ALLENS #1 OF 1
Allen first appeared as a gatecrasher at Captain Dolphin's party. Now,
like some sort of big comics company gimmick he's been given his own comic book
by 'Ralphie Comix' with one of those new, hot artist types taking on the drawing
chores. Not strictly true... The artist, that is... He's been around for a few
years really. This is just the first time I've seen Martin Meeks take on a longer
comic narrative and publish it!
Ralph Kidson's ironic, misanthropic, puerile (in a good way), and generally pithy
sense of humour is as evident as ever in the scripting. These outcasts from the
Alien's hive stumble through British life like there was nothing unusual about
intergalactic super predators having interests outside the colony.
Ralph's sense of timing is one of his stronger points, and this is about the only
weakness in translation between the script and Martin's finished pages. Martin's
very much busier cartooning doesn't have the quite assurance Ralph's own cartooning
whose simplicity of his style makes this comedic timing more apparent (and easier
to appreciate). Even in stationary scenes Martin's vibrancy gives the impression
of a loud, animated setting.
I like Martin's cartooning a great deal, as I also like Ralph's comics
it's just the idea of this comic works better than the actuality. Quibble, quibble,
quibble... Yeah, well, it's still a damn good comic so there!
ALLENS #1 [24 A5 PAGES, COLOUR CARD STOCK COVER] £1. RALPH KIDSON
, 3 LANGRIDGES CLOSE, NEWICK, NR. LEWES, E. SUSSEX, BN8 4LZ. Also see Sad Animal
reviews in this ZUM! & Bad Animal review in the online ZUM!
ARNIE COMIX #1
Smoking single-mothers, tortoise's tongues lapping, house masonry, all put through
the chunky Gane mixer and made tittersome. I wish Simon would do more long-shots
because he's one of the few artists doing comics who can draw a chimney and make
it a character in the story.
The Right-On Kids very funnily tell us how to make a fanzine. Vapid
* heralds chuckles too, with nice gaps between the panels providing much-needed
space for the eye ("God, reviewer," say the Right-On Kids , "you're so
fuckin' mainstream... clarityz 4 loozerz"). And finally, Justice , a depiction
of a death-row prisoner's last moments, delivered straight, with no 'meaningful'
captions. It will be collected in anthologies of the future, when comics get the
full cultural-retro treatment from a less benighted society.
ARNIE COMIX #1 [24 A4 PAGES, GLOSSY COLOUR COVER AND INSIDE COVER PAGES] £1.50
(+P+P?) SLAB-O-CONCRETE, PO BOX 148, HOVE, BN3 3DQ. *Vapid also
available as a contained mini-comic: see review ZUM!#9. Also see Sap
review this ZUM! & Arnie
Comix #2 review in the online ZUM!
With Xeric Foundation funding Jessica Abel's Artbabe leaps into the more
traditional American Comic Book format creating a comic which demands more attention
from the general comic reading public (and hopefully wider still) than her previous
(although wonderful, but admittedly thinner) photocopied editions could've attained.
It should knock 'em dead!
Jessica is a creator with a confident air she knows she's good and quietly
gets on with it. Assured storytelling, interesting rounded characterisation, sound
page layout and pacing, meticulous art that remains uncluttered, believable spatial
depth, and the savvy to realise stretching yourself with a little experimentation
can only make you a better artist.
So complete is her vision that it seems as if she wanders into her character's
heads and appropriates essential moments that she commits to the page. Human level
stories of love, trust and longing told with a sincere warmth and rare charm which
comic creators like Adrian Tomine, I feel, have yet to master.
ARTBABE #5 [28 26x17cm PAGES, FULL COLOUR MATT LAMINATE CARD COVER] $4 CASH PREFERRED
(AND QUITE FRANKLY THE EASIEST PAYMENT METHOD FROM THE UK TO THE US. DON'T TELL
ME YOU HAVE NO DOLLARS WHEN THEY'RE SO EASILY AVAILABLE FROM THOMAS COOKS, BANKS,
AND EVEN THE POST OFFICE!). JESSICA ABEL . Try the Artbabe website
, otherwise - try c/o Fantagraphics books.
I was raised on mainstream U.S. comics, so when I saw the professionally produced
Asbestos with its anthological content of heroes/anti-heroes, I thought,
"This looks interesting". Unfortunately the interest didn't last long.
Most of the strips were fairly well written, but they just did not work. They
didn't feel like real strips at all, and instead came across as a mini-showcases
from creators' portfolios. Some of the artists, (Carter, Charney, Humm
, and the Ain't Life a Blast artist) are clearly closer to the pro-standard
than others, so even as a showcase of new talent the comic falls short. The best,
and only real attempt at a strip that would stand on its own is Steve Marchant's
lovely little 2 pager. Drawn in a capable manner, this is the only non-action/adventure
strip and it's a corker. More of this and less showing off of as yet underdevloped
talent, and Asbestos might be on to something.
Do you remember those superhero/sci-fi comics of the early '80s? When a villain
disagreed with someone he didn't say "no", he insisted shouting"NOOOO!"
whilst gritting his teeth and striking a macho fist clenched pose. You don't remember?
Well, take a look at Gallows in Asbestos and remind yourself. This,
and a wide variety of other tired comic devices are on display in this eighties
time capsule magazine.
Most of the stuff in Asbestos is technically accomplished and seems to
be aimed at the commercial middle-ground once covered by such publications as
Deadline. I'm sure that many of the people involved could easily find employment
with Fleetway; good luck to them. However, this inclination towards creating work
that can be easily assimilated into contemporary marketing schemes inevitably
leads to comics that are in the main reactionary. Thus familiar, well-worn themes
such as time-travel, Tank Girl clones and apocalyptic future wars (yawn!) are
endlessly recycled in various disguises.
I was particularly (and probably quite irrationally) wound up by Gallows
; a sci-fi Western by Terry Humm, because I have a special fondness for the comics
Western and once again I was reminded that nobody will take a risk on a straight
Western story... There always has to be some crap about time-travel or Lovecraftian
monsters inside the Earth (remember how they ruined Jonah Hex not once,
but twice?). Gallows has all of the old cobblers you'd expect.
A few bits stand out ...mainly because they are not designed to fit the 2000AD
formula... Meat Mouth by Luella Jane Wright* is a starkly executed tale
of comic cannibalism... Mark Stafford & Locke's one pager Bachelor Gourmet
Masterclass has a sad ring of truth... Ain't Life a Blast** is of interest
in that it manages to combine Lesbianism, guns, cocaine and broken fingers yet
still ultimately emerges sugary, twee and frothily escapist.
ASBESTOS [#1 48, #2 60 A4 PAGES, GLOSSY STOCK COVER. #1 HAS FREE BADGES, #2 HAS
FREE FORTUNE TELLING FISH] £2×50 EACH PAYABLE TO LONDON CARTOON
CENTRE. This address is probably out of date. Try: c/o The Cartoon Art Trust,
7 The Brunswick Centre, Bernard St, London, WC1N but if you have any information
please mail ZUM! *See Mitten Brain review. **See
Ain't Life a Blast review ZUM!#9.
THE ASSASSIN AND THE WHINER #2
"Cool comics by Carrie and Sarah" except this is an all-Carrie issue. Carrie
can draw expressively, making collisions of askew lines and curves somehow look
like perfect faces like a loser Megan Kelso. Trouble is, too often it's
all she draws, and lots of to-camera panels on black backgrounds can get
repetitive. There's also no prizes for guessing which of the duo described above
Carrie is; all she does is whine! And all the familiar small press subjects at
that: no job, no sex life, no direction, little audience interest.
There are moments when she breaks out of that however. There's a couple of one-pagers
which are more lyrical and oblique. But my favourite is the longest strip; a warning
on the perils of attending Black Flag gigs in an Adam Ant t-shirts ("Black Flag
kills ants on contact, okay?"). Here Carrie comes through with just enough background
proving how little detail we really need to set the scene.
Without getting too 'Journal' about this strip, she's stuck in the queue between
two nerdy teenagers desperate for cool and a deadpan older lady absently scratching
off her face/personality. Reads to me like they stand for her being stuck between
youth and age. (Am I close Carrie?) I'm also well in favour of this development
in small press vocabulary where a 'Green Day' t-shirt automatically means the
character's a nerd.
Carrie seems poised to step out of small press clichédom, but too unsure
of herself to take the plunge. But as her strips show her unsure about getting
out of bed in the morning, maybe that's not so surprising! (Slackers, bloody slackers!)
THE ASSASSIN AND THE WHINER #3
THE ASSASSIN AND THE WHINER [#2 16, #3 20 22x14cm PAGES, #3 CAME WITH FREE 8 PAGE
MINICOMIC "FOOD THAT MAKES YOU FART/SONGS YOU'D PLAY FOR SEDUCTION"] $1 EACH +
$1 P+P. CARRIE McNINCH, P.O. BOX 481051, L.A., CA 90048, USA.
Also see: Assassin & The Whiner reviews in digital ZUM!
ASTONISHING BEER STORIES #4 &5
Astonishing beer stories is its own worst enemy. When I first saw these
comics, all I saw was page after page of incredibly samey artwork with piles of
dense dialogue that I didn't really want to have to wade through. Having forced
myself to sit down and read it, I was pleasantly surprised.
To be honest, the main plot of the story isn't that great; an eccentric professor,
(another one? A distant cousin of Sleaze Castle's Nodal Heaps?)
screws up with his time machine and sends 'lad about town' Jim Zero into the past
to meet Robin Hood. Jim is pretty much a cypher (at least in issue #4) and drifts
through the story, but where Nigel Sambell's script scores is in the scenes of
Jim's friends, back at the pub waiting for him. These characters, as apposed to
the professor, talk like real people and come across as interesting folk in themselves.
The story, tho' not particularly Earth-shattering, breezes along nicely, but the
art destroys all the good work done by the words. It's not that Nigel is a bad
artist by any means, he has the beginnings of a unique and appealing style, but
the line is of exactly the same depth so there's no distinction between anything,
and he obviously hates doing backgrounds 'cos there aren't any! I don't know what
pen he's using but he needs to change it rapidly. Page after page of this
flat style, dull to the eye works to the detriment of the story.
Things do improve in issue #5, as Jim explodes, dies and is reborn as a new planet
(!). The photocopied backgrounds of the universe work really well, and break up
the book nicely. Also, here the story moves on and becomes a better mixture of
the cosmic and prosaic that I think Nigel is aiming for and the comic's title
implies. In the best and most successful sequence Alfie, a friend of Jim's also
appears as a planet, with no knowledge of how he got that way. Very Douglas Adams!
I'm coming down pretty hard on Astonishing Beer Stories but IT'S FOR
YOUR OWN GOOD! It's never going to be great, but it can be better. There's
no excuse for not trying.
ASTONISHING BEER STORIES [#4 26, #5 28 A4 PAGES] £1 EACH. N. SAMBELLS
, FULL MONTY SMALL PRESS, 47 UPPER GREEN ST, HIGH WYCOMBE, BUCKS, HP11 2RB. Also
see review of Astonishing Beer Stories #7
in digital ZUM!
Recreational drugs, 2000AD and art colleges have much to
answer for. Not because any of them are intrinsically bad, but
because they encourage the production of tired, self-indulgent,
cliché-ridden comics like Blags.
I was not heartened by the blotchy cover without, or the
spidery mass of lines within. But a 53 page epic lead story ought
to have something oughtn't it? So I plunged in.
Unfortunately, by page eight I had lost interest in the trivial
convolutions of You Blaggard featuring The Fabulous Blag
Brothers, by Chris Mendham and Richard Starzecki.
For a start, it strikes me that "fabulous" is the last
adjective on Earth that should be used to describe the Blag
Brothers. Fabulous they are not. Fatuous, or Flatulent possibly.
But not fabulous. I an afraid I was not charmed by their
neo-2000AD big boots design, or their tiresome and contrived
penchant for British Empire spiffing-speak which seemed awkwardly
inserted in place of characterisation.
Nor was I exhilarated by the confusing and wasteful page
design, wherein a wasteland of white is divided up into muddled
spindly compositions drawn with virtually no variance in line
density or shading, as page after page of pointlessly huge pictures
drag the story to its distant close. The drawing's okay, but I
tired of trying to decode the over-stylised self-indulgence of the
The story? I can't tell you much about that, basically
because there's no way of telling exactly what's going on as the
drawings and narrative grow more frenzied and incoherent. Plus it's
hard to care about the flat 'characters' or what happens to them...
Particularly as it seems all they do is run about in endless chases
with traditional super-villain types punctuated by tedious drug
allegories, such as references to "special brew" tea.
Apparently, as it is revealed inside the back cover,
there is an animated film version of Blags, from which a
still is reproduced... The models look really good, and the
photograph is well composed... Let's hope the film bears little
resemblance to the comic strip.
BLAGS [76 A4 PAGES] £2. RICHARD
STARZECKI, 34c MUSWELL RD, MUSWELL HILL, LONDON, N10 2BG. The address ZUM! has Richard may well be out of date - any information please mail ZUM!
BOX OFFICE POISON #6
Stories revolving around a group of essentially middle class,
young white adults in New York. They've got their lives ahead of
them, ideals they want to fulfil, and we walk into Alex Robinson's
construct for a while to share these hopes. Of course you'll
identify with the characters all the more if you yourself are an
aspiring cartoonist or writer as these are the main traits that
Alex has chosen for his characters. The enclosed world of the small
press scene will identify and love it all the more, but will it do
the same for a wider audience...?
These considerations aside, Alex spins a rather
intriguing little web concentrating mainly on two characters this
issue: Sherman is chasing love he's completely besotted by
a woman but doesn't even know her name, and Ed is on the verge of
having his comic magnum opus printed by a big shot publisher. How
ever grand life looks there are hints that their pursuits may be
all for nought. In both cases this is initially nice and subtle
keeping you intrigued, but in the case of Ed, Alex spoils it rather
by not being able to resist a bit of explicit exposition.
Alex himself is a pretty good cartoonist. He depicts
events in a style that although has edges of slight stiffness and
uncertainty manages to detail events in an easy clear manner. He's
not afraid to stretch himself in the way he portrays events,
playing up to a strength in a real deft touch with body language,
that gives the whole comic a deeper level of human involvement.
BOX OFFICE POISON #7&8
Quite simply, one of the best small-press comics I've come
across in a good while, kind of a cross between Liliane and
Sleaze Castle, with a dash of Kyle Baker for added pep.
Despite arriving midway through a storyline, I quickly felt I knew
the characters and became absorbed in the storyline: book store
assistant Sherman falls for his flatmates' ex-flatmate, not knowing
she used to be the 'flatmate from hell'. Meanwhile, his best friend
Ed gets a job as 'assistant' to a cantankerous old cartoonist who
regards Will Eisner as a 'schmuk'.
It's hilarious, poignant, well-observed stuff. Well
drawn, too if a little too reliant on Rotoring-pen inking
for my tastes. But, minor quibble aside, I can't recommend this
highly enough if you enjoy witty, soap-style comics. Well worth the
hassle of sending money abroad. Hmmm... perhaps someone should
flash the 'Slab Signal' across the night sky above Hove*...?
BOX OFFICE POISON [EACH 22x14cm PAGES, COLOUR STOCK
COVER] $2 + $1 P+P EACH. ALEX ROBINSON,
72×17 65TH PL, APT 3-L, QUEENS, NEW YORK, NY
11385, USA. *Mooncat: Yes, this comic certainly was obtainable through
Slab-O-Concrete Distro, but check on current availability. Also theres the Box Office Poison website.
BREAD & CIRCUSES #1
The main story in here, (there are 3 shorter strips involving a
starving artist, belugas in a salt lake and a video game, but I
won't go into them here) starts with Andy's desperate attempts to
make a few bucks whilst running a caricature booth at the near
deserted Mojave Fairshow. Fortunately, (or so he thinks) he is
rescued from this drudgery by a passing paraplegic athlete
Brick Holmes, who persuades him to come and work for his children's
charity. Soon though, Andy gets thoroughly entangled in Brick's
amazing world of self-delusion.
This story is based on a truth, (you can tell because it
says "A fact based drama" on the first page) and surprisingly
enough, Hartzell sees a lot of humour in the ridiculous situations
that he gets into. Unusually for this sort of comic he only goes
into self-analysis mode once, where he questions his motives for
getting involved with Brick Holmes. Heartzell's art is of the
'cartoony and expressive' school, and easily serves it's purpose
(telling the story) without being showy.
Bread & Circuses is a neat package, and this
reviewer recommends it especially for those (like me, for
example) who are annoyed by holier-than-thou selfless types.
BREAD & CIRCUSES #1 [28 26x17cm PAGES, FULL COLOUR
GLOSSY COVER] $2×50 (+$1 P+P?). ANDY
HEARTZELL, MOE PRESS, 6130 W. FLAMINGO #312, LAS VAGAS, NV
89103, USA. The address ZUM! has Andy may well be out of date - any information please mail ZUM!
An accountant living in the kind of near-future world
where Big Brother is watching and faceless bureaucrats run
everything gets a phone call that leads him to inquire into
the murder of a relative. As his investigation deepens his life
descends into an abyss of paranoia and despair which.... Do I
really need to go on? You already know the plot, it's exactly the
same as every other post-Orwellian nightmare story you've ever read
and has been done to death, resurrected, and done to death again.
Rik Hoskin is an able writer but this is weary stuff. The artwork
from the ubiquitous Nigel Lowrey is a bit sloppy in places, perhaps
proving that an even arguably the most prolific artist in the small
press needs to slow down now and again. Unless you've been living
on Mars you'll already have read too many stories like this and I
can't see why you'd want to read another.
BROKEN JEFFREY [44 A5 PAGES, COLOUR CARD STOCK
COVER] £1×50 (+P+P?) PETER ASHTON. Try
Bugpowder website or mailing Pete.
BUNNY GIRL & PIG BOY
Pig Boy sits around with his mates playing computer games, watching
junk on TV and generally slacking. Bunny Girl discusses the shortcomings
of men with her friends and wishes Pig Boy would be more considerate,
but loves him anyway.
Anthropomorphism occurs in comics in varied forms. Sometimes it's
used just because talking animals are funny (Tiger Tim, The Three
Bears etc.) or cute (most Disney comics). Then there's a more
serious kind in which animals behave like humans Barks' Donald
Duck is the most well known example. And there's Maus,
in which it seems to be used mainly to distance the reader from
the horrors of the story.
Auchterlounie's work seems to be getting at something different
a humorous look at mankind considered as animals. His investigations
of this angle range from the intense seriousness of The Maddening
Rain* (in which the animal side of humans is viewed as something
dark and frightening) to the whimsicality of Simon Cat**,
to the cheerful, unstressed observations of Bunny Girl and Pig
Boy. The point here is that people are animals and behave
like them the dialogue is everyday domestic stuff and, although
plenty of jokes about the behaviour of the animals depicted are
thrown in, only half a dozen words need altering if the drawings
were of humans.
As always I'm impressed by the skill with which Auchterlounie combines
intelligent scripts and simple, finely observed cartooning to create
strips which seem superficial but linger in the memory long after
they're read. More, please.
BUNNY GIRL & PIG BOY [24 A5 PAGES] £1 + 2x2nd
CLASS STAMPS + A5 SAE. NIGEL AUCHTERLOUNIE, Hmmmm...
yet again the address ZUM! has Nigel may is most certainly out of
date - any information please mail ZUM!.
*See Inspector Trap Part 2 review. **Available from Slab-O-Concrete
as part of their Microzine Monthly mini-comic series.
the Cat comic online.
BUY THIS COMIC #7
Strange thing about reviewing. You have a nice Marks &
Spencer's sandwich and a can of Coke, and you feel alright: the
review's going to be okay. You have a hangover, and the world is
your enemy: the review is going to stink like a billy-goat.
BTC is cheap and cheerful, and mixes
Viz/Zit-style humour with observational stories.
These latter mostly concern the autobiographical musings of a
35-year old punk, and his problems with approaching middle-age, and
in particular, the onset of domesticity. The one about him standing
at a bus-stop and being quizzed mercilessly about his age by a bevy
of precocious teenagers is actually rather spiffing, and
demonstrates a good ear for the way 'real' people talk. However,
the stories about his new-born baby are inconsequential and,
unsurprisingly, self indulgent: too often they go for charm and end
with smarm. Apart from these, the filler strips are jokey and not
terribly funny, relying on dodgy 'boom! boom!' final panel
But it's the artwork that's the real drawback. It's
basically, well, ...ugly. There are occasionally some
accurately-captured facial expressions, and the changes in
perspective certainly demonstrates a decent grasp of the (Scott
McCloud) basics. But the drawing style is too in-yer-face, too
angular, and in the end too amateurish, to sustain interest in the
already under-edited narrative. Hmm... Well, I did have a few pints
BUY THIS COMIC [18 A4 PAGES, SIDE STAPLED] 50p
(+P+P?). MATT DYER, 106 VICTORIA RD, LONDON, N22
4XF. The address ZUM! has Matt is potentially out of date - any information please mail ZUM!
Coaf!? What's that!? It sounds more like the wheezing
hack of an aristocrat! ...In reality it stands for Comic Artists
of the Future. Surely they could've come up with a more
inspiring name than 'Cough' it's more like an apology than
With the "of the Future" declaration you have a fair idea
that the artists within have mainstream pretentions. The one most
likely, at this point to transpose is Ash Who,
lamentably, does a very good rendition of the pitiful strips that
appear in the down-market pretenders to Viz. He's a pretty
good imitator of the old Brit style of comics. The only thing I can
suggest to improve the art would be to add some areas of black to
nail down the page. Ash gives the impression that he finds this
sort of cartooning breezily easy, but there's a contemptible lack
of imagination and total lack of wit in the script. It's puerile,
but it's tedious and unfunny. To quote: "To be continued
.....ARRGH!?" (Do you get the feeling I don't actually like this
strip.) In a desperate attempt to be positive; there is an
interesting character within this crap strip a depressed
decapitated head that gets kicked around bounces about the page. A
potential candidate for humour and pathos, but it would possibly
suffer from comparison to Chris Ware's Sparky the Cat.
Of the other artists...
The one on the prequel/taster strip "that is as yet
untitled" Chatri, has an assured delicacy that with a bit
more flair (through more stretching work) could graduate into a
British mainstream comic like 2000AD or its younger audience
targeted Judge Dredd comic (assuming that it's still being
published). It reminded me of the an artist I can only remember as
Loach (rhymes with roach) who's work I loathe; a real candidate for
swiping his figure drawing from soft porn mags.
Paul Eldridge's Rubbernorc has a swagger
that's vaguely entertaining. However, it very much reminds me of
something that I can't quite put my finger on. He seems to have a
pretty good feel for portraying a rounded 3D world, but that's let
down by slack, anatomy, perspective and insecure uncertain inking.
The lettering is very readable, but a little shouty.
Chris Stockton's Hyperman is a superhero,
mecha-suits and a relentless superbaddy mélange all
delivered with a pleasant tongue-in-cheek savvy. There's a
confidence in the art and rightly so competent
stuff; if a little derived from other comic artists and not from a
basis in reality. But, hey! This is cartooning, right? But,
hey! there's no substitute for a grounding in reality! The real
weakness here is the of pacing and choreography of action sequences
which are too crammed. There's a claustrophobic urgency to get the
job done, where just a little more thought and space for events on
each page would create a more satisfying result. Shane
Chebsey inks most of the strip and has a flow that reads faster
than Stockton's own rendering. He seems to be using a fairly brutal
nib (Post Office?). Perhaps he would find some finer, more flexible
specialist nibs more satisfying**. Wobbly lettering on this one:
use a lettering grid and do it first.
Ian Drayton's work on his Apex strip shows
a naive approach which has some interesting qualities. It's a
cartoony approach trying to depict realism. I don't know what he's
aspiring to so I'm loath to be picky as although it's clumsy I
kinda like it.
Hunters and Killers is by Nick who is head
and shoulders above his fellow contributors. The art is scratchy
and covered in splatter ink something that usually creates
an incoherent mess, but Nick is in control of his approach deftly
using these elements to create clear movement and rounded shading.
Clever bugger! A unique technique that I can't see the UK's
indigenous mainstream being daring enough to employ more's
the loss to them and their readers. If this is proved, I hope Nick
doesn't become discouraged, as his work is interesting in art and
story. Maybe he will be able to find a market where he can have
control of both ingredients (Hah-haa! Join us suckers in the
non-profit small press!).
I've waffled on endlessly, but each artist within this
comic shows the promise that concentrated development should
reward. I wish them luck with their aspirations if it be
the comics industry they'll need it!
CAOF #6 [40 A4 PAGES, COLOUR STOCK COVER] £1
(+P+P?). SHANE CHEBSEY, 10 CLEAVELAND AVE, HIGH ERCALL,
TELFORD, SHROPSHIRE, TF6 6AH. *This kind of self deprecating
English approach was used on the ill fated newsstand comic
Pssst! Remember that one? **The best place to buy nibs is
from Mr. Poole who has a concession in Cornellison, Gt Russel St,
London. Apologies to the aspiring inker but I can't remember names
of particularly recommended nibs try writing to a few of
your favourite inkers to find their preferance.
CHAIN MESH #4
Chain Mesh is kind of a comic relay race, loosely linking
some of our top creators:
Laugh! As Vasectomy Man's stitches burst, as painfully
seen by Steve Martin.
Marvel! At Sean Eckett's fantastic art. Lucifer never
looked so loverley.
Puke! As Captain Shit-For-Brains gets his face fried
thanks to Luke Walsh.
Forget! Plot, it doesn't matter. Okay there's a bit about
the devil a sort of Hugh Hefner type down on his luck drawn
in fine faded dandy style by Jonathan Edwards. Then there's a brief
interlude for the Caption Convention jam page (Pigs, eyeballs,
aliens) before the super-heroes kick in. This section confirms what
I always suspected get a super-hero in the groin and he's
So what do you get for your dosh? The Prince of Darkness,
pathetic muscled heroes, and a roll call of artists that includes
Mooncat, Chris Hogg, Alex Mason, Rich Holden, Gavin Butler, Pete
Doreé, Andy Roberts and Bernado Moldanado.
Oh yeah and a dick joke as a climax.
Not bad, not bad at all.
CHAIN MESH [28 A5 PAGES, COLOUR STOCK COVER WITH STUCK ON
IMAGE] £1 (+P+P?). RICHARD Z STARBUCK,
WELL HOUSE FARM, PONTBLYDDYN, MOLD, CLWYD, CH7 4HZ.
If you order this large anthology through the post, expect to
hear a very satisfying thud when it hits the doormat. Comic
Express is a substantial tome, a thick slab of comic, A2
folded, which makes it as big as a tabloid newspaper. Quite
something in the age of US sized comics and puny A5 comics.
Comic Express is the showcase publication of the
Liverpool Cartoon Workshop founded by Ian Hering,
who sadly died back in March. As ever with comics produced by
cartoon workshops, it is a real mixed bag. However it is in the
nature of such classes, that the talents involved are going to
be untried and raw, so to expect a high a high standard of
quality work at this stage would be to miss the point. Still,
despite the range of abilities on display (or possibly because of
it) Comics Express is a very enjoyable read. The mag is like
a big firework display, shooting off in all directions at once. The
artists here are full of energy and enthusiasm for the cartooning
medium, and their work is fresh, if sometimes crude. I can't trawl
through the entire comic and review everything therein, but here
are a few things that caught my eye, both good and bad:
Shroom by Mark Allen, will be familiar to you if
you've ever read Inkling. The post-modern, post-holocaust
musings of Mark's mushroom-headed hero are crisply and clearly
drawn, but manage to leave me a bit non-plussed. I'm not quite sure
what the strip is about , and I suspect Mark isn't sure either.
Skunkman by John Bishop, is as you might expect, a
superhero spoof. The world isn't exactly short on superhero
parodies, and John's artwork is not quite as focused as it should
be (yet), but strip wins you over anyway by being actually
Hello I love You by Richard Woods. There's a nice
balance of shade and light in this professional looking strip,
which puts me in mind of Ian Gibson. Good likeness of Bill Clinton
too. Shame the story is one of the oldest chestnuts in SF
Missing Link by David Gough. Not much of a story
here. In fact there's barely a story at all. However, we do get a
glimpse of a very strange world and it's superbly drawn. I'd love
to see this idea expanded on.
Lomax script by Rick, art by Stephen
Brotherstone. A 3 page fragment of a much larger work. There's not
enough here for me to comment on the storyline, but the artwork is
excellent. Very clean and tight, reminiscent of Adam Hughes. Like
Hughes, Stephen Brotherstone can draw attractive women very well,
and as the comics industry caters mostly for male adolescent needs,
this means Brotherstone has, most likely, got a big career ahead of
him. Good for him.
Virus by Gary Dormer. A manga style strip, so
poorly drawn that the reader has to work hard to make out what's
happening. However Gary's good at perspective, drawing buildings
and computer consoles. What he's bad at is the human figure and
page layout. Despite these flaws, I still rather liked his strip,
and look forward to seeing how he develops.
As well as the other strips besides the ones mentioned
above, Comic Express has a section which features short gag
strips and one panel gags. This section is much less successful
than the comic strip side of the mag. A lot of the gags have
clearly been done as class exercises, and as such have a forced
quality about them. Some do shine through though: my favourite in
this section is Maureen Meets Bob by Kapricorn, a strip
about social embarrassment that had me both cringing and laughing.
It's crudely drawn but the style suits it.
Comic Express has one further thing: and uncannily
accurate pastiche of a Frank Bellamy strip, called Full Fathom
Five. This is by Bill Naylor, who I suspect is the 'Bill' named
as course tutor and editor of Comics Express. The magazine
is worth getting for this strip alone.
COMIC EXPRESS [40 A3 PAGES] LIVERPOOL CARTOON WORKSHOP, CITY OF LIVERPOOL COMMUNITY COLLEGE, CLARENCE ST, LIVERPOOL, L3 5TP.