Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The gap between panels / Rehabilitating Red Sonja



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum







Gail Simone’s soft reboot of Red Sonja shows you that origins matter. Rather than try to refit the deeply problematic foundational ideas behind the character to the 21st century, Simone sweeps all of them away and starts afresh. Sonja’s mercenary career is not kicked off by being raped by the marauders who kill her family. There is no deal with the gods whereby incredible fighting powers are granted on the proviso that you can only have sex with someone who defeats you in battle. Instead, Simone’s Sonja learns swordplay as a slave in the gladiatorial arena. Like Spartacus, her mission is to free slaves and kill slavers. No gods are involved. Her purpose and her choices are her own.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Brain teeth / Endless nameless part 3: The Dream Key doesn't exist




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





Right. This here is the third part of a three part thing I wrote about Nameless and Grant Morrison and meaning and stories and stuff.

This is your final warning.

(Part 1 here) (Part 2 here)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Women in Comics: Musings Of A Grumpy Lesbian Comic Book Nerd / How Spider Women Alpha could save the female spider books




ISLAY
Twitter






The thing about crossover events in comics is that they’re a pain in the arse.

Often blatant attempts to force readers to buy more titles by making it impossible to track a character’s arc through just one, they feel money-grabbing, not only prioritizing profit over the needs of a readership – but over quality story telling. A story arc stretched over multiple different books, each inevitably with different creative teams having to work to keep intact their own style around a story being foisted upon them from on high, almost always leads to a clunky, disjointed headache of a narrative, badly paced, convoluted and confusing.

The gap between panels / A perfect moment



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages




Comics are all about picking your moments. A creator always has to break down each scene into the individual panels that best encapsulate what they are trying to convey. They are selecting a number of freeze-frames from continuously flowing experience, and from those fragments the reader pieces together that experience again. That process feels highly artificial and constrained compared to the moving image or the free flow of prose, which better imitate the passing of time. In comics certain fragments of experience are always isolated and brought forward at the expense of other bits. We have to dwell on them and try to work out what’s happening in the bits we don’t see in between.

Monday, May 16, 2016

An OH DEAR GOD WHY Presentation / Goodnight Cooke




AMIR
Barbican Comic Forum






Darwyn Cooke, the timeless progeny of Kirby, Bass and cool things in general, has passed. He was 53, had drawn Wonder Woman taller than Superman, had most recently collaborated with Love and Rockets Gilbert Hernandez on The Twilight Children and was readying a new creator owned project. He was known for DC: The New Frontier, his Parker adaptations, a rebirth of The Spirit and too much more.

Brain teeth / Endless nameless part 2: Macro meaning vs Micro meaning




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





This here is the second part of a three part thing (Part 1 here) about Nameless (a comic), High-Rise (a film) and various types of Meaning (which is - I don't know - a concept or an idea or something? Who knows?). Hold on to your butts.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book club / Getting more future



Judge Dredd: The Apocalypse War
By John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art by Carlos Ezquerra and Mike McMahon







The London Graphic Novel Network takes a trip to Mega City One and gets into nuclear war with Judge Dredd: The Apocalypse War! Somehow managing to drag in Love and Rockets and Neil Gaiman as well as psychically predicting articles in the Guardian as well as advising the best etiquette for talking about comics at dinner parties Questions include: Is most of 2000AD mediocre to awful? Which famous TV character does Judge Dredd most resemble? And how long does something have to run for before it gets good? 


Monday, May 09, 2016

Brain teeth / Endless nameless part 1: High-Rise and "It's all subjective"




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





For some reason I brought a copy of the new Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham book Nameless. And a little while after I went to go see that new High-Rise film. I had some thoughts about both plus meaning and stuff and how it works and things like that and so figured that maybe it would be a good idea to write some of it down. So here you go (thanks to Mazin for his comments which I have included within...).

Friday, May 06, 2016

Runaway imagination on the back of a wild mare / The Chomunnist Party



NEVS
Raygun Comics East (Manager)




So this month it’s Frank Cho. Again.

For those of you who haven’t been following this, Udon Comics showed off one of the variants to their upcoming ‘Cammy’ mini-series. Said Variant is by Frank Cho, doing his Spider-Manara schtick again. While normally Frank’s covers work on this formula: Frank posts cover. People Tut. Frank sells cover for lots of money anyway (except for that time someone actually said they’d hit him for the Spider-Gwen piece Cho drew, because comics are nothing like a religion and people don’t take wrong depictions of fictional characters as some kind of blasphemy in any way.) This instance has been a little different.


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Events / May

















Here are all the very best comic / graphic novel events happening in libraries across London in May. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The gap between panels / Repetition repetition repetition



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages




In the 2003 republication of his essay Writing For Comics, Alan Moore adds a postscript in which he turns from offering advice to newbies thinking about a career in comics, to suggestions for creators who have already established themselves. It’s couched in a partial rejection of some of the techniques he had recommended back in 1985 – most notably the idea that you needed to provide a kind of bridging device between pages to keep readers interested. Moore admits that he pretty much gave up on that as soon as he finished Watchmen, and he argues that he was right to do so. His central claim is that artists need to keep developing, for their own sake as well as for the sake of their audience. Creators should always be trying to challenge themselves, and avoid repetition like the plague.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Women in comics: musings of a grumpy lesbian comic book nerd / Are Marvel and DC good for young female audiences?




ISLAY
Twitter





The fact that Marvel and DC are, at last, acknowledging the existence of their female audience is a refreshing change for me, given that I’ve been reading comics since I was twelve but never once felt that I was actually being considered by either of the big two as an audience member until a few years ago. With exceptions from occasional individual creators like Gail Simone (hallowed be her name), the overall impression I had from both publishers on a wider level was that if I was ever considered as a consumer of Marvel and DC’s output, it was with scorn by higher ups at both companies and hostility from the men who worked in the comic book shops I went into.

disCONTINUITY / Mechanical Reproduction Beyond the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


COLLIN
Twitter / disCONTINUITY
The Real Batman Chronology Project




This piece originally appeared on disCONTINUITY

How would Walter Benjamin react to entertainment media today? Sheesh. I think it’s safe to say that if you haven’t had an Infinite Crisis of Conscience in regard to the endless cycle of reproduction, reboots, relaunches, remakes, and copies, then you probably aren’t as deeply involved with comic books and comic book media as I am. (Or maybe you’re less jaded.) Corporate Capitalism owns everything we love. Corporate Capitalism sells us our hopes and dreams via the stories we love. And Corporate Capitalism has fleshed these story-worlds into complex narratives, expanded universes, official canons, etc… Should we beware? Are these things already damaged goods? Or are they still enjoyable and fresh, but soon to be soiled just around the bend, come the hundredth issue of the tie-in comic or 16th spin-off movie of the year? Over-saturation is a definite thing, folks. And you know what is even worse? When something you love becomes something you used to love, which then gets over-saturated even more. Disney, Warner Bros, Michael Bay, mega-budget cinematic universes, and network TV shows are all responsible and at the core of what makes rinse-and-repeat entertainment culture so awful. Let’s not even get into big studio rip-offs and remake films.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Crown on the ground / Nos Ancêtres Les Gaulois




EMMA
Twitter / Comicosity






On March 30th, Charlie Hebdo published an English translation of an editorial slated for the latest print magazine on their website entitled “How Did We End Up Here?” It’d been standard practice for nearly a year, but this particular editorial drew immediate international attention due to its proximity to the terrorist attack in Brussels and the intensity of the rhetoric. Many, including the author of an opinion piece for The Guardian bearing the title “How Did Charlie Hebdo Get it So Wrong?”, took the position that this editorial was the final confirmation that Charlie Hebdo was, in fact, proper racist for claiming that all Muslims are complicit in acts of terror because they play individual roles in a wider plot to undermine freedom of expression, softening up secular, pluralist societies like France’s for acts of spectacular violence. The editorial’s claims are staggering, espousing a practically Maoist line of reasoning, but it didn’t appear spontaneously on March 30th. Charlie Hebdo’s overt racism has been apparent for quite some time, festering in carefully maintained blind spots until it became too virulent to ignore any longer.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book club / Everything except raw strength




Batman:
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Written by Frank Miller 
Art by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley






Who's up for a sequel that breaks all the rules for how a sequel should be done? That's right - we're doing The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank "Crazy?" Miller and Lynn "My eyes!" Varley. Is Batman punk rock or corporation stooge? Is this the point where Frank Miller lost it forever? And why does no one talk about Lynn Varley?


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Snow pavilion / An iron hero without irony




XUETING






When Netflix announced the collection of Marvel heroes it would be bringing the small screen, I was overjoyed to see Iron Fist amongst them, but with Daredevil now in its second series, and Luke Cage's stand-alone show being slated as the next in the pipeline, I'm beginning to wonder what sort of a show we'll end up with.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Crown on the ground / Style over substance




EMMA
Twitter / Comicosity





It’s funny what happens when you take the pressure off a writer or artist. In his off time, Hiroaki Samura, the guy who did Blade of the Immortal, put together a sprawling body of work of painstakingly rendered portraits of what I guess you’d call eroticized violence. Calling it vore or guro doesn’t really do it justice in my eyes because the experience of looking at it was just so alien to anything I’d seen in that category before. If you say guro to me, it’s going to conjure up a mental image of standard commercial manga style illustration of gruesomely violent pornography and what he eventually collected together in The Love of the Brute (Japanese title Hitodenashi No Koi) certainly defies that categorization.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Brain teeth / Propheteering part 3: the return of the return of the return of the return




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





Here's the final part of my Mindless Ones thing: and the bit where I finally get on to the comics stuff - namely: Brandon Graham's Prophet and Grant Morrison's Multiversity. Plus: you know - capitalism and stuff.

ENJOY!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

The gap between panels / On the right way to fall in love with a robot



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages




Alex + Ava, conceived and illustrated by Jonathan Luna and scripted by Sarah Vaughan, is a sharp 15 issue sci-fi romance. Its length is somewhat unusual – sitting between a single trade-length ‘miniseries’ and a multi-year ‘ongoing’ of 50 issues or more. Luna set out to tell the story in only 12 or so issues, but found he needed a bit more room. Nonetheless, the book was embarked on with a very clear end in sight.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An OH DEAR GOD WHY presentation / Superheroes: anabolic steroids for story tellers everywhere




AMIR
Barbican Comic Forum



Fade in. Brooklyn dive bar. Low lights, low lives. Wolverine and Wonder Woman order drinks.
Wolverine orders a Sex on The Beach. Wonder Woman orders a Jaeger bomb.

If my idea works, even a little- you'd call bull on the second line. It would jar with the images cropping up in your head. The Wolverine image is bound up in lumberjack masculinity (with ninjas), you see him snapping back single malts without rocks. Do you even have an idea of Wonder Woman having a favourite drink? Her image is completely bound up in whatever vague notion of Greek mythology we’ve got on the go. And that’s not one that easily answers questions about pub preferences.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Crown on the ground / Falling in love is hard on the knees




EMMA
Twitter / Comicosity





No matter what you see on social media as a story progresses, there’s nothing people love more than the agonizing pace of a good old slow burn romance. Xena and Gabrielle, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Korra and Asami. I mean, if we’re being honest, Korrasami hardly counts, given that the other two really have been going since OJ wore Isotoners but I digress. This week I’m going to tell you a love story full of chance encounters, recriminations, and a third act reunion engineered by a wacky sidekick. It’s the story of how I fell in love with Wonder Woman.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Brain teeth / Propheteering Part 2: The Empire Never Ended




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





Hi. Here's the second part of the Mindless One thing I did. Somehow I managed to get Mazin involved: and Mazin gets into Ursula Le Guin, Star Wars and how Kylo Ren is like Ren Höek.

ENJOY!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The gap between panels / a splash of colour



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages



Probably the biggest upheaval in the way comics are produced over the last 20 years has been in the way they are coloured. Today’s artists still use pencils and inks, but all colouring is now done in Photoshop. The transition happened in the mid-90s – partly spurred on by the new publisher Image. The results jump out whenever you flick through a new X-Men issue, and compare it to something like a reprint of the 80s Claremont run (alternatively, compare the old and new versions of Sandman). I suspect the cheap phonebook-style giant collections of comics classics, published in black and white, are sometimes better than the originals. The full impact of Barry Winsor-Smith’s Conan is definitely clearer in the black and white Savage Sword of Conan volumes, rather than the coloured Chronicles of Conan trades. Colouring back then often obscured rather than accentuated the line art beneath.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Events / April
















Here are all the very best comic / graphic novel events happening in libraries across London in April. You're welcome!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book club / vegan love bunny





Scott Pilgrim
Volume 3: Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
By Bryan Lee O'Malley








Where we reach the third installment of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim saga and grapple with such issues as: When something is so good - what is there to say? How much does fame change things? And is black and white the vinyl of the comic world? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Crown on the Ground / Rules of Engagement


EMMA
Twitter / Comicosity






Welcome to my brand new hopefully weekly column where I pick my brain about comics and you have to watch. The title does, in fact, come from a Sleigh Bells song, and I do like that song, but it’s really just the easiest way to reference the part at the end of The Filth when Greg finds a Burger King crown in a dumpster, because that’s what we’re doing here, finding beauty among the filth, “panning for gold in the archetypal dung of the human unconscious,” as Lady Edith Manning put it in The Invisibles.

To kick things off, I’ve decided to answer a prompt by Women Write About Comics’ Megan Purdy, who wanted to see more riffs on the site’s recent roundtable about brand loyalty between Marvel and DC. I figured I’d try an icebreaker instead of my usual icepick for an opener.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The gap between panels / Comics as TV



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages




So I’ve just finished reading the first two volumes of Satellite Sam by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin, a book about TV shows in the early 1950s. In the interview between the creators at the back of the first trade, both make the point that comics are a lot more like television than they are like anything else. Chaykin worked in TV for a while, and was obsessed with it as a child. He argues that the skills required to work in either format are similar, and he made the transition quite easily as a result.

Brain teeth / Propheteering Part 1: A False Hope




JOEL 
Barbican Comic Forum (Coordinator)





Hi. So I recently wrote something for the Mindless Ones about Star Wars, Batman, Superman and why I love the Ewoks.

ENJOY!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Comics are serious business / Does the world need another Superman movie? (Yes)




TARI
Barbican Comic Forum






Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice [spoiler free review]

After watching the film three times in the cinema (IMAX 70mm, 3D, and 2D), reading/watching a lot of reviews (both positive and negative), getting perspectives from people I reached out to personally, and even breaking down the film scene by scene, I’ve finally felt comfortable writing a review of my own.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Runaway imagination on the back of a wild mare / The passion of the Kal



NEVS
Raygun Comics East (Manager)





The thing is, beyond 'higher sales of the actual comics which have only declined over the last twenty odd years give or take a few blips.', I don't really know what else the comics community wants at this point and all things considered, I'm finding the whole 'BOO THE CRITICS NOT LIKING A MOVIE I HAVE AN INTEREST IN!' reaction on Social Media fairly...

Yeah, okay, I'll say it.

It's fucking embarrassing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

An OH DEAR GOD WHY presentation / Muffling the canon




AMIR
Barbican Comic Forum






Canon:

Noun;

1.) A series of events that are generally accepted to define the story of a fictional world or character.
2.) A thing to fire superhero comic editors out of when reboot season comes to call.
3.) Something to fire you out of if you remind me the spelling means this joke doesn't work.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Women in comics: musings of a grumpy lesbian comic book nerd / The Black Canary problem




ISLAY
Twitter





I’m going to get stick for what I’m about to say, so I’m gonna back up both my ‘female comic book nerd desperate for greater representation in the medium’ cred and my ‘Mega Black Canary fangirl’ cred by crediting Gail Simone’s seminal Birds of Prey run with my first introduction to the genre.

The first time I found a Birds of Prey comic, I was a fat nerdy thirteen year old girl, I was already questioning my sexuality and my father would be dead in less than a year – I was in for a really fucking shit time over the next few years. And during what followed, Oracle, Huntress and Black Canary were an integral facet of my inner world, foundational members of a cohort of female characters that granted me both an escape and a creative outlet whilst I otherwise ground through my miserable adolescence.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The gap between panels / That feeling of vertigo



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum




Are comics at their best when they are hyper-compressed? My adjudication between The Unwritten and Sandman in the previous entry rested on my preference for speed and daring. Sandman’s pondering pace feels like a waste of the potential of the comics form, whereas Carey and Gross’s snappiness feels like its fulfillment.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Runaway imagination on the back of a wild mare / The business of ratio based variant covers is at heart an anti-creative practice. Or #NotALLVariants



NEVS
Raygun Comics East (Manager)




Despite impressions I may have given on various comic message boards, I'm not opposed to the business of the variant cover. In fact, some of my favourite pieces of comic art over the last few years have been variants. Jaime Hernandez's cover for Archie 4, Francesco Francavilla's body of work has been mainly variant based, the last piece of art by Coop was a variant for the 1st issue of Alex DeCampi's amazing B-Movie tribute book, Grindhouse, Frank Cho's ongoing glee at winding up the mindset of some of the more prudish elements of fandom, the Joker/Batgirl piece that drew shock & horror from the peanut gallery because....sometimes The Joker does nasty things to people. Apparently a revelation to an audience that also voted for The Joker to beat a teenage boy to death with a crowbar.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The gap between panels / Writing about The Unwritten



ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum





In the last (first?) column I mentioned that a series like the Unwritten deserves more scrutiny than it has received, because piecing together its big picture feels like it could be a rewarding exercise. In its own way, it is as dense and anarchic as something like the Invisibles, and as difficult to hold together in your mind all at once.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book club / The appearance of risk with no real risks taken





The Authority
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Bryan Hitch










Using Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch's The Authority as an excuse: we go all in on such fun, flammable topics as representation and racism. Is Kaizen Gamorra racist? How can we tell who the bad guys are? And (most importantly) if Grant Morrison was a band - what band would he be?


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Runaway imagination on the back of a wild mare / Why am I buying Amazing Spider-Man 1 again when I just bought it last year?



NEVS
Raygun Comics East (Manager)




I have been told by several sources that there's a tradition in China. Before you go to University (Or College, for our American readers.), you're obliged to spend one year working in the paddy fields. The idea is that you have a greater understanding of how all of society works. That you retain a degree of humility and know where you could be, were it not for luck and your happenstance birth. I'm inclined to think that each of us in different parts of the comic book industry would be very well served doing the same for one week a year.

So Retailers would get to sit in on Previews solicitations, Event summits, Art Direction meetings. Comic Artists and Writers could run till for a week  The PR people at publishing companies get an insight on how drawing comics against deadlines happens in the real world.

Because here's my thing;

Monday, February 29, 2016

The gap between panels / The speed of comics




ILIA
Barbican Comic Forum





Talking about comics is hard at the best of times, especially so when comics are long. And comics are long a lot of the time. Canonical books like Sandman, Preacher, The Invisibles and Transmetropolitan (standard recommendations for newbies and perennials on library shelves) run over 50 issues and took years to produce. They are also formidable undertakings to read, digest and think about.

Friday, February 26, 2016

An OH DEAR GOD WHY presentation / When is a comic book a graphic novel?




AMIR 
Barbican Comic Forum







Hey Sal

Uh Yeah Jean

When is a Comic Book not a Comic Book?

Uhhh I don no Jean?

WHEN IT'S A GRAPHIC NOVEL! HAH!

Uhhh I don geddit Jean.

Neither do I Sal. Now get in the ditch.

So comics and graphic novels, both terms amble around with a lot of dirt on them. Not "childhood days in the park with a ball and scruffed jeans" dirt, more... “fell in a puddle in the creepier parts of Amsterdam filth”.

So this piece is about a theory I've had brewing in whatevers left of my brain. About a broad rule that can distinguish one from the other and take the sting out of the common conception that a graphic novel has more artistic worth than a comic.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book club / They think it sounds like noise





The Incal
Written by Alejandro Jodorowsky 
Art by Moebius 









Taking in pretty much everything from art house flick Hard to be a God to the comedy stylings of Nathan for You we go deep with Moebius and Alejandro "Jodz" Jodorowsky's seminal classic The IncalTricky questions to keep us up include: what is a story? Who put The Smiths on a loop? And why anyone would want to watch a movie where the main character spends three minutes playing a musical instrument? The answers lie within...