

I am am almost crying with nostalgia. Thanks, Mum. And Dad. x

Comic for Christmas, eh?

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2015 week three

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Feauturing 2000AD’s DAN DARE, Jim Henson’s STORYTELLER DRAGON, Grant Morrison & Duncan Fegredo’s KID ETERNITY and MUCH more!

Also: more cards Jodie Paterson perfect for thanking your loved ones for Christmas presents, and return of Page 45’s News section underneath!

The Only Child h/c (£14-99, Random House / Vertical) by Guojing.

Beautiful, beautiful, and so flecked with snow!

Almost perfect for this Christmas time of year, each and every soft-pencil page comes flecked with a static of snow until the young, female wanderer, lost and alone, is buoyed on the back of a solicitous stag up out of her real world fraught with fear and into a comforting dreamscape high above the clouds.

With the snowfall absent, the contrast of quiet is truly arresting.

Like Daishu Ma’s LEAF and Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL, this is a silent graphic novel but there’s a lot less interpretation required for the story itself perfectly straight forward – it’s the storytelling techniques which are clever.

A young child left alone at home while her mother goes to work at first finds the door closed on her to be both forbidding and final. A whole page is dedicated to a year view of the girl staring at the comparatively gargantuan implacable, thick wooden door for what could be an eternity. It doesn’t open: her mother does not return.

Gradually galvanising herself, she enjoys brief bursts of solitary play before slumping back down, head in hands, surrounded by toys which without her animation fall silent and lifeless. Then she discovers a scrapbook and, in it, photographs of herself being doted on by her grandmother. Outside snowflakes fall over factory chimneys. It beckons her out and the door is unlocked.

At first the freedom and flurries are a source of joy as the child makes her way through the urban environment to the bus station. Evidently she knows how to get to Grandma’s. But she makes the mistake of falling asleep and when she wakes up the bus is quite empty: she’s lost and alone in the middle of woods which she doesn’t even recognise.

She bursts into hot, warm, salty tears which stream down her face. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

What ensues, however, is a flying, floating, fantastical adventure through cloudscapes involving dreamt-up animals, conjured from her memory of home, as the solitary child seeks solace in warm pelts and the familiar.

It’s a triumph in terms of temperature and scale with pencils as softly shaded as Katriona Chapman’s.

My only two problems with this are entirely personal – entirely:

1. I could almost hear Aled Jones warbling, ‘Walking Through The Air’ and for me that is not a good thing. (Yes, yes, I know Aled didn’t sing the animated original – that hardly matters.)

2.  I don’t happen to find moon-faced, rosy-cheeked children in any way cute or endearing. Quite the reverse so, truly, I must be a monster.

Should you not suffer from such an inhumane lack of empathy, you’re going to absolutely adore this fabulous, fuzzy thing.


Buy The Only Child h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dan Dare – The 2000 AD Years vol 1 h/c (£30-00, Rebellion) by Pat Mills, Gerry Finley-Day, Steve Moore & Dave Gibbons, Massimo Belardinelli…

“This was our Dan Dare…
“Telling a seven-year-old that what he’s reading is a travesty will get you nowhere. You can’t tell him the original Dare was a true hero, the embodiment of traditional English values; he’s too busy marvelling at the guy carrying the psychotic living axe. You won’t get very far talking about the wonderful clean lines of the Anastasia; he’s transfixed by the battle of Jupiter, with men drowning in acid and living spaceships throwing moons like rocks, and a Martian giant on the cover of Prog 11 beckoning us into the blazing hell of the sun. And you can guess what mentioning a gentler, more compassionate time will mean to him; what price compassion next to a squad of space commandos pouring automatic fire into that week’s alien freak?”

Thank you Garth Ennis! I feel slightly guilty quoting so extensively from someone’s foreword but it just perfectly encapsulates my then – as a five-year-old – sentiments, and equally my father’s contrasting nostalgic ones, to the Dan Dare of 1977’s 2000 AD. My dad just couldn’t get his head around how disturbing, twisted and violent this brave new world of Dare was. He let me keep reading it, though, to his credit! I do remember being genuinely disturbed by some of the characters though, including that psychotic living axe, but particularly a demented fused pairing called the Two Of Verath, which I think was entirely due to the art of Massimo Bellardinelli. He was a very firm favourite of mine as a kid with stints on HARLEM HEROES, MELTDOWN MAN and BLACKHAWK.

Even the Mekon was impressed with the new Dare, unaware of his suspended animation survival following a fortuitous, retconned-in accident, allowing Pat Mills to neatly move Dan forward in time from the 21st century (when the original Frank Hampson Eagle material was set) to the rather more violent 22nd century…

“Dan Dare? It cannot be! This human looks nothing like the despicable worm who thwarted me in the past! And, besides, Dan Dare would be a drooling ancient now! Yet I have learned to expect the unexpected from the infernal Dare!”

Indeed. Then after a brief, five-Prog pause, Dare returned again, this time with writer Gerry Finlay-Day, and Dave Gibbons on pencils for Dan’s stint with his space fort and rag-tag bunch of commandos investigating the Lost Worlds, an area where thousands of colonists and escorting battle cruisers had vanished without trace. Drawn from a cesspool of outcasts and outlaws, his motley crew featured the likes of Bear, an enormous psychotic Russian with a hair-trigger temper and Hitman, a nutter with a gun permanently fused to his hand after a space accident.

The relentless pace of the weekly action, as Dan alternately destroyed or freed planet after planet, made for some serious Thrill Power, as Tharg put it! Gibbons’ art style was rather different to Belardinelli’s, but it’s beautifully fluid smoothness still ensured Dare was one of my favourite strips each week. Re-reading it I was astonished just how many panels I could recall perfectly, they made that much of an impression at the time.

In fact re-reading this material some 38 years later (good grief…), I must say it really does stand up. The only advisory comment for people encountering this material for the first time would be, much like the early JUDGE DREDD CASEFILES, is that it does feel slightly choppy due to the ‘story of the week’ nature of the plotting, and thus the continuous need for cliff hangers or conclusions every few pages.

But as with all the early 2000 AD material you simply have to admire and be in awe of the quality they managed to turn out without fail, week after week. The trials and tribulations of that process, and just how close to cancellation the title came on a number of occasions were fantastically detailed in the sadly out of print THRILL POWER OVERLOAD: THE FIRST THIRTY YEARS OF 2000 AD. Given that was published in 2009 after the 2007 anniversary, hopefully they’ll update and re-release it for the forty year anniversary shortly after that occurs in 2017!!!

[For another, more recent reincarnation, please see the DAN DARE OMNIBUS by Garth Ennis & Gary Erskine, also highly recommended – ed.]


Buy Dan Dare – The 2000 AD Years vol 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Kid Eternity: The Deluxe Edition h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Grant Morrison & Duncan Fegredo.

A much sought-after treasure from before the Vertigo label, and the first thing to note is that Fegredo’s art style took an interesting detour around 1991, exploding from the page with Bill Sienkiewicz heads and layouts and lines, whilst the fulsome colouring owed a little to McKean circa BLACK ORCHID, a little bit more to the prevailing aesthetic of U.K. comic magazine CRISIS, or perhaps a trip to an abattoir at night with its electrics on the blink.

I’m only guessing, you understand.

There’s a furious speed and frenzy in the images and a lurching giddiness in the sometimes spiralled layouts which was perfect for Morrison’s frantic mayhem.

The second thing to note is that this deluxe edition contains sixteen pages of extra material called ‘Charting The Chaosphere: Preparations and Recollections from Duncan Fegredo’ culminating in a sketch Duncan drew for the 1991 UK Comic Art Convention in which Kid Eternity shouts, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT?”

As Fegredo notes, “Says it all, doesn’t it?”

Expressionistic horror, then, as Kid Eternity turns himself into a thought and escapes from Hell through the mind of a stand-up comedian during a particularly tedious yuppie party, bringing with him all manner of ruthless pursuit.

“A bass note. The floor vibrates. A glass breaks. And the room goes bang! like a great flashbulb. And my face is scorched and my fillings rattle. And the buffet will never recover.”

I suppose giving birth through your head can be something like that. Who is Kid Eternity…? A man who died seventy-five years too early, got turned away from the Pearly Gates and, as compensation for his troubles, was given the talent to summon the dead for assistance.


“A crazy, mixed-up Bonsai waiting to live forever. Eight letters, okay? And the last letter’s a ‘Y’.”
“Listen, I hate this puzzle shit, man.”

Depending on which side of that fence you fall is the clue as to whether this book’s for you.

A return trip to Hell ensues as a resurrected, ash-haired Kid Eternity leads the way through demons and the damned, like a dandified John Constantine or your own, personable Jesus.

Bleach out, and touch faith.

[Editor’s Note: Stephen In Almost Accurate Shock! On soliciting Fegredo’s opinion on the first paragraph, Duncan replied with typical, self-effacing modesty: “Your observation is not far out although it was more about trying to shake off my embarrassing episodes in Crisis and evoking Dave McKean with a hint of Bill Sienkiewicz but none of the photo reference…”]


Buy Kid Eternity: The Deluxe Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Snow Blind #1 of 4 (£2-99, Boom Studios) by Olie Masters & Tyler Jenkins.

“An elevated crime story that feels like it should be the best indie film of the year.” – Warren Ellis

Well, that’s a cool cover, isn’t it? Full of narrative, once you’ve read what’s inside you’ll understand how well composed it is too. You’ll be seeing a little more of that Arctic Fox right at the beginning and right at the end.

The lovely, loose line art and wet-wash colours are both provided by Tyler Jenkins who leaves plenty of space for the white Arctic light to shine through. The style and palette’s identical on the inside, and there’s a tremendous sense of movement whether someone’s rising from a chair with their weight on the table, striding through a door without careful consideration as to who’s on the other side, smacking a tree trunk with bare fists in frustration / anger or, umm… look out — !

Thanks to those washes there’s a sodden feel to the coniferous pines even when they’re not laden with snow. Plus there’s a particularly fine shot, from behind knees, of a guard dog challenging an intruder with well developed calf muscles.

She or he (we don’t yet know) isn’t the only intruder. Teenage Teddy Ruffins seems to make a habit of breaking and entering throughout.

“After last time, my Dad asked me why I broke into a library of all places.
“I didn’t answer.
“I didn’t tell him that sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own home. That I felt more comfortable around the pages of dead authors than I do my own parents.”

That’s because those books are telling you things, Teddy. Your parents are – and have been all your life – a lot less communicative.

They moved up from Louisiana to Alaska when Teddy was a baby. Teddy never thought to ask why and they certainly never told him. Teddy’s no communicator, either. He doesn’t get on with the local lads because he believes they don’t like him unless he bribes their company with a case of beer stolen from his Dad. He’s just done that at a BBQ his Dad’s throwing for friends.

“But as the alcohol took hold, I felt like I had something to prove. To them… and to my Dad. So when he got passed-out drunk, like he always did, I figured… If I have to be here, I might as well have some fun at his expense. I was finally being “one of the guys”.”

That’s what he overheard his Dad tell his Mom: that he wished Teddy would be “just one of the guys”.

So he paints his passed-out Dad with lipstick and paps a snap, sharing it on social media with, “Dad’s definitely the prettiest girl at the party. Maybe he should run for Miss Louisiana next year?”

Far from surprisingly, Teddy’s Dad is furious. But it’s not because Teddy had mocked his masculinity all over the internet – the worldwide web – where anyone anywhere can see it. I wouldn’t say it went viral but it went viral enough and now maybe it will become clearer to Teddy why they’re in Alaska and never go home. Maybe it will become clearer to Teddy’s parents that you should always communicate, especially under circumstances like theirs in the age of the internet.

I’d not thought of that before: circumstances like theirs in the age of the internet.

Bravo to Ollie Masters: more breaking and entering yet zero more communication: leopards/spots, habits of a lifetime.


Buy Snow Blind #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Katzine Issue Three (£5-50) by Katriona Chapman.

Every issue of these cardstock-covered beauties is a treasure-trove of discovery both for the reader and their creator.

Unlike so many online autobiographical comics which I find vacuous, repetitive, egomaniacal and twee, Katriona Chapman’s personal interests and observations have me enthralled.

She is emphatically not producing these four issues annually to obsess about herself, but to pass on her knowledge of the customs of the countries she’s visited, the Highlands and islands she has explored and the mountains she’s climbed.

Each of the eight peaks, volcanoes or ranges here is rendered in soft shading and sinuously craggy detail, distinctly, individualistically and from different eye levels.

There’s no skimping on detail, visual, historical or geological:

“The Torridon mountains rise steeply to 1,100m from deep sea lochs. They’re made of Torridonian red sandstone sitting on top of the Lewisian gneiss, some of the oldest rock in the world. The mountain tops are capped with quartzite.”



“Volcán Chicabal – A volcano covered with cloud forest vegetation with a crater lake at the summit. Department of Qetzaltenango, Guatemala. Sacred to the Mam Mayan people and still used as a ceremonial site. 2,712m.”

Her fascination is infectious, her enthusiasm enthralling, and her experiences always worth sharing.

For example, her trip to Skye and ‘Dutch Campsite Memories’ in which she travels to Amsterdam with her then-boyfriend after being kicked out of a rented room in Wandsworth back in 2002. Although they both find gainful employment, housing was in short supply even for Dutch nationals so they spend the last of their savings on a tent, two sleeping bags and camping gas stove. It’s March and far from warm – plus they have to move sites every fortnight as per regulations – but Chapman’s resourcefulness always impresses and she has campsite shower strategies to pass on. In any case I’ve always believed that the experience of deprivation is important in order to appreciate the basics when the home comforts are back – like heating, hot water and the privacy of a room; I just hadn’t thought of the silence.

‘Quicksand’ is an eloquent and unexpected departure in style and shift in P.O.V. and, with its relatively simple line unadorned by Chapman’s love of soft, moulded shading it looks just as spectral as the words are haunting.

Returning to travel, however, ‘Virgen de Guadalupe’ about Mexicans’ pride of place for the Virgin Mary is yet another reminder of the versatility of Chapman’s layouts and the clarity of her pencilled lettering which is always fully integrated into the page but also meticulously spaced, improbably neat and an almost impossibly well balanced part of the compositions themselves. In addition I was thrilled when I noticed the classy, subtle, shadow-shading floating below the title itself.

KATZINE ISSUE ONE and KATZINE ISSUE TWO both in stock and reviewed in detail. Also out now, on our shelves and up online to buy: KATZINE ISSUE FOUR


Buy Katzine Issue Three and read the Page 45 review here

Vampire Cousins (£18-99, Pow Pow Press) by Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau & Cathon.

“By the deepest depths of Hell! What vile concoction could exude such mephitic stench?”
“That’s yummy tummy garlic soup with garlic pie… and a side of fresh garlic salad with garlic vinaigrette!”
“What treacherous demon could incite you to buy so much garlic?”
“It’s all they’ve got at the grocery store.”

Oh, the horror of it all!

I knew I was in for something truly disturbing the second Camillia thrust an S Club 7 cassette into her car stereo.

Camillia is affectionate, healthy, ditzy and oblivious, the perfect foil for her cousin Frédérique’s, wild-eyed, gothic – nay, vampiric – self-possession, and the first third of this was exquisitely funny, riffing off quaint Hammer Horror films and undercutting them at almost every turn with immaculate timing.

I can almost hear Miriam Morgolyes’ booming voice as Blackadder’s ever-outraged, puritanical aunt every time Frédérique opened her mouth to proclaim. That’s what she does throughout: proclaim. Her wide, white bug-eyes are like a reptiles’s during extreme sunlight with but the thinnest slit for each iris. I’m pretty sure there was a bald alien who looked similar on the closing credits to the original Star Trek series.

Frédérique has invited cousin Camillia back to her house on the hill where they spent a childhood summer together. Since then Frédérique’s Dad dabbled in the occult and croaked it, leaving his daughter to dabble too and she is desperate to impart the demonic results of this double-dabbling to Camilla as they sit opposite each other in the library. She’s really building up to her big reveal when Camillia interrupts her with a great big yawn.

“Oh, my dear cousin. I do find your story very interesting, but this herbal tea has made me quite drowsy. I think it’s time for me to sleep.”
“But… Don’t you want to know about my most astounding discovery.”
“Of course. Of course. But not tonight.”

There’s a single, silent beat as Frédérique – bug-eyed as ever – stares at Camillia’s smiling face in disappointed and disbelief.

“I do promise that is it is quite astounding.”


Equally funny is the scene in which Frédérique, as per tradition, begins railing against the superstitious villagers below from her balcony up above only to be interrupted not once but twice by her cousin first hearing something “indistinct” then seeing something “indistinct”. Realising she’s not going to get a good night’s rant in, Frédérique switches the lights off then bolts from the bedroom, dropping her theatrics for a dismissive “Yeah yeah”.


There’s some delicious drawing going on with notes of Richard Sala: lots of decorous detail with framed family portraits, ornate candelabras galore and one of the panels is shrouded round the edges like black and white horror movies once were.

The first third is also very tight. After that I’m afraid it kind of loses its way, meandering slowly before simply stopping. On the other hand I wouldn’t have missed Frédérique’s climactic proclamations for the world.

“I offer youth… eternal beauty… and you dare refuse it? You will transcend time itself, be free of degeneracy. You will posses infinite powers! You will be able to FLY!”

She wags a figure to emphasise her point:

“Being able to fly is awesome.”


Buy Vampire Cousin and read the Page 45 review here

My Hot Date (£5-99, Kilgore) by Noah Van Sciver…

I suspect everyone remembers the excruciating nature of trying to puzzle out one of the great teenage mysteries most of us faced, that of finding a date, hot or otherwise. I know I certainly do. Noah Van Sciver (FANTE BUKOWSKI and SAINT COLE) once again treats us with a glass of his own very special brand of half empty, only this time it’s personal. In fact it’s autobiographical as Noah dishes the dirt on his own proto-romantic failings.

After chatting up his intended with his brash skatepunk, rap-inflected stylings – via the safety (now here’s an irony) of an internet chatroom – they finally arrange to meet at the local. It doesn’t go well as, if you’ve read any of Noah’s works, I’m sure you can imagine, not least because the girl in question is considerably older than Noah. It’s not quite up there with Joe PEEPSHOW – SPENT Matt’s romantic disasters in terms of scale, but it isn’t far off, and I’m quite sure for Noah himself it was painful enough.

Noah recently shared on Facebook a postcard he’d received from Robert Crumb of all people, singing the praises of MY HOT DATE and exhorting him to continue making more autobiographical comics. High praise indeed and I wholeheartedly concur!

* I feel strangely compelled to share this moderately synchronous story after enjoying Noah’s soul-baring honesty on this subject. Does anyone of a certain age out there remember Partyline? A strange, mid-eighties invention whereby eight people could speak on the same phone line, conference-call-stylee, though it usually felt like at least double or triple that as there was usually several teenagers huddled round each landline handset (no hands-free speakerphone in those days, either!!).  They were all local as well, so there was clearly some sort of telephonic science involved behind the scenes working out where people were calling from and grouping them together.

Anyway, occasionally we’d get lucky and there would be far fewer people on the line, and my best friend Savage and I would get actually chance to talk to some girls. Eventually we managed to find some that were daft enough to meet us at the Merrion Shopping Centre in Leeds city centre. Excited thirteen year olds that we were, we were surprised / delighted / terrified to discover the two good ladies in question were considerably older than us. Where it all really started to go wrong, though, was when their two ‘boyfriends’, who unbeknownst to the ladies in question, had suspiciously followed them into town, suddenly revealed themselves and ended up chasing us round the Merrion Centre brandishing Stanley knives… I’ve never run so fast!! Good times!


Buy My Hot Date and read the Page 45 review here

Safari Honeymoon (£12-99, Koyama Press) by Jesse Jacobs…

“When you spend as much time as I do out here you’re sure to host a number of parasites.
“A few years back a parasite slipped into my mouth as I slept.
“It secured itself firmly at the base of my throat.
“Within a few minutes it had devoured my tongue and attached itself to the stub where my tongue used to be.
“It’s still in there.
“The parasite behaves like a tongue, allowing me to function normally. It’s really more of a symbiotic relationship than a parasitic one.
“My sense of taste has actually improved. That’s why I’m such a talented chef.
“In return it takes a small portion of every bite of food I chew.”

The jungle is a dangerous and unforgiving environment, that’s for certain. Particularly this one, replete as it is with terrifying, multi-limbed beasts with huge teeth lurking behind every bush, telepathic simians with wibbly-wobbly antennae trying to take over your mind, and even foothills peppered with stroke-inducing temporal distortions. It’s an odd choice for a romantic honeymoon getaway, that’s for sure, but then the new groom, a successful businessman wanting to impress his new much younger trophy wife is used to getting what he wants.

Their guide, who cooks a mean grilled croque-monsieur with crème fraiche and gruyere topped with an organic quail egg, is having a hard time simultaneously keeping the newlyweds out of ever-present trouble, mostly of their own idiotic instigation, whilst whipping up a culinary storm over the campfire. Eventually, of course, matters do get psychotically, completely and surreally utterly out of control, but by then the not-so-happy couple are too busy just trying to stay alive to realise their travel insurance probably isn’t going to cover this one…

Haha, I thought this was a brilliant bit of farce. The triumvirate of characters: the arrogant businessman, the doting trophy wife and the dashing guide are exaggerated up to suitably ridiculous levels. The ever-increasing disbelief of the businessman, still refusing to believe he can’t get matters back under his control to the very bitter end, is hilarious. Even when he thinks he’s not going to make it, he’s lambasting his wife to make sure she sues the travel agency on his behalf!

Published by the same outfit that puts out much of Michael DeForge’s output, Koyama Press, this is just as bonkers as anything he comes up with. The art reminds of both DeForge and also Huizenga.


Buy Safari Honeymoon and read the Page 45 review here

Dad’s Not All There Any More (£7-99, Singing Dragon) by Alex Demetris…

“I remembered Muhammad Ali on TV back in 1996.”

“This is sad. But it looks like he’s having a wank!”
“Dad! You can’t say that!”

“Maybe the Gods overheard that comment. Mind you, Dad never got this kind of body tremor.”

Oh that is so, so wrong but it did make me laugh. Still, I think humour in the face of adversity is one of the best medicines there is. Or indeed palliatives in the face of terminal illness which is what John’s Dad Pete is facing now that he also has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. And whilst Pete fortunately hasn’t developed the tremors typically associated with the condition that Muhammad Ali so bravely put on show to the entire world whilst he held the Olympic torch aloft, he has developed dementia. A very specific sort of dementia linked with Parkinson’s known as Lewy body dementia.

Named after the neuroscientist Friedrich Lewy, who discovered abnormal protein deposits in the brains of a small proportion of deceased Parkinson’s sufferers, this form of dementia is sadly just as pernicious as the more well known types. Thus we see Pete’s story unfold from his diagnosis through to his current state in nursing care. His son John recounts the sad degeneration from spritely retiree to a mentally befuddled, physically incapacitated wreck. I should also add this comic is based directly on creator Alex Demetris and his family’s experiences with his own father’s Lewy body dementia, so  whilst it is ostensibly fiction, I’m sure what you’re reading is most heartfelt and extremely personal to some considerable degree.

I have to say, though, for a comic dealing with such a tragic personal story (and topic generally), there is a surprising degree of levity to be found. It is some consolation to John that his dad – and this is certainly not for the case for all dementia sufferers – seems fairly content, despite all his problems. As John puts it, just below a pair of panels with a ribald joke from his dad too rude to repeat here, “His mind may be misfiring, but his personality is still very evident.” It’s one of the great mysteries of dementia isn’t it? How someone can be fully present one moment, conversing with loved ones, then gone again the next? Another excellent medically orientated publication from Singing Dragon who are to be wholly commended for their efforts in championing this genre of material.


Buy Dad’s Not All There Any More and read the Page 45 review here

Number 1 (£5-50, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Box Brown…

“Hey, Diamond Dick! Diamond Dick Corduroy! You’re my idol!!”
“Listen kid: here’s 10 bucks worth of some free advice.
“There is a layer of bullshit over everything you see.

Diamond Dick Courduroy is, well was, a wrestler, the superstar of his era and as a kid, Virgil was his biggest fan. Their initial meeting whilst Dick was in his pomp first brought the wrestling concept of kayfabe (the portrayal of fake rivalries and staged events as real) into Virgil’s consciousness, where it got under his skin and stayed there. So much so that after tracking Diamond Dick down and being offered some more salient words of wisdom…

“Mr. Corduroyzsky? Yeah. I looked up your real name on the internet. Yeah. Your whole ‘layer of bullshit’ theory? It fucked me up.”
“BROTHER!! Let me tell you something: the sooner you realise everyone’s gonna act based on their own motives and their own personal agenda the better! Everyone in this business is either out for themselves or… they’re suckers! And the business ain’t just wrestling, it’s life.”

… Virgil decided the people must know this universal truth and so the Kayfabe Quarterly free magazine was born. To everyone’s surprise, including Virgil’s, it was a huge, ever-expanding hit, becoming a titan of the free publication world, making him a vast fortune in advertising. But can any success story, either in wrestling, or in real life, never mind the cutthroat world of publishing last forever?

Ha, Box Brown returns to two of his favourite themes, ludicrous low concept speculative storytelling (AN ENTITY THAT OBSERVES ALL THINGS) and the whacky world of wrestling (ANDRE THE GIANT), tag-teaming them perfectly, to produce yet another glorious leap off the top rope piledriver slam of a story. Also new in stock from Box in this new anthology series is NUMBER 2, with stories about skateboarding, filmmaking and tramps!


Buy Number 1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Storyteller: Dragons #1 of 4 (£2-99, Archaia) by Fabian Rangel Jr & Daniel Bayliss.

Dragons are a draw. Few words sell comics or art books so successfully as we discovered with IN SEARCH ON DRAGONS.

This self-contained story boasts the same artist within as without, so if you’re loving the look of that fanged, aquatic dragon with its iridescent dermal scales and wild-stag antlers then there’s more on the inside. More of that dragon, and other beasts with equally ornate markings.

A proud father is taking his young son fishing with spears, determined to pass on his skills of self-sufficiency and provision. He urges his son to pay attention. However:

“Most fathers often struggle with being too hard or too soft on their children. And this father was no exception. But with just a wink he could set his son’s mind at ease.”

Caught in the middle of a maelstrom as an attacking dragon is itself seized upon by airborne, electrically charged Thunderbirds which seem to shatter the skies which their screeching, their boat is broken in two and the pair are separated. The son is washed ashore, stranded on a strange island and forages for what food he can find; the father too is washed ashore, on an even stranger island too barren to provide material for a raft. Guess what lives there, then?





It’s a poignant little tale, well told, with plenty of surprises and every word that I’ve written and quoted is relevant. Of course, if you’re going to call a comic STORYTELLER and you can’t tell stories then you’re only setting yourself up as a laughing stock.

Includes the words “dreadful”, “ghastly”, “deafening” and “fury”.

I was never a fan of the framing device of an overly knowing bloke preaching to his pooch. He was thankfully absent from STORYTELLER: WITCHES which contains some seriously beautiful and unusual compositions, but his presence here didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story he’s telling.

Also available: the original JIM HENSON’S THE STORYTELLER collection with, as I recall, more preaching to pooch.


Buy The Storyteller: Dragons #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Hawkeye vol 2 h/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Eliopoulos, Javier Pulido, Annie Wu.

“Okay, this… this looks bad. Is there a plan here, Kate?”

Oh, Kate, of course you’ve no plan. You’re as bad as Clint is!

Finally, the hardcover conclusion to Matt Fraction’s run collecting HAWKEYE VOL 3 S/C and HAWKEYE VOL 4 S/C.

Much of the mirth in HAWKEYE has been watching Kate Bishop – the younger, female and infinitely more clued-up of the two Hawkeyes – pick up the pieces of her mentor Clint Barton’s cock-ups. They have been manifold, and Kate has been constantly peering over her sunglasses at the archer / Avenger with a mixture of recrimination and resignation. Now it transpires that our equally impetuous Ms Bishop is equally prone to pratfalls.

I’ve described HAWKEYE as being a book about helping people starring the one guy who cannot help himself. We’ve now swapped coasts – New York for Los Angeles – as well as sharp-shooters’ perspectives, but hilariously nothing has changed except the age and gender of the dive-in-first and wonder-what-on-earth-went-wrong wrong-righter.

Okay, no, the artists have changed for some of this at least. While Aja remains on board for the Clint Barton episodes, Kate’s West Coast sabbatical is introduced by Javier Pulido who will delight Darwyn Cooke fans with a fine line in fashion coloured by Matt Hollingsworth as if L.A. was the brightest, most beautiful city with the freshest air in the world. As Annie Wu takes the driving seat things grow much darker, though the body language – both broken and indefatigable – can rarely be beaten along with the facial tics which reveal exactly what our Kate’s thinking long before she’s uttered a word.

Kate Bishop has set off for L.A. in a very flash car after finally losing patience with Clint as well as her cash-rich father.

“Kate, let your mother get you a little something to drink.”
“She’s not my mother.”
“Well, no, but I hope, maybe with time, you’ll begin to think of me as –“
“You’re three years older than me. We were literally in school together, Heather.”
“That was a nice time. Diazepam?”

Lovely touch with Jack Kirby’s Sue Storm portrait in the background there!

Unfortunately before Kate has even turned her ignition key Madame Masque has Ms Bishop in her revenge-seeking sights and arranges for her credit card to be bled, her stuff to be stolen and that car won’t last long, either. Broke and homeless, Kate is determined to reverse her misfortune by taking on jobs as a Private Investigator. Alas, she has no knowledge of the law and absolutely no knack for investigating privately. She’s spotted within seconds. Also, swimming pools aside, L.A. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be:

“People can be so mean to each other and out here you can take bus tours to get better views of it all.”

But, as I say, this book at its heart is about helping people and, oh, it has so much heart!

There’s the tragic case of the Bryson Brothers who essentially were The Sixties to some. But the musical one, Will, became so absorbed in his masterpiece ‘Wish’ that he could never complete it to his own satisfaction so his production-orientated brother, Grey, could never release it. They’re now old, ill, and at odds in a sequestered mansion.

“It’s like if Mike Brady designed the Bates Motel. If I had to live here for 60 years I bet I’d have gone full Syd Barrett m’self…”

Fraction fills every page with these pop culture references both contemporary (which Kate mostly gets) and less so (mostly not, but please see above). It’s such a completely different approach to writing a superhero comic that this isn’t one. Never has been. It’s an action-adventure comedy of manners.

Back to the heart, and the first case Miss Bishop chances on involves her neighbours Marcus and Finch who, after waiting so long to be married, find their perfect day in danger of being ruined when the orchids of Marcus’ dream-vision are stolen. You won’t believe how fast that escalates and where it eventually leads to. Nor will Kate, but it all comes beautifully – yet appallingly – full circle.

Before then, however, there’s plenty of time to exasperate the L.A.P.D.’s Detective Caudle, infuriate Flynt Ward The Weed Lord (it is all legal there) and throw in a great many cat jokes while the mysterious man in the market aisle, a certain Harold H. Harold (you’ll never guess his middle name), offers words of encouragement at every wrong turn. Will our couple ever get their orchids back and their wedding on track? Regardless:

“Oh honey. You are my happily ever after.”


Now, aren’t you forgetting someone, Kate? I think Clint’s going to need all the help he can get.

He’s been duffed up and deafened, his brother’s back in town and the Tracksuit Dracula mafia are about to launch one final assault on his tenement building.

I remember some saying that they found the deaf scenes difficult to read, but that was the whole point: a world without sound requires a great deal of additional interpretation. You’re going to have to walk the metaphorical mile in the proverbial shoes of those who have to do so every day including, now, Clint. Thanks to Fraction and Aja’s skilful storytelling, judgement and balance, the experience proved utterly immersive.


Buy Hawkeye vol 2 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

It’s Your Birthday You Brilliant Beast! Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

It’s my birthday!

Oh wait, no it’s not.

But if it was, there is not a card in the land I would rather receive than this.

It’s almost tailor-made for me, for I am indeed a brilliant beast, although not a smidgeon as brilliant as its artist Jodie Paterson whose calligraphy is virtually without peer and whose placement of purple ladyfinger biscuits makes this look like a Blackberry Charlotte on the verge of collapse.

The public quietly communes:

“Is this Stephen?”
“Those are his initials below.”
“He’s been deluded into thinking he’s brilliant.”
“I know. It’s a scream!”
“I’m going to send him this card, though, next year.”
“Are you really? I mean really?”
“Yes. I’m just going to cross out the ‘brilliant’.”



Buy It’s Your Birthday You Brilliant Beast! Card and read the Page 45 review here

Hugs & Kisses Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

“Hugs & Kisses To My Favourite Person.”

What an endearing sentiment!

No matter that you splattered or spat out an apricot and raspberry mouse all over the card, Paterson’s personalised calligraphy shines through!

Did you know that Diana and Duncan Fegredo are massive fans of our Jodie Paterson? They are! They’ve bought her cards and everything!

Neither has sent me this one, though.



Buy Hugs & Kisses Card and read the Page 45 review here

Just For You Because You’re Brilliant Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

There’s something so classy about Jodie Paterson’s range of cards which not even my own inane witterings can undermine.

Her composition is absolutely exquisite and, after all, would you not rather send your loved ones something so organic and so completely individualistic that they could never find elsewhere?

You can’t buy these in any other shop other than Page 45 or Jodie Paterson’s own website where there’s an even bigger bounty of beauty than we sadly have room for.

“Just For You,” this says. “Because You’re Brilliant.”

And you are, you know, because you took the time and trouble to read this.

The splodge on the right reminds me that I really do need to buy a watermelon soon.


Buy Just For You Because You’re Brilliant Card and read the Page 45 review here

Thanks For Everything. Seriously. Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

In ideal world I would have bought one of these already, dedicated it to its author/artist, then sent it back to Jodie with love.

It would have been slightly to the left of ‘meta’, I think, but heartfelt nonetheless.

Did you know that Jodie prepped, packed then dispatched 110 Page 45 mail order parcels the other Wednesday?  All over the world they went! Even those supposed to travel no further than Beeston.


We’d be lost without Jodie both on the shop floor and up in the mail-order salt mines, plus I can no longer imagine Page 45 without the decorous addition of her beautiful art.

Thanks for everything, Jodie. Seriously.


Buy Thanks For Everything. Seriously. Card and read the Page 45 review here

Wrapped Up Good Wrapping Paper Set (£6-00, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

2 x luxury wrapping sheets!
2 x ready strung gift tags!
2 x metres of ribbon, roughly the shade of your goldfish!

Please note: should you be in possess no goldfish, or even if your aquatic friend with zero memory retention who neither recognises your distorted face whenever it looms disturbingly into view nor is remotely grateful for the dried, smelly flakes you drop into its water has recently died and been flushed unceremoniously down the toilet… the colour of the ribbon will remain unaffected.

Gift tags are similarly strung.

Snap these up off our shelves for last-minute, face-saving emergencies along with that randomly chosen present you’re picking up for your wife / husband / concubine / catamite whom you’ve only just remembered.

On Christmas Eve.


Buy Wrapped Up Good Wrapping Paper Set and read the Page 45 review here

Merry Christmas Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson.

Three nigh-identical designs, the calligraphy is perfectly placed top-left, bottom-left or bottom right.

Warm, contemporary and organic, the leaf-like bulbs glow with an environmentally friendly and economically expedient zero-energy output.

Do not plug into electrical sockets as this may cause the cards to overheat.

By which I mean, burst into flames.

Merry Christmas, everybody!


Buy Merry Christmas Card 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.

Boom Box 2015 Mix Tape one-shot (£7-50, Boom) by various inc. John Allison

Avatar, The Last Airbender vol 11: Smoke And Shadow Part 2 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru

Cinderella Or The Little Glass Slipper h/c (£10-99, Harper Collins) by Charles Perrault & Camille Rose Garcia

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor vol 3: The Fountains Of Forever (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Titan) by Nick Abadzis & Elena Casagrande, Rachel Stott, others

Grindhouse Doors Open At Midnight vol 3: Slay Ride | Blood Lagoon  s/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Alex De Campi & R.M. Guera & Chris Peterson

Mobile Suit Gundam Origin vol 12: Encounters (£22-50, Random House / Vertical) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

The Witcher vol 2: Fox Children s/c (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Paul Tobin & Joe Querio

Trauma Is Really Strange (£7-99, Singing Dragon) by Steve Haines & Sophie Standing

Violenzia & Other Deadly Amusements (£12-99, Fantagraphics) by Richard Sala

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham s/c (£12-99, DC) by Mike Mignola, Richard Pace & Troy Nixey, Dennis Janke, Mike Mignola

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows: Warzones! s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Dan Slott & Adam Kubert, Scott Hanna

Black Panther: Complete Christopher Priest Collection vol 2 s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Christopher Priest & various

Inferno: Warzones! s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Dennis Hopeless & Javi Garron

Jessica Jones: Pulse – The Complete Collection s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley, Brent Anderson, Michael Lark, Michael Gaydos, Olivier Coipel

Attack On Titan vol 17 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hajime Isayama

Fairy Tail vol 51 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Tsubasa: World Chronicle 1 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Clamp


ITEM! Last year Page 45 bought its entire building. This year rent negotiations were substantially smoother:

“I’m doubling your rent.”
“We won’t pay a penny more.”

ITEM! Retailers of the UK, US and Canadian and quality comic lovers everywhere: Improper Books are now freely available internationally. For extensive previews and international ordering information for retailers or readers to give to your retailers, please click on the images on Improper Books’ website!

Page 45 stocks every single Improper Books comic and graphic novel and we’ve sold over 1,000 copies so far!



PORCELAIN: BONE CHINA (with exclusive, free signed bookplate)
MULP #1 & MULP #2

ITEM! Broken Frontier’s Any Oliver interviews the fine folks at Avery Hill Publishing about their books, their roles and their year.

ITEM! Ian Williams selects his Top Ten Eerie graphic novels for The Guardian. We stock 9 out of 10 of them so, please pop ‘em in our search engine.

Ian Williams is the creator of THE BAD DOCTOR graphic novel which is doing a roaring trade here.

ITEM! Lots of other comic creators select their favourite comics and graphic novels of 2015. Some of my own favourites there. Again, please pop ‘em in our search engine.

ITEM! By RUINS‘ Peter Kuper: a short comic on climate change called CLIMATE UNCHANGE. You may want to start at the bottom.

ITEM! Dave Gibbons in praise of comics, addressing the Real Mainstream, the average person on the street who may or may not yet read comics. (Notice the “yet”!)

ITEM! Ian McQue is selling copies of his CHROMA art book directly – along with other books and gorgeous prints – for just £20-00 and will sketch in it for free!

ITEM! Marvel announces CIVIL WAR II by Bendis & Marquez. I’m an enormous fan of Marvel’s original CIVIL WAR by Millar & McNiven, in stock and reviewed, which had far more to say than “I hit you – punch”.

ITEM! Striking collage of all 12 covers to Brubaker & Phillips’ THE FADE OUT with a few thoughts. THE FADE OUT #12 has yet to ship but Sean Phillips announced just a couple of days ago that it was now finished.

THE FADE OUT VOL 1 reviewed
THE FADE OUT VOL 2 reviewed

– Stephen

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2015 week two

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Giant Days Pack (original 3 issue self-published mini-series) (£14-99) by John Allison…

All three John Allison self-published issues from the original mini-series before GIANT DAYS VOL 1 together in a pack!!!

Of Giant Days 1 Tom wrote:

Free from the shackles of school Esther Le Groot thought, like any young goth, that university might be a place to find like-minded people. A place to swap corpse paint-tips and exchange existential banter into the night. Unfortunately being a headgirl in school brings an altogether more sinister clique into play, as the legion of drunken preppies try to steal her away. Now it’s up to sheltered Enya fan Daisy and insomniac beatnik Susan to save her from becoming a BFF in the hardcore Freshers crowd.

Be warned, there will be boxing, tutus, and come-uppance. Ah, Esther, the second most beautiful woman in Tackleford comes into her own in this punchy off-shoot from John’s fantastic SCARY-GO-ROUND web comic. If you’ve ever been the new kid in town the empathy rays will be drawing you to this like a student to £1 drinks.


Of Giant Days 2 (at which point the series became full colour) Jonathan wrote:

“Were you CAREFUL?”
“In a prophylactic sense, yes, but… I may have knocked his guitar off the wall and broken it… while trying something.”
“He wasn’t pleased.”

Featuring the return of crazy-haired introvert Daisy Wooton, the phlegmatic and rather blunt Susan Ptolemy, plus the divine man-mesmerising beauty that is Esther de Groot. Readers of the first GIANT DAYS may recall our friends are in their first year of University, having only just made each other’s acquaintance in Fresher’s week. Already firm chums, they’re now settling in nicely to Uni life with all the endless socialising and lack of studying that entails. For Esther this also means pining for her boyfriend Eustace from back home and unwittingly attracting the romantic attentions of the completely harmless and also slightly gormless Ed Gemmell.

The fact that Esther is completely out of his league doesn’t deter Ed from dreaming but he’s going to regret revealing his crush to his streetwise new mate, and budding guitar god – in his own mind at least – Steve Shields. Cue one heated phone call from Eustace, a drinking binge for the ladies at the rock night down the Slag Pit (surely simultaneously the best and worst name ever for a night club?), and a rather unwise decision on Esther’s part about who to share a taxi home with. The next day there’s a very forlorn Ed to console, a reputation to repair, and a guitar to… err… repair as well. Note-perfect British comedy from Mr. Allison, illustrated as exquisitely as ever.

Of Giant Days 3 Jonathan wrote:

“Isn’t that Thom from Indie Society?”
“Yeah, with his pride and joy. Hey THOM, what’s going on?”
“Heh, just giving Vetiver a polish.”
“My 1990 Fiat Panda. Once owned by David Gedge of the Wedding Present.”
“Literally the most indie car EVER.”
“Fully restored. My parents got her for my 18th birthday. Great for getting to gigs. We don’t get the good bands here very often.”
“Well, goodnight, Thom. Remember, hands on top of the duvet.”

Ha ha, the University adventures of Susan Ptolemy and Daisy Wooton continue, and they have a new friend in the shape of acid-tongued Erin as they investigate the merits of the Indie music society, whilst their chum Esther de Groot gets further lured to the dark side by the Black Metal Society. Ed Gemmell, meanwhile, is still following Esther around like a lost puppy dog, bless him, even though Black Metal is really absolutely most definitely not his scene at all.


Buy Giant Days Pack (original 3 issue self-published mini-series) and read the Page 45 Review here

The Private Eye h/c (£37-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin.

Hello! I do believe you’re reading this on the internet, which is where this review’s stored and where this comic first appeared, exclusively so. That was Marcos Martin’s idea, deliciously ironic given that this detective fiction thriller’s set in a future without Wi-Fi or any kind of connectivity whatsoever.

The internet is down. The internet is dead. It no longer exists.

“Once upon a time people stored all their deepest, darkest secrets in something called ‘The Cloud’, remember?
“Well, one day The Cloud burst…
“Nobody knows if was an act of war or an act of God, but for forty days and forty nights, everything just poured right out for the whole damn country to see. Every message you thought was safe, every photo you thought you deleted, every mortifying little search you ever made… it was all there for anyone to use against you.”

Since then there’s been quite the generational shift. Privacy is now paramount and photographing someone without their explicit consent is a felony offense enforced by the Fourth Estate. That’s right, the press police privacy! They’re also the only licensed detectives.

Private investigation is, under these circumstances, highly illegal and our protagonist is a P.I. calling himself Patrick Immelman whom you can see on the cover wearing a defiantly grinning hoodie. It’s actually a Dreamcoat, able to project a digital image of the background – the sort of cloaking device we’re working on right now.

Ah yes, and everyone’s wearing masks – the adults at least. It’s like one long Carnival on the streets. Some disguises are more elaborate than others. For a hefty price you can purchase a pseudo “nym”, a holographic device which can make you look like a anthropomorphic tiger if that’s your thing, and it’s now much easier to put on a happy face: you can you use “flatex” to look like anyone of any colour or complexion you choose. Venditti and Weldele played around a little more with that in SURROGATES.

There are of course consequences if you think about it and Brian K. Vaughan, writer of EX MACHINA and SAGA (whose letter column only accepts physical letters rather than web-winged missives) has thought about it all. It’s now the pre-Flood grandparents who sport ink, tattooed when people wore their hearts on their sleeves – and legs, chests and shoulders – before identification marks became the last thing you wanted. The substantial back-matter reprinting Vaughan and Martin’s email correspondence (after which they would Skype!) shows just how much Marcos contributed to this future too.

His Los Angeles high-rise architecture is as individualistic as San Francisco’s city centre, with graceful curves and rounded corners around which snake enclosed, overpass rail tubes and colour artist Munsta Vicente makes the most of it by both day and night: the pages positively glow. It’s more ecologically friendly too, with hexagonal solar panels and lush vegetation on rooftops.

Although, as you’ll discover later, there has been a price paid for our disastrous mismanagement of the global environment.

There’s still TeeVee, mind you. Those suckers are the size of your wall, which makes videogames highly immersive – you’re just going to have to handle them solo. And if you think Vaughan has already tapped into the current concerns of an age in which – thanks to us living out our lives online in public – almost all our private details and bad habits can be readily acquired by state, press, corporations or private individuals, he’s got another big one waiting in the wings.

Late at night, with the rain cascading over the midnight-blue city, one Taj McGill who is indeed wearing an expensive tiger “holo job” returns to her apartment to find a very rich man with a very big, sharp knife, wondering where she has been. To protect his past, his privacy and plans, he kills her and steals her hologram.

Unfortunately for the murderer he does so before finding out where she’d been. She’d been visiting our P.I. with an unusual request:

“I want to hire you find out everything you can about someone.”
“Oh, yeah? Who?”


Buy The Private Eye h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days (£14-99, Image) by David Lapham.

In which we finally, unforgettably, come to the most horrific chapters of all in STRAY BULLETS which, given what’s come before, is really saying something.

I’ve always described STRAY BULLETS as terrible things happening to terrified young people and nowhere is that truer than here. When I originally read these sequences over a decade ago I became increasingly worried about where this was heading but refused to believe that Lapham would actually dare go there. I remember desperately hoping even as it looked less and less likely that somehow the worst would be averted by an intervention or maybe I’d read it all wrong.

I hadn’t.

You too may suspect what is coming when Bobby is shown those photographs, but nothing will prepare for what bubbles and builds and then bursts.

Thankfully you’ll find out only once the ordeal is over, and it’s a testament to Lapham’s good judgement, mercy and restraint that he leaves those reveals to the police going through Ginny’s improvised diary entries afterwards. Few would have thought to do that.

What I had forgotten, however, is how long Lapham leaves you in limbo before then, intercutting the episode with another Amy Racecar fantasy which is entirely apposite to what’s happening to its author. Then we have Beth’s seemingly interminable and hopeless search for Ginny whom she’s supposed to be looking out for just as Ginny was supposed to be looking out young Bobby.

If this all sounds slightly evasive, I’m trying not to give anything away to those who may be new to STRAY BULLETS which I rate right up there with CRIMINAL.


To those who’ve at least read my previous reviews of the series, I’d remind you that everything is connected plus we go backwards and forwards in time, and here you will finally find out precisely why Joey was so frightened of car boots way back in the very first chapter of STRAY BULLETS VOL 1.

If you thought WATCHMEN was structurally sophisticated and SANDMAN so well thought through, well, they were. They are. But the seamless dovetailing throughout STRAY BULLETS which continues to this day – of episodes which happen earlier or later or at exactly the same time – is absolutely extraordinary. Dee and I were discussing just this weekend whether we thought Lapham had it all planned out in advance and we simply don’t know. I don’t know if he could have; but then if he didn’t, I don’t know how he does it.

The same level of control within each encounter itself is remarkable. I’m not sure if I could name any creator who plays so successfully with tension.

For a much more extensive overview, please see STRAY BULLETS UBER ALLES edition which collects the first five volumes in one. Volume five as a separate edition is still a few months off.


Buy Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days and read the Page 45 review here

Mimi and the Wolves Act 1: The Dream (£9-99, Alabaster Comix) by Alabaster >>


With a first glance at this book you would be forgiven for thinking that it is going to be a cute, girly tale with its woodland creature characters living amongst a whimsical backdrop, but give this a read and you will soon find there is much more than meets the eye.

Like a Brothers Grimm fairy-tale it begins all rather lovely and innocent, with Mimi making garlands in her tree house. However, there is a much darker side to this story lurking just below the depths. Mimi is having a recurrent dream that she longs to understand, and with the gift of a lucid sleep potion made from Feverfew, Saint John’s Heart and orange rind she gets to understand its secrets, which change her life, for better or for worse.

‘The Dream’ may only be the first instalment: small yet perfectly formed, it will leave you eager for the next. And with its beautifully hand-screen-printed cover how could you say no to this little self-published gem?



Buy Mimi and the Wolves Act 1: The Dream and read the Page 45 review here

Very Casual (£12-99, Koyama Press) by Michael DeForge.

A carefully arranged collection of previously printed work, we are presented with an obscure and grotesque anthology. With larger comics sandwiching many smaller strips the curation of the book envelopes you, submerging you in the surreal and absurd world of Michael Deforge.

Beautifully grotesque, the stories within VERY CASUAL don’t necessarily stick to any real rules of formatting or narrative. They instead feel free and carry with them a real honesty. The stories are not overthought, but are carefully considered, so as to involve the reader so much in such a short story.

Personal favourites of mine: ‘All About the Spotting Deer’, the longest in the collection, and ‘S M’. ‘All About the Spotting Deer’, originally published as ‘Spotting Deer’ by Koyama Press, is a documentary-style comic illustrating the life, habits and mechanics of this bizarre creature. From the biological details of its antlers and its mating habits in the wild; to its humorous identity in popular culture; to its life amongst humans in Canadian cities. However, in turn this story reveals the author of the documentaries: a depressed creator obsessed by this otherworldly creature that no one else seems to care about.

‘S M’ follows the Spotting Deer and has a different feel entirely. A much shorter story of only 12 pages, this is the tale of two rebellious punk girls after a hit. By cutting off a slice of a snowman-like creature and ingesting it the story becomes hallucinogenic, almost euphoric, but it soon escalates into something much darker.

A rollercoaster of humour, honesty and the downright grotesque, VERY CASUAL is a beautifully put together book and one certainly deserving a comfortable space nestled amongst your bookshelf. It is something that you can pick up time and again for a casual read when the moment takes you. However, those of you who are new to Deforge’s work may feel the need for a palate cleanser afterwards; such as a lemon sorbet or a picture of a kitten in a box.


Buy Very Casual and read the Page 45 review here

Turtie Needs Work (£3-25, Koyama Press) by Steve Wolfhard.

In which a tiny turtle tries various jobs with comedic results. It could just be coincidence, but I’ve just starting reading the Mr. Men to Whackers (my daughter) of an evening and had forgotten that the Mr. Small story is all about him trying out different jobs, with hilarious consequences. Quite sure there’s no plagiarism going on, just a very odd bit of synchronicity. Not sure what the universe is trying to tell me, but anyway, whilst this was good, Mr. Small is better. Though obviously not comics, before the pedantry police step in. And squash him.


Buy Turtie Needs Work and read the Page 45 review here

Wolverine: Old Man Logan vol 00: Warzones! s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Andrea Sorrentino.

One of the satellite series to Marvel’s 2015 SECRET WARS, consider this a tour guide to its environs, negotiated by someone who won’t take no for an answer.

It’s a sequel of sorts to Mark Millar & Steve McNiven’s original OLD MAN LOGAN which, unlike this, is completely self-contained and highly recommended as the finest Wolverine solo series of all time.

It was set in an arid future where the heroes had lost with most of them dead, the villains had carved up America between them and something so traumatic had happened to Logan that he’d become a pacifist, refusing to pop his claws for anyone or anything. When you learn what that was, you will understand why. Half the fun was wondering – then discovering – what had become of those you once loved.

To a certain extent the same is true here, not in the Marvel Universe’s future but in its alternate SECRET WARS incarnation composed of various composite domains all ruled over by Vicky von Doom, each playing out alternate versions of key Marvel crossovers from the past or whatever else the writers came up with. It’s kind of difficult to explain, sorry.


These domains are all walled off and trespassing from one to another is strictly verboten by the Doctor of Doom himself.

It is into this baffling environment that Logan wakes up after all that has happened to him in the original OLD MAN LOGAN. This is important as I’ll try to explain for both now and later.

For the now: Logan has seen almost all his fellow X-Men die; other friends too. Yet here they are: different but alive if not very well. He travels from domain to domain. Now other versions of his former friends present themselves and if you think you’re getting a headache, imagine that you’re Logan encountering all this for yourself. His mates are equally flummoxed for this appears to be the Logan they knew and yet he has aged.

Just like the original, this is a journey. I liked that: it was in keeping.

It’s also completely incomprehensible if you haven’t read the 2015 SECRET WARS which we hope to have for you shortly as a collected edition.

What I admired regardless was Sorrentino’s lines and Maiolo’s colours.

The sound effects for a start are an integral part of the art, fusing sound and vision into a single sensory experience worthy of Dave Sim himself in CEREBUS. Its visuals come steeped in the shadow of Jae Lee on Paul Jenkins’ INHUMANS, though it’s closer in colour and texture to his more neo-Gothic outing in Grant Morrison’s FANTASTIC FOUR 1234. Both of those come highly commended as singularly eloquent, self-contained superhero graphic novels.

Moreover, some of the sequences are presented with Jim Steranko flourishes, like Logan’s assault on a gambling den of child-thieves, the lights going on / off in swift, staccato succession as if there were a strobe in the room. The figures fighting are lit up in stark black and white against a blood-orange background then each narrow window is brush-flecked in blood.

Blood. There is an awful lot of blood, but then this is a Wolverine comic so, you know…

I also adored the colours by Marcelo Maiolo which on occasions look like you’re travelling through a zoo’s tropical nocturnal house whilst under the influence of LSD.

For the later: this leads directly into the reconstituted Marvel Universe on the other side of SECRET WARS. Why is this important? As far as his friends are concerned, Logan died in the DEATH OF WOLVERINE. But albeit ancient and battered and having endured the events of the original OLD MAN LOGAN, Wolverine is back. How on Earth will he fit in? Find out in OLD MAN LOGAN #1 due in January 2016.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the befuddled.


Buy Wolverine: Old Man Logan vol 00: Warzones! 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.

Kid Eternity: The Deluxe Edition h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Grant Morrison & Duncan Fregredo

Grindhouse Doors Open At Midnight vol 4: Lady Danger & Nebulina (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Alex De Campi & Mulele Jarvis, John Lucas

Jack The Ripper (£13-50, Dark Horse) by Francois Debois & Jean-charles Poupard

Harley Quinn vol 2: Power Outage s/c (£12-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Chad Hardin, John Timms

Harley Quinn vol 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab h/c (£18-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Chad Hardin, John Timms

Hawkeye vol 2 h/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Eliopoulos, Javier Pulido, Annie Wu

Infinity Gauntlet: Warzones! s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Gerry Duggan & Dustin Weaver

Runaways: Battleworld s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by various

Black Butler vol 21 (£9-99, Yen Press) by Yana Toboso

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor vol 3: Conversion (UK Edition) s/c (£10-99, Titan) by Al Ewing, Rob Williams & Simon Fraser, Boo Cock, Warren Pleece

Hugs & Kisses Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson

It’s Your Birthday You Brilliant Beast! Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson

Just For You Because You’re Brilliant Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson

Thanks For Everything. Seriously. Card (£2-50, Paper Pipit) by Jodie Paterson


ITEM! Haha! It’s retail at Christmas and I’ve spent all week on the shop floor delighting in the provision of show-and-tell recommendations tailored to your loved one’s desires.

Best part of the job! I truly adore it. Please, please do ask at the counter!

Plus I think I broke our Sunday trading record by a very wide margin this, umm, Sunday.

On the other hand I haven’t had a day off to read or to write so these reviews are fewer than you’re accustomed to, plus all the news links I’d normally pop in here are merely up there as tabs on my Firefox browser. Next week, my lovelies! Next week!

– Stephen

Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews December 2015 week one

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Puma Blues Complete Saga h/c (£22-50, Dover) by Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli.

“Intelligent and urgent mythology for the end of the millennium,” wrote Neil Gaiman.

I’m not sure when. It could have been any time during the last two decades since this last saw print, and it’s never been completed until now with a new forty-page conclusion by Murphy and Zulli.

Rich in wildlife, the howling coyote on its own seems worth the price of admission to me. It’s just a shame there were any humans – on so many levels and indeed ever in this context.

A forward-thinking forewarning about “environmental degradation” and “ecological ruin”, as the series kicks off we have already poisoned our waters with acid rain to the extent that they have become poisonous to giant Manta Rays which have instead taken to the skies and hang from branches by their prehensile tails like bats.

Imagine poisoning the air that we breathe to the extent that cities become toxic to humans! Oh. Wait. We have. We did it in England following the Industrial Revolution, a lesson we singularly failed to learn from. Hello China! *waves*

It’s a miracle that much of this material ever saw print at all, for its publishing history – after the most unlikely but promising start at Dave Sim’s Aardvark One International – contains all kinds of crazy, caught as it was in petty comic-industry squabbles, very much an innocent victim of distributor Diamond USA’s vindictive belligerence.

SWAMP THING’s Stephen Bissette is on hand with a sweeping fourteen-page afterword explaining every element of that (which I remember all too well), providing also an overview of the aesthetics and intentions behind what was in part a very personal story written by Stephen Murphy who was working through the loss of his father and wandering alone round the shores of the Quabbin Reservoir in search of a real, live puma. Perhaps he was shadowed by one of these “ghost cats” but failed to spot it, much like the protagonist here.

What I don’t remember in enough detail is the series itself so I confess that this is more of a dim recollection than a review. I don’t have time to re-read five hundred and fifty pages at this time of year.

Melancholic, elegiac, some pages were dense in reverie and introspection while others left Zulli to wow you with wildlife. Even so, I’m not trying to sell you this as something as Attenborough-accessible as the magnificent, painted, natural world graphic novels LOVE: FOX or LOVE: TIGER. One of the joys of a collection like this at the beginning of an artist’s career is seeing her or him develop on the page. Much is made of Zulli’s love of the Pre-Raphaelites which he shared with Barry Windsor-Smith, but a glance at the earlier human-centric pages shows also shows a huge debt to Bryan Talbot’s ADVENTURES OF LUTHOR ARKWRIGHT too.

The flying Manta Rays, however, are a fine example of what to expect. Doesn’t that sound so romantic, like the moments of dazzling, fantastical glory in Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL? But they’d only taken to the skies because we poisoned their natural habitat, the air that they breathe: water. In case you believe that Murphy and Zulli held out any hope for the future of this planet’s ecosystems, towards the end the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – whilst un-sign-posted by Murphy – rode unmistakeably into town (town being the irradiated sands of a Nevada nuclear test crater) to declare in Spanish with a confident finality:

“The Earth is ours.”

All of which brings us to the four-page PUMA BLUES self-contained short story written by Alan Moore and pencilled by Stephen Bissette then inked by Mike Zulli. It’s reprinted in the back here following Bissette’s lucid introduction.

Alan Moore has a commendable history of rescuing life from death; specifically life from death through sex.

Sex and death have been intertwined since Shakespearian times when “to die” meant to orgasm. But when AIDS reared its awful head and Thatcher sought to criminalise education in her repugnant Clause 28, Alan Moore wrote a passionate same-sex love poem entitled ‘The Mirror Of Love’. He then went on to write the LOST GIRLS graphic novel for Melinda Gebbie to illustrate. It was set on the eve of war, when so many young men were about to be sent to obliterate one another at precisely the same time in their lives that they should have been procreating instead. Gebbie eventually became Alan’s wife, and don’t you just love the idea of a piece of literary erotica being born by two beautiful people in love?

Here he takes the air-borne Manta Rays’ risky but thrilling new mating ritual, copulating in the sky, entering each other at twenty miles an hour then plummeting in oblivious, post-coital free-fall towards to the water below which will kill them if they can’t break off from their ecstasy in time.


Buy Puma Blues Complete Saga h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Take It As A Compliment (£14-99 Singing Dragon) by various & Maria Stoian…

“I think maybe it was a bit my fault. Maybe I am too nice.”

‘Maybe I Am Too Nice’ is actually the title of one of the twenty anonymous true stories adapted by the talented Maria Stoian contained within this tremendously powerful anthology. In fact she renders the whole spectrum of sexual harassment and violence from verbal abuse through to rape in such a selection of varied artistic styles I initially didn’t realise they were illustrated by the same person!

Crucially though, she’s chosen styles which are so divorced from the photorealistic that these could be anyone’s stories… So when I tell you I can see hints of the likes of Isabella THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH Greenberg, Brecht THE MAKING OF Evens, Joann THE LITTLE PRINCE Sfar and William THE BIND Goldsmith in her art, you’ll hopefully know exactly what I mean and nod approvingly.

That sense that the protagonists could be you, the reader – and I should add at this point that there are stories contained within which also touch upon female sexual harassment towards males, and also same-sex harassment (though the vast majority are male on female reflecting a sad statistical truth) – is neatly summed up in the glorious cover, where myriad people are chatting to each other in small groups at a social gathering, except one of the figures is a reflective silhouette… This might actually be my favourite cover of the year, I think.

The stories themselves range from the amusing to the downright harrowing. You might initially bristle at the suggestion that there can be any humour to be found in the thorny topic of sexual harassment. You shouldn’t, because what I am referring to is the absurdity of the some of the perturbing behaviour displayed, to the degree that it is clearly the actions of someone who is somewhat unhinged, perhaps sometimes mentally as well as socially, rather than out and out, calculated, premeditated actions. Though there are stories here that do feature precisely that sort of horrific behaviour too…

I think this anthology very neatly shows, therefore, that the reasons behind peoples’ inappropriate and unwanted sexual behaviour towards recipients are as multitudinous as the scale of seriousness. Which isn’t to say verbal encounters from a blindly enamoured individual, utterly unreciprocated, can’t be just as disturbing and frightening for the person concerned as where there is intentional malice or intention to cause distress, but still, upon occasion, it can provide some levity, at least after the fact. Other stories definitely just left me shaking my head in despair about some of my gender though. The title gives some indication of what more than a few of the idiotic perpetrators thought their victim’s response ought to be.

This work is exactly the right sort of material to bring the discussion regarding sexual consent and respect for others, in all its facets, into the light of the mainstream, where it needs to be, for people to be educated about their actions in this sphere and the consequences they will have on others. But above and beyond that worthy fact, it is also a gripping collection of biographical comics brilliantly illustrated which I found fascinating to read. Also very recently recommended on this topic is Una’s exceptional autobiographical BECOMING UNBECOMING.


Buy Take It As A Compliment and read the Page 45 review here

Limp Wrist (£3-99, Paper Rocket Minicomics) by Scout Wolfcave & Penina Gal.

In which people prove deeply unpleasant.

You’ll notice immediately that the only anthropomorphic character is the narrator: everyone else is human. It’s a device employed for precisely the same reason Dave Sim chose to portray his own protagonist as an anthropomorphised aardvark surrounded by humans in CEREBUS: he was the ultimate outsider.

So here too the narrator is the ultimate outsider, ostracised from an early age by father, step-father and mother alike, castigated by teachers in elementary school and then rounded on by people who “chose to become agitated into a state of targeted aggression”.

Yes, chose. That word itself is chosen with due deliberation.

Why all this bile, this vitriol, this horrible, hurtful, undermining viciousness?

The narrator was deemed far too feminine.




Oh, well done, us. What a brilliant reason for hating someone: their softness.

It’s a succinct thirteen pages of story which builds beautifully to a reveal whose most powerful, painful sentence comes on the penultimate page about what’s been lost.

It really is to weep.


Buy Limp Wrist and read the Page 45 review here

The Understanding Monster 1 (£18-50, Secret Acres) by Theo Ellsworth.

There are mean kids hiding inside your walls.

“I’m making a TV show about your painful decline. It’s on right now!”

“All of your friends are actually me in disguise.”

It is a long time since I’ve read a graphic novel so effectively singular – by which I mean of its own mind, unique.

And it’s very much the matters of the mind at stake here: the struggle so many people endure to forge forward when weighed down – when pulled down – by self-doubt and crippling terrors: the what-ifs of a fear-ridden future; all the terrible things that might happen or what people might say if you do this, that, or anything at all. It can incapacitate you completely. But if one could just turn the Very Important Corner, if one could just… take… the first… step…


That amongst so much more is buried within this extraordinarily tense, visually dense and oh-so-cleverly phrased exploration of a house whose occupants are anything but human and the rooms which we house in our minds. But this is Theo Ellsworth so if you think it is even a fraction as straightforward as that might sound, you are very much mistaken. Once you start in on all the finely nuanced neologisms, you will see precisely what I mean.

““Izadore, The wall that contains your Phantom Skeleton has developed into a mural depicting This Way That Way in inner-space gear, riding an animal guide through a time-crystal field. A giant-sized action figure wearing a multi-dimensional shocks absorption helmet and holding a vehicular wizard staff is suddenly standing guard in front. – Inspector Gimble”
Stop. Fold. Send.

Yes, there’s a sequence of virtuoso, full-page spreads in which the voices of encouragement from without are presented in short bursts of electronic letters “posted” through the panel borders (or walls of the house) to Izadore who’s still struggling to comprehend his/her/its predicament within those panels.

“You really are a house. You’re a room inside yourself.”

I swear that all of this makes perfect sense within the context of the book, the precisely illuminated pages, and the physical and metaphysical quests themselves: every single one of those phrases above. Theo Ellsworth’s love of language is very much in evidence, for there are some fabulous names for the procession of arcane toys and assembled entities: Gortle Piggit, Gallaptor, Prince Bobbins and The-Floor-Is-Water-To-Me – a crocodilian creature which can surface through ripples in the floorboards.

“I remember Heptop. I remember Roytokto. I remember Nestilikose Hom. I remember Williker Nasp and the doll he created to make decisions for him. I remember Tellittome and the tiny version of himself that lived inside his head named Tongue. I remember Milna Parpit, who was the first of them to ever make rooms inside of herself so she could provide others with shelter and entertainment.”

Oh, it’s so clever and so resoundingly lush. There are textures and patterns everywhere: wool, woven linen, ornamental wallpaper, feathered scales and whorled wood. Within the ultra-inventive panel and page configurations the colours are dark and opaque and speak of ancient homes: greens and blues and rich, ruddy-brown wood and fur. Fur? Izadore first manifests itself as a mouse. Very timid and susceptible to distractions.


It all begins when the clock strikes Negative Nine.



Buy The Understanding Monster vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Sea Urchin (£5-99, Retrofit / Big Planet) by Laura Knetzger.

“My social confusion is getting out of hand.”

A personal work which will speak volumes to so many, this is a substantial exploration of inner turmoil during an age in which signals have become noise, the babbling multitudes on social media threatening to drown anything resembling a word like “coherent”.

There’s a page on which Knetzer is sat semi-relaxed at her laptop – head thoughtfully in hand – endless empty posts rising from its monitor. Her toes twitch, tellingly.

“I don’t understand what these people are saying.”

There’s a similar scene earlier on in a bar which is all but obliterated under a snow-storm of equally empty speech balloons, the horizontal panels crushed under their own weight.

“I’d really like to express myself.
“But there’s so much fucking jabbering going on already.”

Yet express herself Laura does, eloquently, as all the sounds become so loud “they chew on me” or intrude as uninvited hands into the very folds of her cortex. The written word becomes difficult to concentrate on.

“Then spoken words didn’t make sense.”

She turns to digital pictures to calm her down. She plays simulator games too (“MADE A FRIEND!”). But when I was young there was a television show called ‘Why Don’t You Switch Off Your Television Set And Do Something More Interesting Instead?’

At one point Knetzger finds herself fractured into a small, timid victim of insecurities, buried deep in a hole and dominated by a brash, angry, opinionated and malicious other half left to roam the real world ungoverned by self-restraint. If only she weren’t so self-aware she’d find it easier to bare, but she’s wracked with guilt.

So much of this involves the loss of direction as an artist (“I forgot what my ambitions are”) and the loss of identity, of self. On social media “Everything becomes a performance”. “You can be selective with how you show yourself.”

“If I leave a gap, someone will fill it in.
“People love filling in blanks.”

Looking into the bathroom mirror, Laura picks up a wet facecloth and wipes away her real face drawn in elegant detail to reveal a blank-eyed cartoon stand-in to show the world, a simulacrum with a smile.

It’s a scene very similar to a page in Asaf Hanuka’s THE REALIST – another astute exploration of self, as an individual, an artist, a husband and father – only he employs a marker pen to exactly the same effect.

Don’t we all, from time to time?


Buy Sea Urchin and read the Page 45 review here

Seconds Helping (£4-50, Studio JFISH) by Jason Fischer.

2014 saw the release of one of my three favourite graphic novels of that year, the self-contained SECONDS by SCOTT PILGRIM’s Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Slick, sophisticated and boasting another giant leap in O’Malley’s visual craft, you would never have guessed for five seconds that meeting its deadline involved such an increasingly breakneck race against ever-dwindling time.

This is Jason Fischer’s account of his time working alongside Bryan, living alongside Bryan and inking the graphic novel’s backgrounds as the days tick-tock by far faster than the pages were completed! If you look very closely below the beads of sweat on the cover you can just about make out the prize in Jason’s delirious eyes.

It’s a cautionary tale which almost any student can relate to about not leaving your entire dissertation until the last minute. You know, like we all did.

Here comes the maths:

In July 2013 Jason and Bryan had 6 months in which to ink 322 pages. That’s roughly 54 pages per month; 12 pages per week; under 2 pages a day.

During those relatively leisurely first five months Bryan would ink his characters and send Jason roughly 8 of those pages each week to work on the backgrounds. But then came the crunch: with just five weeks to go they still had 200 pages to ink. That’s now 6 pages a day.

So Bryan asked Jason to move in to his house in Los Angeles. And indeed that process proved relatively leisurely, though not without accidents, until crunch number two: with eight days to go they still had 70 pages left to ink. That’s now 9 pages a day!

So those are facts; I leave Jason to show you what actually went on and reveal their working conditions in Bryan’s home studio as Fischer’s mind starts to frazzle alongside his art here. Like I said, though, you’d never have known from SECONDS itself.

Honesty dictates I confess that this is a slim little booklet for £4-50, but I somehow doubt we’ll have trouble selling it. Especially when it’s unlikely that there will be second helpings.


Buy Seconds Helping and read the Page 45 review here

A Glance Backwards (£14-99, Magnetic Press) by Pierre Paquet & Tony Sandoval.

“Is someone there? Mom, is that you?
“It’s Joey! I’m in here…
“Is someone there? Can you hear me…?”

Joey is eleven years old, lost and alone.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement and a small statuette disappear through his bedroom wall.

Like Alice through her Looking Glass, Joey reached out and instantly tumbled down his own rabbit hole and into a gigantic hour glass, sinking swiftly through its sands before pulled impossibly through its bottleneck.

Since then Joey’s been wandering through gloomy passageways, peeling through curtains and shattering his way through walls, each time encountering strangers who don’t linger long.

He finds himself in frozen limbos, underwater, roaming African desserts and idling for a while at railway stations. He is pointed ever onwards, at one point down a path which leads to a cliff.

Welcome to my dreams: woefully older than Joey I’m still lost and alone, forever on the edge of some precipice or another with time constantly running out.

The vertigo I understand: I’m petrified of heights. But I haven’t got lost since I was last in Venice decades ago and I invited that on myself by eschewing a map and relished each revelatory twist and turn.

I can see why Skottie Young is so enamoured with the art by the creator of guitar-wielding, metal-merchant DOOMBOY (“How to say good-bye to the dead.”).  The two are far from dissimilar.

Sandoval masters the ebbs and the flows, the constantly evolving landscapes of a dream and the ambiguity of strangers, while Pacquet isn’t above unleashing betrayal or a sudden ferocity upon the poor lad. There are moments of comfort and a couple reunited, but also the continual threat of danger when home seems so elusive and impossibly far away.

There is a clue in the coda as to what’s brought this on. I think that this a book about not giving up and the need to keep moving – not sitting on the bench for too long – no matter what’s thrown at you.


Buy A Glance Backwards and read the Page 45 review here

Blue Bottle Mystery – An Asperger Adventure (£12-99, Jessica Kingsley Publishers) by Kathy Hoopman, Mike Medaglia & Rachael Smith…

“No new house, Dad. No new school. No new bed.”

“Stop flapping, Ben. You know I hate it when you do that. What’s wrong with you, kid? Any boy would love all those things. Why can’t you be normal for a change?”

Ben Jones is in many ways just like any other young lad. He’s always in trouble at school with his teacher Miss Browning-Lever, getting picked on by bullies, even falling out with his dad over how to spend their lottery winnings. The problem is that he doesn’t understand why. The world frequently just does not make any sense to him at all. His widower Dad, Jack, is actually a lovely chap, bringing up Ben with just the help of Ben’s Grandma, but occasionally Ben’s apparent obtuseness and complete inability to deal with change drives him to despair. Even winning a life-changing sum of money is seemingly an intractable problem. Eventually, seeking out medical advice, Ben is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I wasn’t remotely familiar with the source material for this adaptation, but the author in question has done a number of Asperger’s-related books, including further adventures in the Aspergers series, so she’s clearly an authority of sorts on the subject. The obvious comparison is the prose book The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon from 2003 which was a work I enjoyed immensely. I think this is entirely aimed at a younger non-adult audience, with a view to educating them about Ben’s condition which does make for some unintended, at least on Ben’s part, amusing comedy moments.

The titular adventure comes from Ben and best mate Andy’s discovery of a mysterious blue bottle in the school gardens. They jokingly remark that it might be a genie’s bottle and start rapidly making wishes. When the first two – Ben’s for lots of money and Andy’s for muscles – in the form of a lottery win and a sudden overnight growth spurt come true, they frantically rack their brains to remember what their third wish was. Cue much panic as they remember talking about the bullies blowing up and the school disappearing. That wasn’t their third wish, as you might expect, but clearly the thought that it might have been is enough to tip someone as literal-minded as Ben over the edge into full panic mode!

Adapted by Mike ONE YEAR WISER Medaglia, this will definitely help the cause of enlightening kids as to how and why someone might be hardwired to behave differently than themselves, and hopefully have a little understanding and empathy. It’s illustrated in a very complementary manner by Rachael Smith whose art is gradually softening up stylistically from her earlier, self-published material. It’s an energetic, wide-eyed style that’s entirely appropriate for a kid’s adventure yarn.


Buy Blue Bottle Mystery – An Asperger Adventure and read the Page 45 review here

Dungeon Fun (£12-00, Do Gooder Comics) by Colin Bell & Neil Slorance…

“What did you do? At least the ghosts weren’t eating us!”
“Get out of the way! He won’t harm me… he only eats the cursed!”
“Are you kidding me? You hold the sword! You’re cursed! I explained this!”

It’s just another ordinary day for a most unordinary girl. Stephanie, a human raised by trolls in the muddy moat of a castle when she is nearly sliced in two by a sword falling from the sky. In fact, there’s a lot of things spontaneously fall into the village of Deepmoat, almost as if people (and bridge trolls) keep deliberately throwing them in there…

So when a knight promptly and fatally drops in as well, immediately rising as a ghost cursed to follow whoever has his sword, generally doing their heads in with smart-arsed running commentary, Stephanie has had enough. It’s time to look for some answers, seek out adventure, and generally get out of the godforsaken dump that is Deepmoat. Along the way there’ll be monsters aplenty, more than a few dungeons, but most certainly fun. Who’d have thought that risking life and limb swinging steel could be so invigorating?!


This neatly straddles the divide between ADVENTURE TIME-esque material aimed at teens and adults, and Phoenix-type material like BUNNY VS. MONKEY, FISH HEAD STEVE, STAR CAT BOOK 1 etc. aimed at younger kids. It’s heavy on the laughs and light on the peril without skimping on the danger. Fans of daft fantasy generally will approve. The art style is nice and simple, adding to the cartoon feel.


Buy Dungeon Fun and read the Page 45 review here

Jessica Jones: Alias vol 3 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos.

With some of the best dialogue in the medium, this is such thoroughly accessible crime fiction that fans of Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips may relish it.

It hasn’t been easy, but there is hope in sight.

We’re finally on the road to rehabilitation for Jessica Jones, a woman whose career as a cape was destroyed long before the first chapter opened by something so degrading that it sent her spiralling into a hopeless well of self-loathing only exacerbated by the drink she necked to escape and the sex she gave away freely to anyone who would have her.

Jessica is now a private investigator, but not everyone has loved the results of her investigations. Rule Number One: never ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to. Recently she’s been set up, beaten up, talked down-to by cops and made life more miserable for herself by further sexual misjudgements. But. She’s spoken out against prejudice, helped turn lives around, made up with Luke Cage and is on the cusp of actually dating while sober.

Unfortunately she’s about to meet J. Jonah Jameson.

Jameson is the publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper. He hires her. He fires her. But that is far from the end of it when a certain sixteen-year-old girl breaks into Jessica’s apartment while off her face, and that will open up a whole world of pain leading Jones to uncover some of the nastiest, corporeally intrusive and kind-of-cannibalistic drug abuse you cannot possibly imagine.

There’s much mirth before we get there, though.

Jonah initially hires Jessica to uncover Spider-Man’s secret identity. Jameson despises superheroes: to him they are glory-seeking, self-serving and not to be trusted whether or not they are masked. During the course of their initial conversation Jameson let’s her know exactly how he feels about Jessica, her former calling and her current profession. Nevertheless Jessica accepts the job, but her quiet, kind and ever-so-clever revenge during the course of her investigations will have you grinning your heads off.

If only she’d left it there. If only she was bereft of good intentions. If only she didn’t care, because it’s Jessica’s compassion which proves her undoing…

She has, however, managed to pick up a nerdish numbskull called Malcolm, a stalker fanboy who keeps coming round to her office in hope of a job and won’t take no for an answer.

“I come around to say hey and you’re never here.”
“Well, why don’t you not do that, then.”

I’ve written plenty about Gaydos’ subtle storytelling – the incremental shifts in expression between panels etc – but not about his emphatic refusal to glam Jones up as a youthful foxstress. She isn’t. She’s world-weary and even refused entry to a nightclub on account of it. But she needs to get in.

“God forgive me for what I am about to do.”

She gets in.

“Fuck me.
“We are doomed as a society.
“Doomed as doomed can be.
“These people are exactly the reason I never go anywhere even remotely resembling any place like this.
“But I didn’t come here to be nauseated. I can stay home for that.”

This was a distinctly feminist series from a company not really renowned for such shenanigans.

In the fourth volume you will finally find out what happened to Jessica that left her barely able to look herself in the mirror or talk to her former colleagues for years. Please see the substantial JESSICA JONES VOL 1 and JESSICA JONES VOL 2 reviews for the much bigger picture.


Buy Jessica Jones: Alias vol 3 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 of 8 (£4-50, DC) by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello & Andy Kubert, Frank Miller.

Oh, I think you can discover this for yourselves!

A project like this pretty much demands you enter it knowing as little as possible.

On the other hand I have to write something to get past the cover so: Andy Kubert’s art is beautiful, skilfully adapted in specific instances to reflect Frank Miller’s. Frank Miller draws the mini-comic within the comic.

See also by Miller (in stock At The Time Of Typing):


That one’s also reviewed, but if the series is ever completed I will be gob-smacked.


Buy Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

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

Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days (£14-99, Image) by David Lapham

Katzine Issue Four (£5-50) by Katriona Chapman

Katzine Issue Three (£5-50) by Katriona Chapman

18 Days vol 1: War Begins s/c (£10-99, Graphic India) by Grant Morrison, Gotham Chopra, others & Jeevan J. Kang, Francesco Biagini

21st Century Tank Girl h/c (£16-99, Titan) by Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett, Brett Parson, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jonathan Edwards, Jim Mahfood, Craig Knowles, Philip Bond

Big Man Plans (£10-99, Image) by Eric Powell, Tim Wiesch

Dad’s Not All There Any More (£7-99, Singing Dragon) by Alex Demetris

Dan Dare – The 2000 AD Years vol 1 h/c (£30-00, Rebellion) by Pat Mills, Gerry Finley-Day, Steve Moore & Dave Gibbons, Massimo Belardinelli

Filmish (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Edward Ross

Harrow County vol 1: Countless Haints s/c (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook

Low Moon (£17-99, Fantagraphics) by Jason

The Only Child h/c (£14-99, Random House / Vertical) by Guojing

The Private Eye h/c (£37-99, Image) by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin

Spectum vol 22 s/c (£24-00, Flesk) by various

Daredevil vol 4: The Autobiography Of Matt Murdock s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid, others & Chris Samnee, Chris Samnee

Deadpool Vs. Thanos s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Tim Seeley & Elmo Bondoc

Marvel 1872: Warzones! s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Gerry Dugan & Nik Virella

Spider-Gwen vol 00: Most Wanted s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jason Latour & Robbi Rodriguez

Spider-Verse: Warzones! s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Mike Costa & Andre Araujo

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Ryan North & Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Wolverine: Old Man Logan vol 00: Warzones! s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Andrea Sorrentino

X-Men: Years Of Future Past: Warzones! s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Marguerite Bennett & Mike Norton


ITEM! Chris Ware’s cover for the New Yorker based on an audio story then extended into an animation of it!

Parents in particular take note: it’s a cautionary tale – with plenty of chortles – for when, if ever, you child first wants to wear make-up.

ITEM! BARRIER #1, a brand-new comic by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin. Online!

ITEM! LOVE AND ROCKETSGilbert Hernandez is accepting commissions – and they’re ridiculously affordable!

ITEM! Neil Gaiman’s THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS is adapted and recorded by BBC Radio 4. All episodes available here! He also discusses the myth of Orpheus.

Read Page 45’s review of THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS by Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell!

ITEM! Neil Gaiman recorded in Syria, raising awareness of and empathy for the plight of Syrian refugees – fundraising too.

Let’s not bomb Syria, please, because: 500,000 civilian casualties in Iraq. In Syria too fatalities would be individual human beings with real lives & loved ones. Thank you.

ITEM! Teachers! The phenomenal Sarah McIntyre has recorded resources for you to teach creating comics in class!

ITEM! Broken Frontier’s fabulous Comicbook Awards 2015: the nominations are in! Vote now!

ITEM! Brilliant! Alex de Campi, “writer of wrongs” on ‘How To Interview A Woman’.

“She is not a woman in comics. She is a WRITER [and/] or ARTIST in comics. She is not a woman in engineering. She is an ENGINEER in engineering.”

“Golden rule: if you wouldn’t ask The Rock a question that you’re about to ask a woman, don’t ask it at all.”

This really shouldn’t be necessary, but I’m very much afraid that it is.

ITEM! Our own Jodie Paterson’s latest collection of beautiful, organic, individualistic cards. Send your loved one something they’ve never seen!

ITEM! If Christmas shopping for cut-price prose, DVDs and CDs, please support Hive! Page 45 has its very own Hive page and makes money from every purchase there!

Hive pays its taxes!

Hive supports independent retailers!

You can pick up your purchases from Page 45 – or whichever your nominated local retailer is – and you won’t pay a penny for delivery!

ITEM! And if shopping for Christmas at Page 45, remember:

We love providing recommendations based on your loved ones’ interests!

You can just bring lists of books to the counter and we’ll find them for you!

Please tell that to whoever you give a list to: they’ll be so relieved!

– Stephen