Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews November week one

Featuring John Allison’s Bobbins, new Grey Area by Tim Bird, John Martz, Chuck Palahniuk & Duncan Fegredo, Simon Roy, Moebius, Matt Sheean, Malachi Ward, Michel Rabagliati, Neil Gaiman, Adam Kubert!

Bobbins vol 1: 2016 (Signed) (£5-00) by John Allison.

Who calls their own comic BOBBINS?

Well, John Allison, obviously.

Of course, it might not be self-deprecation: a man with such intimate knowledge of the Singer Sewing Machine might well be referencing the weaving of threads – the intertwining of lives, as they move in and out of each other’s orbits. It’s something he’s spectacularly good at.

And here’s a hidden art you don’t see too often: between each of these perfectly timed, interconnected, vertical, four-panel gag strips with their own sublime beats and conversational cadence, there lies an extra beat. Some follow swiftly on from each other, to be sure, but not every conversation has to be heard. Instead it’s not just the strips themselves which move the narrative so swiftly on, but the judicious gaps in between.


I like that the left-hand strip on each printed page is raised a little above the right. That too carries its own momentum – a musical ebb and flow rather than the comparatively regimented monotony of next, next, next. These are the details that matter.

From the creator of sundry other BAD MACHINERY bobbins like GIANT DAYS and EXPECTING TO FLY (Page 45’s biggest-selling comic last year) comes a self-contained, signed and limited edition comic both written and drawn by John Allison which focuses on the employees of a British local newspaper called City Limit.

I love that the paper’s called City Limit, singular. It only has one. And it’s not even a city, it’s the town called Tackleford.

The cast includes familiar faces from EXPECTING TO FLY including Shelley Endeavour Winters who’s starry-eyed with enthusiasm at the prospect of her first shared accommodation yet worried about the potential finality of leaving home. Once fully fledged, will she still have a room there to go back to? It’s a familiar inner conflict, but the joy lies in the unexpected, even extreme ways it’s expressed.


Then there is this: John Allison’s characters have an inner life in which their minds are ticking and whirring internally and independently of each other so that when one responds or interjects, the other is often still ruminating on their own train of thought, as if the other hadn’t even spoken.

“Shelley. I don’t think writing a sex column means you have to go out there and rut furiously. You have to be more of an anthropologist.”
“A priapic David Attenborough? So I’d use a night vision camera.”
“I reckon you’re looking for anecdotal evidence, not a prison sentence.”
“Do you think work will pay for one?”

Shelley’s still thinking optimistically of the night-vision camera, not the prison sentence. Same thing happens here:


Similarly there’s a photo-shoot sequence to publicise this local paper’s sex column – which Shelley’s really not sure that she’s up to, but she did go and blurt out the idea in a brainstorming session – from which Amy physically ejects the inept, gangly-limbed Rich with much visual mangling and invites Shelly to devour the camera “As if you don’t bone it soon, a volcano will spontaneously erupt”.


Immediately you see Shelley’s grateful adoration for the intervention, but not The Look. For that you’re made to wait for its delayed effect at the bottom of the subsequent strip, for once Shelley’s mastered this empowering advice, she cannot let go. The satori and success of it is still buzzing in her head.

“Shelley, the photo shoot is over. Stop doing The Face.”

How often in any medium do you see this oh-so-astutely observed human trait of a lingering daydream or train of thought?


“Wow, That’s a good trick, Amy.”
“I know. You look like a five alarm fire at a fuck factory.”

And that’s what I mean about cadence.

It’s all so exquisitely well drawn. The range of expressive emotions each character undergoes within a mere four panels is riveting. Each character is animated – as in not just brought to life, but to vivid movement as when Amy presses her palms together and Shelley sashays away into the foreground at the bottom of the page and into the next instalment, one forearm in front of her slinking, sliding hips.


Let’s talk fashion sense, and the crisp triangles of white shirt jutting out from under Shelley’s jumper. They don’t hang, they jut.

Let’s talk background details like the Tetris poster hanging from Shelley’s home bedroom wall, a nod to Allison’s EXPECTING TO FLY earlier in Shelley’s life in which Tetris was used as a metaphor for coping with life. Or the punchline to one particular page of brainstorming which doesn’t come in the dialogue, but on Len’s flipchart assessment of the finance-free idea of inviting a catalysed citizenship to contribute to the paper instead of his already ill-paid minions:

“Unworkable Utopian Options.”


There is so much lurking beneath the surface, so many skills which don’t trumpet themselves and shouldn’t. As Edward Albee (‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf’) once wrote “I don’t like symbolism that hits you over the head. A symbol should not be a cymbal.” You shouldn’t hear it clash. Similarly you shouldn’t read something as if it’s being written in front of you – almost hear the keyboard being punched – or see it being drawn. To enjoy a comic we shouldn’t necessarily perceive all the meticulous work that goes into making it so wickedly witty and enjoyable. I just thought it was about time I did that for John Allison, because this is the very best of British comedy in any medium, with far more depth than that epithet implies.

I’m probably going to witter on about the hair next time. There’s some great hair here.


Every one of our copies is signed!

Also available from John himself this coming weekend at Thoughtbubble, where I’m sure he can be prevailed upon to sketch too!


Buy Bobbins vol 1: 2016 (Signed) and read the Page 45 review here

Burt’s Way Home (£14-99, Koyama Press) by John Martz.

A perfectly formed,burts-way-home-cover poignant little book, this is set amongst snowflakes, staring out at the stars.

It’s very kind and very quiet, told in black, white and eggshell blues.

Two alternating perspectives are presented to us: Lydia’s and young Burt’s.

Lydia is a mouse of a certain age, homely in a long, pleated skirt, cardigan and glasses. She has many family portraits on her walls. Burt is a young, blue bird.

“Burt and I live at the edge of town, in the small apartment building at the bottom of Mount Maple,” we are told.

Burt then shares his private thoughts in two pages of comics:



Well, clearly Lydia isn’t Burt’s biological mother, for she is a mouse, and he is a bird.


Lydia walks in to their living room, bearing comforting milk and cookies, and sees Burt perched on a chair, staring silently out of the window at the infinite evening sky.

“I hope he’s happy here.”

This sets the timing and tone perfectly for what is to come, Lydia watching over her charge – as he sets about repurposing some household appliances then holding the resultant jumble ever higher in the sky – if not with a complete understanding, then at least loving patience, wondering what’s going on in his head and only wishing he’d wear a hat.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s been through,” she thinks.

“I know it will take some time before he settles in.”


Everything here is so meticulously balanced and judiciously chosen – the alternate exchanges, the anthropomorphic tradition, the tenderness of expressions, Burt’s specific behaviour and the absence of any direct communication between the two until the very end – not only for maintaining the ambiguity of Burt’s true origins, but also the truth that, in all the most important ways, it really doesn’t matter.

John Martz has kindly signed and sketched in all our copies.


Buy Burt’s Way Home and read the Page 45 review here

Grey Area – Our Town (£7-00, Avery Hill) by Tim Bird…

“There wasgrey-area-our-town-cover a gap in the fence.
“I still think about it sometimes.
“I wonder if it’s still there.
“Maybe the fence has been repaired.
“Maybe the land was sold to developers.
“There could be a housing estate there now.
“Or a supermarket.
“Maybe it’s not how I remembered it.
“Was there a gate?
“Did we climb the fence?
“It isn’t marked on the map.”

Goodness me, if he hasn’t gone and done it again! Tim Bird is a master of making you stop and think. Which is a tad ironic because his comics are all about the fluidity of never-ending motion through time and space, with the emotions such journeys can invoke. Except in Tim’s universe you don’t need a TARDIS to experience the miraculous or the momentous. No. It’s right there in front of you all along, a world of never ending wonderment, if you simply open your mind as well as your eyes and look…


After his (now out of print) treatise to the mighty motorway in GREY AREA: THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK and his paean to a passage from capital to coast in GREY AREA: FROM THE CITY TO THE SEA (which won the 2015 award for Best British Comic), this GREY AREA sees Tim integrate the lives of two people in a most remarkable manner, utilising the power of well placed origami, set against the backdrop of their mutually shared locale. I’ll let Tim use his characters to explain in a far more imaginative manner than I ever could…

“Our paths crossed.”
“Our maps overlayed.”
“Time and place aligned.”
“Our boundaries broadened.”

I’ve said it before, but the man is a poet.




Years later, having also moved on geographically, our characters return, just passing through on the train and deciding on a whim, triggered by a very poignant motif, to revisit those old haunts imbued with their shared love. The final dramatic full page spread, I’m not ashamed to say, made my heart swell and occasioned a solitary tear to roll down my cheek…



Buy Grey Area – Our Town and read the Page 45 review here

Paul Up North (£15-99, Conundrum) by Michel Rabagliati…

“So, when’re you gonna buy that bike?”
“I need to save up another hundred bucks. But I think I’ll get a moped instead… it’s less expensive, and I won’t need a permit or anything…”
“Smart move! Mopeds are fun. You can go anywhere, and they’re cheap on gas…!”

Sixteen-year-old Paul, of course, buys the moped, despite one last longing look at the far sexier motorcycle whilst in the shop. It’s barely more than a hairdryer, mind, and attracts the amused piss-taking attentions of the elder biker brother of the lovely young lady he’s trying to woo. He succeeds, eventually, despite his awkward, excruciating attempts at romance, and promptly falls madly, deeply in love with her. Which quite pleases the young lady in question. To start with at least anyway…


Yes, Michel Rabagliati’s thinly veiled autobiographical creation returns with his hormones a-raging and his engine a-racing. Well, puttering along at least, much like his adolescent love life. It’ll end in tears, I suspect you all know that already, for Paul has ever been a boy to wear his heart on his sleeve, but to see the train wreck of first love hitting the buffers so damn hard, well, it’s enough to make you want to lock yourself in your bedroom and mope for a week in solidarity with our sensitive soul. His mum and dad are sympathetic, but even they lose patience eventually!


For all of Paul’s tears though, this is a wonderfully sentimental and nostalgic look at the fun and frolics of teenage years, before the strictures of adulthood fully kick in. Life was simpler then, at that age, though it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time! Michel Rabagliati plays out the seemingly insurmountable trials and tribulations of the waning of adolescence and reaching the cusp of adulthood note perfectly.


This comic is in English, we promise. These pages from French Canadian edition.


Buy Paul Up North and read the Page 45 review here

Habitat (£8-99, Image) by Simon Roy.

Evolution and devolution: habitat-coverthere isn’t one single trajectory.

Please don’t judge this book by its cover: there is nothing half so opaque inside.

Clear-lined and lambent, the interior art will take your breath away with its contours, perspectives, phenomenal sense of scale, the sheer wonder of what has come out of Simon Roy’s mind, then the extraordinary skill with which he has transferred his imagination onto the printed page.

Cho is a young man who’s just been sworn into the Brotherhood of the Habsec, He is now no longer a civilian, but an elite warrior of the Habitat Security who on his very first hunt has impressed his superiors enormously with his initiative, speed and prowess.

But what they’ve been hunting are humans – for their meat.


This doesn’t disgust Cho, for there are no more animals left alive other than the Carrion Gulls in this closed environment, and we do not appear to have become vegetarians. Unfortunately cannibalism comes with a price, as anyone who lived through Britain’s BSE (Mad Cow Disease) crisis will recall after we decided it was a jolly good idea to turn our herbivore cattle into carnivores by feeding them each other in the form of meat and bone meal derived from cows including their nervous-system-rich spinal cords. Aren’t we a bunch of lovelies?

Human spinal cords are exactly what Cho’s younger family are gathering now from the communal midden:

“Mia, no! It’s the one part you’re not supposed to eat!”
“Mom says it’s okay. It’s just for soup.”
“Mom and Grandma have the shakes because they eat spines from the midden!”


No, what our young Cho objects to is the gratuitous cruelty with which the Habsec bring home their prey. For that he is boisterously pushed around, which leads to an accidental, clay-breaking find.

“Boy! Where did that come from?”
“The civvie’s amulet, sir.”
“Speak up, trooper!”
“The civvie I caught today, sir. There was a punch card, inside the clay amulet he wore.”
“You have this punch card?”
“Give it to me.”

Young trooper Cho does not hand it over.

Instead – somehow sensing the importance of what he has discovered – he once more seizes the initiative with speed and prowess, catalysing everything that is to come.

We will return to the plot soon enough – including that key metal punch card – but what Simon Roy has so aptly done for a regressive society is fused the futuristic with both the recent and ancient historical past.

Set on a vast, once thriving cylindrical space station barely maintained by the scant surviving, highly reclusive engineer teams – recycled oxygen and rotational gravity being two of the few still functional technologies – the resultant environment and stone architecture now overgrown with bamboo and trees is resonant both of Babylon 5, Aztec / Mayan culture and the Brutalist movement which spawned in Britain concrete monstrosities most famous perhaps in their high-rise, city-centre, public-parking incarnations, but also – to my mind – some of the most magical urban community housing like the mid-70s’ tiered, balconied Alexandra Road flats in Camden Town designed by Neave Brown. I’ve not lived there, so I don’t even know, but it always looked to me like something progressive, overwhelmingly sci-fi and gobsmackingly beautiful.


They’re presented here with their ultra-clear, broad, bisecting walkways and waterways creating eye-popping vistas which then sweep upwards as their cylindrical world curves upwards around a central light-giving, heat-radiating sphere.

The channels are roamed by similarly styled and equally overgrown monuments on stilts, known to the Habsec at least as Engineering Platforms but which the civvies – presumably never having seen more than one at a time – revere as The Great Builder.


But even the Habsec have limited understanding of what little technology is left to them. Mostly they fight with bows and arrows, staves, and a sword which is presented to each upon initiation. This is fashioned using a 3-D printer into which the only known metal punch card is ceremonially inserted, generating one solitary option: the sword.

That is why the unexpected discovery of a second punch card is of such staggering importance. What will it render when activated?

Well, that would depend on which of the four templates you choose.

In the balance of power between the civvies, the Habsecs and the Engineers, this could be a game-changer.

Like Emma Rios’ I.D. and Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward’s ANCESTOR, this was originally serialised in the periodical anthology, ISLAND, home and haven to much creative innovation.

The colours – in the outer habitat at least – are gentle and earthy and often washed in a mossy green, so that when blood is spilled it stands out a mile, as does the Engineers’ direct communications with their machines in bright red and yellow code.


It also means that the mostly bare-limbed occupants seem very much at one with their environment, although they are dwarfed by it and their vulnerable, fleshly forms are not half so resilient.

So what happened to the space station so long ago that its marvels of technology have largely been lost and the lives of its inhabitants have been reduced to mere tribal survival?


Buy Habitat and read the Page 45 review here

The World Of Edena h/c (£44-99, Dark Horse) by Moebius…

“Father, Iworld-of-edena am afraid to approach the Paternum…”
“Silence, my child! You are weak and unenlightened, but the Paternum cares equally for all his offspring.”
“The communication has begun, Father, but we continue to experience the same interference problem.”
“No matter. Continue transcription. Please form a circle around the matrix, sirs. Then remain totally silent.”
“Father! Look! The screen is filled with the interference again. I… I am losing the signal! It is as if there is a more powerful force which…”
“This is impossible! Nothing can block the communication between our Father-Mother-God and us, his children!”
“I will try broadening the spectrum…”

You do that, son. Because if there is one thing I have learnt reading Moebius over the years, both his own stories (pretty much all currently out of print like THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE which is verrrrry frustrating) and those penned with the likes of Alejandro Jodorowsky (THE INCAL / MADWOMAN OF THE SACRED HEART) it is that, to paraphrase the late Douglas Adams, Moebius can do six impossible things before his morning café et croissant


It has a fascinating genus, this material, beginning life as an exclusive promotional work for Citroën, simply entitled THE STAR about two seemingly genderless interstellar castaways, Stel and Atan, who drive around on their rather barren new home in an old Citroën. Eventually they find a pyramid which transports them to a veritable Garden of Eden elsewhere in the Universe.

It was a bit of a lightweight throwaway story, frankly, but it clearly stuck with Moebius, who decided to embark upon a sequel. Once he started he felt extremely inspired and quickly plotted out an epic storyline, which he realised was going to have be an extended series of books to do it justice. Hence this gargantuan tome which collects all six (well, five and a bit parts) together in English for the very first time.


If you like the quasi-mystical malarkey going on in THE INCAL, you will love this, as it is undoubtedly the most philosophically inquisitive Moebius ever got in his own stories, covering pretty much all aspects of humanity, the structures of society, set against the backdrop of a so-called advanced civilisations and of course, the ever-enduring battle between omnipresent forces of good and evil.

Interestingly for all that, the stories themselves don’t feel remotely heavy-going, quite the opposite actually, as the more complex elements merely sit in the background of the extremely entertaining, and perilous, adventures of Stel and Atan. That is certainly due to the art style as well, which is as stripped down and pure ligne claire as Moebius ever got, with relatively sparse backgrounds devoid of the bonkers embellishments that populate the INCAL material. To my mind this is an exquisite triumph which serves proves Moebius is an equally talented writer as he is artist.


Buy The World Of Edena h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Ancestor (£13-99, Image) by Matt Sheean & Malachi Ward.

There plentyancestor-cover to give you much pertinent pause for thought here.

Do you ever grow a little anxious? Do you ever feel a bit down?

Perhaps you have a routine for that or a pick-me-up: some songs that will get you grinning or at least sooth away the stress. Maybe, if it’s more than a mood shift, then you have medication.

Now imagine there’s an app for that. Imagine there’s an app that will remember what buoyed you up in the past and present options for doing so again.

Now imagine that app was biologically hardwired into your brain so went with you everywhere and could even adjust your metabolism.

Welcome to The Service! It’s not just an app but the entire internet, social media and your personal profile combined. Everyone has it and it’s turned on permanently, whirring away inside your head, offering you information on sights and sounds, and even evaluating art objects so you know exactly what you should think about them. Individual insight is so overrated.


Maybe you’d like to impress someone with skills you do not possess. You could run this exchange inside your mind:

“Run BarTndr.p”
“Two Black Widows’”

Suddenly you’re Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’. Might spike your serotonin levels, but that can be monitored and modulated too.

Wait: we’ve only just begun. I’ll try not to load this one way or the other, but do you take pleasure in the slow process of getting to know someone gradually, or would you feel more at ease without the initial small-talk, which in certain circumstances can prove quite awkward?

Our main protagonist Peter Chardin has just made use of the calming programme sent to him by Tom Matheson and it has worked wonders. Now Matheson introduces him in a bar to Anne Northrup, chic but in sunglasses so you can’t see her eyes. What Peter does have access to about Anne is any other number of the sort stats you might find on Bookface if you could trawl through someone’s history in an instant: personal history, friends and relatives, favourite music, favourite films, favourite books, favourite comics, sundry likes and dislikes and travel experience complete with photographs, ratings and perhaps even a list of subjects not up for discussion.

Presumably these are personalised with default settings for ‘public’ and ‘private’ which can then be adjusted for individuals; but what is “allowed” is there for immediate exchange.


The brilliance of Sheean and Ward is that they utilise the comicbook medium to maximum effect here, showing us all this in a single panel – The Service’s manifold interactive options floating round each user’s head at eye-level in little yellow globules – reproducing as closely as possible the experience of that first instantaneous interaction. It’s dazzling to us, but it’s extraordinary what we can all become accustomed to.

And how lost we then feel when what we now take for granted is suddenly denied us. It’s bad enough leaving your mobile at home by mistake – suddenly you feel unconnected when you wouldn’t have thought twice about it two decades ago – and that’s just a phone! Now imagine you lost The Service.

That is precisely what happens when Matheson now drives Peter and Anne and a desultory, sceptical Jim to a last-minute party held at his estate by Patrick Whiteside. Peter, Anne and Jim have just enough time to search The Service to learn of the prospective host’s prior history:


Matheson is already familiar:

“He’s not just a lab-coat, either. He’s transformed philosophy of the mind with his unique approach to intentionality.”

But he does have his critics, and a certain documented history. Oh, and a Suppression Field around his estate. The Service goes down just as Whiteside’s homestead comes into view, high upon rocks above the trees. It is… imposing… and it is guarded.


Inside it is palatial, like a vast, luxuriously appointed personal exhibition hall and art gallery. And Peter does feel liberated by the lack of Service, allowing him to focus on and experience the paintings and sculptures personally, uninformed by the distractions and dictations of ‘expert’ outside information and accreditation. For someone who was on the research and development of The Service, Patrick Whiteside seems vehemently, vociferously keen on the benefits of not being dictated to.

At which point I would proffer Jonathan Hickman’s opening comicbook salvo from way back when, THE NIGHTLY NEWS.

I like that we’ve lost most of the vowels in the likes of BarTndr, like Tumblr, and I like that Peter Chardin’s are the only protagonist’s thoughts we are privy to throughout and – as opposed to the apps’ and exchanges’ capitals – that they’re all in a smaller lower case, giving them a vulnerable fragility, and him an isolation.

The printed page is about the matt-est I’ve ever encountered, and the work which was originally serialised in ISLAND (like Emma Rios’ I.D. and Simon Roy’s HABITAT) appears to be an organic, collaborative construct in both writing and art by Sheean and Ward. There is some gorgeous design work in elements I can’t even hint at for fear of giving the evolutionary game away, and the body language in chapter two was nuanced and telling – as was the walk from Patrick Whiteside’s public gallery into his private one.

Above all, however, it made me think a great deal about interaction: where we were once, where we are now and where we might go.

As to where we might go, this flew a great deal further than I was expecting.


Buy Ancestor and read the Page 45 review here

The DC Universe By Neil Gaiman Deluxe Edition h/c (£26-99, DC) by Neil Gaiman, Alan Grant, Mark Verheiden & Adam Kubert, Arthur Adams, Michael Alred, Simon Bisley, Sam Keith, Mark Buckingham, Matt Wagner, John Totleben, Eddie Campbell, others.

In which we concentrate on the question “Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?”

I’ll tell you what happens when you finish a great story by Neil Gaiman: you go Very Quiet and Very Still. Nothing else happens except in your mind, and perhaps not even there for a few seconds. It needs time to process, to percolate. Shhh…

From the literary magician who can transform a motorcycle manual into something that not only sounds but is profound, comes another story about telling stories and indeed about stories told. Or, as Alan Moore might put it with particular application here, “All stories are true”.

After Lord knows how many fingers tapping on Lord knows how many keys, and so many wrists rendering different shades of pencil, there are so very many tales told about Batman in so many different ways that not all of them join up. How could they? Why even should they? Does it actually matter? The only important thing is that The Batman never gives up: “There’s always something you can do.” He’ll live, he’ll die and he’ll live again in animation on the television, in live action on the silver screen and on the page in prose and in comicbook form: revised, re-envisioned, reinvented.


This is Gaiman and Kubert’s answer to the question of discontinuity, embracing it all in word, in form and in deed. And celebrating it by paying tribute. Kubert’s pencils are glorious, and his ability to mimic Mazzucchelli, Lee, Kane, Adams, McKean et al is stupendous. In addition, can I confess that I guffawed at Two Face’s car?


As the story opens, Batman lies dead in a casket. His friends and adversaries from across the last several decades gather round in the back of the Dew Drop Inn (and you should, you really should) tended by the man who killed Bruce’s parents in Crime Alley.


Each stands up to tell a different story of his demise or recall what the driven dark knight said about life. As they do so, the man they are mourning listens to them closely and watches unseen, unsure of what he is witnessing. Is Bruce dead? And if so, who is his female fellow shade?

“This is Crime Alley.”
“Yes. Very good.”
“But it hasn’t looked like this for sixty years or more. This is crazy… Why are we here?”
“Why? Bruce, you never left.”

The finest pages are most certainly the last, but my secular self very much enjoyed this exchange edited to safeguard your own discovery, summing up exactly why I just don’t care whether or not there is an afterlife. It’s one of the best explanations of and exhortations to altruism that occurs to me right now:

“Are you ready to let it go now? To move on?”
“To go to my final reward? I told you, I don’t believe in –”
“You don’t get Heaven, or Hell. Do you know the only reward you get from being Batman? You get to be Batman.”




Buy The DC Universe By Neil Gaiman Deluxe Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Bait: Off-Colour Stories h/c (£19-99, Dark Horse) by Chuck Palahniuk & Lee Bermejo, Kirbi Fagan, Duncan Fegredo, Tony Puryear, Alise Gluskova, Marc Scheff, Steve Morris, Joelle Jones.

A bit of a coupbait-cover for Dark Horse, this is a brand-new collection of prose short stories written by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and indeed the writer of FIGHT CLUB II which was an original comic, not an adaptation, and not merely plotted by Palahniuk then farmed out to another.

Just like the recently arrived A WALK IN EDEN by Anders Nilsen, it’s illustrated throughout in clear-lined black and white so that you can embellish it with your own chosen palette of colours, either keeping carefully within its contours or going full-on Bettie Breitweiser if you honestly feel you’re that talented. It is however, most emphatically an adult colouring book in its truest sense, for Chuck is rarely, if ever, child-friendly. A decade on, I am still shuddering from ‘Guts’, that short story from ‘Haunted’ involving the pleasures of a swimming pool filtration system.

The one from BAIT that I’ve read so far is ‘Let’s See What Happens’ illustrated by Ducan Fegredo (ENIGMA, KID ETERNITY and HELLBOY: MIDNIGHT CIRCUS etc) is a scream, though thankfully not in the same way as ‘Guts’.

It’s a family affair, at the beginning of which young daughter Heather has the temerity to come home from school, innocently and adoringly hugging a brightly coloured pamphlet whose cover is adorned with lots of equally excited kids surrounded by exotic wild animals (and, umm, a stegosaurus) gathered under a rainbow which invites all and sundry to “JOIN US!”

On the back is stamped the address of a local church.


By the time her Mum and Dad have read the leaflet promising the love of a quite different family, Heather is already infatuated, converted, and convinced she’s going to meet a stegosaurus. She wants to go to church.

“Not that Heather’s parents were idiots. In their experience it was crucial to expose a child to religion, in particular to religious services so boring, in a setting so stifling, in clothing so uncomfortable, in the presence of self-righteous, bullying, bad-smelling old people, that the child in question would be scarred for life. If a kid hated church it made the God issue all the easier. A bad church memory, scarred deep in their psyche, did the trick better than a lifetime of rational arguments explaining why Mommy and Daddy and all the really smart humanists were atheists.”

Do you sense a certain degree of hubris?

Heather’s parents are going to give her that scarring experience.

No, they really are.

Let’s see what so self-righteously happens.


Buy Bait: Off-Colour Stories h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!

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

23 Skidoo One-Shot (£2-99, Angina Studios) by Al Columbia

Aleister & Adolf h/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Douglas Rushkoff & Michael Avon Oeming

Cages (25th Anniversary Edition) (£26-99, Dark Horse) by Dave McKean

Rachel Rising Omnibus s/c (£49-99, Abstract Studios) by Terry Moore

Saving Grace (£17-99, Jonathan Cape) by Grace Wilson

Cerebus: Cover Art Treasury h/c (£67-99, IDW & Aardvark-Vanaheim) by Dave Sim, Gerhard

Derek The Sheep (£8-99, Bog Eyed Books) by Gary Northfield

Good Dog, Bad Dog: Double Identity (£8-99, David Fickling Books) by Dave Shelton

Northlanders Book vol 2: The Icelandic Saga s/c (£26-99, Vertigo) by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice, Becky Cloonan, Paul Azaceta, Declan Shalvey, various, Massimo Carnevale

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Artist Tribute h/c (£22-99, Archaia) by various

Kabuki Library vol 4 h/c (£35-99, Dark Horse) by David Mack

Muhammad Ali h/c (£17-99, Dark Horse) by Sybille Titeux & Amazing Ameziane

MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun #3 (£4-99, Improper Books) by Matt Gibbs & Sarah Dunkerton

DC Super Hero Girls vol 2: Hits And Myths s/c (£8-99, DC) by Shea Fontana & Yancey Labat

Gotham Academy vol 3: Yearbook s/c (£14-99, DC) by Brendan Fletcher & Adam Archer, Sandra Hope

Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Christos Gage & Travel Foreman

Invincible Iron Man vol 2: The War Machine (UK Edition) s/c (£13-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato

His Favourite (£8-99, Sublime) by Suzuki Tanaka



Duncan Fegredo Page 45 Bookplate, sold out yonks ago, obv!

ITEM! Video of Sean Phillips interviewing Duncan Fegredo about his craft and past while Duncan draws live at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016!

These two friends always bring out the wittiest in each other and you will learn so much about their early years together in the British comicbook industry, and that industry itself.

Sean had done bugger-all preparation, wings it to perfection and causes much mischief, while poor Duncan does ten things at once.

Buy swoonaway Duncan Fegredo Hellboy prints like this from his website!


ITEM! Duncan Fegredo’s preparation for the event. See, someone’s a professional!

Watch Duncan Fegredo draw Hellboy from scratch, close-up!

For more Fegredo, please see BAIT reviewed above.


ITEM! Mary Talbot’s exceptional, photo-filled overview of The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016.

She caught the relaxed atmosphere to perfection.


ITEM! In case you missed it… Page 45’s own photo-filled, record-breaking blog of The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016!

See your favourite creators like Tillie Walden, Tom Gauld, Isabel Greenberg, Dave McKean, Katriona Chapman and Bryan Lee O’Malley. Learn what they actually look like!


– Stephen

I honestly promise to talk about something else next week.


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