Friday, 11 December 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Monday, 3 August 2009
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
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.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
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.
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!
"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
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.
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! ;-)
Monday, 27 April 2009
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:
“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.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
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!
Monday, 30 March 2009
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.