Yeah, thanks Scotland. We're stronger together and all that. But no time to shilly shally lets get on with kicking the Tories out. In the meantine I read some comics and then wrote some words about them. I wouldn't grace them with the term reviews but, you know, it's content. NIGHTWORLD by Leandri & McGovern
Anyway, this... THE FIELD #1 Art by Simon Roy Written and Lettered by Ed Brisson Coloured by Simon Gough Image, $3.50 (2014) THE FIELD created by Simon Roy & Ed Brisson
What with THE FIELD, TREES and THE WOODS it’s like orange is just so over, darlings, and vegetation is the new black. Maybe there’s something other than autumn in the air, knowing my luck it’s probably paraquat. Or is this the dawn of a new age of agri-comics embodying mankind’s unconscious mass rejection of the cities and profound yearning for a return to Mother Nature’s embrace? As this would involve no Wi-Fi and a significantly truncated lifespan probably not. More likely it’s a complete coincidence not worth the bother of mentioning; so I won’t. Simon Roy sold this book to me as surely as if he’d knocked on my door selling sponges and dish clothes (it’s shocking how little of the proceeds goes back to those people; I believe the returns can be quite bad for door to door salesmen too. BOOM! BOOM!) I’d previously encountered Simon Roy’s talents within the pages of Prophet where the strength of his style (a little grubbiness; a lot of ungainliness) stood out even amongst the insectile swarm of other talents embroiled in visualising Brandon Graham’s entertaining body-horror-meets-Roger-Dean-album-covers-space-fest. In THE FIELD Ed Brisson’s script brings Roy’s art out of the heavens and solidly down to earth. Which is what fields are largely composed of; earth. Clever word play there, cheers. As though regretting giving the comic a title so plain it verges on the unmemorable (Pop Quiz, Hotshot, is it called TREES, THE FIELD or THE WOODS?) the first issue of Roy & Brisson’s four part mini goes hell for leather to leave an impression in your mind; like a boot in freshly tilled dirt.
Unlike most fields this one really moves, which is good because it’s also pretty slight, I guess, in that it’s all set up, momentum and promises. But then that’s what comics like this are all about; comics where amnesiac men wake up in fields and are suddenly swamped by threats and enigmas such as a phone which TXTs warnings, an unhappy biker gang, flashbacks to science, and a bible salesman whose decorum desert him utterly in a diner. I liked the weird dynamic to the scenes in the car which suggested familiarity with long road trips in the company of an angry parent, and the fact that there’s a Christian guy whose Christian name is Christian. Hopefully other cast members will be similarly named; Muslim O’Rourke, Seventh-day Adventist Jones, Scientologist Gaiman etc etc. Mostly though I enjoyed the energy of it and the fun of the thing was augmented by the residual pleasure of rolling the ideas and potential developments around like some kind of boiled sweets of the mind. If it’s a pitch for a movie it’s a good one, because it’s a good comic first. I could see this being one of those calling card movies new directors make where energy and invention rooted by a flamboyant central performance distract from budgetary restraints. You know, Fall Time and Mickey Rourke, like that. And like that THE FIELD is GOOD!
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #3 Art & Colour by Jason Latour Written by Jason Aaron Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher Image Comics, $3.50 (2014) SOUTHERN BASTARDS created by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
Jason Latour deserves better than this. It's EH!
NIGHTWORLD #1 Art by Paolo Leandri Written by Adam McGovern Coloured by Dominic Regan Lettered by Paolo Leandri Image Comics, $3.50 (2014) NIGHTWORLD created by Paolo Leandri
Boy, these guys really dig Steve Ditko, am I right? That isn't funny but if it was it would be because this book is an unapologetic homage to the work of Jack "King" Kirby. It's not much more than that, mind, but maybe that's enough anyway. Leandri's got the page layouts down pat but his line lacks the chunk of prime-time King Kirby. He's plumped for a Dithering D Bruce Berry line rather than a Mighty Mike Royer line. This leaches some of the impact off but there's still power enough on every page to sense the pleasure of the phantom presence of The King. It's still good stuff; if he'd chosen Colletta we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Leandri respects his source enough to add some of himself to the mix. There's a lovely four panel zoom in on our hero sipping a cup of tea all unaware as demonic dangers mass progressively behind him. Leandri's ladies are more svelte than Kirby's solid sirens and their faces are far more his than the King's. Unfortunately these faces tend towards looking like plastic surgery disasters at worst and Phoebe from Friends at best.
Adam McGovern does a nice job of writing a comic that reads like people think Jack Kirby comics read rather than the way Jack Kirby comics actually read. He's got the "out there" ideas, the comical explanations which serve only to confuse, the intrusion of a slightly dated view of modernity (cable reception? "Bwoy"?) in the form of the villain and a, cough, unique approach to language. But there's a fundamental loss of energy which can't but occur when someone is doing an impression of someone being excited rather than actually being excited. NIGHTWORLD is all very nice and all very KOIBY! and I hope the creators had a lot of fun making it, but homage only gets you GOOD!
THE MULTIVERSITY #1 Pencilled by Ivan Reis Inked by Joe Prado Written by Grant Morrison Coloured by Nei Ruffino Lettered by Todd Klein Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster DC Comics, $4.99 (2014)
Slip on your Fiction Knickers once more as the Shaman of Solipsistic Sorcery conjures up (yet) another post meta scrying into the nature of the folk who are super with this, the first issue of the series no one is calling LIVER TITS YUM. It works okay too and that’s not be sneezed at but, honestly, it was all a bit frictionless and underwhelming. I preferred the hot mess of the very similar Final Crisis (to which VIRILE SMUTTY is a sort of sequel) because, I guess, failure is more interesting (except mine; although I never fail so that’s purely theoretical, obviously). Weirdly it’s to LIME IVY STRUT’s detriment that it works so well because I’m free to consider the end result and I remain convinced that LEVITY TRUISM is (like much of the output of the sigil slinging Scotsman since Zenith) basically the end of The Kree-Skrull War with some modernism slapped on top. Only an assassin of fun would not find Precocious 6th Former Roy Thomas a pretty entertaining approach for a cape comic but I fear I still never mistook RIVET MUSTILY for having my mind turned inside out.
THE MULTIVERSITY by Reis, Prado & Morrison
Most of the enjoyment inhibiting came via the teeth on tin foil effect of all that shaky shit throughout TRITELY VIM US about how the Real Enemies of Cape Comics are Bad Readers and Critics. (But only when Critics are pointing out the shaky shit; when they are mindlessly cheerleading they’re also part of The Elect, I guess.) Clearly, I’m biased but I have a slight suspicion that in reality the Real Enemies of Cape Comics are Bad Writers. When that bleating quieted VEIL ITS MY RUT was pretty good; being as entertaining, fast paced and inventive as a good cape comic should be. There were still weird dead areas though. On Earth-Marbles Locum Loom has plenty of time to shellac Rood Ripples because all the other heroes are stood a hundred yards away arguing with the new arrivals instead of helping; there are panels where people say stuff about how bad it’s all getting and we just have to take their word for it (luckily, we do because, comics) and there's the almost ultrasonic whining I mentioned earlier. But we can see these are part and parcel of Morrison’s work now since they never bloody go away. So none of the failings can really, as is frequently the case, be laid at the foot of the artist (this being one Ivan Reis whose tendency towards visual literalism grounds everything nicely. Hopefully he’s aware that since VILE MIST YURT is a Grant Morrison comic (and he isn’t Frank Quitely) his contribution will only ever be considered parenthetically). VERILY IT MUST works well enough and cleverly enough but it doesn’t work well enough or cleverly enough to be better than GOOD! (There’s nothing wrong with GOOD!)
And now a change to our regular programming as I realise Christmas is coming and things are a bit tight (we had to let the nanny go;only four holidays this year) and decide to use this place to try and drum up some funds:
Alright, Image Comics, yeah? Good day, good day, my rosy red arse. I’m a busy man and I’m sure we’ve both got places to be, so let’s pretend all that how y’all doing soft soap shit is up here at the top, okay. We both like comics but we both like money too, so let’s make some comics and some money together. Yeah, it’s your lucky day ‘cos I’m thinking of doing a comic. Fingers on buzzers and knees up Mother Brown!
I’ll be calling it COCKNEY WANKERS. That’s not negotiable. It’ll be about some geezer called Terry Chiswick coming back to Cheapside after forty years or so Oop The Soft North. Old fella but fit like a butcher’s dog. He’ll have come back to clear out his dead Dad’s digs. His dead Dad’ll have been a bent copper, a local legend; a bit quick with his fists and slow to hug his son. Dickhead of Dock Green, you feeling me. His signature move will have been smacking folk about with some pool balls in a sock. Yeah, a la “The Daddy” Ray Winstone. If we go TV (which has only just occurred to me, honest guv) Winnie might be well up for, you know, essaying, Tel’s Dad and that. And Tel’s Dad’ll have had a nickname like C***y Chiswick , or Chiswick The C***, or maybe, if we go blunt, just The C***. Don’t worry about the swears we’ll rip off the asterisks in print, it’ll give us playground cachet, you know look all grown up and that. Oh, got a blinder on the slow burn, see, Tel’s Dad’ll have had problems with Terry being all (redacted) like, but we’ll hold that back a bit to surprise the punters. In flagrant contravention of Health & Safety as it may be, not to mention common fucking sense, The C***’ll have been buried in his old house’s garden. See, then we can have Tel blubbing his guts up on dear old Dad’s grave. Oh, don’t worry I’ve been watching them out there and they do so love that Daddy didn’t love me stuff. Every Dad’s a Bad Dad, yeah, no worries, whatever. Look out, almost got some personal responsibility on you! Calm down, winding you up, son. Smile, you won’t break anything.
This next bit is just blinding because, see, Tel’s old Dad’s old pool cue’ll be stuck in Tel’s old Dad’s old grave and one day, while old Tel’s knelt there with the old waterworks on, we’ll have the wind pick up a bit, startle a cat, knock some bins over and, bish bosh, the pool cue takes a tumble too. This’ll bounce off Tel’s noggin. Tel’s going to be a bit thick so the daft sod’ll see this as a sign and set out to clean his Dad’s old manor up. He’ll do this mostly by hitting people with the very same stick. Cards on the table, I can’t see this doing much to solve any of his problems but we need some violence or they get bored out there. Yeah, you know it, and so I’m lining up some good kickings in a KFC. I’m thinking we can spin this as a statement about violence. Stop ‘em dwelling on how thick you’d have to be to think you can eliminate organised crime by hitting each individual member of it with a stick.
Tell you straight, folk over here are crackers about the football so we’ll tap into that too, see Terry will have been a dab hand at the football when he was a nipper but not no more he won’t be. Strikes me now we might have to call it the soccer, you know, for you yanks. Bless ‘em, innit. But, still on the football, right, we stick that in with the crime and it’s twofer time. I’m not wrong. Yeah, Tel’ll return to his roots and find the local crime boss is also the P.E. Teacher at the local school, All Saints Primary & Infants (Ofsted Rating 4 (inadequate)). He’ll be Barry Bass by birth, but, I know, nickname, right? Simpatico, son. We are totes simpatico, see. Same page and everything. So, nickname it is and it’s Bad Baz, I’m thinking. Or, better, The Bitter. Yeah, you’ve got it. Like the beer, the ale, like we have in this neck of the woods. Yeah, yeah, we drink it warm. This country’s fucking cold enough, pal. When The Bitter’s not doing Parents’ Evenings, marking homework, filling in a shit-ton of paperwork, having his tea or making the team run laps before Eastenders then he’ll be up to all kinds of shady shit and maybe a robbery, yeah, probably a robbery. So, yeah, Tel and The Bitter it is; the immoveable object and the unstoppable force; a berk with a stick and a sports teacher with too much time on his hands; legends come out of less. When they met it was murder, Lionel Stander in the house there and all that malarkey. So yeah, anyway it kicks off. Right fucking palaver. Proper chimps tea party all round. We’ll round it out with recipes (eels and mash, pie and mash, gin and mash; the pukka stuff) have football chants, readers’ fantasies about the Queen, rose tinted horse and trap about The Sarf (how the Krays were okay because they loved their Mum; at least you knew where you were in them days; you could leave your back door open; dream on, eh), maybe get a quote from that tirelessly entertaining buffoon Morrissey; he don’t ‘alf love The Sarf he don’t. Yeah, COCKNEY WANKERS will be the full English all right.
COCKNEY WANKERS will be all about its setting and the people in it, a real place filled with real people; a raw and real portrait of a truly unique place and state of mind. The very last thing COCKNEY WANKERS will be is generic. And that’s what they call a punchline.
Get back to me sharpish, alright or I’m going to Avatar with it.
Don’t be a stranger now!
Yeah, I know. Don't give up the day job, John. Stick to just reading – COMICS!!!!