Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Giant Size Man-Thing!

So moving house has meant a lot of sorting through my comic collection. There has been some culling and some of the orphans are now up on eBay if anyone is interested. This sort out combined with my trip to the Birmingham comic convention has rekindled my interest in some of the old stuff in my collection. So what I thought I would do in between completing my Apes marathon and starting my British Invaders 30 day challenge was pick out the occasional comic and discuss it here.

So let's start with one I actually bought for a £1 from one of the dealers at Birmingham. Why did I buy this issue? Well it's because I remember the cover and the story. It's possible that I read it as a back-up story in one of the 1970s Marvel UK black and white reprints that I used to get. I don't have any other Man-Thing comics in my collection but it just struck me while I was flicking through back issues in Brum. Whimsey!
So this is Man-Thing issue 17 from May 1975 written by Steve Gerber with art by Jim Mooney and colours by Petra Goldberg. The editor was Len Wein who created Swamp Thing for DC and who was instrumental in getting Alan Moore to write his break out US comic as previously discussed here. Steve Gerber is the writer most associated with Man-Thing. His 39 issue run is regarded as a cult classic.

The story is "A Book burns in Citrusville". The Man-Thing itself is a fairly passive participant in the story. A pop star and his entourage have been attacked by what appears to be a raving, elderly Viking. The attack was ended by the Man-Thing and this issue starts with people picking up the pieces. There's a young woman who is the Viking's grand-daughter, a disc jockey who is the nearest thing that the Man-Thing has to a friend, a group of hunters have discovered the creature's apparently dead body. And then there is Mrs Olivia Selby. Mrs Selby in contemplating all that has happened recently in the fictional town of Citrusville, Florida and has found what she believes is the answer, in a high school biology text book. She discovers to her horror that the town's teenagers are being taught about sex and that must be the cause of all the town's troubles. Yes, that's right, the attack on the pop star, the axe-swinging Viking, and the shambling muck man are all because "We've been letting those teachers fill our kids' heads with dirt and filth!"

Before you can say tea party she is leading a Mothers' march for decency and taking her demands to a town meeting. You can see where it's all headed, and the point that Gerber wants to make in the coming issues. Meanwhile the Man-Thing has had some sort of emotional melt down that has left it insensate, so the hunting party decide to drag it to a nearby sewage treatment plant and dispose of it in a chemical treatment vat. The issue ends with the creature apparently dissolving into nothingness while the peaceful townsfolk take to the streets and start looking for torches to burn.

It's all quite bizarre and taken out of context doesn't make a lot of sense. Except to say that every American writer eventually gets round to writing something about book burning. And quite right too. Whether I should follow up by looking for Man-Thing issues is a tricky one but it's certainly a fun cover and story title.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Escape Act

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme. And it's number three in the Ape franchise: Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Released in 1971 and directed by Don Taylor. Roddy McDowell returns as Cornelius having handed his ape mask to David Watson for the second film while he was away directing a film in Scotland. Kim Hunter plays Zira for the third time and and Sal Mineo is briefly in it as a third Chimpanzee called Dr. Milo.

It is Dr Milo who has set up the major plot device for this film. Apparently he recovered Taylor's sunken spaceship from the first film and has been working to understand it. With remarkable prescience the three chimps have foreseen the war and the destruction of the planet that took place at the end of the second film, and have left in Taylor's ship just in the nick of time. The explosion and shock-wave have somehow propelled them back through the same space-time thingy that Taylor and Brent encountered and they find themselves in 1970s America. This is a bit of a cheat really, we were given Taylor's time travelling as a consequence of Einsteinian time dilatation but now we have some space time portal that is apparently two way. Anyway they need that bit of physics cheating to set up the memorable scene of the three space-suited astronauts climbing out of the beached spacecraft and then shocking the welcoming party by removing their helmets to reveal themselves as Apes. Where did they get those spacesuits and helmets from anyway?

After this great opening and the further revelation that these apes are intelligent the film gets very talky for a while. Poor Dr Milo is rapidly dispatched by a depressed gorilla in the zoo. A truly terrible man in a furry suit performance by the gorilla by the way. Then Cornelius and Zira are presented to the world and get caught up in a whirl of parties, shopping and social events. Meanwhile serious men are talking serious talk in secret rooms. Zira manages to let slip pretty much the whole plot and all their secrets about mankind's future. There is a nicely sinister performance by Eric Braeden as Dr Otto Hasslein, the physicist mentioned by Taylor in the first film who now becomes the driving force in the campaign to neutralise the apes. His accent seems a little variable (German? South African?) but he's a restrained and creepy bad guy.

Once we learn that Zira is pregnant (and in convenient fashion she blurts this out herself, not very good with secrets is our Zira) then we can see exactly how the plot is going to play out and there are no surprises from then on. And here we get another huge time paradox of the sort that makes my head hurt if I think about it too  much. The sort of thing that Doctor Who cheerfully bashes through week after week. I don't think I am giving too much away if I say that Cornelius and Zira's son survives to the end of the film and sets up the next sequel and in fact the Planet of the Apes itself. But if Taylor hadn't gone into space, and if the chimps hadn't found his ship, and if ... Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, number three is a much better film than its predecessor. There's not much in the way of action but the central performances are good. There are also brief appearances from notable character actor M. Emmet Walsh (Deckard's boss in Blade Runner) and Ricardo Montalban (old wrathful Khan himself). Montalban's limp, the result of a nasty horse riding accident, is quite obvious in this film.

Despite the physics cheating and the major time travel paradox this is a much better scripted film than number two and quite a fun watch. Now onwards and upwards to Conquest!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Dark Judges

One more set of images from Brumcon. This a colour print of the four Dark Judges from 2000AD by Dean Beattie. It's a long panel so I've scanned it in two parts. Not quite sure where I'm going to put it yet. Not sure a picture of Judges Death, Mortis, Fear and Fire would be appropriate for my surgery wall!

More sketches from Brumcon

I confess this only my second visit to a comics convention and the first time I have had some sketches done. It was rather fun and I can see why it becomes so addictive for comics fans several of whom were carrying splendid sketch books full of beautiful images collected from different artists over the years.

I'm most pleased with my Matt Brooker images because they are of two favourite characters, but I also got two other sketches done.

This is Hammerstein from 2000AD's ABC Warriors for my son, Tom. It was done by an artist called Roger Mason.
And this is Deadlock also from the ABC Warriors which I will be sending to my brother, a fellow 2000AD fan. The artist is Kev Crossley.

Matt Brooker and Ian Edginton

I've blogged here several times about the fantastic Scarlet Traces graphic novels which I did a set of annotations for a couple of years ago. The writer Ian Edginton and the artist Matt "D'Israeli" Brooker had tables next to each other at Brumcon. I chatted to them about Scarlet Traces and their recent books which I got them to sign for me. They are both charming fellows and it was a pleasure to meet them and to discuss the annotations and their plans for another Stickleback story..

I also got Matt to do me a couple of sketches. The first is of the older version of Major Robert Autumn from Scarlet Traces.

I think he looks splendidly cantankerous.

And this one is Delerium from the Sandman comics for my daughter Jenny. Delerium is her favourite character. We both like her slippers.

Alan Davis

Alan Davis has drawn Miracleman, the Fantastic Four, X-men, the JLA and he was the artist on my favourite Captain Britain story of all time: the Jasper's Warp. He was a little more brisk and businesslike than Dave Gibbons. He was doing more detailed sketches for £10 a go which did slow things down a bit. There were also several blokes in the line who seemed to have brought an entire library of books for him to sign which created a few grumbles. Anyway I got to meet him and thank him for Captain Britain. The first book I got signed was another Amazing Heroes issue with a fairly well known cover.
I also had issue 3 of the Marvel UK run of Captain Britain just because I liked the cover so much. Again this issue made him pause and flick through the pages commenting on what good condition it was in and asking if I had bought it when it first came out, which I had.

It must get repetitive just signing the same books over and over again. If I go to any more signings I will definitely try to dig out some more obscure items to bring along as that seems to amuse the creators and generate some chat.

Anyway here's Captain Britain #3 which will soon be framed and on my office wall.

Dave Gibbons

Mr Gibbons is most famous for Watchmen of course, but over the years he has drawn Superman, Martha Washington, Doctor Who and just loads of great comics. I queued for about 30 minutes to get him to sign a couple of my books. He was an absolutely charming chap who had something to say to everyone in the line. He was signing books, doing very quick head sketches of Rorschach, posing for photos and generally being a true gentleman.

Most people were carrying copies of Watchmen for him to sign but I thought I would bring some slightly more obscure comics from my collection. So I found this Watchmen cover he did for an issue of the Amazing Heroes fanzine.
And a lovely cover he did for Action Comics in 1988
Dave Gibbons greeted them as if they were old friends and was delighted to see them. We spoke briefly about the covers while he signed them and I thanked him for the enjoyment that I've had reading his comics over the last 30 years. It was a real pleasure to meet him.


Yesterday I spent a happy day wandering around the Birmingham comic convention. I met a number of well known comic creators including Dave Gibbons the Watchmen artist, Alan Davis who did Captain Britain and Miracleman, And Ian Edginton and Matt "D'Israeli" Brooker who are the writer and artist respectively on Scarlet Traces and Stickleback.

It was all great fun. I rummaged through back issue boxes, picked up some old issues I was looking for, spent too much money on new stuff, and got some sketches and some books signed. I even took part in a panel game called "Play your comics right" and was on the winning team!

It was all splendid and I'm going to interrupt my Ape postings to put up some scans of my acquisitions. Let's start with a not terribly rare 1960s X-Men issue which I bought just because I love the cover.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beneath Contempt?

The second film in the series is Beneath the Planet of the Apes. And if the first one zipped along then this one is just rushed. The success of the original obviously pushed the studio to make a quick sequel and the pressure shows. It starts out as a classic sequel as Joe Bob Briggs would say, which is to make the exact same movie again. So another Astronaut crash lands, meets up with Nova, is soon in a fur loin cloth and gets captured by apes and then we get some escape and recapture excitement and a lot of chasing around on horses. The stunt men really earn their pay here as there are several big falls and horse stunts plus a tricky fight on top of a horse drawn carriage. Considering that the stunt men and women were doing this in ape costumes and probably had their vision obscured by the masks it's all pretty impressive. There's also quite a few horse falls which I don't think they would get away with nowadays.

But all this impressive action can't conceal the padding that goes on in the first half of the film. The writers were looking for something to make the film different to the first and they certainly found it in the second half! The astronaut, Brent, and Nova escape to the forbidden zone and find themselves in the remains of the New York subway system. Then there's a bunch of telepathic mutant humans who worship an atomic bomb. For no obvious reason they seem to be at war with the apes who are currently marching towards them. There's some weird telepathic visions that the mutants are using to keep the apes away. And then Charlton Heston turns up again to be forced to fight Brent before a final shoot out with all the Mutants pulling off rubber masks to reveal their hideously scarred faces.

The writers seemed to have just been throwing stuff at the screen and hoping some of it made an impression. There's a lot less talking and symbolism than in the first film. Although there is one brief moment when Ursus and Zaius lead the Gorilla army out of Ape City towards the forbidden zone and their path is blocked by some Chimpanzee peace protesters who are swiftly bundled off into nearby prison carts. The film was released in 1970 and presumably they were trying to make a point about Vietnam. Perhaps we are meant to ask the same question about the Apes march into the Forbidden zone as people were asking about America's involvement in South Asia: Why would you want to go there at all?

So the script is not up to much; the stunts are pretty good; the extras wearing monkey masks are far more obvious in this film (perhaps the new director Ted Post wasn't at skilled as concealing them as his predecessor Franklin J Schaffner) and the telepathic mutants seem to have wandered in from a different film all together. James Franciscus does a pretty good job as Brent, he seems to have been cast because with a beard he looks like a younger Charlton Heston. Although once he meets up with Taylor and with the Mutant guards you do notice that he's a bit on the short side. Charlton Heston is not in the film very much and made it pretty clear that he wanted Taylor to be killed off and to hopefully end the franchise altogether. It's also obvious that between the first and second films is when Heston made the actor's decision to start wearing a hairpiece.

Anyway the film is a bit of a mess altogether. Let's see if Escape from the Planet of the Apes is better.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monkey Business

Before we get started on the 30 day British invaders challenge let's pause (or paws) to consider the Planet of the Apes films. There's a new CGI film out that is set up as prequel to the original film, and to possibly kick-start the franchise that the Tim Burton film seemed to have killed off.

Now I haven't seen the new one yet but what I have done is bought the box set of the original five movies which was nice and cheap on Amazon, less than the price of a cinema ticket in fact. I'm planning to watch them all in order. I know I have seen them all over the years but I only have dim memories of the four sequels, although the final film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, is a fond memory for me because it is the first film that I can remember getting in to see when I was under age. That's interesting in itself, I presume the film had an AA certificate which meant 14 years or older. It was released in 1973 when I was only 11 so I suspect I saw it on a re-release a year or two later. I seem to recall it was a double feature but I can't remember what the other film was. All I know is that myself and some school friends were very pleased with ourselves for getting in to see it before out fourteenth birthdays. Kids, huh?

So anyway I have just watched the original Planet of the Apes movie which is the one I'm most familiar with. Isn't everyone? In fact the covers of both the DVD and the box set features one of the most famous spoilers in movie history in that the famous image used gives away the ending of the film!

The film is pretty much how you remember it: the costumes and make up are good although some of the extras are clearly wearing full face masks rather than the prosthetic appliances that won the first ever Oscar for make up. The setting of the Ape city seems rather small although there are a few nice touches like the chapel sequence when Taylor crashes through an Ape funeral as he tries to escape. Then, of course, Charlton Heston gets to deliver his famous "damned dirty ape" line before escaping with Zira and Cornelius to head for the archaeological dig and from there to Taylor's date with his own destiny.

It all zips along quite nicely. There are several bits that don't make much sense. What was the purpose of the space mission in the first place? Why was there only one woman on board if they thought they would have to start a new human race? How does a talking human doll prove anything at all? And when Taylor and Cornelius have their strange, shouted conversation from opposite sides of a river gorge how did one of them get to the other side? There is also the odd moment when the stranded astronauts find a small plant as the first signs of life on the new planet and immediately dig it up.

But the really interesting thing about watching it now is that the main human protagonist Taylor is, let's face it, a bit of a dick. He clearly has strong views about the foolishness of humanity which he expresses in his captain's log recordings at the start of the film (and which, of course, set up the final shocking sequence). He spends much of the early parts of the film insulting one member of his crew, Landon and generally being obnoxious. He howls with laughter when Landon plants a small American flag in the ground by the lake where their spaceship has crash landed. And when he finds himself the prisoner of intelligent Apes and put on trial by them he doesn't resort to reason to try and argue his case but spends a lot of time shouting, resisting and generally behaving much as the conservative Dr Zaius expects him to.

It's an interesting choice by Charlton Heston. We know that Heston was involved with the screenplay and he practically chose the director himself so clearly this characterisation of Taylor was a deliberate decision by the actor. Heston has left a strange reputation behind, mainly for his involvement with the National Rifle Association but we have to remember that as a science fiction actor he played some very interesting, flawed characters. Think of him in The Omega Man or Soylent Green. He wasn't a straight-forward good guy in those films either.

The other nice feature that I had forgotten is the relationship that Taylor strikes up with Zira's teenage nephew, Lucius, who helps our hero escape. Taylor and Lucius get several nice exchanges about youthful rebellion and his dissatisfaction with the actions of his elders. It's an interesting bit of social commentary from the year 1968 when the film was released and there was plenty of youth in revolt all around our Planet of the Humans.

I was also struck by the fact that the image of Charlton Heston on the wikipedia page about him was taken at the 1963 civil rights march in Washington. The same march that Martin Luther King made his famous "I have a dream" speech on. And in another interesting echo that speech was made on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which was used as the setting for the twist ending in the Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes.

Anyway, enough musings on the original and on Charlton Heston. Next up is Beneath the Planet of the Apes which I remember features mutants, my first encounter with the word Omega, and the actor James Franciscus who was the Simon Baker of his day. Plus there's more of Linda Harrison in a cave girl outfit. So how can it go wrong?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 30 - Your favourite run or series of all time.

The last day of the comic book challenge and it's my favourite comic series of all time. Lots of good candidates from the last 30 days: Halo Jones, Watchmen, Captain Britain, D.R & Quinch or V for Vendetta but I'm going to finish more or less where I started. The best run of stories in my collection, the book that I turn back to more often than any other is Swamp Thing. Scary, funny, moving, poetic - this comic had it all.

Next up is the British Invaders science fiction challenge, but first - some apes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 29 - A comic you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.

To be honest Steampunk is not really my thing and I'm not sure why I ordered Scarlet Traces from Amazon. It was probably recommended to me by the amazon-autobot. Anyway I absolutely loved the plot, writing and fantastic artwork and lapped up the other volumes and anything else that the team of Ian Edginton and D'Israeli have put out since. I've talked about Scarlet Traces quite a lot on this blog already so I'll just finish this penultimate challenge posting by suggesting you read it and let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 28 - Favourite comic publisher

I'm been a bit distracted today playing the Where's WALL-E? game. Almost forgetting to update the blog. So favourite publisher? Do you know I don't really care. In the 70s I was a Marvel, in the 80s I was a DC. Now I don't read either of them. So who publishes 2000AD? Rebellion publishing. Let's pick them.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 27 - Favourite comic book movie.

So comic book movies by and large don't work. Even the most faithful adaptation like Zack Synder's slavish Watchmen doesn't bring across the highlights of graphic story telling. The Batman movies are entertaining but they are nothing like the character from the comics. And something as terrible as the League of Extraordinary Gentleman movie makes us sympathise with the well known curmudgeon Alan Moore who didn't want his name anywhere near the project. Having said all that there is one adaptation of a Moore project that does work both as an interpretation of the themes of the comic and as an entertaining film.

V for Vendetta was one of my favourite comics in the 1980s. I had never encountered a comic book like it. Its themes of resistance and anarchy in a fascist society combined with the powerful black and white art by David Lloyd were just stunning. One of the biggest cliff hangers in comics was the three year wait to find out what happened when Evey Hammond stepped back into the Shadow Chamber. The comic was interrupted when Warrior magazine folded and was not continued until DC comics picked the series up after the success of Moore's Watchmen.

The film version directed by James McTeigue makes some significant changes to the story and the ending but does so in a way that respects the original fiction. It also resists the temptation to unmask the protagonist V. In the letters pages of  Warrior magazine there was much speculation about the true identity of V, but as the story progressed it became clear that Moore was not going to reveal his face. In fact the story is about the  power of the symbolic hero more than it is about the man beneath the mask. The other famous British comic book character who never reveals his face is Judge Dredd. Of course the Stallone film version manages about 10 minutes of screen time before taking the helmet off. But in V for Vendetta Hugo Weaving remains masked throughout, and incidentally produces a fine performance for an actor who has to deliver his emotions through body movements rather than facial expressions. It's a good film with a lot to commend it and Moore could have kept his name on this one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 26 - A comic you wish they would make into a movie

The thing is that most comic books wouldn't make good movies. There is an essential difference between graphic story telling and film, and most of our favourite comic book characters would look ridiculous up on screen. So let's stay away from super-heroes and shambling muck monsters and instead look at a quiet, human interest story. The sort that indie comics do so well, something like Ghost World.

The Essex county trilogy by Jeff Lemire is exactly the sort of moving story that would make a good independent spirited film. The stories within the book about a lost boy, a pair of estranged brothers, and a district nurse making her rounds would do well up on the big screen. Especially when combined with the wide open spaces of Ontario.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 25 - A book you plan on reading.

Blimey! Day 25 already. It will be time for the British Invaders challenge soon.

I have read the first volume of the award winning Bone by Jeff Smith and do plan to get round to reading the whole thing at some point. It looks like straight forward cartoon characters, but is by all accounts one of the great pieces of graphic fiction from the last 20 years. It also comes highly recommended by my Canadian nephew Ruiari so one day, hopefully soon, I will get to it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 24 – dream character team up

A bit like the versus battle question this is not a subject that I spend any fanboy time considering. However if I did then the obvious team up with be to put together the two muck monsters from the main comic book companies. So that would be Swamp Thing from DC.

and the Man Thing from Marvel
The Man Thing is an interesting character. Like the Swamp Thing he was another scientist working on a secret formula that accidentally transformed him into a shambling muck encrusted mockery of a man. He has the unusual ability that "whoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man Thing" which usually just applies to bad guys. He is also the source of endless fnar, fnar jokes along the lines of "have you seen my Man Thing?".

Anyway, Swampy meeting the Man Thing would be sort of interesting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 23 - Your favourite artist

This category surprised me because I never really think about the artists as much as I do about the writers. My shortlist came down to Dave Gibbons for Watchmen, John Totleben and Stephen Bissette for Swamp Thing, Frank Miller's work on Daredevil, and Alan Davis for just about everything. And I'm going to pick Davis for his fantastic work on Miracleman, D.R. and Quinch and , of course, Captain Britain.
Mr Davis is a guest at the Birmingham Comic Con in a couple of weeks' time and I hope to get him to sign this cover for me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 22 - A comic book second volume which disappointed you.

The obvious choice would be The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to the fantastic Dark Knight Returns, which is apparently terrible but its reputation is so poor I haven't actually read it. The first stories of the Ultimates where a terrific wide-screen approach to the Avengers in Marvel's Ultimate universe. The look of the characters will undoubtedly influence next year's Avengers movie. But the Ultimates 2 was really disappointing, especially so as it featured good old Captain Britain.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 21 - Favourite writer

This one is easy to guess. When British and American comics went through a remarkable heyday in the 1980s one chap was at the forefront of the revolution. He's since gone on to some real weirdness as Northampton's resident wizard but Alan Moore has produced more remarkable comics than anyone I can think of.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 20 - Favourite super power or skill.

Invisibility is creepy, and there's the whole clothes and food issue. Super strength seems a bit pointless apart from impressing blokes in a pub. Teleportation is a possibility. But come on, it's flight isn't it? Although they never seem to address the problems of warm clothing, goggles and just getting lost in the air. I think you would need a decent flying jacket and some goggles with a heads up GPS system. That would work.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 19 - Comic book city/universe you wish you lived in

Well I may as well plug my annotations page again. The Scarlet Traces universe contains such a neat idea that I almost slapped my forehead when I first read about it. The idea that the British Empire took the Martian technology left at the end of the War of the Worlds and used it to maintain and extend the empire is so obvious that I would be surprised if hadn't been used in other fiction. Let me know of any other examples. Now it has to be said that by the time of the third volume the British Empire is not very nice but there are suggestions towards the end that changes are afoot. It would be an interesting place to live, especially if I could have the cool car used by the two men from the ministry at the end of the book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 18 - Favourite B-list character

I guess my comic book reading is limited because I keep returning to the same stories and creators. Captain UK was a parallel universe version of our own Captain Britain. Linda McQuillan came from Earth 238 where all super-heroes had been wiped out by the lethal creature know as the Fury. This massacre has left her so emotionally scarred that she was unable to use her powers until the events of the Jasper's Warp forced her to re-don her costume. She briefly went on to join a team called Excalibur but I don't think she has been used much since the 1980s. A B-list character but an interesting one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 17 - Most useless Villain

It's the Silver age Marvel villain who took on the Fantastic Four with his pot of super-glue. Yes, it's Paste Pot Pete, and no matter how Marvel later rebranded him as the Trapster (tah-dah!) he has always been rubbish.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 16 - Funniest comic book/comic book scene.

It's the beardy weirdy again and a strange strip he wrote for 2000AD called D.R. and Quinch. Illustrated with fab Alan Davis art it includes a story about the reprobates of the title managing to get into the movie business and tempting a legendary, mumbling movie star called Marlon to star in their picture. It culminates in this bizarre and hilarious moment involving a pile of Oranges. You sort of had to be there, you know?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 15 - A Picture from the comic you’re reading right now

Reading right now? I'm too busy unpacking boxes. However I have just been reading the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume Century: 1969. So how about this image of the Nautilus, yup the one from Jules Verne.

On that subject check out the excellent annotations from Jess Nevins here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 13 - A book you’ve read more than five times.

A book that repays repeat readings as it reveals more and more of the intricate, clock like design that went in to every facet of the world created by Moore, Gibbon & Higgins.
If you haven't read it yet then put this at number 2 on your list after Maus.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 12 - A comic everyone should read

Still without internet (well without mine, borrowing this from a neighbour) anyway this is an easy one. The comic everyone should read is Maus.

The true story of Art Spiegelman's father, an Auschwitz survivor. The comic book twist used is that the Jewish characters are portrayed as mice and the Germans are cats. It's like a terrible, dark version of Tom and Jerry. It sounds trite but it is one of the most powerful comic books ever written. In 2008 it ranked at number 7 on a list of 100 new classics published since 1983, and that's for all books - not just graphic novels. If ever there was a piece of graphic fiction that showed what the format can do then this is it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The 30 day British Invaders challenge

Here is another challenge that we came up with on the British Invaders Facebook page. It's a British science fiction TV challenge.

British Invaders 30 day challenge
  1. Your first programme/earliest memory
  2. Your favourite Doctor
  3. Your favourite companion
  4. Your favourite character (non Doctor Who)
  5. Your favourite show
  6. Your worst show
  7. The show that really needs to be released on DVD
  8. The best DVD set you own
  9. The most underrated show
  10. The show you don’t get but everybody else seems to love
  11. Your favourite Gerry Anderson show
  12. Your favourite spin off from a TV show
  13. Which missing Doctor Who story would you really like to be found intact?
  14. Your favourite audio drama
  15. Your favourite writer
  16. Who was the best Professor Quatermass?
  17. The show that should be rebooted/remade
  18. The show that should not have been rebooted/remade
  19. Favourite adaptation of a novel
  20. Favourite title sequence
  21. Favourite theme music
  22. Favourite villain
  23. Sexiest character
  24. The scariest or spookiest show
  25. Favourite SF comedy show
  26. Favourite children/family show
  27. Best spaceship
  28. Which missing show would you most like to see restored to the archives?
  29. Favourite alien race or planet
  30. Who would you like to play the 12th Doctor?
I'll start this one myself soon, but if you start it then post a link to your blog either here or on the Facebook page.

Day 11 - Favourite comic book cartoon series.

OK, this is cheating but I'm moving house tomorrow and unlikely to have internet. Like some of these categories I don't really have a favourite comic cartoon series but if I did it would be this one.

Day 10 - Dream vs match.

I can't really get in to the fanboy idea of coming up with fantasy match ups between characters from different comic books. Instead I'm going back to the classic conflict which Marvel comics used, and over-used, when I started reading their comics in the 70s.

It's clobbering time!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 09 - Most touching comic book/comic book scene

Here's one I read recently. I Kill Giants by J.M. Ken Nimura and Joe Kelly is a strange little indie comic book about a young girl who has retreated into a fantasy world to avoid dealing with a real world issue. I won't give the twist away although it is fairly easy to see what is coming, but this is a sweet and touching little book. Very moving and no superheroes in sight.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 08 - Best series being published right now

I don't actually read many current comic series so my field is narrow. I could pick the Walking Dead but that is getting stuck in a rather depressing pattern as previously discussed. So that leaves me to chose something from 2000AD and far and away the best series they are currently publishing is still Judge Dredd.
Dredd is getting more interesting as he ages in real time. Despite the various rejuvenation treatments the character has supposed to have he is pushing 60 now, and there are some hints that he may be replaced at some point in the future. There is at least one younger clone of him on duty on the streets of Mega-city one at the moment, although they have tried replacing him with a younger clone once with disastrous results for the city. It did set up one of my favourite Dredd stories though:: The Dead Man.

 The older Dredd is a more conflicted character than his younger self. He doesn't see things as black and white as he used to. His sympathies for the cause of the Mutants outside the walls of his city have provided some interesting stories recently, not least the one where Dredd saved some imprisoned Mutant children and almost revealed a kinder, softer side of his nature.

The main writer John Wagner has just returned for a new major story line involving the serial killer P.J. Maybe and it just might be the end of Dredd. Who knows?