Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews November week three

We begin with a brand-new review of Dave McKean’s Cages. News underneath!

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

“It’s just paying attention.”cages-cover

In which stories are told, rhythms and patterns are perceived, connections spring forth and sweet music is made.

It’s in conversations that we so often discover these connections – of ideas and experiences and perhaps greater truths. They make themselves known in the to and fro, the ebbs and flows, one observation or recollection sparking another in the other. Without conversations we are locked in our own insular little world. They’re my favourite thing in life.

Communication catalyses creativity – and this is a book about both – juggling what you see, what you’ve experienced, what lies in your head and what you hold in your hands to create these rhythms and patterns and connections. It requires judgement, perception and balance; the courage to get started or start again.


It is also, unsurprisingly, a book about cages, for not everyone is blessed with freedom or companionship, and there is a singular sort of loneliness experienced between couples who’ve essentially stopped talking to each other about anything that matters, out of fear of hearing or telling the truth.

After a prologue of Beginnings and Ends – of creation and frustration and doubt; of God’s withdrawal and mankind’s rage – we open with the moon high up in the heavens, its full, perfect orb shining in an open, star-lit sky. Across this slinks a lithe silhouette, unmistakably feline.

Under the moon lie many silent spires and ornate cupolas.


The black cat pauses to survey birds in flight before dropping from the rooftop to the tenement’s fire escape to descend, flight by flight and observe what transpires inside.

A lone, anxious man winds his watch to make sure that it’s ticking. This will become funny later on. His window is remarkably high.

Further down a dreadlocked musician whom we’ll come to know as Angel sits outside his own window, playing a wind instrument. He chats to the cat with a charming lilt.

“Yo! Mr. Cat.
“And how are you this fine, fine night.
“You really are de doziest great supine I hever see, y’know?
“Eh? Mister Cat?
“Nothin’ wrong wit’ that now.
“But surely is a perfect raven of a night, Mr. Cat.
“Don’t it feel like de start o’ sometin’.”


The cat is curious but keeps its own council. It passes a pigeon, pausing only briefly to inspect, before peering into another room through cracked glass. There is a shift in style from fluid black ink and blue-grey tone to pencil and soft washes: a man with a ponytail stands frustrated in front of his easel; a couple make love; a couple much older embrace; the room is quite empty.

Back in black and another storey down, we see two sinister, burly men in coats and hats menacing another; a finger points threateningly, a hand is raised in resignation and a painting is removed from its wall.

Descending further still, a white cockatoo caws out from its cage. “What a bugger! What a bugger!” An unseen occupant shoos the cat away.

It leaps down to the ground to be greeted by a man in search of an address. The cat can’t help, but Jeffrey believes he can. Jeffrey is a man with a wire constellation round his head and an insight into God’s grand scheme of things. Later he calls it his “consternation” and he happens to be right. He declares the stranger to be lost, but I rather think that’s Jeffrey’s problem. Fortunately our new lodger is greeted by a homeless man who, as they walk, speaks of spiritual identity and the nourishment of the soul, for which he is given the price of a cup of tea.

“Ahh, you’re a saint an’ a saviour, sir. God grants your wishes, my friend, have a good life.”
“I just want to know where Meru House is!”
“Look around you, son… your wish is granted.”

He’s right on its doorstep. This is Leo Sabarsky, an artist with a ponytail starting again from scratch. Under his arm he carries a blank canvas. It’s time to make contact.

But just before he enters, outside the tenement’s front door and below all its scaffolding, Leo finds a paper page torn from a book called ‘Cages’. It is charred.


The choreography and concept behind this introductory sequence is ever so clever. Although we will wander elsewhere – down narrow side-streets whose lantern-light emanates in white, watery waves, pulsing like music; from the jazz bar where Angel performs; and to one other quite startling, barely possible residence – it firmly establishes the focus on this one particular building and the cages which lie within. To a cat, almost any room must look like a cage. It also poses so many questions which – even if you don’t know quite what they are yet – will all be answered as we encounter each individual again, along with others connected but so far unseen, from different perspectives, in different lights.

It was here that McKean first branched out from the relative photo-realism of BLACK ORCHID, the intense expressionism of ARKHAM  ASYLUM and the dense puppetry, photography and full-colour photo-collage of MR PUNCH to something far sleeker to keep your eyes moving across its pages. This was essential for such a big book (nearly five hundred pages), so much of which concentrates on conversations and monologues, and the discipline of a black which glows, a blue-grey which sheens and the white light which shines casts emphasis on the shapes, the textures, the figure forms and expressions which are deliciously lively and angular and energetic – in short, communicative. They add their own lilt and cadence to the conversations.

However, however, if you think McKean has ditched his customary love of the multi-media approach – carefully selecting what will work best for each constituent element – then there are revelations within.


There are bursts of full-colour passion which stand out all the more strikingly for their restricted use; though I would remind you that not all human passion is positive.

There’s a haunting reverie rendered in fantastical black and white photography and additional painting then a blaze of iridescent red and electric-blue colour which is sandwiched within a strict nine-panel grid for a desperately sad sequence as delusional old Edie, owner of the cockatoo, busies herself in her husband’s much-missed absence. Afraid to go out without him, her flat may be a cage but so is her head, crammed with a past of herself and her husband, both thwarted.

“KAW! Bill’s not home yet, Bill’s not home yet.”

All the art here is in service to the story. When Angel, on stage, discusses the dissonance of one brother’s music, full of fire but no discipline (as opposed to the other twin’s learning but lack of passion – it’s basically Jane Austen’s ‘Sense And Sensibility’ given a musical context), his words which speak of “a racket” are lost in the visual cacophony.


But perhaps my favourite chapter lies at the graphic novel’s centre / heart when Karen is first introduced at the jazz cafe-bar. Karen we have only seen from afar. She lives in a building opposite Leo’s room and, searching for any inspiration to free him from the fright of a big, blank canvas, he has sketched her as she waters her plants on her balcony. Angel has taken an interest in that sketchbook, borrowed it, and now returns it via Karen.

“A friend asked me to return your book.”
“Ah a…”
“He would have given it back himself…
“Only he’s over there, grinning.”

Angel is indeed at the other side of the bar, smiling knowingly.

“Son of a…”
“So, do you spy on your other neighbours too?”

Leo is at first speechless.

“I’m speechless.”

I told you so. He babbles a bit. Okay, he babbles a lot.

“Christ, listen to me. I’ve forgotten all the words I’ve learned since I was six. I’ll get the drinks.”

It’s enormously sweet. It’s all very natural. Then the art does a similar thing to that which Frederik Peeters would pull off later in BLUE PILLS: it pulls back from their table as the music kicks in, then at the same time focuses solely on their shared space as if everyone else in the busy room had disappeared. That’s what happens when you meet minds with somebody new: the outside world evaporates, you lose track of time and you are lost in the music of conversation. We don’t hear what the couple says; we only see them engrossed in each other, their wine glasses floating in the air as their shared table dances across the page in a liberating, free-form flood of images. It is, I kid you not, ecstatic.




But you wait until you witness Karen’s extraordinary residence. It’s magical, as is Leo’s imaginative line of getting-to-know you questioning which, when I first read this 25 years ago, I swore I would try out on a first or second date. I never did; you certainly should. Take notes, and watch out for waterfalls!


CAGES – as I may have mentioned more than once – is essentially a book of conversations, some of them rhetorical for we all talk to cats, none of them extraneous and all of them riveting. McKean has Alan Bennett’s ear for dialogue and his own for its exchange: for when someone’s listening and when they are not, for when someone blithely goes off on one while the other may be fixated elsewhere, and for when two people seek to get to the bottom of something important by refining their ideas and interpretations of each other’s ideas, together. In McKean’s hands it’s like music, but then he is a musician and has much to say on that subject through Angel. The two come together here.

“The ‘D’ scales are conversational scales.
“When I listen to someone I listen to de tonal modulation of de speech.
“I listen to de shades and pauses an’ phrasings.
“I listen an’ learn what that person is t’inkin’ t’rough de structure of what dey say… not de fabricated meanin’ of de words dey use…
“De message is in de music.”


And I don’t know how often this is pointed, but the conversations in CAGES are – so many of them – very, very funny. The breaks and beats between new tenant Leo Sabarsky and deaf-as-a-doorpost Doris, the concierge, are so astutely observed, while the yelling, swearing, doing-the-minimum delivery guy is a scream. Leaving his elderly minion to heave an impossibly heavy crate up steep flights of stairs, he carries the smaller one under his arm (“UP” pointed down), secures his signature and pins a badge to Sabarsky:

“Joe’s Removal’s: Service Is Our Middle Fuckin’ Name.”

The same could be said of the fickle barman, who is not a people person, proffering one his many conflicting opinions of Angel:

“He’s a poet. An immense, creative force. I mean, the man’s a god, really.”
“I know I know. I’m a conservative sort of guy. Okay, the man’s a glowing, transcendent ball of light. A pure and all embracing power. An opalescent…”
“Yeah, I get the picture.
“You know, when I first came to work here, I asked him where the toilets were. You know what he said. Do you know what he said?
“I can’t imagine.”
“”Over there.” “Over there,” that’s what he said! “Over there.” Jesus, I cried, you know?”
“”Over there,” that’s what he said.”

I love the way the thought is still lingering there, the barman stroking his own neck in further contemplation. I like the way McKean minimises “I can’t imagine” so that it’s uttered almost under Leo’s breath.


There’s an exquisite conversation between Karen, Leo and the first man we met conducted using – ah, that would constitute spoilers, I fear, but trust me: it’s different and delightful and once again funny.

I’ve not mentioned Jonathan Rush and his wife Ellen yet. Well, I have: they’re the ones who receive hostile visitors. They’re also less than pleased to see Leo, but Leo is new and persistent, wrangling his way through their door with the old cup of sugar routine. To begin with they communicate through the door.

“And what would you want with sugar, Mr. Sabarsky?”
“Ahmm… well, I’d like to make some tea. I only have the wine that I packed to bring with me, and I don’t know where the shops are yet, so I’d really like to borrow some sugar so I could have some tea.”
“I see.”
“And some milk.”
“And milk?”
“Well, and some teabags too, but don’t worry, I’ve got the water and cup.”
“Uh huh.”
“Oh hang on, no, I haven’t. I’ll take a cup as well if I could?”


Strangely, though they have been there a while, Jonathan and Ellen don’t know the area very well. Immediately Leo believes he recognises the man – it’s in his eyes, which are intense, haunting or haunted – and McKean shows a memory of them, then the eyes being sketched, and that’s when Leo remembers, on picking up one of Jonathan’s novels and its author’s photograph on the back.

“I knew I recognised you. I actually drew you once. I remember your eyes. Christ, well, that’s proof that when you draw it’s one of the few times you really concentrate.”

The book is called ‘Cages’.

You’ll discover Jonathan and Ellen’s current predicament during another inventive sequence, as the writer takes one of his own books down from the shelf and reads its dedication, “For my wife Ellen for criticism and hugs, two things I couldn’t live without.” Behind the dedication, then further book spine’s we’re shown Jonathan’s recollections of how each book was received upon publication: happy hugs in the woods, discussions over dinner with friends and peers, delightedly spotting his own books in a with shop window, award nominations, an award ceremony… then the ghosts of the past become stranger, and you may be reminded of what Angel told his audience about illumination. For that, you will have to read the book. It is astonishing how coherent this all is – different elements informing each other – and how many ideas are addressed here.


From the creator of BLACK DOG, THE DREAMS OF PAUL NASH, Page 45’s current Comicbook Of The Month – and so much more; please do pop Dave in our search engine – this is a big book of beliefs, doubts, traps, fears, and new beginnings. Keep moving, keep juggling, keep talking. Keep creating something new.

“Of course, it’s impossible.”
“What is?”
“Trying to make concrete what I can see in my head. It’s impossible.”
“Well, you have to do one or two impossible thing now and again. Otherwise you get complacent.”
“ …”
“Absolutely right.”


Buy Cages (25th Anniversary Edition) and read the Page 45 review here

The Return Of The Honey Buzzard (£14-99, SelfMadeHero) by Aimée De Jongh.

A honey buzzard, return-of-the-honey-buzzard-coverperched on a post and alert to its surroundings, stares up over its back and into the sky.

Its attention darts forward, then down. In the silence it considers its distracted prey.


The honey buzzard takes fright and flight.

“Why won’t you listen to me?”

It’s Simon who isn’t listening.

My guess is this’ll grab you on its first three pages. If not, I give it no more than the eighth and ninth as Simon angrily presses his cell phone’s red button, sits there fuming inside his van, then drives over a railway crossing into dense woodland, and darkness. Ancient trees, some spawning fungus, tower over the small van. When Simon stops, it’s outside a sequestered cabin. His face stays in shadow, silhouetted against the sky, as he enters.




Simon flicks on a switch, and there are books. There are so many books – some in boxes, some scattered across the floor, others stacked high upon shelves. Simon takes one specific book down and sits crossed-legged on the bare wooden floor and is transported back twenty years to when he was at secondary school, happily reading the same bird guide. Almost immediately the cell phone intrudes again. A picture of his wife Laura appears, smiling. Feeling harassed, he rejects the call. In contrast to his younger self he now appears scruffy, weary. Piling boxes of books into the back of the van, his eyes are already wide – no longer angry but harrowed, haunted – and he drives as if in a stupor.

But after what happens at that same railway crossing on his way back – after the gate goes down and he’s left there idling, and the woman appears at edge of the trees – Simon’s state of stupefaction will be close to catatonic.


Its atmosphere already established, this won’t let you or Simon go until it’s done. De Jongh’s body language is impeccable, very physical, and her expressions maintain an intensity whether vulnerable or fearful or resentful and angry.

Anger, fear and vulnerability rage through this debut graphic on every front presented to us: past and present, personal and professional, increasingly driven by guilt. Inaction is an action in and of itself, and gnawing regret, which can come creeping in waves, rarely recedes forever.

So much about the construction impresses me: Simon’s past and present dual traumas aren’t perfect parallels for that would be lazy. Instead they twist on each other in such clever ways about which I can only confer with you in private once you have read this. One key element is constant, however, and there are additional pressures at play which reduce Simon’s ability to resist unravelling.

Then there are the visual details, un-signposted, like books gradually disappearing from display as Simon’s life empties of hope.

If I hadn’t already doffed my cap to De Jongh, it would be off again in a second for one particular and ever so satisfying sleight of hand which passed over my head exactly as it should have done.


Buy The Return Of The Honey Buzzard and read the Page 45 review here

Instruction Manual For Lonely Mountains (£14-99, by Nicola Gunn & M.P. Fikaris…

“Focus group for the Protest Against the Extinction of the Human Race.”

“Do you know we are the first generation that could potentially live forever?”

Two very conflicting sentiments, there, I think you’ll agree. Both, of course, annihilation and immortality, are entirely possible for our current generation. I suspect neither may come to pass in our lifetimes, but I also suspect the threat and promise of each are probably only going to increase.

Happily for us, there’s a very incongruous group of people who have gathered in an utterly nondescript room to discuss such weighty matters, including one person togged up in a fully encapsulated chemical protection suit. They seem, however, far more interested in whether they are likely to get a parking ticket or whether they should be having milk and sugar in the hot beverage of choice…


In the end, matters of the heart rise to the surface to become the subject of most import for our collective, as perhaps was suggested by the title. For some people are indeed like solitary monoliths in their romantic behaviours, their own worst straight-jacketed emotional enemies. Though there are also some interesting philosophical points interspersed along the way, I have to say.

Captivatingly moving musings, illustrated in stark black and white punctuated with the most amazingly psychedelic multi-colour letratone episodes, which are possibly only visible to the being in the protective suit, I wasn’t entirely sure! If you’re an Anders BIG QUESTIONS Nilsen this may well appeal.


Buy Instruction Manual For Lonely Mountains and read the Page 45 review here

Where Do I Belong? (£9-99, by various, edited by M.P. Fikaris…

“Hi! I’m Fikaris and I started this project ‘Where Do I Belong’ back in early 2014.
“It began from seeing some refugee art project zines on a table my friend Sam was sitting.
“After asking Sam on the spot if he would be interested in some kind of collaboration on the subject…”
“… I then wrote to Safdar to see what he thought of doing something together.
“So we came up with this idea & what you are holding is the outcome…
“Comic art & cartoons relating to the idea & question of place, identity & belonging.
“From asking a bunch of people this question whilst helping them to develop the art of storytelling.”

That, in a nutshell sums up this eclectic and very worthy anthology work. A combination of distressingly powerful single-page pieces and some longer strips juxtaposing the realities of life for detained refugees in Australia with the lives of comparative luxury enjoyed by Australians themselves.


You’ll learn some disturbing facts, such as Australia is the only country in the world to detain refugee children as its very first option, the average length of detention being roughly a year, something which demonstrably has deleterious effects on their mental health.


There are those who presumably feel Australia’s draconian policy on illegal immigrants – those actually managing to arrive without the correct papers (assuming they weren’t on a boat that was forcibly turned around or towed back to the territorial waters of its country of departure as a matter of course by the Australian navy…) are immediately sent to the likes of Papua New Guinea or The Christmas Islands for processing – is the right way to go about matters, if you want to keep illegal migration to a minimum, regardless of the human cost to those individuals themselves.


However, as I have commented many times, were I in the position many people in the so-called third world find themselves, would I attempt to get into the ‘promised land’ through illegal economic migration? Of course I would. These, then, are their thoughts, reflections and very moving stories on their successful or otherwise attempts to reach Australia and their subsequent treatment at the hands of the authorities. Don’t expect polished, artistic, comic perfection; do expect raw, powerful, emotive, hard-hitting truth.



Buy Where Do I Belong? and read the Page 45 review here

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

Signed andderek-the-sheep-cover sketched in for free!

“Oi, sheep. How’d you like to eat the juiciest grass in the whole world?”
“I think I already am!”
“Wait till you’ve tried this stuff! Go on… have a nibble…”
“Well… I don’t know…”
“Go on!!”
“Oh, alright! Just a nibble!”


What is it with sheep, cows and horses that they can have an entire field full of grass to munch on, but offer them some more of the exactly the same stuff and they’ll waltz right up to the fence and nibble it out of your hands?

You know Derek is going to give in – on anything within – and you just know it’s going to go ridiculously wrong. Give him a momentary advantage and he’ll turn it into a calamity. Give him five more seconds and he’ll compound the calamity into a catastrophe.


It seems impossible, doesn’t it? It’s a meadow; they are sheep. All they do is eat grass. Outside of barnacles, they are the most sedentary creatures in the animal kingdom. What can possibly go wrong?

Enter Gary Northfield – Lord Lieutenant Stoopid and King of Bog-Eyed Buffoonery ™  – responsible (and I used that word under duress) for GARY’S GARDEN, TERRIBLE TALES OF THE TEENYTINYSAURS, JULIUS ZEBRA: RUMBLE WITH THE ROMANS and JULIUS ZEBRA: BUNDLE WITH THE BRITONS and suddenly the farm animals are wearing galoshes, kicking around footballs and tobogganing down snow slopes on bits of old Farmer Jack’s barn.


To a substantial extent the comedy is predicated on the abandonment of all shades of sanity in the same way that Simone Lia’s THEY DIDN’T TEACH THIS IN WORM SCHOOL undermines worm logic. We all know what a worm is, what a worm can do. Similarly we all know what a sheep is (stupid) and what a sheep can do (eat grass, run from anything that goes “Ruff!”) and what a sheep patently cannot do (open a can of baked beans). Same goes for cows. I don’t recall the last time I saw a heifer basking on its back outside a barn, sunglass on with the radio at full blast, blaring “Who Let The Dogs Out? Woof! Woof!”

Sheep are already inherently funny. But sheep on a tractor…?

“I’ve been pretending to be old Farmer Jack, trundling around in the mud.”
“WOW! This is so cool!”
“I know! Vrrom! Vroom! Beep-beep!”

Sheep driving a tractor…?

“Pedal faster, Lizzie! Them dogs are gonna catch us!”


And it’s all illustrated with such wild abandon, such glee! These sheep aren’t just stupid, they’re gormless – all mouth and eyeballs! The colours are those of innocence and nature into which Northfield introduces the unnatural, the preternatural and the stupour-natural.

From the pages of THE BEANO, then, thirteen full-colour short stories running at roughly half a dozen pages each in which Derek the sheep is traumatised by bees, bubblegum, bulls and bulrushes (oh, he finds a way!), forever tempted as he is by that grass which is always greener. “This is a really bad idea, Derek,” could come from any of these disasters waiting to happen wherein he digs himself deeper and deeper into stinky doo-doo. Once, quite literally.

We don’t have the fourth and final page of the sledging fiasco for you, but do you really not know what’s going to happen next?


“Ooh, I don’t know, Derek. You know how precious Farmer Jack is about his barns.”

Exactly. It’s a good job sheep are famously dab hands with a hammer, isn’t it? Spatial awareness…? Not so much.

Brought to you directly from Gary himself, I can assure you that all our copies now and in the future will have this demented man’s mark left indelibly inside the front cover. So sorry.


Buy Derek The Sheep and read the Page 45 review here

Now in Softcover!

Sandman Overture s/c (£17-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III.

“Everyone kills, little brother.
“They even kill their dreams.
“And you have waited too long.”

Everything is ending: life and afterlife, birth and rebirth. Eternity will be extinguished because Morpheus made a mistake born of compassion. When he failed to cauterise the chaos in time the universe itself went mad.

He has one last Hope and an unexpected ally. But then what greater driving force is there than the will to live?

Neil Gaiman returns to SANDMAN with a prequel which is integral and reminiscent in so many ways of Alan Moore’s PROMETHEA whose metaphysical musings on the nature, power and achievements of the human imagination weren’t just illustrated but illuminated by one of comics’ most inventive artists, J.H. Williams III. Once more Williams brings his very best to bear on a script which would have overwhelmed many others and sheds the most spectacular light on some pretty dark matter.


SANDMAN Synopsis: Morpheus is the Lord of Dreams, his family are The Endless. Each of them is older than you can comprehend, though some are older than others. They are as gods to mortals, though they can surely die, and they change as we change for they are aspects of our everyday existence. Drawing on so many elements of prior mythologies, this was one of the 20th Century’s very best comics and Neil Gaiman’s prose readers will love it.

In a story which leads straight into the original book, SANDMAN VOL 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES, long-time devotees will discover so many answers to questions they may not have realised existed. For example, if Destiny holds in his hands the book of everything that was, is, and ever will be, then who gave that legacy to him? Who gave birth to the Endless? You will finally meet Morpheus’ mother and you will meet his father. So will Morpheus, after such a long time. Their last encounters didn’t necessarily end too well. Parents and their children, eh?

You’ll meet Delirium when she was once known as Delight. Indeed, you’ll meet all of The Endless once again but before you first did so. Including the one they don’t speak of who went away.


I promise you a complete and satisfying pay-off during the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters regarding the siblings, their relationships with each other, themselves (“Despair is now another aspect of herself”) and with those who gave birth to them. Their parents have very specific names and very specific roles and they both make so much sense.

But perhaps most satisfying is the further exploration of Morpheus. Both of his nature as Dream itself…

“It is the nature of Dreams, and only Dreams, to define Reality.”

… and as an individual, and how that impacts, has impacted and will impact on his role, both here and hereafter.

“Am I always like this?”
“Like what?”
“Self-satisfied. Irritating. Self-possessed, and unwilling to concede centre stage to anyone but myself.”
“I believe so, yes. In my experience.”

And he of all people should know.


I’d love to about talk responsibility – which is key both here and throughout SANDMAN – and specifically about someone whom Dream deems his self-serving opposite in that respect. I’d like to talk about promises too which are not unconnected, but I made you a promise and I keep them.

As for this comic’s exquisite beauty, I remind you of the most inspired choice of artists imaginable in J.H. Williams III.

Like Will Eisner, Jim Steranko and Dave Sim, Williams truly experiments when constructing individual pages or sequences of pages from the most unusual, often organic panel compositions which are additionally apposite to the proceedings. As in, you’ll be presented with a defiant predator on the prowl through panels constructed from teeth when teeth are both that protagonist’s signature aspect and the enamelled elements between which he literally perceives what surrounds him. You’ll see!


Then, like David Mazzucchelli, within and beyond that backbone Williams also ensures that as many constituent components of comics storytelling as possible serve the story itself.

Please don’t think that colour artist Dave Stewart of lettering legend Todd Klein have been slacking, either.

You’ll relish being astonished by Williams’, Stewart’s and Klein’s contributions while immersing yourself in this book. That’s all you could really want. But when you turn to this edition’s considerable back-matter material including interviews with the artistic orchestra and composer Neil himself, you will surely need to reacquaint yourself with that misplaced mandible currently residing on your carpet.

Such are the elaborate lengths they all went to achieve specific effects for individual sequences as a team that you will wonder no longer why this series took so long to materialise before you as one of the pinnacles of comics’ construction.


As I always say on the shop floor when a project’s delayed, quality is worth the wait. No one wants to read something cobbled together without caring for the sake of a corporate cash-cow. No one wants their treasured dreams diluted by the shoved-out second-best when what we desire above all is a comic which lives up what we once loved.

Prepare to have your expectations exceeded.

You will travel through time and you will travel will space, as will Morpheus himself. If not of his own volition. That’s how this begins and that’s how it ends, which is where it all began in the first place.

“And I am pulled halfway across the universe in one fraction of forever, with a pain that feels like birth…”


Don’t miss the epilogue. *shivers*


Buy Sandman Overture 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.


Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure (with signed bookplate) (£12-99, Avery Hill) by Steven Tillotson

Veripathy (£4-00) by Andy Poyiadgi

Bad Machinery vol 6: The Case Of The Unwelcome Visitor (£17-99, Oni) by John Allison

Benson’s Cuckoos (£13-99, Drawn & Quarterly) by Anouk Ricard

Equinoxes h/c (£30-00, Fanare / Ponent Mon) by Cyril Pedrosa

Literary Life: Revisited h/c (£18-99, Jonathan Cape) by Posy Simmonds

Little Tails In The Jungle (£13-99, Magnetic Press) by Frédéric Brrémaud & Federico Bertolucci

Seth’s Dominion (£19-99, Drawn & Quarterly / National Film Of Canada) by Seth, Luc Chamberland

The Singing Bones h/c (£19-99, Walker Studio) by Shaun Tan

2000AD Script Book (£19-99, Rebellion) by various including Peter Milligan, Alan Grant, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Pat Mills, I.N.J. Culbard, D’Israeli, Carlos Ezquerra

Adventure Time vol 10 (UK Edition) s/c (£9-99, Titan) by Christopher Hastings & Zachary Sterling, Phil Murphy

At The Shore (£17-99, Alternative) by Jim Campbell

Crossed vol 17 s/c (£22-99, Avatar) by Christos Gage & Emiliano Urdinola & Emiliano Urdinola

Dawn Of The Unread (£14-99, Spokeman) by various edited by James Walker

Flash vol 8: Zoom s/c (£15-99, DC) by Robert Venditti, Van Jensen & Brett Booth, Bong Dazo, Vicente Cifuentes, Ale Garza

Justice League: Darkseid War – Power Of The Gods s/c (£14-99, DC) by various

Multiversity s/c (£26-99, DC) by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely, Ivan Reis, Cameron Stewart, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, others

New Suicide Squad vol 4: Kill Anything s/c (£14-99, DC) by Tim Seeley, Sean Ryan & Juan Ferreyra, Gus Vazquez, Ronan Cliquet

Civil War II: X-Men s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Andrea Broccardo

International Iron Man vol 1 (UK Edition) s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

The Unbelievable Gwenpool vol 1: Believe It s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Christopher Hastings & Gurihiru, Danillo Beyruth, Travis Bonvillain

Uncanny X-Men: Superior vol 2 – Apocalypse Wars s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Cullen Bunn & Ken Lashley, Paco Medina

X-Men: Wolverine / Gambit s/c (£14-50, Marvel) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Art Of Castle In The Sky h/c (£25-00, Viz) by Hayao Miyazaki

Bleach vol 68 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

My Hero Academia vol 6 (£6-99, Viz) by Kohei Horikoshi

One-Punch Man vol 9 (£6-99, Viz) by One & Yusuke Murata

Sunny vol 6 h/c (£19-99, Viz) by Taiyo Matsumoto



ITEM! Swoonaway Tragic Sunshine website full of gorgeous prints to buy!


ITEM! Gary Northfield (see DEREK THE SHEEP reviewed above) takes watercolour commissions for his Bog-Eyed Buffoonery ™ tailored to your specific tastes:

Gary Northfield’s Original Watercolour Commissions

Make sure you click on the numbered pages below to give you some ideas, then send Captain Stoopid your own!


ITEM! RACHEL RISING’s Terry Moore sketching live in Paris: it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Rachel Rising Omnibus 6

ITEM! New and extensive Luke Pearson interview!

Luke Pearson self portrait

ITEM! Finally, to gasps of delight, preview pamphlets of PORCELAIN IVORY TOWER have arrived are waiting for you on our counter. Wait until you get a load of page 2!

Don’t live locally? You can access a preview pdf of PORCELAIN IVORY TOWER from Improper Books here!


On its initial launch we sold 100 copies of PORCELAIN: A GOTHIC FAIRY TALE by Ben Read & Chris Wildgoose (reviewed) in its first 10 days.

Last year PORCELAIN: BONE CHINA was our biggest-selling book… and it only came out in October!!!

Currently due in Spring 2017, you can pre-order copies of PORCELAIN IVORY TOWER – with a free and exclusive signed bookplate – from Page 45 right now by emailing us at

– Stephen

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