Friday, 11 December 2009

2012: War of the Worlds

Well the aliens have finally arrived and we're all fucked. Check out the video here:. Interesting stuff

norway lights ab121009

Something's going on! It's either:

1) A Russian missile blowing up. Initially the Russians denied this but then retracted and made a statement admitting it. Plus, if you look at how missiles go wrong this is too perfect a shape. Could be right, but it "feels wrong" as it's too pat and perfect an answer.

2) An impressive holographic projection hoax (in which case why would the Russian government admit culpibility of a missile?)

3) Something to do with HARRP. But I don't know enough about the system to really extrapolate on this.

4) A mini Black hole (possibly created by CERN).

5) Alien/Future invasion through a "wormhole".

I don't believe the bollocks about a Russian missile blowing up, it's all misdirection. So I'm going to plum for #5 until it's conclusivey proved otherwise. I'd like a search over the area to look for rocket debris or physical evidence.



"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sex and Politics - Who says they don't mix?

This excellent video by Tim Ireland sums up for me the subliminal messaging going on in today's newspapers. It's secretive, pernicious and nasty. Don't worry about the poorly drafted laws and ill-excused wars, as the 30-year-old Viz once said "Look! Tits!"

Thanks to Rich Johnston on Bleeding Cool.com for highlighting this. Oh, and there's strobe effects (you have been warned):


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Comica 2009 Report

Last Sunday (9 November 2009) I attended the Comica comic festival at the ICA. Run by the ubiquitous Paul Gravett, Comica is one of the best comic events in Britain and it certainly raises the standard for more sophisticated, high-brow—and more importantly—international comics. The festival was very busy and there was an excellent small press fair with too many brilliant titles to afford at once. I'm still kicking myself for not getting back to Richard Cowdry's table to buy the latest issue of his brilliant Bedsit Journal Comics - sorry Richard!

The heaving hall of the small press fair!

My find of the show was the utterly brilliant Paul Slater's Fried Eggs in Brine published by Atlantic Press. The man's talent is incomparable, and his off-beat, surreal WWI-set humour reminded me of Glenn Baxter. I thoroughly recommend everyone who loves illustration with a skewed perspective (figuratively speaking!) to buy this book!

Fried Eggs in Brine by Paul Slater

Bumped into so many friends—old and new—it was great, and managed to grab brief chats with Pat Mills, Mark Stafford, Bryan Talbot, Corinne Pearlman and many more. There was a fun wall, where cartoonists were given a line of dialogue from "a certain British graphic novel," and they had to interpret it as they saw fit. It soon became apparent the graphic novel was Watchmen and some of the drawings were sublime silliness.

The excellent Marc Ellerby's addition to the Watchmen art wall.
Sinister ducks. Quack-quack. Quack-quack.

More artists add to the Watchmen wall as onlookers admire.

The main reason I was there was to support two of Ilex Press' authors, Helen McCarthy (The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga) and Fredrik Strömberg (author of the forthcoming Comic Art Propaganda) as both were doing talks related to their books.


Below is the first half hour of Helen's talk (before my battery inadvertently wore out!) and was a revelation of information and imagery—even for me, and I commissioned the book! Helen really knows her subject and her combination of passion and professionalism is evident in this talk and the book. Sit back and enjoy the talk and then look below for some more images by Tezuka that aren't in the book.

Helen McCarthy wows the crowd with her encyclopaedic knowledge of Osamu Tezuka with some great video footage

Here's a few of those pics that were in the talk, but didn't make the final cut of the book, through simple lack of space (courtesy of Helen and Tezuka Production):
The Monster of the 38th Parallel (1953, Shonen Gahosha) was first written in 1948 as Tuberculoses for Osaka publisher Tokodo.

The cover to Cycle News, 1964

From The Golden Turnk, Nishi Nihon Newspapers (evening edition) 1957,
later redrawn and reprinted by Kobunsha.

Cover to Suzuki edition of Mysterious Thief Z

The other excellent talk was to promote the launch of Ctrl.Alt.Shift's new comic anthology, Unmasks Corruption. It was hosted by me old mucker, Frederik Strömberg and the panel included the excellent political cartoonist Polyp, the ever-lovely Kate Evans (we did a panel together at the Brighton Festival a few years back) who has created such excellent graphic novels as Big Brother and The Carbon Supermarket. Also on the Panel were British comics stalwart and legend Pat Mills and up-and-coming star Benjamin Dickson (look out for a review of his Falling Sky graphic novel here shortly). All of the panel had contributed to the book and the discussion was revelatory and important. I'd like to see more political activism done in comics, as it seems there was a big rise in the Eighties (Crisis, et al) but has been a dearth since. As Polyp wisely pointed out "Our democracy is hanging by a thread" and we need to inform the public as much as possible about governmental and corporate corruption (and more importantly do something about it).

Cover to the best political comic anthology to be printed in far too long a time

Despite suffering from flu-induced asthma, Fredrik chaired the panel admirably and even managed to get substantial plugs in from Comic Book Propaganda. Below are a few pics and the introduction to the panel before my battery ran out (again)!

The Comic Art Propaganda: Ctrl.Alt.Shift panel (left to right): Polyp, Kate Evans, Fredrik Strömberg, Elettra Stamboulis, Pat Mills, Benjamin Dickson


Video introductions on The Comic Art Propaganda: Ctrl.Alt.Shift panel

An exclusive peek at the cover to Fredrik Strömberg's Comic Art Propaganda (Published in February 2010 by Ilex Press in the UK £17.99, and by St Martin's Press in USA later in the year.)

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Rainbow Orchid launch

Well—very belatedly—here are some photos from Garen Ewing's Rainbow Orchid launch at Foyles back in the summer. The delay in getting these to you has been caused by my laptop decideding to drink a cup of tea and then going on strike, hence no posts for a while. Normal service "should" be resumed next week. Meanwhile gaze in wonder at the comics literati as they sip warm wine and free beer in a baking hot room!

These photos go a long way to explaining why I'm a writer and not a photographer.

Garen's agent (or editor, I forget which) rightly big the man up.

Garen has drunk too much and is now sliding down the wall towards the floor.


Tripwire's mysterious Joel Meadows was caught lurking in the shadows.

Left to right: John Freeman, Peter Stanbury and Rian Hughes.

The birthday boys! Garen is literally a few hours older than me, as we were born on exactly the same day.


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Rainbow Orchid - A Fresh Perspective


Garen Ewing's excellent book is a wonderful nostalgia trip for those who grew up on the likes of Herge. But what about the next generation of readers? The "graphic novel" is suppossed to have "all ages" appeal, but does it live up to those expectations? Here's a younger reader's review:

"A thrilling tale of the young Julius Chancer, on an exciting adventure to help Lily Lawrence a silent movie actress, and her dad, Lord Reginald Lawrence. Lord Lawrence makes a bet when he was drunk with the evil gangster-like businessman, Urkaz Grope. He bets on winning the Wembley Orchid Competition in which the Lord has no fear of losing as he won last year.

Realising what he has done—betting away a 12th Century sword that has been in his family for generations and holds the title of Lord—he seeks help from Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey to find the Rainbow Orchid!

I enjoyed this story very much. I think that at the end it could have been a more dramatic cliffhanger to give the story more suspense.

Over all I think this is an enjoyable story, clearly influenced by our long-loved Tintin. A must read!

Megan Pilcher-King, Age: 12"



"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Rainbow Orchid Volume 1 review


I hate Garen Ewing.

Like a lot of British kids growing up in the Seventies and Eighties (and I know that Ewing is one of them) I read a lot of translated Franco/Belgian comic books (“albums” in France and “graphic novels” in today’s elitist parlance). Translated series like Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix; Lucky Luke by Goscinny and Morris; and the slightly more obscure Ompa-Pa by Goscinny and Uderzo; and Goscinny (again!) and Tabary’s Iznogood were borrowed from the local library, or occasionally bought with birthday money. But my favourite, above all, was Hergé’s Tintin.

There were three reasons why. Firstly, the adventures in strange, far-off, exotic lands grabbed my imagination—and have held it ever since. Secondly, it was Hergé’s meticulous attention to detail that brought these tales of derring-do to vivid life. The facts, politics, countries, people, costumes, etc. were so carefully researched. The vehicles and settings seemed so real because every car, plane, boat and building was real—precisely investigated, drawn a thousand times, at a thousand different angles to understand its mechanics, and eventually put into the strip. This brings me to the final reason for the love of Hergé’s work—his art. The Belgian creator managed to develop an iceberg of simplicity with his drawing. On the surface this seemingly uncluttered “ligne claire” or “clear line” style—as it became known—looks deceptively like something that anyone with basic drawing skills could knock off fairly easily. But underneath the surface lies a vast amount of unseen work that involved drawing, and redrawing, and redrawing, and redrawing panels until the perfect line was achieved, plucked out from the myriad of scribbles, and inked.

Consciously taking his inspiration from Hergé, E.P. Jacobs and others in the ligne claire school, Garen Ewing has just released The Rainbow Orchid Volume One. Originally a black and white self-published strip that first appeared in 1997, which then evolved into a webcomic, and is now finally published—as it should have always been—in a full-colour album. The years Ewing has spent honing his craft and storytelling have paid off in spades. Set in the 1920s, the story chronicles the adventures of WWI veteran Julius Chancer, an assistant to Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey an “antique collector”, in the same way that Dr. Indiana Jones is an archaeology professor. The two get mixed up with a British actress, Lily Lawrence—recently returned from Hollywood—her publicist, Nathaniel Crumpole; and her father, Lord Reginald Lawrence; who is faced with losing his estate to the mysterious—and wonderfully named—Urkaz Grope.

The principle macguffin—the search for a mythical bloom—the Rainbow Orchid—so that they can win a flower show and save Lord Lawrence’s estate—is an obvious red herring, and great fun is derived from trying to second-guess the villains’ true nefarious intentions. The story has it all, from lumbering henchmen; a sexy—but devious—“flapper”; and sumptuous country houses, to classic cars and a well thought-out mystery.

While each page initially appears dense and packed to the gills with panels and prose, it’s to Ewing’s credit that he keeps the pacing and storytelling tight, and the tale tears along at a pace. If there was any “criticism” it was that I read it too fast and can’t wait for the next two volumes!

In the folly of my youth, when I thought I could draw, I tried creating my own Tintin-inspired stories and failed miserably. Whereas Ewing has successfully mastered everything that makes a great adventure comic strip—engaging characters, a rattling quest with intrigue; meticulous research; and a deceptively simple and communicative art style—and yet he has managed to retain his own unique signature style and freshness. Where I felt flat on my face, Ewing has created a thing of beauty that is destined to be beloved for generations to come.

And that’s why I hate Garen Ewing.

The Adventures of Julius Chancer: The Rainbow Orchid: Volume One is released by Egmont in the UK on 4 August (£6.99). You can find out more at: www.rainboworchid.co.uk

 

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Da Vinci Cor!


Well it seems as if even Leonardo Da Vinci was up to salacious scribbles on the side. A nude version of the Mona Lisa has just been rediscovered after being hidden behind wooden panelling for a century. Well, not technically the exact Mona Lisa, but experts are pointing out the strong similarities in the painting's composition, technique and style. Possibly painted by Leonardo, or one of his students, it does give extra validity to erotic art, particularly at a point in time when governments seem intent on cracking down on erotic painting and drawings. But of course, this is over 100 years old so that instantly "legitimises" it doesn't it?! Everyone knows that any erotic art created in the last year can't have any "artistic merit" now can it? ;-)

Full story here.


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Things Wot I Have Learnt


On the cusp of my 40th birthday I’m in a reflective mood. One thing that’s struck me is as I get older is how my tastes have changed. I now enjoy—and in fact prefer—various pleasures my younger self would be repulsed at. I’ve gone from a lager, white wine and Southern-Comfort-and-lemonade drinker, and milk chocolate eater to a bitter, red wine and Jack-Daniels-and-coke and dark chocolate eater.

The same is true of my comics reading of late. In my younger days I was all about superheroes and what the latest titles were and who was creating the new hot thing at the time. While working in Comic Showcase in the late Eighties/early Nineties I remember all these collectors, like Frank Mottler, coming in to look at the latest EC Comics collections, classic Underground Comix, or the stock of Silver Age titles. In my impetuous youth I had no interest in these musty old comics. They seemed dry, boring and old hat. Ah, how wrong I was! Nowadays, I can really appreciate true classics of this period and the geniuses of Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis and the like. Their skill and draftsmanship puts a lot of modern comic artists to shame. 

Of course friends like Brad Brooks knew this all along and had been trying to get me to read this stuff for decades, but I’ve always been a stubborn and slow learner!


So imagine my delight when the very generous and lovely Peter Maresca of Sunday Press presented me with a copy of Volume 2 of the collection of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland Sunday pages at the New York Comic Con in February. I’d met Peter in Angouleme just the month before, and he has some fascinating and wonderful material he’s be gathering from turn-of-the-19th-Century newspapers. Now, the Little Nemo collection is the same size and the original newspaper so it stands at almost 1 1/3 feet wide by 1 3/4 feet tall. Basically, the size of a small toddler! My internal, dismissive younger self almost turned the book offer down for fear of not getting it onto the plane, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I thoroughly recommend anyone with even an vague interest in comics pick this up and see the work that has influenced thousands of comic artists ever since. Nothing exists in a vacuum and this was one of the key progenitors of everything from Underground Comix to Rob Liefield. Most obviously it inspired two erotic comics, Little Nympho in Slumberland by Brian Bolland and Little Ego by Vittorio Giardino. To read the original Little Nemo pages in the new Sunday Press collection at the same size as they were originally printed is a real treat and each one demands intense, and delightful, scrutiny. A pleasure, like red wine, my youth would have turned it’s nose up at.


I’ve learnt a few things (not much, granted) over the last four decades that I wish my younger self had known, so for all you young men out there, I shall now dispense this “wisdom”:

1. Girls don’t think it’s big or clever to see how many pints you can down before throwing up. Projectile vomiting will never endear you to the opposite sex.

2. Real men don’t start needless fights in pubs on a Friday or Saturday night. Real men know how to diffuse a potentially violent situation through negotiation, humour or by simply walking away.

3. Listen to women. They know more than you.

4. The world doesn’t owe you a living! Get off your arse and make something of yourself! If you spent the same amount of energy whinging about how unfair life is, and put that into actually achieving something, you could do so much!

5. Everything in moderation!

6. Don’t eat processed/junk food and exercise regularly.

7. If you want to be successful with the opposite sex, maintain high levels of personal hygiene.

8. Stop before acting on impulse. Remember that everything you do has a consequence either for yourself or those around you. Stop, think and listen.

9. Respect yourself and other people. Oh, and respect is something you EARN, you don't get it automatically.

10. Don’t wear Lynx deodorant. Ever.

Funnily enough, I think this was the same information my Dad tried to impart to me when I was a sullen teenager. Plus ça change!

I think this cartoon by Tom Gauld that appeared in The Guardian sums it all up perfectly:


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

And the Police State Starts Here...


Well it was only a matter of time before governments start cracking down on creative stories that explore themes of state control. A comic writer, Mark Sable, was pulled in for questioning by 
TSA officers at Los Angeles airport for creating a comic, Unthinkable (Boom! Studios) which is all about 9/11 and terrorism.

How long will it be before all creative acts will need to be vetted through a state controlled censor? Scary, scary times, people.

More about the story here and here.

The problem seems to be that government officials can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, between a comic book and reality. What does that say about their IQ?

Strangely enough, I was discussing with a friend at the weekend how many US border guards in New York are comic fans. Whenever he's explained he's over in the US for a convention, they light up and are genuinely interested. I guess their enthusiasm doesn't extend as far as the West Coast.

"Thought crimes" upheld and seditious writing suppressed in the "Land of the Free"? Unthinkable? Sadly, not any more.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Vote For Me! (Again!)


The nominations for the 2009 Eagle Awards have just opened up so I’m asking all you lovely people in comic book land to nominate Erotic Comics: A Graphic History Volume 1 for the Favourite Comics-Related Book Award.

The Eagle Awards are the longest running (since 1977) and most prestigious comic-related awards in Britain. The best thing about the Eagle Awards are that anyone can vote, which means they really are the people’s choice—so get your granny, auntie and cat to register and vote!

Simply go to
eagleawards.co.uk and register your nominations. You don’t have to vote in every category if you don’t want to, just vote for Erotic Comics: A Graphic History 1 in the Favourite Comic-Related Book and that will be fine!

The lovely Cassandra Conroy is now organising the Awards and this is her first year, so I hope it all goes swimmingly for her. In the press release she stated: “When I took over the Eagles last year from my father, Mike Conroy, people said that I had an uphill battle to keep the Eagles at the top of the UK awards scene. And when circumstances meant that the main hall of the Bristol Comic Con—our traditional place of ceremony over the years—would not be able to be used in the evening, we realised that there was no way that the Eagles could be run as they usually are, for 2009 at least. But I didn't want my first year as organiser to be a no-show, and so after a lot of discussions and opinions, we're still going to be running the awards.'_

But the nominations close on
Friday 22nd May 2009, which is only 11 days away! So please vote as soon as you’ve read this. After that, the top five nominations in each section will be up for voting on after Monday 1st June 2009. So you’ll need to vote again after that date! The full list of Award Winners will be released to the world on Monday 15th June 2009.

Hopefully I have more of a chance of winning this, than I do of an Eisner or a Harvey! Let’s keep it British! ;-)

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 27 April 2009

Cover story

Had some amusing feedback recently from the sales reps of the UK distributor of Erotic Comics, regarding the cover to Volume 2 (below is the Skylight Editions version):

 They included gems such as:

“Ding Dong!”

“Saucy, but not so explicit as to worry buyers.”

“Not one single complaint. But there again, I didn’t show it to my church customers.”

And my personal favourite:

“Gives a really good indication of the filth within. Good for flushing out Samantha Fox fans”

For non-British readers Sam Fox was a Sun newspaper Page 3 glamour girl, who bared her breasts in the 1980s (this is considered a desirable career move for young girls, these days, apparently). Actually, I can’t think of another country where a national daily newspaper has naked women in it. Can someone prove me wrong? Fox went on to have a very dodgy singing career with such instant pop classics as “Touch Me.” 

Personally, I always preferred Linda Lusardi.

 

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 23 April 2009

I Demand a Recount!!

I’ve just discovered that you can add any nomination into the Eisner Awards that you like. Seeing as I was unfortunate enough not to get on the shortlist by the judges (thanks for the correction, Jackie!), I’m asking very nicely for all you comic professionals, retailers, publishers and editors to vote for Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Vol. 1) From Tijuana Bibles to Underground Comix in the Best Comics-Related Book category. There’s some pretty stiff competition, but let’s see if we can rig the polls and have a Brit win this section! ;-) Actually, this'd be a great test to see how many people actually read this blog as I really have no idea (but I'm starting to suspect it's more than 5)!

Simply register at: www.eisnervote.com

And when voting click on the Write-in button for Best Comics-Related Book and type in: Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Vol 1) by Tim Pilcher

And if you’d like to be nominated for an award, please let me know and I’ll return the favour! But hurry! Voting closes on 15 June 2009, 11 days after my 40th birthday—and winning an Eisner would be the best pressie of all! ;-) Go on, you know it mocks sense!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 30 March 2009

NEW YORK COMIC CON

I don't know, blog postings to me are like buses. You wait for ages for one and then three turn up at the same time!

I went to the New York Comic Con in February, which was fantastic. I was over for the US launch of the second volume of Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, published by Abrams. Charlie, Eric, Katrina, Ashley and all the gang at Abrams were fab and had a great stand and sold lots of books (including mine!) and were perfect hosts.

While in New York there was a huge buzz for the Watchmen movie (seems like anicent history now) and the queue for Dave Gibbons' signing was phenomenal! I've never seen a man sign so much, so fast for so many! While walking to the con one morning I saw this:

On a New York wall. Look familar?...


...Oh yeah, I knew I'd seen it somewhere! Yet another of Alan's little magical touches manifested itself just as the Watchmen film posters were going up all over New York.

Big shout outs to everyone I met there including Marty Pasko, Bob Greenberger, Tom DeFalco, Elliot Brown, Rodney Ramos, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. I managed to catch-up with a few lovely people who had contributed to the Erotic Comics books including the wonderful Dean Yeagle and his lovely wife, Terry Nantier at NBM, Chris Staros at Top Shelf and the very friendly Phil Foglio. Made new friends as well including former Vertigo editor (how many of us are out there?) and Publisher’s Weekly reporter, Steve Bunche; Joe Casey and Peter Kuper.

Amanda Conner gets to grips with Power Girl (or is it the other way round?)

Erotic Comics contributor Gene Kannenberg Jr and I did a signing on the Saturday and signed a few copies to couples, which was nice to see. Thanks to the lovely Martha Thomases, I did a podcast interview with Mike Raub at the point radio, which you can hear here and go to the dates: 16 & 20 March. I was under duress and consequently ended up referring to Franco’s Spanish Fascistic dictatorship as a “company” and a “corporation”! Yeesh! I also handed in a set of the Erotic Comics books into Jill at the CBLDF for them to auction to raise money. They are signed by as many people I could get who feature inside (including a large portion of the names mentioned here) and is a rare treat for Americans as there were a lot of European creators who rarely make it to the US.

Psst... 'Ere... Wana buy some smutty books? Nudge, nudge. My 
filth-mongering cohort, Gene Kannenberg Jr (left) and I sign copies of 
Erotic Comics: A Graphic History at the Abrams ComicArts stand. 

Got to meet comic historian par excellence, and fellow Abrams scribe, Craig Yoe who’s fantastic book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator, Joe Shuster is out in April. The book is thoroughly recommended as the perfect accompaniment to my two volumes and is full of fascinating facts. Go out and buy it now! Craig surpassed all my marketing expectations by producing a branded spanking paddle, genius! I want one!

My fellow smut peddler, Craig Yoe, signs copies of his excellent Secret Identity book.

Amazingly didn’t go massively out on the lash, as per normal conventions, and consequently missed loads of Brits I’d like to have seen more of including Steve Pugh, Dean Ormston, Frazer Irving, and there were people who I missed completely, including Andy Diggle, Yishan Li, Emma Vicelli, Dave Elliot, Peter Milligan, Philip and Shelly Bond, Nelson DeCastro, and Grant Morrison. Sorry chaps!

Did manage to have a few quiet pints with Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Rob Steen (Flanimals co-creator and Wormwood artist), DC’s Scott Nybukken and other friends. Avatar publisher William Christensen and novelist and former Vertigo editor (another one!) Alisa Kwitney also turned up, before me and the missus turned in for the night.

Had a lovely dinner with Tony Bedard and a friend of his. I hadn’t seen Tony since we’d all almost drowned off a windswept small Irish island 5 years ago with Garth, Steve, Darrick Robertson, Glenn Fabry, John McCrea and the gang, so it was good catch-up with him. He’s been a busy boy writing all manner of stuff at DC, but I suspect he wasn’t writing anything the next morning as Garth was plying him with copious amounts of fine whiskey!

This was my first time at NYCC—and only my second US con—but would love to return and do some panels next year (if you are reading this, Lance!) Actually the whole trip made me realise how many friends I have in New York and I should try and get back over there when there isn’t a show on and catch up with people.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine