Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kirby gets heavy

ART by Jack Kirby first commissioned by the CIA (!) in 1979 has finally been coloured and will appear in an upcoming issue of HEAVY METAL. Full story at:
http://io9.com/behold-the-psychedelic-glory-of-jack-kirbys-argo-art-i-1712647027

Saturday, June 13, 2015

KYE ep. 40: The lost art of comics zines


IN WHICH I talk about comics zines, including some classic ones from the 1970s and early 80s that I picked up for a buck apiece at Elizabeth's Bookshop on Pitt Street, Sydney.
I then segue into a review of the more notorious mid-90s comics zine/magazine Subliminal Tattoos, published by the infamous Robet Dupree (aka "KOOL Man"). Lots of sleazy commentary for your aural enjoyment.
You can download the 30-minute podcast HERE.





Monday, June 1, 2015

COMICS READING FOR MAY: “Hard times"



* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****   Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****     From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***      Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**       Promethea
*         LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff

1. Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions #1 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: Bob Fingerman
It’s back and I am sooooooooooooooooo happy! Even if I DIDN’T win that damn competition Bob was running.
2. Nailbiter #12 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
3.-4. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4-5 (Marvel, 2015) *****
Writer: Ryan North/Artist: Erica Henderson
The unexpected best comic Marvel is producing this year.
5. Jupiter’s Circle #2 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Wilfredo Torres (interior); Frank Quitely (cover)
6. The Black Hood #3 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
7. The Fox #2 (Dark Circle, 2015) ***¾
Writers: Dean Haspiel & Mark Waid/Artist: Dean Haspiel
8. Chrononauts #3 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
9. Copperhead #7 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
10. Guardians 3000 #8 (Marvel, 2015) *
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artists: Nico Leon (interior); Gerardo Sandoval (cover)
So that’s it??? Eight issues and we’re done? And the only thing resolved is that this storyline was just some lame lead-in to Secret Wars? Fuck you, Marvel!
11. Rocket Racoon #11 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Jake Parker (interior); Skottie Young (cover)
And another Marvel series bites the dust, this one with more of a whimper than a bang. At least Marvels’ fuckery is saving me money in the long run.
12. God Hates Astronauts #8 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
13. Black Science #14 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
14. Howard The Duck #2 Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artist: Joe Quinones
15. Guardians Of The Galaxy #26 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
I just don’t care anymore. Such a shame.
16.-17. Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy #3-4 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writers/artists: various
18. C.O.W.L. #10 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel/Artists: Rod Reis (interior), Trevor McCarthy (cover)
It’s sad to learn this is the penultimate issue. Seems quality writing and art doesn’t always save an Image title from cancellation.
19.-27. Neverwhere #1-9 (Vertigo, 2005-06) ****¾
Writers: Neil Gaiman (novel); Mike Carey (adaptation)/Artist: Glenn Fabry
A near-perfect comic version of Gaiman’s acclaimed novel.
28. Solo #5 (DC, 2005) *****
Writer/artist: Darwyn Cooke
I can’t get enough of Cooke’s retro art. And he’s not a bad writer either. So this special devoted to Cooke was a joy to read. Maybe he should try his hand at some Marvel characters one day.
29. Optic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2015) ****¾
Writer/artist: Adrian Tomine
He takes years between issues, but it’s always worth the wait. Arguably, Killing And Dying – about a stuttering, untalented wannabe comedienne – is the best short story Tomine’s ever created. The only reason this issue loses a quarter star is the fact that when I pay more than $10 for a comic, I don’t want 4½ blank pages in the middle of a 42-page magazine! But I forgive Tomine his sins. I hope he makes lots of money from this comic to pay for his expanding family.
30.-31. Mind MGMT #32-33 (Dark Horse, 2015) ****½
Writer/artist: Matt Kindt


32.-61.Seven Soldiers Of Victory Vols. 1&2 (DC, 2011) ****¼
- originally published in Seven Soldiers Of Victory #0-1, Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Guardian #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Klarion The Witch Boy #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #1-4, Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1-4 (DC, 2005-06)
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: various
After the clusterfuck that was The Multiversity, I’d lost faith in the magician. But reading this earlier, sweeping series starring a bunch of C-listers and reimagined B-listers made me a Morrison believer again. Sure, the tale is convoluted, confusing in parts and resolved in a way that I didn’t quite understand (with too many rabbits pulled out of too many arses for my liking), but damn! I enjoyed the ride.
Some of the miniseries were fantastic in their own right, particularly Klarion (creepily illustrated by Frazer Irving) and Frankenstein (strong, visceral artwork by Doug Mahnke). Other series didn’t do quite so well, but only the unnecessary reimagining of Mister Miracle failed to impress me.
All in all, a fine effort by Mr Morrison and friends, showing he can juggle multiple characters and complicated story arcs without disappearing up his own sphincter.
62. The Multiversity #2 (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Ivan Reis & friends
I have no fucking idea what happened here.
63. Velvet #10 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
64.-65. Marvel Previews: Secret Wars #1-2 (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writers/artists: various
Here’s my not-so-secret message to Marvel. Go fuck yourselves.
66.-67 Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #3-4 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2015 (listen to my podcast about it HERE)
68. 2000AD (Rebellion) *****
Writers/artists: various
69. And Then Emily Was Gone #0 (Comix Tribe) *****
Emily writer: John Lees/Artists: Iain Laurie (interior); Ryan Stegman (cover)
Oxymoron writer: Tyler James/Artist: Alex Cormack
70. The Tick (NEC) ****
Writers: Jeff McClelland, Benito Cereno/Artists: Duane Redhead, Les McClaine
71. Comics Festival! 2015 (Toronto Comics Art Festival) ****
Writers/artists: various
72. Terrible Lizard (Oni Press) ***¼
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artist: Drew Moss
73. Savage Dragon Legacy #1 (Image) **¾
Writer/artist: Erik Larsen
74. The Stuff Of Legend (Th3rd World Studios) **¼
Writers: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith/Artist: Charles Paul Wilson III
75. Dark Circle Comics (Dark Circle) **
Writers/artists: various
76. Legendary Comics (Legendary) *
Writers/artists: various
77. Secret Wars #0 (Marvel) *
Writers/artists: various
78. Avengers (Marvel) *
Writers/artists: various
79. Divergence (DC) *
Writers/artists: various
Fuck Marvel and DC.

80. Freaked (Hamilton Comics, 1993) **¼
Writers: John Clark & Gary Leach/Artist: Steve Stiles
I didn’t mind this cult film when it came to video – starring Alex Winter, the unsuccessful half of Bill & Ted – but this adaptation is pedestrian.
81. Fanboy #5 (DC, 1999) ***¼
Writer: Mark Evanier/Artists: Sergio Aragones & friends
I’m not a fan of Evanier’s writing and I gather he’s a bit of a dick in real life, but I love Aragones’ art and this particular issue of this odd miniseries is a hoot. A bunch of legendary Batman artists – including Dick Sprang, Neal Adams and Frank Miller – contribute two pages each as Fanboy Finster teams up with the Dark Knight in a wacky fantasy tale. Fun stuff.
82. The Worm (Slab-O-Concrete Publications, 1991, 1999) ***
Writers: Alan Moore (story); Jamie Delano, Steve Moore, Garth Ennis, Andrew Cartmel, Hilary Robinson (script); Artists: 125 British cartoonists, including Grant Bisley (cover), John Bolton, Charlie Adlard, Kevin O’Neill, Bryan Talbot, Glenn Fabry and Paul Grist
Add an introduction by Neil Gaiman and you have the greatest collection of British talent ever assembled in one venue for one cause. This was a fund-raiser held in 1991 to create “the longest comic strip in the world”, done to aid the Cartoon Art Trust.  Eight years later, more money was raised when the project was turned into this book. The story is kinda wish-fulfillment fantasy – the idea of the everyman cartoonist travelling through (and recording) history, being abused and exploited by big business, then breaking free to create a better world where cartoonists are exalted as gods. Weird, big-concept stuff...as you’d expect from Alan Moore. Its’ a patchy-but-worthy project.
83. Injection #1 (Image, 2015) **½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Declan Shalvey
More middling drivel from Ellis. Can do better.
84. Mythic #1 (Image, 2015) **
Writer: Phil Hester/Artist: John McCrea
A mythical version of Men In Black. Pedestrian and trying too had to be “quirky cool”. Give it a miss.

85. Retro Sci-fi Tales #2 (Dark Oz, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
86. Decay #19 (Dark Oz, 2015) ****
Writers/artists: various
I’m always happy to support local comics if they’re good, and these two anthologies have much to recommend them. Retro Sci-fi Tales had plenty of lost dinosaurs, marooned astronauts and sexy moon babes to entertain me, my fave strip being “Marilyn On The Lost Planet” (written by Darren Koziol and drawn by good-girl artist extraordinaire Michal Dutkiewicz).
I don’t normally buy Decay, but this ish had me salivating as it brought back a ton of classic 80s Aussie characters, most written and drawn by their original creators. The Southern Squadron, Dark Nebula, Greener Pastures, Hairbutt The Hippo... A lot of fond teenage memories there.
These comics are full colour, published on high-quality paper and are well worth seeking out. You can buy them direct from www.darkoz.com.au.

87. Silver Surfer #11 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
If this was the last issue of this run, then the series went out on a high. It will be missed.
88. Nameless #3 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
89. Bitch Planet #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick/Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Naked women shower scenes! Boo-yah!
90. Deadly Class #12 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
91.-102. Hard Time: 50 To Life & Hard Time: Sixteen (DC, 2004, 2012) *****
- originally published in Hard Time #1-12 (DC, 2004-05)
Writers: Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes (uncredited)/Artist: Brian Hurtt
This certainly wasn’t the last series Steve Gerber wrote before his untimely death in 2008, but it’s arguably his finest work (Howard The Duck, notwithstanding).
Ethan, 15, is sentenced to 50 years’ jail for a high school prank gone horribly wrong. He quickly makes plenty of enemies, including the Aryan Brotherhood and an insane fundamentalist Christian inmate. But Ethan has a secret – a powerful entity that lives within him that comes alive at night to do his violent bidding. This intense cross between TV’s Oz and DC’s own Johnny Thunder works incredibly well, mainly due to Gerber’s funny, powerful dialogue. Thankfully, he doesn’t write in that exhausting purple prose he used at Marvel in the 1970s. The writing here is more subtle, nuanced and, dare I say it, realistic. Hurtt’s artwork is great (as always). This is a hidden gem of a series that deserves more consideration from fans and critics. It’s tragic that Gerber was still peaking as a writer before he passed away. He deserves to be remembered for more than just a talking duck.