Thursday, 26 May 2011

...Icky Comics (UPDATED)

Sometimes seredipity is a wonderfully humourous event. Witness Volvox Globator's version of Erotic Comics: A Graphic History Vol 1, which in Czech is translated as Erotick√Ĺ Komiks, out now! If you happen to be in Prague. And speak Czech. It's translated by Radovan Zitko, who I'm sure has done an excellent job!
For those of you who are stuck in England and find you can no longer get hold of a hardback edition of Volume 1, panic no longer! The paperback edition is now out and you can buy it here. But you better get there fast, as they're flying off the virtual shelves!

And here's the cover to the Polish edition, Komiks Erotyczny: Historia W Obrazach Volume 1, which was just published in March 2011:
Best news of all, the German edition has just gone to reprint, so a big thank you to my publisher Knesbeck and all my deviant Deutschland fans out there! 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Extremist: Credit where credit’s due. (UPDATED)

My first professional job in publishing was as an assistant editor at Vertigo UK back in 1993. It was the best job ever and I got to work with some incredible creatives. When I started, I was on a probationary period (like most jobs) and consequently, for the first three months I didn’t get any credits in the books, despite having worked on the last four issues of Enigma (By Peter Milligan and Duncan Fregredo), and the last issue of Sebastian O (By Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell). So it was a real buzz to final see my first official DC Comics credit in print in The Extremist #1. Written by Peter Milligan and drawn by Ted McKeever, The Extremist was at least 10 years ahead of its time. It discussed the nature of sex, sexuality and moral ambiguity without being titillating. No mean feat. Pete’s clever use of jumping around the timeline made for some excellently complex cliffhangers and Ted’s art (which I fortunately have a page of) was just sublime.
I finally caught up with Ted after a decade of being out of touch, and we discussed doing a deluxe collected hardcover version with extra sketches and background material. The book was creator-owned and it hadn’t been in print for over a decade—despite Ted approaching them a couple of times—so technically he and Pete had the right to shop it around to other publishers. Unfortunately, this never came to pass, but always felt the series deserved to be one of those important graphic novels that people talk about. The same way they don’t about Face (Milligan and Fegredo’s masterpiece).

So I was gutted to see when DC Comics released a collected version of The Extremist under their Vertigo Resurrected banner (worryingly implying that the imprint is now some bloated corpse exhumed for today’s ignorant readers to gawp at) last November. It was so obviously cobbled together purely so DC could retain the publishing rights. The format was just a thick comic (100 pages) with cheap quality cover (less than 200gsm for all you publishing nerds out there); they only reprinted one cover; and lost all the beautiful design panache that Ted and John Costanza had put into the original series. Plus, there are no natural breaks in the storytelling, making the whole collection unnecessarily complicated. In the original miniseries, the story jumps backwards by several weeks between issues #1 and #2, but you’d never know that from the collection, as the front pieces with the dates on have been removed, making the storytelling difficult to follow. Sloppy workmanship, Mr. Hamboussi.

Now, let's see if we can start a petition to DC to get the book the treatment it deserves, in a nice, leatherbound edition with all the covers and the extra material.

Worst of all, my credit line had been removed from the collected edition. Sigh.

UPDATE: In keeping with the title of this post, Brendan McCarthy just got in touch to ironically remind me that he had originally come up with the concept of The Extremist, "...I gave it to Pete Milligan to do with what he would... I was too busy to draw it at the time and that kinky sex thriller was going to be the next Milligan & McCarthy strip after Rogan Gosh. Pete was on a roll and ran with the idea and really nailed it (!) and then Ted then took the design into another realm. I think it could be a good, lower budget movie." I agree! So, public apologies to Brendan, and an acknowledged credit where it was due! 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lanarkshire Larks: What I did Last Weekend

Just got back from a fantastic weekend in Glasgow (despite the torrential rain!) where I was up for Gary and Mhairi Erskine-Stewarts’ wedding cledigh. The do was attended by a whole host of comics people who'd travelled from as afar afield as France and Spain, including Mark Buckingham, Martin Conaghan, Vicky Stonebridge, Leigh Gallagher, all of whom, coincidently, contributed to the Comic Book Alliance’s forthcoming Spirit of Hope anthology. 
Above: Steve Pugh, Comic God.
Above: Patrick Chaduc, Frenchman in a kilt.
Above: Gary Erskine looking extraordinarily happy. Can't imagine why!
Above: The ever delightful Cindy and Julien Hugonnard-Bert

Plus, there was Hi-Ex Con co-organiser Richmond Clements, Steve Pugh, Frank Quietly, Ferg Handley (who I completely failed to talk to! Sorry, Ferg!) publisher Patrick Chaduc, Julien Hugonnard-Bert, and SFX blogger Stacey Whittle. There was much drunken dancing had by all, and one of the highlights for me was meeting Gary’s model for Digby—in his and Garth Ennis’ Dan Dare miniseries—no less than Mhairi’s dad, Fergus!
Above: Dan Dare meets Fergus Stewart
Above: Digby at the cledigh (photo by Vicky Stonebridge)

The evening was preceded by a delicious Chinese lunch with the lovely Grant and Kristan Morrison, who I hadn’t seen in a decade! Where does the time go? Saturday was filled with seeing sights and museum visits in the pouring rain.

Below: The beautiful St. Mungo's Cathedral, the oldest building in Glasgow (over 800 years old)
 Below: Some art from the "Glasgow Boys" in the Kelvingrove museum

 Below: The Last king of Scotland
 Below:  Nihilist graffiti.
Sadly I didn’t manage to get to Plan B Books, or catch up with Jim Stewart (Ganjaman) or John McShane (next time, fellas)!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bristol Expo Report

Bristol is one of my favourite shows on the convention circuit. Not because of the big announcements, huge guest names or flashiness you’d expect from MCM Expo or the recent Kapow, but precisely because of it’s small nature. It’s very much a creator’s con and feels like a fun clubhouse for a weekend. Unfortunately, this year saw it squeezed between the aforementioned giants, and I fear for it’s future, as attendance definitely felt down on last year. However, sometimes quality wins out over quantity, the there was spades of the former over the weekend.

Below: A lovely dinner with (left to right) Gary Spencer Millidge, Dave Shelton, Flix, Joseph Melchior and Roger Langridge's forehead.
Highlights for me were hosting the Alan Moore: Storyteller panel with my old mate Gary Spencer Millidge (see above) who has written the definitive book on the titular bearded one. I would defy anyone to write a more comprehensive and fascinating book on the man. The panel showed spreads from the book and we discussed everything from Alan’s sense of humour to magical practices in his work. You can tell if you’ve managed to get everything across in a talk by the lack of questions, and we only had three, which means we must’ve covered pretty much all the bases! The book comes out on 18 July and comes with a CD of Alan’s performances and music. Even if you have just a passing interest in comics, or in the creative process in general, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and you can pre-order it here. Plus, here's a video of us in action, talking about Alan's involvement with the book and his schooldays. More Moore videos to come.
The Just a Comic Pickin’ Minute panel exceeded all my expectations and hopes and was a thing of hilarity to behold. Taking part were Gary Erskine, Jimmy Broxton, Paul Cornell, Si Spencer, with Joseph Melchior taking scores, timekeeping and blowing his whistle with much aplomb. The whole show rattled along at a rate and it was hard to keep the whole thing on track as I was laughing so hard most of the time. Topics including Hostess Twinkies, The Strangest Event I Ever Witnessed at a Convention and The Cosmic Cube. Gary went to some dark places revealing he delayed paying his mortgage so he could buy a Milo Manara book, and Paul’s excellent verbosity and way of weaving every single element of each subject into a longer narrative was wondrous. The final scores were James Hodgkins: 4 (but I put that down to his cow buzzer not working properly), Gary Erskine: 11, Si Spencer: 22 and Paul Cornell: 24. So, a very close match with the latter two really wanting to win, which added an excellent frisson to the proceedings! It was so good and so much fun, that I’d like to do it at every con!

Other highlights for me were interviewing the lovely Rick Vietch, a creator who’s work I have loved and admired for years, and seeing the whole Comic Book Alliance team growing, developing and really becoming a solid organisation. Good stuff.

Saw loads of old friends and made some new ones, like Stuart of UKComics, who’ll be printing the CBA’s Spirit of Hope anthology, and rising star Des Taylor, who I'd finally—but briefly—met previously at Kapow. 
Above: A beautiful Vesha Valentine sketch that the ever smiling Des Taylor gave me. What a gent! Check out his brilliant work below and here 
Below: An exquisite piece of art by Glyn Dillon from the Ashcan edition of the forthcoming Nelson anthology from Blank Slate books. I consider myself very lucky to personally know 27 of the talented 50 artists contributing to this unique Sisterson-like experiment that follows the life of a girl from 1968 to the present day. This is what makes British comics great—experimentation, original creations and a wide range of creators at the top of their game! This amazing book will be out in November 2011 and the profits go to the homeless charity, Shelter.
I managed to pick up David Hine and Shaky Kane's very excellent The Bulletproof Coffin, which I must admit, had me worried that it was going to be a case of style-over-content. Happily I was proved wrong and it is a fantastic piece of metafiction that really delivers an excellent  punchline. Thoroughly recommended, but I suspect I'm preaching to the converted here as I appear to be about the last person on the planet to have read it! Sorry, guys!

Overall I had an excellent time, despite getting wrecked in the bar with Simon Bisley (again)!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Brand Spanking New Release

This month sees the launch of the new Erotic Comics: A Graphic History Volume 1 in paperback. You can buy it here. To celebrate this momentous event here's a range of classic spanking comics and cartoons by the likes of Dan De Carlo and Bill Wezel, who appear in the book. Plus a fantastic Betty & Veronica cartoon I'd love to have included in the book, except I suspect Archie Comics would have sued my arse off (and probably spanked it as well).