Saxon Bullock

Writer, Journalist, Copy-Editor and Proofreader

Tag: comics (page 2 of 4)

Comic Eye: The Round-up

Okay – as I have gotten firmly back into comics (partly due to reviewing them for SFX, partly because quite frankly I need all the four-coloured escapism I can get right now), I’m going to start doing quick round-ups of the comics I’ve been reading. They will be short, and to the point. (Except when they’re not…)

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Extraordinary Gentlemen

It really doesn’t pay to be an impatient Alan Moore fan these days. I mean, it’s been a very long time since the Great Beard has kept to a completely strict month-by-month schedule with his comics work (there was a brief window with his ABC work post-2000 where things were regular, but it was soon over) – but the delays have gradually gotten worse and worse. I can remember when the second series of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out – and the first three issues were out on a monthly basis. Stunned was not the word. But then, of course, issue four took a while, issue five even longer, and issue six, well by the time we were on issue 6 we were definitely a year later. And of course, in certain respects it doesn’t really matter how long things take as long as they’re good – I just wish the delays wouldn’t keep getting longer. It was bad enough with The Black Dossier – which was delayed and delayed until a specific publication date was stated, and which was then delayed for another year thanks to in-house squabbles at DC – but things do seem to have gotten even worse with League volume 3. Announced back in 2007, I was amazed to find that not only would we be getting the Black Dossier at the end of the year, but 2008 would also see the fabled volume 3, published as a trilogy of self-contained (but interconnected) graphic novels from Top Shelf and Knockabout (with Moore having finally severed all links with DC) – a story that would take the world of the League from 1910 to the present day of 2008! And then, of course, we got to 2008, and the notice “A 2008 release!” on the Top Shelf website got shifted to “A 2009 release!” We inched gradually towards the release of the book – and even that managed to be delayed. The US got the book on time, but while some places in the UK got it, others didn’t. And now, the Top Shelf website has put up a page for volume 2 of Century – and it’s got the exciting tag of “To be released in 2010”! (The sound you can hear is of me bashing my head against the wall…)

And of course, if the first volume of Century had been a bitter disappointment, this would be even worse – but it’s really, really good. The Black Dossier came in for a reasonable amount of criticism, and some of it is justified – it does have way too many digressions, and it is very obviously a sourcebook with ideas above its station (it also doesn’t help that it was very obviously designed to be printed in the oversized Absolute format, but the Absolute edition ended up as such a rip-off (especially thanks to shoddy print quality) that the ordinary size format is still the best way to read it), but it does also expand the world of the League in a number of ways. However, Century volume 1 is a much more coherent piece of work, and while much darker, bleaker and more violent, it does feel like it continues the themes of volume 2, especially the occasionally disturbing examination of the nature of heroism. The characterisation is also a lot stronger, making much more of the main character’s immortal status than before, and while the references are in the Black Dossier realm of more obscure and less pulpy, the story is still highly effective and powerful. It also nearly gets away with being, essentially a musical – it’s a take-off on Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, and knowing a couple of the songs (in their original version) did help the enjoyment of the sequences where the narration (or the characters) are singing. Whatever rough edges there might be, it’s an effective tale with more humour, more brutality and hints that the story will (whenever we actually get the next instalment) be heading in some very interesting directions. And above everything else, there’s Kevin O’Neill’s work which keeps on getting better, creating a whole gallery of very English grotesques. I’m pretty sure that once the series is complete, Top Shelf will do an Absolute-sized set along the lines of the Lost Girls set. Can’t wait to see it in that size – I just get the worrying feeling that we’re going to have to wait a very, very long time…

The Wonkiness of Pop

Last night, I dreamed I went to Manderley again…. no, wait a minute…. Last night what I actually did was go on my first serious night ‘out’ in a very long time, and my first genuine all-nighter since around 1997. It was to a club called Sankeys, and the occasion was a night called Wonky Pop, which had an interesting selection of live acts (most interesting of which was upcoming electro-pop act Little Boots). It was mostly fun, and it’s a long time since I’ve seen any live music… and yet it was also the kind of experience you have to do in order to find out that you don’t necessarily have to do it again. It’s just another area where I feel like I don’t quite belong – for various obvious reasons I’ve been feeling somewhat lacking in a sense of belonging for a while, and last night didn’t really do anything to help. But one day, something will. And I am going to keep looking.

The whole night was pretty much fun until 3am – the final act turned out to be a somewhat tuneless electro-pop duo fronted by a guy who looked like he’d just wandered in from waiting tables at a Greek restaurant, and who also proved that while some people have stage presence, some other people don’t and all the posing and effort in the world won’t help. After that the DJs proceeded to play a selection of clashing and unattractive house music (interrupted by occasional oddities, like the 12” of ‘Controversy’ by Prince, or ‘Push It’ by Salt ‘N’ Pepa), and it was a bit of an effort making it to 5AM when I finally made a break for Picadilly Gardens and was able to catch a bus. Like I said – I’m glad I did it, but I’m not going to be in a rush to do it again.

As a completely seperate aside, one thing I located today that really made me laugh: blogger MightyGodKing has been doing a regular look at the old edition of DC Comic’s Who’s Who, plucking out some of the more obscure entries and ripping the hell out of some of the truly ridiculous heroes and villains who have populated the DC Universe. As a pointed look at the sheer insanity of superhero universes, it simply can’t be beat – have a look, and goggle in wonder.

COMIC EYE: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus (Volume 1)

Time for a confession – I’ve slowly but surely been rediscovering my love of comics. It’s been slowly growing over the last six months, and yes, it’s no coincidence that I’ve reactivated my love of fun four-coloured escapism at what’s been one of the roughest times in my life, when escaping into bright and lurid otherworlds is downright appealing. But it’s here, and it’s certainly not going anywhere right now, so, in a decision that may come to haunt me later, I’ve decided to try and add to my occasional series of blatherings on the subject of TV with an occasional series of blatherings on the subject of Comics, going from new discoveries to old touchstones, and what they mean to me (and if anyone wants to suggest any potential discoveries or interesting comics to explore, feel free). I’ve always loved the variety of comics, and its potential for stories that can do absolutely anything – so, to start things off, here’s a look at the first volume of the epic ‘Fourth World’ saga, crafted by the man who can safely be described as the Godfather of superhero comics. Stan Lee may have come up with plenty of the ideas, but I’m not sure the mighty house of Marvel would have achieved quite such staggering success in the Sixties if they hadn’t had Jack Kirby on their side…

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Okay- I’d told myself I wasn’t going to do it again. The DC Absolute Editions are both a delight and a pain for me – a delight because they’re gorgeous, slipcased hardcover editions of comics which, when they’re chosen right (Watchmen, DC: The New Frontier) are things of beauty, a pain because they’re both bloody expensive and incredibly large and heavy (meaning most of mine are currently in storage thanks to my present lack of room). I gave in a few weeks ago and treated myself to the 2nd of the Absolute Sandman editions – it’s a gorgeous book, and I got it for a relatively decent price – and aside from knowing that at some point, I’d have to pick up Volume 4 of the series, that was it for Absolute Editions. They are, after all, luxury items, and there is a small part of me that really doesn’t want to amass too much stuff – especially if, after everything, I’m just going to have to pack it away in boxes again and not actually get to see it or enjoy it.

And then, they go and schedule an Absolute Edition of V for Vendetta. . One of my very favourite Alan Moore comics – it may not be as well-crafted as Watchmen, but it had a much greater emotional impact on me, and it’s one of the few comics I always wanted to have in a big, nice edition, especially since my copy is now rather battered and aged.

The swines. Well, at least I’ve got until August to save up…

(While I’d love them to go the whole hog and actually present the thing with the dividing full-page pieces of art between the chapters – the form it took during its DC comic run, which is where I originally read it – I suspect it’ll simply be an over-size printing of the previous plush hardback. Doesn’t stop me wishing, though. Also doesn’t stop me being vexxed that the upcoming hardback version of Moore’s seminal run on Swamp Thing means the chance of it getting the absolute treatment for the forseeable future is pretty much zero. Hey ho…)

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