Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Moomin, The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip

I grew up in power cut, nuclear paranoid eighties London and what I knew of Moomins was a eeeriy dark stop motion animation of strange creatures doing obscure things. I was robbed. 

It has taken me decades to discover the true delight of Moomins.  
I finally found them after a trip to Finland where the much loved author Tove Jansson was born and lived and where they are currently celebrating the 100 anniversary of her birth. I was visiting my good friend who reintroduced me to the Moomins through her love of Tove Janssons work and all things Moomin. 

So on the way home I purchased Moomin, The Complete Tove Jansson Comic strip to read on the plane, as I had taken to her design and character work, which is just beautiful and adorable, then finally I discovered how funny and sweet Moomins actually are. They are jolly,silly, anarchic, irreverent and dreamy, they have a lovely self contained other worldlyness. They are very reminiscent of another comic character I grew up with Pogo Possum, it is different but contains a similar element of charm, humour and random adventure.
This book has 4 stories introducing us to all the characters and their world. This has made me want to read more of her work and to introduce them to my 2 year old niece.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Seconds by Bryan O'Malley

Seconds by Bryan O'Malley

Now I bet your thinking, not another review of Seconds, well yea but I don't write reviews I write recommendations and I recommend this.

I really enjoyed reading it, I read it in one sitting from Leeds to London, I am a terrible binge reader when it comes to comics. I picked this up at Leeds Travelling Man.
You know the kookiest thing? When I got off the train at St.Pancreas, my open bag in my hand and at the top was my large Seconds book and y'know who I walked past? Bryan O freaking Malley, if I'd had the balls I woulda got him to sign it.
It wouldn't have been wierd for him cause I was passing the Comica Comiket day at the British library, so he'd probably been meeting and greeting fans all day but it was weird for me and pretty cool.

Anyways back to the book, I loved Seconds; the characters, the magic, the flow of the book, I couldn't put it down and it didn't try to hard it just was it kinda nicely rolled from part to part.

This is a good read and a good buy.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Small Press Shopping

Due to short funds and rapidly reducing space and my own desires to explore the who, how and why not, I have got into exploring the Small Press.

It is hard to ignore all the other books you want but I find limitations open doors to the unexpected, so when I go to, my own personal mecca, the comic store, I search out the shelf of small press goodies.

They're not always easy to find but when you do it tends to overflow with gold.

So I'm on hols and can't be carrying big books around so loaded myself up with my smaller paper-based buddies, the mini comics.

Here's my haul. which includes:

Pope Hats by Ethan Riley
The New Ghost by Robert Hunter
Vertigo Quarterly (not actually small press)
Axolotl by Jack Fallows
Sunshine Bay by Tom Plant

I visited TravellingMan and the exquisite highly acclaimed OK Comics, man that place is lovely, reminds me of the old GOSH in Holborn before it's current location in Soho (which I love esp. as I work minutes away from).

It was humming with quality, hard to keep my focus on goal of small press only. Tempts me to move to Leeds and to live above or super near a comic shop.

And they were helpful when I asked about small press printers in Leeds they pointed me towards Kristyna Baczynski who in-turn rapidly replied with helpfulness pointing me towards Footprints Workers Co-op based in the hills of Leeds.

I got my mini comic printed and delivered by hand to my brothers (how nice is that!) and am chipping away at distribution.
Over all a pretty productive holiday with a healthy comics theme (despite being hit by a car -long story)

Man I love comics..

Walrus: Brandon Graham's All Bum Album

Picked this up on a whim, I am a sucker for paper texture and this book felt good.

The muted colours and line-work also appealed to me but at first glance it felt like it would be a sketchbook not a story.
I was wrong which was nice.

This is a trippy adventure through the random thoughts of author Brandon Graham.
Such epic artwork, love the line and the thinking and intricate locations.
It has an autobiographic nature talking about his partner and her work and his work and their lives and daily weaving that into his imagination.
I think this is why I really like this book there is a narrative and it's the personable ramblings we all have.

And oh man I love the thought thats gone into the colour and paper, I don't know if that is the publishers thing or the authors or both but I love it.
The publishing house is interesting PictureBox (and I've just found out they closed as a company after 13 years, man why do I find these things out too late!)

This is defiantly a book I can look at and study again and again, both inspiring and fascinating.
It is like peering into someones head, silly and pervy and random and thoughtful with a strong injected dose of healthy scifi.

Yeah I enjoyed this and would recommend this.
I am now a fan of Brandon Graham!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

PRETTY DEADLY- Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Art by Emma Rios

This was a recommendation from the chap at Gosh who said if you like Battling Boy you’ll like this.
And I did, I really did.

A dark twisting story with excellent edgy strong female characters, set in a wild west featuring tastes of Eurydice and Persephone intertwined together into a epic spin.
I have never encountered the character Death quite like this before and this is an interesting take on its possible persona.

The spine of the story is poetic and dark in a beautiful macabre way without being gushy or flowery.
The characters have layers upon layers and invite you to peel away and follow them through the book finding out who and why they are.
With the pace of a classic spaghetti western and the dreamy smokey surrealism of otherworldly-ness that seeps into the journey, this character laden troop, take us with them unraveling their story as we go.

This feels and reads like mythology but action packed and punched, with strong lead women having full on battles without being sexualised (hooray!) 

Don’t get me wrong there are a few pages I couldn’t read on the bus but they added to character development.

The artwork stunning and evocative with panels dancing across the page.
I was soo engaged I don’t remember looking.

Published by Image, the first edition of the collected comics is half the normal price, so it's worth a try. I have to say, Image have a nice range of comics at the moment, I like to keep my eye on certain publishers.

Monday, 25 August 2014

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon & Artist Becky Cloonan

I do love a recommendation when it comes to comics, it opens up your brain to new reading experiences and generally a recommendation is always good.

I wouldn't have necessarily picked this one up, it didn't stand out to me.

It's creation is intriguing though which is, it's co-written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way together with writer Shaun Simon; a cross media pollination.
Anyway when someone says they love a comic it's got to be worth a read.

So I gotta admit, I initially struggled with the writing and the flow of the page. I really had to concentrate and tune in. I tend to speed through comics, scanning and gobbling them up. But I had to slow down for this.

It took me a while to get the story and understand who everyone was.

I could see this working really well as the single released comics they were before compilation, where you can sit savour and absorb the story for a week till the next chapter.

I found it reminiscent of 2000AD which I love. It also reminded me of a series called 20/20 Visions (came out in the 90's,  a science-fiction comic written by Jamie Delano.)

But being reminded of these classic genres didn't stop it being unique and enjoyable. I am gonna have to re-read it because I was half way through before it all sunk in.

I like the dynamics and energy.
It's a post apocalyptic story set in a part electronic part desert landscape and a war against a corrupt establishment and if you love 2000AD like me then I think you'll enjoy this.

Also did I mention, the art and layout is fierce, beautiful work from Becky Cloonan.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

AXOLOTL - Jack Fallows

This guy!

Cracking colour cover...yes I think I am drawn to cracking colour covers with stella art and gorgeous paper.

The drive for this collection, as the authour tells us in the intro, was to go back to basics and draw whatever. I like this ethos, art is suppose to be enjoyable.

The mini comic is a definite outpouring of thought, full of relationship struggles through the darker days but I like that kinda comic. Reminds me of Julie Doucet and Jeffrey Brown. If you like that kinda thing too you'll like this and you can pick it up at OK Comics or Black Lodge Press. I think these are called autobiographix, at least thats what I say I like when I want to sound clever.

I like spying on other peoples lives and angst it's like reading their diary but with permissions and nice drawings.
I believe in the therapeutic nature of art and reading about other people's awquardly similar struggles.
I shall be tracking down some more of his work starting with creator Jack Fallow's website

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The New Ghost -Robert Hunter

My hand gravitated to this from the beautiful blue of the cover and was rewarded with a gentle flowing tale of a lonesome being trying to find it's purpose, getting lost and found.

I could see no flaw in the story it closed neatly and satisfyingly, taking the characters to a rewarding conclusion. I don't wanna give away any spoilers and thus deprive you of reading pleasure.

I guess my encouragement would be that this is a complete ethereal tale, it leaves you wondering about the world it came from and where that world is now. It peers at our world and we peer back.

It is a window like any good short story a tiny little window you can peer through and see a minutes tale, a portion a time away, a small cloud on the horizon perfectly encapsulated and complete.

Yep, a dreamy little book, a pocket thinker.

This is part of Nobrow's 17x23 series (named after the dimensions of the booklets)
I love publisher Nobrow's sense of style, they really bring out the best in their artists and showcase such top end designer talent.

The author Robert Hunter is a prolific and successful illustrator, check out some of his other work on his website.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sunshine Bay by Tom Plant

Browsing in the small press section of Travelling Man this popped.

It totally caught my eye.

There is something reminiscent of my old favourite comics Beano, Whizzer and Chips, Dandy, Buster, The Beezer, The Topper...just crashed down memory lane there

(Going round to the pastor's house, the kids had all the annuals, you'd sit in there on a rainy day working your way through their collection. At home we had Beano and Dandy comics, my sister got Judy and Bunty, folks got Eagle and big brother had X-men, them were the days when you could just spend all rainy afternoon in a stack of comics...or by a rainy english seaside in a beach hut reading Commando)

I guess this may be why this appealed to me so much

A funny little postcard tale from the seaside, the colour and style flow strongly through the whole mini comic, strong characterful drawings and quirky and funny tale.

Nice little treasure for the collection.

Check out his other work at:

Also found this wonderful page with the making of Sunshine Bay, a fine example of how much effort goes into the art form.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park by Aneurin Wright

I been wanting to read this one for a while

What first caught my eye was the accessibility and style of the art work. There was something familiar and hand drawn to it.

With all cartoons and comics it is always the artwork that first catches my eye.

So style wise I was drawn in.
The bold red, blue used to pick out the characters, the thick lines around the characters bounced up at me. Each male character is represented by a different animal, the protagonist and writer is portray as a blue bull, his father a blue rhino. The women are human and their hair picked out in red.

I believe I spotted this book online first part of the Myriad Editions: First Graphic Novel Competition
I tracked it down at the book store but it's size warrants the bigger prices for Graphic novels being around £20 so I waited till I had the money.
In the meantime, every time I visited the comic store I would flick through it, think about it, next time I would say.

The way I pick a comic book:

  • 'Heard of' or Cover artwork and feel of the paper and weight of the book
  • Flick the pages and get a feel for the content, does the art quality continue through the book? 
  • Then I randomly pick a page, does it pull me in? 
  • If it does I go to the beginning and try that page and if I want to read more...
  • I check the price if it's in my budget/pocket, I buy it.
  • p.s. a recommendation skips a few of these

This ticked all boxes except the price until finally the fates aligned, my pockets were full and one rainy day being windswept into Waterstones, I bought it.

I must guiltily confess I am addicted to buying comics, big, small, serious and funny: I want = I buy.
So I had a few that required attention...BUT this one jumped the queue.

One thing that is relevant is my connection to the story, I have a fading father too. My father has vascular dementia, so I was interested to read a story close to mine.

It took me a few sittings as I tend to rapidly read through comics then reread but this one I studied the story, gently following the pace, taking me on the rollarcoaster of reflection and dread, the desire to help and the desire to not be there. The family connections, the memories, your life colliding with theirs.

The journey, the amble through the last days of his father, are incredibly moving and emotional.
One picture will stay burnt in my mind, at the end, the final farewell.

It isn't a fast paced read, it is a trailer park, it is waiting, it is relationships preserved in amber.
As his father passes, the book speeds up as if time had stopped and release had become.

I was struck by this book and will keep it tenderly on shelf to read again.

Here's The author Aneurin Wright's Website if you would like to read more of his work.