DANGEROUS DRUGS #1
Jesus, this is grim! Andy fancies Molly but boyfriend Bobby is
in the way. An alcoholic boffin gives Andy a drug which he thinks
will make Bobby impotent — instead it kills him. Molly finds
Andy escaping from the scene of the crime. She winds up on
tranquillisers, Andy winds up in Cardboard City.
The problem with this is it's as silly as it sounds. The
scripting attempts to impose some sort of meaningful structure on
it, using a linking motif concerning the dangers of passive
smoking, but it doesn't really work. Overall it comes across as an
attempt at dark, moody realism which features poorly developed
characters doing ridiculous things. The script is too contrivedly
chatty, the characters are too numerous for Metcalfe to whip out
the sort of claustrophobic intensity he does very well (although he
fits in some marvellous drawings of brooding, obsessed eyes).
I've read far better comics by both Hirst and Metcalfe,
separately and together. I hope this one indicates nothing more
than a temporary slip of quality control.
DANGEROUS DRUGS [16 A5 PAGES] 50p DAVE
METCALFE, 38 FULMER RD, SHEFFIELD, S11 8UF.
I have a problem with Delirium. It's my problem,
not Garen's, a critical blind spot that causes my eyes to glaze
over when they come across sword and sorcery, kings and golems.
As a result, I'm probably not the best judge of this
"cupboard of odds and sods" which features 2 out of 3 stories in
I can say that Garen's art is neat and uncluttered, if a
little too tidy for my tastes and his pacing and layouts are
certainly competent, though portentous dialogue ("Our journey
begins with death. And it shall end in death.") leaves me cold.
The third and final story, a science fiction tale called
The Soldier who found The Garden of Eden is the best thing
here. The plot is nothing to boast about, but Garen keeps the
dialogue to a minimum and lets his art breathe — to good
effect. Moebius seems an obvious reference point here, one Garen
DELERIUM #1 [32 A5 PAGES, RED STOCK COVER] £1
(+P+P?). GAREN EWING, 57A HEATHCOTE DRIVE, E GRINSTEAD, W SUSSEX RH19 1NB.
Garen's website. & Garen's email.
LE DERNIER CRI #666
Every once and a while over the past few years, Paquito Bolino
would organise an exhibition in Paris. The venue would be the Un
Regard Modern shop, the home of extreme French graphics that shares
a name with Bazooka Productions' 1978 attempt at graphic broadsheet
politics, if little of the paper's incipient Maoism. Each time,
Paquito'd print up an issue of Le Dernier Cri less a show
guide than a catalogue of the intervening months' cartoon
Screenprinted at his and Caroline Sury's Paris studio,
Le Dernier Cri — literally 'The Last Scream' —
has been a deranged anthology of the weird, obscene and chaotic
drawings sent to the magazine from all over France, plus a few from
Britain, America and Japan. Contributors such as Henriette Valium,
Stephane Blanquet, Graham Harwood, David Sandlin and Keiti Ota may
be familiar to those who follow the US and Brit alternative scenes
but the vast majority will be largely unknown to non-francophones.
The magazine's MO is full-on graphism. Its butcher-paper pages are
a compendium of the horrors, monsters and grotesqueries that result
from the loosening of cartooning's normative constraints. Taboo,
outsider images and art, sexual, political and physical
abominations typically mix it across two-colour spreads with
excerpts from strips, sketchbook drawings, doodles and other
fragments squeegeed through the Le Dernier Cri silkscreen machine.
And now it's all come to an end.
This year, Paquito and Caroline moved their whole works
out of lucre-encrusted Paris for cheaper, sun-dried Marseille.
Issue #666 is the last, parting blast at normality with a
retrospective of the delirium-filled Paris years plus fresh and
sticky gobbets of maximum intensity turpitude from the usual gang
of miscreants. The standard butcher-paper bonanza is supplemented
by an extra 80 pages or so's life-enhancing repugnance on sturdy
art board. Stiff, proud and, for suitable spondulics, yours.
LE DERNIERR CRI #666 [400x300mm FOLDER CONTAINING 128
PAGES INC. FOLD-OUT POSTER OF COLOURFUL FRENCH FILTH] WRITE
FOR PRICE AND AVAILABILITY OF BACK ISSUES. LE DERNIER
CRI, 38 RUE FLEGIER, 13001, MARSEILLE, FRANCE.
Website: Le Dernier Cri
THE DESERT DREAMS OF LILY COPPERWHEAT
A VICTORIAN ROMANCE
This seems to be part of a series of comics by artist/writer
Paul Barlow with historical settings. This is set in the Late
Victorian period (according to my expert) and concerns the fears
(real or imagined, it's difficult to tell) of a young mother living
in a seaside town. She worries for the safety of her seafaring
husband and tries to contain the underlying dread that he has
abandoned her and her daughter.
The narrative shows scenes from her everyday routine
(lots of housework, an authentic Victorian touch, as is the motif
of drowning) interspersed with real or imagined glimpses of the
drowning husband. This is further enlivened by a few fantasy images
and a whiff of witchcraft.
It's hard to know quite what the artist's intentions are
in recounting this 'story' which is really more of a slight mood
piece rather than a full-blown narrative. A good 60% of the story
is told without dialogue or captions and the art, though it shows
flair doesn't really hold the attention. It's hard to decipher what
is happening in some panels and all the participants have the same
blank empty expressions. No background is given to the characters
or their motives or relationships (maybe it's part of a longer
story, no indication is given) so that it is difficult finally to
care one way or another about what happens to any of them.
THE DESERT DREAMS OF LILY COPPERWHEAT [28 A5 PAGES, CARD
STOCK COVER] £1 (?) (+P+P?). PAUL BARLOW,
9 HEATHER BROW, EARBY, COLNE, LANCS, BB8 6LP.
DON'T SHOOT IT'S ONLY COMICS #14
This issue is an 'all girl' comic. The stories range from the
excellent to the incomprehensible.
The fight was not over by Ann Decker. Great
graphic sense and story telling.
Mahsoola by Gabby Gamboa. The story of an
apathetic baby snatcher who marries a local boy but longs for
native Montana. Very nice chunky artwork and good writing, however
the ending is abrupt.
Tit Chat By Ariel Bordeaux. Very good confessional
about Ariel's breasts and how she's going to be proud of them from
now on. Very funny and well written, top marks!
Waiting by Elisabeth A. Parker. Very good, concise
one pager about waiting for everything from the bus to the big
break. Slice of life stuff with lots of personality. (I liked this
The Doll By Maria Björklund. Very smart, well
drawn one page joke.
Quarantine Debs by Miss Lasko-Cross. Back cover
page. Li'l story about trying to get someone to like you, intimate
Having given you a list of pluses as to why you should
buy this anthology, beware some of the other strips don't really
work well at all. Some I didn't understand, and not in an arty
'I'll get it later' kind of way, but in a 'I really can't make out
what's going on' way. Other strips didn't seem to have much point
at all. The good are good, the bad are not — well, that's
anthologies for you. The pluses out-weigh the minuses and it's
worth getting to gain access to the names and addresses of the good
artists so you can send for their own comics.
DON'T SHOOT IT'S ONLY COMICS #15
Comics review cliché number 83 (in a series of 8
billion): anthologies are buggers to review. Unless they're
uniformly excellent, or uniformly pooh. Don't Shoot... is
neither. It's made up of mainly short (average 2 pages) cartoons
which, on the whole, aren't hugely funny. Art styles are
small-press-a-matic. Any magazine that includes a one page strip
about an incontinent person which end up with the 'hilarious' pun,
"I've got blisters on my sphincter" needs a visit from the
editorial policy executive and kicking in.
Inevitably in a magazine that cruelly fails to be utterly
abysmal, there are notable exceptions. Dum Dum Posse is one
of that interminable series; a 'weird' alternative story that's a
bit like a half-remembered dream. But it's genuinely intriguing.
The art-style is well thought out and attractive. I'd say that Ron
Rege was a name to look out for, if it hasn't been spotted already,
knocking about some eerie midwest farm-holding. James Kochalka
provides his usual cute bold visuals. There's a fairly amusing
'hey, what if Star Trek took place in a supermarket' story. And
Maria Björkland, editor of the Finnish anthology
Vacuum, provides a neat punchline to what started out as a
series of doodles.
DON'T SHOOT IT'S ONLY COMICS [#14 44, #15 52 28x21cm
PAGES, GLOSSY STOCK COVER] $3 + $1 EACH. JEF
TAYLOR, 140A HARVARD AVENUE #308, ALLSTON, MA 02134,
DREAMY COMICS ANTHOLOGY #1
I suppose this is meant to be a sampler of all the titles Dreamy are handling at the minute, since it's a very mixed bag, and many of the strips seem to stop just before getting interesting. Shall we tackle them in reverse order, like Miss World? Go on then...
The Wild - A Prologue by Thomas Crielly and Debbie Elliot; Slick, colourable, action artwork portrays some sort of man-beast mutation on the run from nasty scientists. Silhouettes with shaggy hair, slitty eyes and fangs we had enough of, already.
Durge Three: A Prelude - Kyle Kimmons and Adam Narkiewicz; A prologue, now a prelude. A McKean-ish (scratchy & blobby) muscly demon thingy rips off his trenchcoat as he approaches a little castle. And that's your lot. Some words might have been nice! But maybe it's not that sort of story.
Close Encounters of the Small Kind by Jody Ruth; my god, it's full of words! Yes, a text story about two elderly fishermen being mighty unimpressed by a little green guy from outer space.
Time Rogues by Tim James and Tim Rees; a group of square-jawed types in muscle-shaped suits zing around in time, thrusting out mighty hands, thighs and knees as they go. Or they would if they hadn't been disbanded in the introduction! A good copy of the Image sort of style, i.e. a middling copy of real bodies. Gah!
The Big Bad Wolf by Pete Doreé; hmmmmmm. It's part of a story of a woman who gets dumped on by a grunting, bum-scratching manfriend, but who is also haunted by violent dreams of a wolf-like creature. Hefty sexual metaphors! It seems like such a grinding gear-change from the humour of Electric Gods..., and his art style is much the same... I think therefore this'll suffer from comparison with Gods..., which is a shame — perhaps a collaboration with another artist would have avoided the reminders of Pete's humour work. Oh well.
Two Short Stories by Leigh Perkin; more text. The first tells of a small boy saved from a demon by Santa Claus. Barf! All I need to say about the second is that I read it 45 minutes ago, and I can't remember a damn thing about it...
Aldrins Garden; Spanking Tatty by Jon Scotcher; one from the naughty editor, sneaking this in without a masthead! It's quite pleasant, actually — Tatty is so sick of being felt up at work, she takes electric revenge... Some of this looks like Terry Moore! As long as Jon isn't actually swiping Terry Moore, of course, then he might have promise. Shame about the shading, though.
Marlene, Living Proof of Rapture by Chris Hogg and Chris Butler; hee hee! Nasty school kids are menaced by a big holy Lava Lamp thingy that goes "OOO!" Snurf! I have no idea what it means — who cares, it's a hoot!
Speak No Evil by Frazer Irving; A Dr. Strange-type has magicked a whole population into stone, and can't figure out how to put them right. Yum yum! Fraze draw good! Hatchy, render, technique. Me like. Him get gold star!
Well, it's an anthology. There's always going to be pushers and draggers, and Dreamy has both... I can only say that just having slivers of each story is maybe not enough to get a true feel of how they pan out — you're better off looking for reviews of whole issues of Dreamy titles...*
DREAMY COMICS ANTHOLOGY [52 26x19cm PAGES, GLOSSY STOCK COVER] £2. JON SCOTCHER, DREAMY COMICS, 48 HIGHWAY AV., MAIDENHEAD, BERKS, SL6 5AQ. EMAIL: 100603,email@example.com *See Man Who Learnt to Fly review.
ECHIDNA VARIATIONS #1
Lee's declared objective here is simple. He wants to have 'fun'. Now, for some people, 'fun' is lounging indolently on a sofa with a bottle of kaolin and morphine and a P.J and Duncan video. For others, it is indeed a simple tale of a girl, a boy, a cat and a giant robot from outer space. If you identify with the latter group, then you will undoubtedly be able to share in Lee's fun.
The most pleasant aspect of Echidna is the art. Although self admittedly rushed, it nevertheless has a certainty of design and execution that overcome the occasional clumsiness. (The cat, in particular, often appears as if it has stumbled into the wrong universe. If the God of Echidna is Manga, the cat has walked out of a Hallmark card.)
The script putters along in an inoffensive enough manner. The characters speak, reasonably enough, as if they are living in a comic book. Stuff explodes. There is a 'cliff hanger' ending. You can, as Bryan Ferry once crooned, guess the rest.
Lest all this sounds rather too scathing, there is enough promise here, particularly in terms of the artwork, to suggest that Lee's forthcoming magnum opus, Toms may be enough to distract me from the languor of my living room. Echidna, alas is barely enough to tear me away from Hollyoaks. But then, that's my idea of fun.
ECHIDNA VARIATIONS #1 [28 26x17cm PAGES, GLOSSY FULL COLOUR COVER] £2·50. LEE BRIMMICOMBE-WOOD, DAMN FINE PARTNERSHIP, 86 UPPER TOLLINGTON PARK, LONDON, N4 4NB.
EDDY CHAMPION #1
"Produced to provide support for registered educational children's charity World of Water." Little water conservation actually happens in this issue though, we're introduced to Eddie — a superhero parody grub who saves snails from certain death. However, we're promised in future issues he'll be "right up there fighting the real problems that hit our own planet."
The artwork's accomplished in a post-EC comics kind of way, (perhaps a big influence as they insist Eddie is addressed as "EC") if a bit too static and photo-referenced in places. It looks livelier when letratone is added (which it is for the cover and pin-up but not on the main strip). I also found the duplo-sized lettering a bit intrusive, but perhaps that's a concession to the kiddie audience.
Given the content and intended readership I'm not sure a cartoonier approach would've been more effective, especially if the idea's to get kids to relate to the character. But maybe that's just me preferring cartoonier stuff in general.
'Educational' matters (hate the word but I can't think of a better) definitely work well in comics. I think I'd prefer to see a post-privatisation version of the Thirties Superman, where wish-fulfilment figures get to kick the shit out of the heads of Yorkshire Water. Yeah and then hand them out among schoolkids...
EDDY CHAMPION [12 25x17cm GLOSSY STOCK PAGES, GLOSSY CARD COVER] £1·25. LITTLE PEOPLE BOOKS, GROUND FLOOR, NUMBER SIX, 4th AVENUE, BIRMINGHAM, B29 7EU.
THE END OF THE CENTURY CLUB
You are angry. You bash the rich. You fuck the state. You stop the city. You bugger the evil corporations and fight the fascists. You are the mutant strain of humanism that reanimated the whiffy carcass of English anarchism and you're looking for a little R&R. This could be the place.
The End of the Century Club checks you for suspect ideological bulges, gives your convulsive fusion of hedonism and rectitude a friendly squeeze then passes you fondly in. Ilya — or 'iLYA', the artist formerly known as Ed Hillyer — is the main man. His signature brand of smooth, clear comic narrative — honed through years of professional thraldom — is cranked up, full on and firing in service to a steaming hardcore rant against the multiplying constraints on free-form urban lifestylism.
In a parallel London, nefarious state population controls — ID cards, work-fare, surveillance cameras and routine armed riot policing — have made it all but impossible for you simultaneously to hang out, get off your face and fulminate righteously against the social system. The eponymous Club and daytime veggie café are the soap opera solution. If there's a weakness here it's the main cast of 5 representative city slackers, some recognisable from Ed, sorry, Ilya's Bic and Skidmarks series, work their balls off signalling invective so thoroughly that they don't get enough time to become characters. But iLYA operates a stringent narrative regime.
Former Deadlineheads should know this chunky volume, spiffingly designed by Woodrow Pheonix, adds one extra chapter to the instalments serialised in the magazine's last 5 issues. The rest you can dream of another parallel London in which Ian Bone had started Titan Books instead of Class War and there'd be so many fuckers like this, you'd never get them all out of the shop under your greatcoat.
The reviewer still known as Steve Edgell
THE END OF THE CENTURY CLUB [124 248x185mm PAGE GRAPHIC NOVEL, 3 COLOUR GLOSSY COVER, PERFECT BOUND] ISBN 0 9527386 0 0. AND, IF YOU DON'T INTEND TO STEAL THIS BOOK: £3·99 (+P+P?) ED HILLYER, PANIC!, THE CLUBHOUSE, 24 RIVINGTON ST, LONDON, EC2A 3DU.
Timewarp (follow up book) from Slab O Concrete.
I have a habit of looking at creators' work and searching for some evidence of development or progression. Maybe this is not a good habit but I can't help it, and I can't help feeling dissatisfied if I fail to find what I'm looking for.
Fishbowl is a case in point. Chris Tappenden seems to have 3 riffs: the Ed gags, in which Ed the talking-skull-in-a-fishbowl pontificates wearily about his own importance, The Wizard of Odd, who zooms aimlessly around the desert and ends up in trouble, and the Bright-Eyed Crazies tales, in which a group of friends drink, do drugs and perform mildly subversive acts — this time around they end in virtual reality fighting an evil corporation, although it all turns out to be a dream (or is it?). I've seen these routines before and I can't help feeling that if you've seen 'em once you've seen the lot.
Perhaps that is the point. Variations in this volume include The Image Twins (fashion victims), a nameless page in which an infuriated guy slaughters someone who can't stop talking about his personal life, The Kiss (Serious body-pierced lovers get fatally enmeshed) and Bob and Carol Soap — a couple remain glued to their TV while a revolution demolishes their dwelling, soap opera being more important than anything else. What these have in common is a disgust with fashionable clichés: this juxtaposes oddly with the clichéd nature of Tappenden's regular strips. Perhaps the idea that everything is a cliché, everything is tedious and repetitive.
Or perhaps I'm just trying to find some evidence of deeper meaning in a comic which left me feeling profoundly unexcited.
FISHBOWL #2 [12 A5 GLOSSY PAGES, CARD STOCK COVER WITH PURPLE INK] £1·80 (?) SLAB-O-CONCRETE, P.O. BOX 148, HOVE, BN3 3DQ, UK.
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK
In March '95, publisher Jerome Gaynor sent a letter to a wide variety of small press comics artists outlining an alien invasion of Earth; an invasion which ends 24 hours later with the destruction of humanity. He asked those artists to provide a story of 5 pages or less set within this scenario, with a view to publishing them. He got enough material to fill 80 pages.
Now you might think that 24 short strips in which aliens invade Earth and kill everybody would get a bit repetitive. They don't, probably because limiting each story to no more than 5 pages forced the cartoonists to focus on individual moments, rather than deal with typical alien invasion scenarios. Some tales are touching, some bizarre, some are sick, others are very straight; naturally, most have a rather nihilistic themes and/or endings, (Hey! All of humanity dies! Whatcha expect?) although at least 2 have happy endings — both staring dogs, oddly enough.
Art is pretty crude and basic, although everyone here has mastered the basics; inking may be scrappy (just the way I like it) but everyone here can tell a story.
If you like any particular cartoonist's work here, there are three pages of contact addresses in the back, so as well as being a good read in itself, this is also a great introduction to a large sample of American small press comics.
David A Simpson
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK [88 22x18cm PAGES, 2 COLOUR GLOSSY CARD COVER] $5 + $2 P+P. JEROME GAYNOR, P.O. BOX 63207, ST. LOUIS, MO 63163. OR SPIT AND A HALF, PO BOX 18510, DENVER, CO 80218, USA — WHERE IT'LL COST YOU $7·50. Alternatively see if the UK's own Slab-O-Concrete has any in stock.
Flying Saucer Attack at Jerome's website. (cover image.)
FUN COMICS #4
Young hero Sam is busily playing Luke Skywalker when he's called in for his tea — however, before he can say "Dinner-Dinner-Dinner-Dinner Batman", a passing ship full of space aliens capture him as a test subject... Meanwhile, they substitute an idiotic robot Sam to take his place — and his even more idiotic mates Penny and Jayce don't even notice...
This comic is exactly what it says — Fun. It's full of all our favourite space clichés, and drawn by a brushsmith with an iron wrist. I think artist Paul Davies is in fact a robot sent by space aliens to substitute either Andy Roberts or David Morris — he's that good — you can even compare him with some real David Morris on the back page. The man has technique coming out of his ears.
The ironic thing is, Paul seems to be honoured to have a poster in the back by Peter A Bangs, when in comparison Peter's drawing just looks wrong somehow (? I dunno, can't put m'finger on it, body & legs 50:50, seven heads high, but...)
So go and buy this! If Mooncat asks nice enough I may even send his copy back*...
FUN COMICS [#3 20, #4 24 A5 PAGES] 75p EACH. PAUL DAVIES, 9 CORSECOMBE CLOSE, RUDDSHILL, FERRYHILL, CO DURHAM, DL17 8DB. *mooncat: He did, happy me!