Tuesday, 24 June 2008

World's Greatest Graphic Novel

Mad about Maus? Wild about Watchmen? Very excited about V for Vendtta? Then get voting!

To celebrate the release of 500 Essential Graphic Novels (US version here) I'm chairing a panel at the next Birmingham International Comic Show on Saturday 4th October (or Sunday 5th October), where you—the audience—get to pick what is the all-time greatest graphic novel ever! Through a series of voting systems, classic comics will fight it out in a mano y mano battle to see who is the top dog, the big cheese, the numero uno!

But in order to kick things off we need a nominated list of at least 16 key titles to start with. And that's where you come in! On the right is a poll with 20 titles for you to vote on. However, this is not the definitive list and if your favourite isn't here, simply make a comment below and we'll mark that as a vote for that title. Voting closes on Friday 19th September. Ballot stuffing and vote rigging is actively encouraged, so tell all your friends and don't forget to come along to see which title wins!

I contributed a few reviews to 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and despite the lack of an author credit, it is well worth picking up. Even if you think you are well versed in sequential art I guarantee you'll find 2-3 gems you haven't read in there. Plus, me old mate Gene Kannenberg Jr. wrote some good stuff in there, along with a host of very good reviewers such as Fiona Jerome, Nigel Fletcher, Tim Seelig and Chris Rice.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Signing and talk on Saturday 5th July

On Saturday 5th July, I'll be signing various books (Essential Guide to World Comics, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, etc) as part of the 'Words and Pictures' event at Methvens Bookshop, 22-26 South Street, Worthing, East Sussex, BN11 3AA. I'll also be giving a brief talk on Indian Comics. Other guests include my old comic artist mates John Higgins and Glenn Fabry, as well as David and Ronda Armitage, "the husband and wife team behind the famous Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch," apparently.

Pop by between
11am and 3pm and say "hi" if you are in the Worthing area, here's a map. There's also a Facebook event site here.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 23 June 2008

Listed in The Sunday Times Top 40 under 40

"THEY are the young guns tuned in to the accelerating pace of change in the media landscape - the trendspotters and entrepreneurs who stand to reap the biggest rewards over the next digital decade..."

And who should be listed there, but...

"Tim Pilcher, 38
Finance director, Clarion Events Dealmaker Tim Pilcher joined Clarion Events from Ernst & Young after advising on its buy-out in 1999. Since then Clarion has been sold twice more. The latest deal valued it at £120m. Pilcher aims to boost earnings from £11m to £50m in four years."

Nope, this isn't me, but I still want to know why the hell it isn't! We're practically the same age, for God's sake! Still, at least I can drag our name through the mud! ;-)

Tim - If you're out there, how about boosting my earnings?!

 "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Friday, 20 June 2008

I'd like to thank the academy...

I just heard that Erotic Comics Vol 1 is going to a second printing, so a huge thank you to everyone who's bought a copy! And to those of you who haven't got one yet, don't panic, there's more on the way!

Steve Holland at Bear Alley wrote a great review: "a fascinating journey into a sub-culture of comics that we've not seen much of in Britain. From the statuesque 'Miss Geewhiz', who leaves much to the imagination, to the bizarre sexual exploits of a gay Jimmy Cagney, there's going to be something in here for all tastes." Cheers, Steve!

There's going to be a review in July/August's Men Only magazine, but other than that there's not been much press out there, so the fact that it's sold so well through word of mouth is fantastic. Now, if there are any editors or reviewers from the press reading this who would like to review the book just drop me a line. Everyone else - it would be great if you could post a review on Amazon, please! Spread the word!

(BTW- The image above is by Rene Giffey and appears in Volume 1)

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Comic Art Now Confusion

For all of you who may have come across various websites - like Tower.com - stating that I wrote/edited Comic Art Now, just to set the record straight: I was going to do it (by commissioning myself - the ultimate nepotism!) but the Erotic Comics project came up first and knowing what high moralistic standards Dez Skinn has when it comes to sex and swearing, and that he wouldn't sully himself with erotic comics, I bit the bullet and gave him Comic Art Now, which he did a top job on.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

A sledgehammer to crack a walnut

Well, the government are at it again, imposing unenforceable, draconian laws in order to be “seen” to be doing some good. However, it’s not terrorists or immigrants who are being targeted this time, but rather that other 21st century bogeyman, paedophiles. In an article on
BBC.co.uk Justice Minister Maria Eagle (literally a legal eagle!) has announced that the government intends to update the already unworkable The Obscene Publications Act by outlawing drawings of child abuse. This would mean anyone who drew a picture of child abuse (in whatever context) and showed it to another person, both could then be prosecuted. Now, most right thinking people have no problem making photographs of child abuse illegal and the whole concept angers, appalls and saddens me, but this plan to outlaw what people can create out of their own minds and with their own hands – with no external contact with children whatsoever – is setting a very dangerous precedent. This is the thin end of the wedge that potentially could see the government outlawing any creative act that they don’t like.

Restaurant critic, AA Gill brilliantly, and bizarrely, managed to squeeze in an attack on this proposal in a restaurant review in the
Sunday Times on 8 June 2008:

“The government, or someone close to the government, has announced it is going to make paedophile artwork illegal, with a possible three-year prison sentence, so if you do a drawing that a social worker, copper or one of the few consultant paediatricians who haven’t been struck off thinks is a bit underage, then they can bang you up and ruin your life. I imagine that, as we speak, the crack kiddie-fiddle squad is visiting the Chapman brothers, putting a coat over their heads for their conception of life-sized, genitalia-faced prepubescents in sneakers.

“The law against paedophile photographs is there to protect the children who are being abused in them. It is not some sort of moral censorship of images. This is ridiculous, craven, bread-and-circuses, lowest-impulse, least-effort, crowd-pleasing legislation. Why stop at pictures? Why not the words that make pictures? Arrest anybody reading Nabokov. Raid the RSC for performing Romeo and Juliet in front of schoolchildren: she’s only 13. And, by the way, Madame Butterfly is 15. This is a law that does nothing to protect children, just demeans and infantilises a society that ought to behave like sophisticated and moral grown-ups. If you’re going to start eradicating stuff, wouldn’t a really civilised society begin with any paeodophobic images, the real, careless, out-in-the-open cruelty to children? Get rid of photos of starving African bairns, the street kids of South America and our own neglected and terrified youths in bus shelters? Difficult to know where to start with paedophobia.”

couldn’t have put it better.

This is another classic example of the British Labour Government trying to control the thoughts and minds of the general populace using the fear factor. Of course, anyone who stands up against this Bill change is going to instantly be labeled a
paedophile protector, in the same way that anyone who resists ID cards and 42 day detentions without charge are labeled “soft on terrorists.”

Apparently Ms Eagle stated, that the Bill proposal is "not about criminalising art or pornographic cartoons more generally, but about targeting obscene, and often very realistic, images of child sexual abuse which have no place in our society." This, I feel, is a bald-faced lie, from a government we have seen lie repeatedly to its constituents constantly and blatantly. They are slowly chipping away at civil liberties, in the hope that they general public will gladly give their freedoms away to “protect” their children.

How this effects comics was pointed out by Rich Johnston on his excellent
Lying in the Gutters column where he noted that anyone who had read Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s excellent Lost Girls, could, under the new proposals, be potentially be prosecuted for having bought or read “child pornography.” I recommend that everyone highlight to their MP how poorly drafted this Bill Addendum is, and how it threatens freedom of expression to the very core.

In general there have been some very worrying changes in sex laws that have been proposed recently and I’ll be addressing these in later posts.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

More EC: Vol 1 cover roughs

I love these cover variations that Garry came up with for the cover. As you can see, originally the bra and panties were missing. The original idea was to put these on an acete overlay cover, or better still, with heat-sensitive ink which disappears when rubbed. Sadly both options were prevented by budget constraints, so we just did the basic design (see below).

Erotic Comics Volume 1 Original Cover Sketches

These were inital cover roughs done by Garry Leach, but were rejected for obvious reasons! I actually liked the S.E.X for the back cover blurb on the black and white design, but we didn't go with it in the end.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Kingdom of the Crystal Dull

Saw the latest Indiana Jones film today and it's been bothering me about what was wrong with it, until just now.

Sure, it has all the great one-liners and in-jokes you'd expect, and Harrison Ford still manages to pull off the character believably, but the whole thing seemed flat and lacked heart. Ray Winston was wasted and slept through his role as Indy's old wartime buddy (lots of allusions to the great work the bull-whip welding hero did for OSS). Cate Blanchett was also given a lifeless script co-written by George Lucas, who after the Star Wars debacle has become the anti-Tarantino for sharp dialogue. The Russians didn't really cut it as bad guys, in the way the Nazis did, and the whole affair was lack-luster.

But none of these niggles bothered me as much as the computer special effects. I never thought I'd say this, but I really think it's time Hollywood threw out 90% of the CGI work and got back to physical SFX. The reason the first two Indiana Jones films worked was that they were incredibly visceral. You really felt you were visiting strange and exotic lands, whereas the fourth "outing" barely feels like they left the green screen studio. The stunt fight sequences were also what made the films, yet now, you practically yawn at them, knowing full-well that the "actors" are just pixels flaying around.

I really wanted to enjoy this film, and I did, to a certain extent (not as much as my kids) - but it was predictable, soulless and lacked the energy of the earlier ones (with the notable exception of the third, where the rot had already set in).

Am I cynical and jaded, or are Spielberg and Lucas just becoming lazy and coasting on past glories, rather than pushing themselves? Sadly, it seems as if the Hollywood giants like the aforementioned, Coppola, and others, have just gotten soft and fat in LA LA Land. They need to get back into the real jungle for a real adventure, rather than conjuring it up on a Mac.

Well enough about sex...Here's the drugs...

My other book that's just out in the shops now (and selling fast - thanks everyone!) is
E: The Incredibly Strange History of Ecstasy. I wasn't wow-ed with the title, but it's still better than the working one we had, E: The Happy Pill! Hmmm.
The book packs in a hell of a lot of information in such as small space and I think I'm safe in saying it's the most heavily illustrated book on Ecstasy on the shelves right now. A lot on snobby music jurnos will probably look down on it (and yes, Mr Simon Reynolds, I'm talking to you!) because of the paucity of dance music history, but if they read the cover it's about the drug, not the music, otherwise it would've been called Rave: The Incredibly Strange HIstory of Dance Music (or even better Rave: The Happy Dance)!
So, if you liked my earlier books, the Cannabis Cookboook and Spliffs 2 & 3, you'll probably get some fun- and serious facts- out of this. I'll post some excerpts soon, along with some material that didn't make the book.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1)

Here's the covers for my latest book, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1):

This is the UK cover, which is by a very obscure Argentine artist from the 1930s called George Fossey or Cerre Fussey or something like that (his signature is impossible to read). It came from an old Argentine men's magazine which he did several illustrations. I've been searching everywhere online for more information on this guy, because I love his work, but can't find anything. Can anyone out there help?

You can buy the UK version here

This is the US edition's cover by my good mate Garry Leach, who really went to town on this. It's a homage to the work of Bill Ward, yet manages to keep Garry's distinctive style. I may post his rejected designs for this, with his permission, at  later date. Very racy stuff! You can buy this edition here.

Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

Well, here I go, dipping my toe into the wonderful world of random ramblings, about 5 years after everyone else has done it. I guess I should "set out my stall", as it were, and explain the point of this blog. Essentially, the title explains what subjects I'll be covering, but I will be also looking at civil liberties, human rights (particularly in the UK and US), films, books and mass media/pop culture and its response to all the aforementioned. 

I'm aiming to be as topical and up to date as possible, with insightful commentary and looking for a good debate if anyone's up for it.

I have written extensively on all the subjects mentioned and have strong opinions on all, which I will force upon you like some belligerent drunk on the late night bus home. Let's be friends, and fight the iniquities of governments... You and me against the world, pal!

But first... A quick plug for my new book....