Friday, 31 December 2010

How was your Christmas?

Mine was quite quiet too, but that was exactly what was needed :)

Ask me anything

Monday, 27 December 2010

Ask me anything

How long term are your plans for the Pride? Have you got ideas for an ongoing, or is it a self contained story?

The initial main story for The Pride is just a six issue mini seris. However, new connecting bits and pieces are being added all the time, such as the One Page Primers for each character, and another story that should see the light of day soon.

Ultimately though I could write about these characters and their world forever, and I have a ton of ideas for followup series. Maybe if we get picked up by a big publisher I could do it as an ongoing, but for now it will be one, then possibly a series of mini series'

Ask me anything

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Actually..... Do you like Cher?

Not especially. I like the kitsch value of some of her songs, and I can sing along with about 2, but generally no, I can't say I find her a worthwhile artist.

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

You and I wake up in jail together. Using only 4 words, what do you say to me?

What. Did you. DO?!

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do u have any pets?

Nope, not at the moment. I've grown up with a fair few though, mostly cats. I desperately miss having a pet cat, wish I had one now.

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who would you rather sleep with: jessica alba, gwen stefani or lucy liu?

Umm, you do realise I'm a gay man, yes?

Ask me anything

Monday, 13 December 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Pride - FabMan

So, bit by bit, I hope to tell you all a bit more about the characters, with some images and sneak previews along the way.

I'll start with probably the most visible of The Pride's characters, FabMan! Tomorrow's Fabulous Man, Today!

FabMan was born Stephen Wainright to loving parents, and was always aware he was a little different. And for the most part, he was perfectly okay with that.

He's always had an element of pride about him, and when he matured and came out as gay, he came out with a bang.

An awful lot of FabMan's life, character and outward persona became very much about his sexuality and his community. He is, by far, the 'campest' member of The Pride, but also one of the most caring, most genuine, and definitely most flamboyant.

A self-confessed 'gym bunny', Fabs keeps in shape, though his physical state is not the source of his powers. Instead, he's been infused with a powerful force that is an extension of his own pride in himself. His abilities include speed, strength, flight and the ability to generate light and in some cases heat.

Colourful, friendly, and funny, FabMan is the founding member of The Pride, and their defacto PR guy.

Below, you can see some concept art by the incredibly talented Cymon King (website is NSFW), who will be doing a one page Origin story for FabMan as part of The Pride. Above is character design work by series artist, Gavin Mitchell.

That's all I'm willing to reveal so far, for the rest, pick up the book whn it comes out! Keep checking here for further updates and more brief intros to characters.

Monday, 6 December 2010

What's your opinion on the new layouts for Myspace and Facebook?

I have no idea about MySpace I haven't used it in years. As for Facebook...I haven't had much of a play around with it yet, but I think that it could actually be the first positive alteration they have done, EVER! This opinion could yet change

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How's it all going, man?

I am doing very well, if incredibly cold, thanks for asking

Ask me anything

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Pride

Hey all,

I've decided to take some time out and write an introductory blog to my comic book project, The Pride, written by yours truly (, I meant me....ass!) and with art once again by the excellent and ever impressive Gavin Mitchell.

Basically, the idea for the comic started forming in my head all those years ago, through thedeepest mists of time, when once I, yes, dear reader, I was but a younling of around 16 years of age.

During my formative experiences as a gay man (I know, I didn't know either, it's such a surprise, isn't it?), I also rediscovered my love of all things comic books and superhero mostly in the form of Generation X and the larger X-Men series of comics. Now, these I reckon were really helpful to me, being as they are about people who are different, hated and persecuted because of those differences, and really just want to live their lives, and maybe even do some good while they're here.

But what bugged me even then was that although the characters and their struggles were certainly metaphorically akin to the experiences of the gay community, none of them were actually gay (I had yet to discover Northstar at this time, mostly becausehe wasn't really in much of anything at the time...kind like how he's handled now really). And I wondered, what if there was a superhero team where they were all gay. The X-Men are tied together by a similar experience and nature, and so what if this superhero team were the same; joined together by their mutual sexuality, and wanting to change the world (or it's perceptions at least).

It kind of stayed there, in the back of my head, building, forming, changing and bubbling, but I never really brought it out much as I worried about who would read it. Was there enough of a market for a comic about gay superheroes?

But then two things happened that made me change gears and go for it: firstly, my friend and colleague Drew Davies read the script for the first issue and liked it. He said he got it, and encouraged me to pursue it. This was hugely encouraging because Drew is straight; a straight man read it and liked it.

Secondly, I came to realise that I just wanted to tell the story. So whatever happens, it will be out there. And maybe it'll do well, maybe it won't. But maybe some young guy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality will read it and find characters like he is, and that he can on some level look up to.

So that was kind of my impetus to get cooking with the book. That I wanted it to be a story that anyone can read, regardless of sexuality, gender, whatever, and see something of their own problems in there. See characters that are heroic, funny, powerful, kick-ass and at times vulnerable, that just happen to be gay.

Sure, I will touch on 'gay issues' (this is one of the other things which occassionally bugs me about comics, they have the chance to tackle real issues and sometimes they skirt around them), but hopefully in a way that everyone can understand, relate to, and empaphise with...where they are just 'issues'.

But that's kind of it: that's the ideas that gave birth to The Pride.

Now, I'll let you in on the upcoming plans (*squee* etc etc )

The Pride will have it's first main story arc taking place in a six issue run, probably initially self-published, but I hope that a publisher will pick it up at some point, so I can reach a wider audience. If you work for a publisher and like the sound of what I'm trying to do, I'm happy to pitch.

The first arc is called 'I Need A Hero' and tells the story of Fabman as he forms the titular team, with a mission of just doing some good and hopefully changing how their seen in a world where LGBT heroes are treated ever so slightly like a joke. I promise comedy, drama and action, because that is when a comic is at it's best.

Hopefully, the first issue can be seen at some time in 2011.

As a primer for the series, there will be a six-page primer story that I'm gonna keep my hat on a little longer. I was recently inspired to tell this tale, and I think Gav's putting some great work into it, so I'm hoping you'll all like it.

Finally, again as a primer, each character will be getting a one page Origin or Primer story, to help people get a feel for the characters and touch on their origins. Each of these will be handled by a different artist, and I'll reveal each as I reveal more about the characters in the coming weeks.

Hopefully, these will make up a small Primer issue, that will be released at the Cardiff International Comic Expo on February 26th 2011.

As always, for more updates on the comic, stay tuned to and press the 'Like' button.

Well, that's it for tonight! Bye for now! x

If I was to say to you that Commander Worf's head looks like a fanny, would you join me in a laugh?

If I was to say to you that Commander Worf's head looks like a fanny, would you join me in a laugh?

Answer here

How can one tell one has become old?

I think it's when you start using the phrase 'Back in my day'...I started doing that when I was 16...I think even the old people are getting younger....back in my day, the old were just old!

Ask me anything

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ask me anything, about me, my comics, or just randomness. I'll give you your answer

Monday, 29 November 2010

Do you ever miss Aberystwyth?

Quite often. I've not visited in some years now, and I have friends there still, but I can never seem to find the time. But yeah, I really miss it sometimes. You?

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Friday, 26 November 2010

Can you quote one lyric that inspires you, and why?

One which has recently been inspiring a story that I am writing at the moment is by The Irrepressibles, from the song In This Shirt.

"In this shirt/ I can be you/ To be near you/ For a while"

I just find it a hugely moving notion as well as a line, and hopefully it will be a hugely moving story that I am working on as a result.

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Are you looking forward to TRON: Legacy 17th December?

Yes, which is perhaps a little odd as I barely remember the original

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In the cinema the chairs only have 2 armrests but unless your on the end of an empty row, you have other people's arms either side of you. Which armrest is yours?

Umm, the right hand one.

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If you were to film your own version of Carpool ( & shown on Dave Thursdays 20:30 basically Robert Llewellyn offers an interesting celebrity a lift and films the conversation ) who would you have in the passenger seat?

Me. Because I can't drive.

Ask me anything

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Gay Pirates - Cosmo Jarvis

So I just found this while looking around on Thingbox (people there post the most awesome things). I found it utterly adorable. Really sweet but also a lot of fun (even if it does have a lyric about getting gang raped).

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thought Bubble 2010

So, this past weekend I attended the Thought Bubble one day comics festival in Leeds, UK. With me I had the ever creative and ever English (except when he's Welsh) PJ Montgomery (I am NOT his sidekick), and later in the day I was joined by the incredibly talented Gavin Mitchell and his missus, Leanne (lovely girl).

The idea behind going was not only to have a weekend to just geek out at the awesome comics, fanboy gush over creators and generally spend all my money on all things comic books. No no, the idea was also to meet up with various creators we'd been getting to know, network and schmooze and maybe even spread the word on our comic, Stiffs (and maybe a little of The Pride too).

So really, it was a mix of business and pleasure, and you know what, it was rather brilliant for both.

(I also had to pick up some Christmas presents for myself from my mother, to be wrapped and given back to me on Christmas Day. What I managed to get was an original page by Marc Ellerby for his Phonogram: The Singles Club story and a canvas print of a cutesy Batman by Dave Evans Illustration)
Merry Christmas to me!

Me and Paddy went up the night before and stayed with our friends Dave and Lolli, who live in Huddersfield (big thank you for their hospitality). First thing on the Saturday morning, we made our way to Leeds, and quickly found ourselves at the Royal Armories Hall, next to Savilles, and joined the MASSIVE queue of people waiting to get in.
It was awesome to see the con looking so busy, and everyone in the crowd so eager to get in. The air was generally that of excitement, and when the doors eventually opened we began pouring in at a steady pace. Me and Paddy got ourselves sorted, and made our way inside.
Now, I've been to Thought Bubble once before, back in 2008. Amazingly, I thought the main hall looked bigger. I don't know how exactly they managed it, but it just did. The number of people exhibiting ther wares seemed to have vastly increased, as did the number of fans pouring through the doors. By the time Paddy and I were inside, it was already heaving with people. Also, there seemed to be more cosplayers than I ever rightly recall seeing in one place at any time, ranging from genuinely good, well thought out costumes; to the utterly awful, looking like they knocked something up in the space of five minutes when they rolled out of bed in the morning. At any rate, all seemed to be having the time of their lives.
We made a quick lap of the hall, getting our bearings, seen as we had just narrowly missed out on the first panel we wanted to attend due to our getting through the doors a little late. Wasn't long before we saw one of the first guys we wanted to see, as it would be Paddy's first time to meet him, Adam Cadwell.
One snag in getting to him: the queue of people waiting to see John Romita Jr. was sooooooo long that it actually came right up and blogged the tables for Adam, Marc Ellerby, Kayla Hillier and more.
Paddy and I joined the queue as we figured at least then we'd get to Adam, at some point. Of course, by the time we reached his table, Adam had wandered off somewhere. Kayla recognised me though (something I still find hugely odd, the number of people who 'recognise' me from Twitter), and we got talking with her at the table (lovely girl!) and checking out her work and Adam's portfolio showing off Blood Blokes pages. Sadly, BB wasn't ready for TB10 as was hoped, but frankly, the pages he had showing were totally amazing. It looked very slick, totally professional, and frankly the kind of quality you'd expect to see in a big Image book; so waiting a little longer so that it's ready and at suh a high quality will be totally worth it. If you know nothing about Blood Blokes, or Adam and Kayla for that matter, I absolutely suggest checking them out.
Now, we'd had a minor misunderstanding at the doors coming in to the event. Paddy was told that he didn't have access to the afterparty, as the person on the door thought only the first 50 tickets did, and Paddy was number 54. Well, Kayla was very helpful, suggesting people we should talk to, in fact, so was Howard Hardiman, Adam, Marc and more throughout the day. Of course, it turned out to be a mistake, and all was fine, but this was the first sign of the feeling that for me became the over-riding feeling of this con: that the UK independent comic scene is a very close knit, and friendly community.
I should mention actually that we also stopped by Howard Hardiman's table, and saw some of his excellent work too (seriously, pick up a copy of The Lengths you guys). Now, Howard is someone I had spoken to a couple of times on Thingbox, a gay social networking site, and had always found him very friendly there. Awesomely, in person he continued to be totally friendly, sweet and generally an all round nice guy.
We decided to stay in the queue and en route spoke briefly with Anthony Johnston, before getting to John Romita Jr. Now, through a massive oversight, I had not brought anything for him to sign (wtf, right?), but Paddy gushed like a child seeing Father Christmas when he met one of the best creators in comics.
We briefly had a word with Paul Cornell, ever the gentleman and lovely guy, who was signing and giving out free comics, because he's just awesome like that. By this point, it was time to meet up with Gavin.
After finding him (a minor logistical nightmare, as inside the hall we had no reception on our phones), we went back inside to catch up with the now returned Adam, Kayla, and also Marc Ellerby who was also back at his table. Now, we bought a lot of these guys comics, and stayed chatting with them for a little while, because not only are they very talented but they're all really nice people too. And of course Adam had been colouring Gav's work on Stiffs, but this was the first time we'd all met.

I left Adam doing an excellent sketch for me, and went down a table to meet Jamie McKelvie. The man was, well, a busy man, signing loads of his work and chatting with fans. When I handed over my comics for him to sign and he asked my name, he (again, oddly) recognised the name, and tapped up Kieron Gillen (who had just returned from a panel, I think) and told him who I was, who immediately dropped what he was doing and shook my hand, which made me feel like a fanboy again (if Paddy was gushing over JRJr. then I was having a slight fan moment right now). Anyway, again, totally nice guys, and enthusiastic and chatty with fans. I picked up a copy of Phonogram: The Single's Club as although I had all the singles, I wanted to get the trade too, as it's really nicely produced. If you have notread this awesome piece of pop history, go online, find a copy, and buy six. NOW!

(On an aside: I've today realised that with both Phonogram trades I read the Glossary first. No idea why I do that (aside from it being hugely informative and my music knowledge is a little lacking, and incredibly funny too))

Anyway, meeting back up with the guys (and retrieving my sketchpad with a new awesome Cadwell sketch inside) we moved on to a panel that Adam was on, about the ins and outs of Self Publishing. The panel also featured Tom Humberstone (who I'd just picked up all three Solipsistic Pop's from), Liz Lunney, Phillipa Rice, Kristyna Baczynski and Matt Sheret. This was hugely helpful stuff, and if nothing else has made me want to organise some kind of Drink And Draw style event in Cardiff. I'm going to be looking into that now, and will let you all know how that comes along.

Con sketch: Zombie Little Adam by Adam Cadwell

At this point, the group kind of split up for a bit, but not before Gavin showed me the full six pages for a The Pride story, that will hopefully be the first The Pride story available for everyone to check out. The six pages looked fantastic, and I really think that anyone who picks up the comic when it's done will be totally wowed by the fantastic work Gavin is putting into it. If only my words can live up to those pages!

During this time, me and Paddy continued exploring and doing some fanboy style stuff, mostly getting sketches or signatures (I sadly only managed to get two sketches, Adam's and an excellent Generation X's Chamber sketch done by Becky Cloonan). Then, it was time for me and Paddy to get interviewed.

Becky Cloonan with her skecth's of 'Generation X's Chamber she did for me.

Yup, we were interviewed by Sidekickcast guys about Stiffs. It was a little weird, being interviewed about a book that wasn't out there yet, but also totally cool too. As soon as I hear anything about when that interview is available for listening, I'll let you know.

Meeting back up with Gav, we dived back into the con to continue signature hunting, before the day finally drew to a close. The day was totally fantastic, really useful and fun for us in terms of what we were planning and want to do with our comics.

We checked out the afterparty in the night too, meeting up with the guys from Dead Star Publishing, and meeting new people as well, in the form of April Nash and Rhiannon Lucy May. In fact, I cannot possibly recount the host of new people I met (as my memory for names is pretty dire, plus I was pretty drunk by this point).

But the afterparty served to exemplify again exactly how I felt about the con and the UK comics scene: it's a community. And one I loved, and I embrace, and oh my god, I have found my place! It's awesome. I mean, anywhere I can be stood at a bar, listening as the theme to Quantum Leap comes on and then wind up having a huge conversation with a random stranger girl about QL and how exactly did it end, is an awesome community in my book.

We sadly didn't get much time to dance to awesome DJ sets being let out through the speakers, as our train back to Huddersfield was fast approaching. So after mingling at Warp Speed and saying a quick, slurry, drunken 'Hey!' to Adam, Marc and Howard, mine and Paddy's Thought Bubble 2010 was over.

Or sort of, anyway. End of the day, we met a lot of cool new people, got out a lot of info about the comics to such people, and also learned a great deal which we can now work on in our own efforts to get something out on that scene, and properly become a part of that community.

The biggest thing I think we learned is to stop freaking out about our comics and getting them out to publishers etc. To just try it, to put stuff out on our own terms, whatever that may be, and see how it goes. Learn from the mistakes, but have the courage to make them, and to realise that a comic as an artefact of art can be anything, whether it be a glossy American styled floppy, to a photocopied table napkin with a narrative. It's just a matter of DOING IT and putting it out there.

So thanks to everyone we met at Thought Bubble 2010, and thanks to the organisers for putting on a great show! Look forward to seeing you all next year, and hey, maybe next time we'll have a table too.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Can I have a tenner please?

Depends what it's for :P

Ask me anything

Ask me anything

Ask me anything

Which writer working in comics today would you most like to collaborate with on the book they currently write?

Ooooh, a good one. Umm, hard to say. I have loads of ideas for the X-Men, and so I guess Matt Fraction and/or Kieron Gillen would be good for that. I'd love to do something with Warren Ellis, but his awesomeness would overshadow, rape and eat my own (not necessarily in that order). Neil Gaiman would be fun to write a tale of humanity with. But I guess I'd really love to work on Green Lantern with Geoff Johns too

Ask me anything

Monday, 1 November 2010

If you could ask George W. Bush one question what would it be?

What on earth made you think you could possibly run a country

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Would you rather be a famous musician or a famous actor?


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What was your favorite toy to play with as a child?

My Power Ranger toys I remember most, but I used to be a huge Transformers fan before that.

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Would you rather swim in a pool or the ocean?


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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In order: a mad scientist, an astrophysicist, Buffy, a comic book artist, a teacher, a writer (especially of comic books)

Ask me anything

If you could ask God one question what would it be?

Where's the beef?

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Do you have any scars on your body? If so, how'd you get them?

Tattoos are scars, you want them too? I have a scar on my belly where my appendix was taken out, and then five tattoos.

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Where would you like to spend your retirement?

Sometimes I think Aberystwyth. I have a lot of fond memories there. But probably somewhere warmer

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If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?

The year I went to study in America. I'd stay there longer, and I'd stay in better contact with the friends I made there.

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Which comic book artist, past or present, would you like to work with more than any other?

Oooh, a toughy. I have a list as long as my arm, and many of them know as I've alread messaged them about it lol. Right now though, I would love to work with Joe Quinones. Love his style.

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What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life?

Hmm, someone bald, obviously.

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How would you describe your personality?

Positive. I try not to let bad things get me down. Sometimes this is kinda unsuccessful, but I never stay down long.

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Who's the most talented person you know?

God, I know so many, it wouldbe hard to think of any singular person as most talented. I can say I'm jealous of all of them!

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What's the best place near you to get a pizza?

Hmm, Valley's Kebabs has some interesting choices.

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Have you ever been fired? If so, why?

Never been fired, sorry. I do my best at whatever I do.

Ask me anything

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Pride Facebook Group!/group.php?gid=158805490809339

Follow the link to join the Facebook group for my upcoming comic project, The Pride.

Have you ever been sick of being misrepresented? Of having no one like you to look up to? Have you ever wanted to change everything?

Well, FabMan has. In a world populated by superpowers, the superhero is common. Sadly for FabMan (Tomorrow’s Fabulous Man, Today), he feels a deep schism in the representation of his community, his own heroic exploits being presented as just big jokes in the news.

Wanting to fight for change, he forms PRIDE, the world’s premier LGBT supergroup. Not a gay superteam, just a team where most members are LGBT. Not exactly receiving the desired response, the group faces opposition from the confrontational Justice Division, more aggressive misrepresentation by the media and are then taken advantage of in the plans of the nefarious Reverend. After a serious trial by fire, the team find themselves the only super team in the world capable of stopping The Reverend’s diabolical plot for world domination.

Join FabMan, Wolf, Sapphire, Frost, Twink, Bear, Angel and White Trash on their mission to help people and improve LGBT representation in the process.

The Pride is a six issue comic book project from writer Joe Glass and artist Gavin Mitchell.

Looking for a publisher at this time.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Weekly Comics Pile 07/10/2010

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 - Jonathan Hickman (w), Dustin Weaver (a)

Tweeview:- "S.H.I.E.L.D4: still not sure how accessible this is. It's genius, and often leaves me needing multiple readings. Art is lovely "

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very interesting series.

It's incredibly that it's a Marvel book to be honest; it's deeply esoteric, complex and not in a years of continuity way, but rather in a genuinely thought provoking and mind-boggling way.

In fact, if you're an average comic fan with no background knowledge of Mystery Schools and esoteric thought, this seems to me really hard to get into.

Myself, I know a bit about the ideas that make up the groundwork of this series. And I'm a massive fan of the book The Secret History by Jonathan Black, so that has helped me understand a lot in this series.

It's genius, essentially working like a mystery school initiation for the reader as much as the characters. It's s deeply thought out that each issue requires multiple readings (as this one will) and then multiple readings of the whole series to date!

However, at this point, it's hard to see where it's going. It's brilliant, but I fear that it could start alienating the average comics reader. Also, it would be nice to see how the events in this book connect with the Marvel Universe as a whole, especially with the heroes we already know.

The art from Weaver is as ever absolutely gorgeous and fitting for the story. It grounds it and gives it excellent pace, whilst still providing interesting and new panel layouts, playing with the art form as much as Hickman plays with the story form.

The back-up material is still some of the most complex, interesting and sometimes frustrating part of the book. It occasionally feels like there's a part you're missing, and for me this issues left me feeling that way. But as I've mentioned, multiple readings required, maybe I'll get it next time.

I'm certainly not going to leave this book, and I hope that no one actually does...but I fear it's a tight rope being walked on a windy day at times.

Chaos War #1 - Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak (w), Khoi Pham (a)

Tweeview:- "ChaosWar1: very old school styled story. Fun but feels light and a little fluffy. Good after Siege etc. Pham's art rough, but good"

This event book has a distinctly old school feel to it. Like maybe '80's era, like Secret Wars. It feels light and fluffy, not terribly serious or thought provoking, and certianly with no real 'OMG!' moment in it. And this is a great idea; a perfect pallet cleanser after the likes of Siege, Dark Reign, Secret Invasion etc.

In terms of modern events, it suffers a little from bouncing around a lot in the beginning, and the comedy feels a little hammy in places. Now, as a Herc book, that fits: the slapstick comedy style of The Incredible Hercules was part of what made it such an incredibly popular book. But as this is meant to be a line wide event, it kind of made the story lose it's gravitas for a moment.

However, towards the end things got back on track, and left us with an interesting state of affairs, and it'll be fun to see where it goes next.

Pham's art on the book is very rough around the edges, and in some scenes it really fits. It's also got a watercolour style to the colouring that really makes for pretty panels and pages. However, it lacks power in some panels. It does tell the story with ease though.

Uncanny X-Force #1 - Rick Remender (w), Jerome Opena (a)

Tweeview:- "UncannyXForce1: interesting set up, nice twists and characterisation. Violence handled better. Art is superb, every panel "

Totally my favourite book this week.

The plot is wonderfully twisty and jumpy in terms of the way it progresses, with interesting set up of the situation, dynamic characterisation and some interesting twists thrown in there.

Fantomex stole the show for me, as he so often does. In this issue he comes across as a man of intrigue but just as much coming in on the ground floor as we are.

I also fancy that Remender is handling the violence better on this book than the violence was done in the predecessor to Uncanny X-Force. In the old X-Force, it was kind of gratuitous and seemed to have deaths for deaths sake a lot of the time. However, here the violence is more subtly played, and it makes it all the cooler and more accessible for it.

I still find Deadpool terribly irritating though, but maybe I'm meant to. All the other characters do after all.

Opena's art is simply gorgeous! Every panel and page is a masterpiece, sumptuous with detail and feel and nuance. He makes the character's look and feel real, even when they're flying in a spaceship made from a puked up nervous system. Also, his Betsy Braddock/Psylocke is sexy without being cheesecake, and that's lovely to see in comics.

I've never seen any of Opena's art before, but frankly he's one to watch for me now.

I'm astounded to say that the overall package of this book now means that I'll be picking up an X-Force book, featuring Deadpool, regularly from now on.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #37 - Joss Whedon (w), Georges Jeanty (a)

Tweeview:- "BuffySeason8issue37: story continues with great pace, and more twists an turns. Art is lovely and serves to story well"

The story continues at excellent pace here, allowing for some witty exposition, great character moments, and fantastic action, not to mention Whedon's regular compliments of unforeseen plot twists and fun.

The art is lovely, and tells the story with ease, and has some really dynamic moments throughout too, and some nice attention to detail.

There's not much else I can say about this's kind of a middle issue that's heavy on exposition but in a good, fun to read way. I definite buy for Buffy fans, but maybe not new readers, you guys may wanna wait for the trade.

Ultimate Thor #1 - Jonathan Hickman (w), Carlos Pacheco (a)

Tweeview:- "UltThor1:fantastic set up, multiple plot lines, interesting hints and parallels. Great choices. Best handling of Ult Thor is ages"

The wonderful thing about Hickman is that there is often a lot going on in his books, but it's always juggled so well and with such ease and class that it makes sense and is totally worth it. Sure, there will be moments when you're a little confused, but the payoff will rock your world.

Ultimate Thor has that going for it in spades. This issue is all set up, and yet there is so much going on in it that it feels genuinely intriguing. We've got three parallel plots running, each in a different time setting, following vastly different characters (although in two of these settings the character's are in fact the same (or are they?)). There's a couple of notes of intrigue too, such as why exactly do we never see Dr. Donald Blake's face? It's quite purposely obscured throughout the pages he's in.

Also, the story features a great choice of source materials that is rarely touched on in recent Thor stories; it focuses on the Nazi's genuine obsession with Nordic mythology. This obsession was genuine in real life, in fact, the swastika is actually an old symbol representing Thor. So Hickman bringing this up and playing it as big as he is, well, this is going to be interesting.

Carlos Pacheco delivers some fine art that moves the story along well, and in some pages and panels it's really beautiful. But I didn't feel blown away by it, like I have by some of his other work. I'm betting he'll blow me away on this book eventually, but this issue is soberly that there wasn't anything crazy brilliant art-wise, just well executed, clear and great art.

One last thing this book has going for it: this is simply the best that Ultimate Thor has been handled since Mark Millar handed the reins of The Ultimates over to Jeph Loeb. This Thor acts and speaks more like how he originally did, instead of feeling like a cheap knock-off of 616-Thor.

I simply cannot wait to read more.

It Gets Better

So, today I learned about the many messages of 'It Gets Better' being made by celebrities in the face of a string of tragic suicides of homosexual teenagers resulting from homophobic bullying, taunting or outing.

The messages are all incredibly moving, whether it be the tear-filled, pained messages from Tim Gunn or Ellen Degeneres, or the frankly shocked expressions from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris.

And it's easy to see why: this senseless loss of life is incredibly tragic and painful. And frightening: that kids can abuse kids to the point that they would end their own lives is terrifying to imagine.

As a result of learning about this, I decided to join in with my own message, delivered through a series of tweets on Twitter. The following is a repost and expansion of those tweets, and my story/message.

When I was younger, around the age of fifteen, I realised that I liked men. In some ways, that made the bullying I received all the more worse, as much of it was homophobic. It felt like maybe they knew some terrible secret I had, and the worst part was the secret was that they were right about me. I had a small group of friends at the time, who I really cared about and enjoyed my time with them.

When I came out, I lost all my friends. All of them. And that hurt. I spent months staying in with headphones on, friendless. I stayed in all the time listening to music (mostly Counting Crows) and writing down the lyrics (oh my god, how emo...but this was before emo! OMG, I created emo! I am SO sorry!).

And you know what, it hurt so bad I often wondered what the hell was the point. I was alone and thought I may always be, and thought 'why should I bother?'. I felt alone and...toxic, like everyone wanted to stay away and maybe they should have.

But I couldn't believe that was how the world was. I was determined there was more to it, and more for me. So I persevered.

Before I knew it, I had made some of the best friends of my life, one of whom, Drew Davies, has never left my life. And they didn't care I was gay. Why should they, it doesn't involve them, it's my life. To this day, Drew is a major part of my life, so much so that I even consider him more like a brother than a friend. He has even graciously allowed me to co-write on his awesome comic idea, Stiffs. Something I couldn't be happier doing.

Back then, I still got bullied. But I was happier, proud of who and what I was. I knew I was better than them, and that gave me strength. I was so strengthened by my new found friends, my new found life, that I openly came out about my sexuality in school. In an odd way, the very event that kept me up at night, my very worst fear, wound up making me kind of popular. Coupled with my own crazy sense of fun and carefree attitude to bullying, I became a better known guy, and friends to many.

And the bullies, though they occasionally flung barbed words my way, meant less and less to me every day.

Let me tell you something, in ten years time, all those bullies will regret how they treated you. Some will even apologise, as they did with me. That original group of 'friends'? All apologised, and I made my peace with them. They were just kids, and kids sometimes don't know what they're doing. They're as scared of themselves and the world around them as anyone else.

However, you will have nothing to apologise for. No regrets. The only thing you'd regret is taking that drastic action that could harm yourself; if the worst happens, could harm you forever. And it's not worth it at all.

I won't lie to you. The world is sometimes hard. And there are some small, hateful people out there. Fewer each day, but there are also so many good people an good things, there's no reason not to want to live in this world.

Sometimes you'll hurt, and sometimes you'll feel such joy. But if ever the hurt gets too much, there are people to talk to. Many schools and institutions have LGBT groups now, many aimed at youth. They care, they really do. I should know, I was part of one. And we worked tirelessly for the rights of those like us to live their lives free from abuse and with dignity and equality.

And in the US, the Trevor Project is there for you. They have a website and a phoneline (866 488 7386) there to help YOU.

So please, if you're thinking of that last statement, please, please, please don't do it. Talk to someone, anyone, as they're are so many people in your life who care and you don't even know it.

It's a hard world, but it's a good one. And it gets better. Every day.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Comics Pile Specal - X-Men: Second Coming

Tweeview:- "X-Men:SecondComing: A classic style X-Men event, done on a grand scale with some epic moments. Art is largely great"


Okay, unlike my other reviews where I do my best to avoid spoilers, I am just not going to bother here. Firstly because it would be next to impossible. Secondly, I'm reviewing the collected Hardcover edition of this event, and so there's little chance that you wouldn't know the key points and major outcomes if you're a comic fan, especially if you're an X-Men fan.

So here's your warning, here be spoilers. If you don't want to be spoiled, and have somehow remained so still, then don't bother reading this review.

Okay, now that they're gone, I'll begin.

X-Men: Second Coming is the third part in a trilogy of events that started with epic, game-changing Messiah CompleX, continued through the X-Force/Cable event Messiah War, and now concludes, as the 'mutant messiah' baby Hope, now a fully grown young woman, returns to the present with her guardian and father figure, Cable.

The story encompasses a vast range of the X-camp, bu mainly focuses on Hope and Cable, Scott Summers, and X-Force. The rest of the X-Men finally learn of the murderous team formed by Cyclops for covert wetworks missions, and some of the initial story points deal with the fallout of this.

Now, on the internet while the series was being released weekly across Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants and X-Force, some fans seemed upset by some points in this series, especially some of the major deaths. I'll go into these individually, but suffice to say, the X-Men find themselves at war, literally, and if there had been no deaths at all it would have been a let-down and would have ruined any idea of realism and drama in the story. The fact that there are also a fair number of mutilations in this series I take with a mixed kind of makes sense that even some survivors would be forever scarred in some way, but it also feels gratuitous and unnecessary at certain junctures.

Onto the plot. Scripting duties are shared out between Matt Fraction, Mike Carey, Zeb Wells and Chris Yost and Craig Kyle. They work well together; for the most part it's hard to tell who's writing which chapters, though Fraction and Carey stand out most as they have some of the most distinctive dialogue to give the characters. The whole piece kind of feels like a Yost and Kyle story, and feels very much like a wider scale X-Force adventure, which makes sense given the villains and the revelation of the team.

However, no matter how vast this story is, and it is vast, the revelation of the X-Force group and the disparate reactions of other X-Men feel ultimately unresolved and incomplete. It would have been nice to see Cyclops having to deal with it more, maybe even facing more dissension in the ranks, but obviously the main point of the story is finding out what Hope is capable of an if she is indeed the messiah they all hope for.

My other quibble with the plot is the use and portrayal of Bastion. Now, Operation: Zero Tolerance was one of the first major crossover X-Men events that I ever read, and was able to get in on the ground floor on, reading it as it progressed in the American issues. Bastion is frightening in his zealotry and being the embodiment of some of the worst features of humanity, despite not actually being human himself. In Second Coming however, he is all machine, and there is nothing of the cool terrifying sentience of the original Bastion here, except in maybe one or two scenes handled by Fraction and Carey, and also at the very end.

As much as I realise that he was merged with a Nimrod unit, it felt a shame that the lead villain was essentially a computer intelligence and came across as such. Luckily, Bastion's cadre of fascists and anti-mutant hate mongers more than make up for it.

Which kind of brings me to why this is a great, classic X-Men storyline, done in the classic vein. This story feels very much like the culmination of decades of stories about the X-Men facing off against a humanity that would rather see them dead. This is a story about the hate and bigotry that those that are different face, and the dark futures that hatred and genocide spawn. And when, ultimately, the forces of the oppressed rally together, not just saving themselves but also the normal, average people around them, it feels like a fitting end to those stories, and that the X-Men can finally move on.

Grant Morrison kind of started doing something similar in his seminal New X-Men run. His stories were still the classic X-Men stories about bigotry and minority groups, but it was told from a different angle; the minority group culture becoming mainstream, the 'coming out of the closet' and rallying Rights movements. But they were all still essentially 'classic' stories; there was a bigotry one, a genocide one, a space one and a dark future one.

Here however, the story ends with a sense that these kinds of tales may finally be put to rest, and that the stories will move forward. Yes, the X-Men will continue to face those that would destroy them, but the motivations of these villains may be different now, as the X-Men finally finish off the threat of bigotry against them.

All in all, I loved this story. It was great to read, and had a wonderful end that felt like the future for the series held so many different possibilities. But there were those that weren't so keen, and the main reason is the two major deaths of popular characters. I'm now going to go into them, so last warning, if you don't want to know, do not read on.

The first major death was the sad loss of Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler has been a major part of the X-Men cast for decades in the comics, and was always a firm fan favourite. He was also the heart and spirit of the group, with his deeply moving religious struggles, and he was also a symbol of innocence for the X-Men in how he made everything seem like an adventure and always seemed to be having fun.

He had however been a little out of the spotlight lately, appearing sporadically in the comics in maybe an arc or odd issue. Many fans felt that he was brought into the spotlight in this series just to be a high profile death, and I can see why they could feel this way. As I mentioned, he'd barely been touched upon and had little in the way of a fully formed character arc in some time, only to be brought in as the voice of conscience and innocence for the team, and then be lost.

I think it is a shame that the character has been in the shadows for so long only to come to die at this point, but frankly, it couldn't really have been anyone else. After finding out about X-Force, Nightcrawler is shocked and appalled, but continues on like a good soldier, and he seems to struggle with the knowledge. Sadly, we don't see much of this struggle but it is implied, and well it should be. The death of Nightcrawler thus signals a loss of innocence for the team as they realise that they too can be capable of murder, and all mourn the loss of this innocence. Ultimately, this reignites the sense of moral conscience in all the team, which comes into play at the epilogue; and it also serves to bring Wolverine back to the point of nearly ever-present murderous rage that made him an unstable and interesting character to begin with.

The second major death was Cable. However, with the death of Cable I can see why many fans were left cold by it. It was badly telegraphed not just in the early chapters of the story but also in the promotional material that Marvel were putting out before the story started. As a result, his death was obvious and felt like a mere formality to get on with the story. Thus, Cable's death, though important and emotionally motivating for the characters, feels trivialised and inevitable to the readers.

I would have to say that this may not be the fault of the writers, but maybe higher up within Marvel. If the promotional material didn't make it so blatant, maybe the telegraphing wouldn't have seemed so obvious, and Cable's death may have struck an emotional chord with readers too.

However, all in all, the plot is damn near perfect. It's vast, spread out, and yet urgent, and feels like the ultimate showdown it should be. Hell, they could have easily made this the end of the X-Men entirely if they had so decided.

As for the art, the artistic chores are also spread out between Terry Dodson, Ibraim Roberson, Greg Lad and Mike Choi and Sonia Oback. There are also bookends to the series by Stuart Immonen, David Finch, and Esad Ribic, and a wonderful little assist in one issue by Lan Medina and Nathan Fox.

As a whole, the art is great, and everyone for the most part is one the top of their game. But as you can probably tell from my choice of words, there is a weak link.

Ibraim Roberson's art is nice, straightforward and tells the story perfectly. He makes an excellent month-by-month artist. Sadly, compared to the other artists though, his art feels the least accomplished and thought out, and sometimes looks static and cold. There's a definite sense of one to watch here, but he doesn't feel up to his A game yet, unlike the others.

Now, I bet some of you thought I was going to say the weak link was Greg Land. I normally agree with the internet folks who like to diss Land's work for it's gratuitous use of referencing, in particular when he appears to be simply tracing from pictures (worse yet when he appears to be tracing from porn pictures). For example, Land's work on major Ultimate Marvel event, Supreme Power, was filled with so many porno style faces; all women had a 'Cock goes where?' expression, and all men had a 'eeech, cummming!' look, it wound up making what was meant to be a serious event come across as a farce. However, here Land serves up some brilliant artwork. There seems little evidence of tracing, rather simple harmless referencing, which all artists do to some extent. His action sequences flow much better, and frankly it's some of the nicest work he's put out in ages.

Terry Dodson's more stylised cartoonish style manages to be very different yet fit wonderfully, and looks as gorgeous as ever. And Mike Choi and Sonia Oback produce some of their best art ever; in fact, it's them that have to deal with both major death scenes, and they do so with ease. Nightcrawler's is by far the best, handled with such care and warmth as the character deserves.

The assist by Nathan Fox and Lan Medina is a welcome surprise in the latter end of the series, as the more indie comic style art takes us inside the head of Legion and seems like a perfect choice for it. In fact, I could have happily seen more of it!

The book ends too largely look great, with Immonen and Ribic delivering some wonderfully detailed and poignant scenes with ease. David Finch's issue to kick off the event is a little odd to look at sometimes, with some peculiar anatomy and faces, but is largely gritty, powerful and heroic.

Finally, the presentation of the hardcover's epic. You get loads for your money in this book, not just the main series but some nice extras and all the covers too, all beautifully laid out and reprinted. It's one of the nicest collections this year, only just being trumped by the Batwoman GN released earlier this year.

So all in all, X-Men: Second Coming is a must read, featuring some of the best writers and best artists around, and is well worth forking out the large sum of cash for.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Weekly Comics Pile 30/09/2010

Action Comics #893 - Paul Cornell (w), Sean Chen (a)

Tweeview:- "ActionComics893: great, quirky issue, story is coming along in an interesting way. Sean Chen does a great job with the art"

So this is the next part of Cornell's 'Black Ring' arc, following the exploits of dastardly Lex Luthor instead of the usual adventures of the comics usual hero, Supes.

It's a great little arc, and quite a departure for Lex's usual portrayal too, whilst still somehow remaining loyal to all that's come before.

It's quirky, offbeat and bizarre,often filled with comedy moments (Gorilla Grodd attacking people with a giant spoon stands out). And yet it's a tale of the same obsessive, manipulative and intelligent man we've seen before. It's like looking at the world through a peculiar lens: everything is a little warped, but essentially the same.

Sadly, we don't learn much about the mysterious energy signatures that Lex is following, and that remains a big mystery about the book. In fact, I worry that if we don't learn something significant and soon, the book could fall prey to the mistakes of TV shows like LOST and FLASH FORWARD; i.e. you have to reveal a little each episode, or people get frustrated.

However, we're far from there yet, and the arc is still proving to be loads of fun. And the surprise last page guest appearance is a winner (yes, I knew she was coming, but I thought that was next issue).

We get a new artist this issue too, as Sean Chen takes over. Not sure if it's just as a fill in, or as a new regular artist, but I'm kinda hoping the latter. Chen's work is a lot more interesting and dynamic, and isn't as sparse looking.

That being said, a couple of panels do suffer from being a little...vague. It took me a while to figure out with one panel who the extreme close-up was of, and that ain't great. But it by no means harms the book greatly.

This weird road trip is still a lot of fun.

Marvelous Land of Oz GN - L. Frank Baum/Eric Shanower (w), Skottie Young (a)

Tweeview:- "MarvellousLandofOz: sweet wonderful story, brilliant adaptation. The art is truly lovely too, always suiting the mood."

I've never really read the books. In fact, prior to the graphic novels, my only knowledge of the land of Oz has been from the films. So getting to read these wonderful, sweet stories is a joy, especially in a medium I am especially fond of.

Whilst I am not familiar with the source material, the adaptation seems loyal. Character's and dialogue feel directly lifted from a book, and yet scripted to work in this more graphic medium. As such, there are moments where the dialogue feels a little quaint, as it's so old a series of books.

That being said, I was personally amazed at how progressive and 'modern' the stories are; from pseudo-feminist revolts to transgender modifications, some of the ideas are a genuine surprise considering when they came from. However, there's always something in the story that ground it in the time it was made, and that just serves to make the fairy tale all the more sweet.

The art from Skottie Young is, as with the first novel, brilliant. The man is at the top of his game, and clearly loves drawing these stories, so it makes it even more of a pleasure to read them. In fact, all in all, this wonderfully presented package makes me eagerly await the next one.

X-Men Legacy #240 - Mike Carey (w), Clay Mann (a)

Tweeview: "X-MenLegacy240: Art has been better but does show some inspired storytelling. Story itself great but mostly for wedding scene"

This is a pretty competent and strong middle issue plot wise, however it feels that most of the plot is designed to get us to and through a wedding scene unlike many others seen in American comics.

It's a nice presentation. It's done in such a way as to not cast any judgement on the ceremonies and practices of another culture that may seem alien and wrong to some readers (whose voices are reflected by the opinions of certain characters), but shows respect to this culture. It does feel a little out of place given the situation; the situation is dire, and it seems anyone truly concerned about friends wouldn't care who was in their way to go save them, so it seems odd that the remaining characters go through with the wedding quicker. Also, given the revelation towards the end of the scene, that one character's motivations do seem odd. Why bother? When they suggest moving the wedding forward, why wouldn't they just reveal the truth of the situation then?

(If this doesn't make any sense, it's because I'm trying to avoid spoilers. This arc has been really good so far, so I hope everyone is reading it).

The main downfall of this issue is the art. It's by no means bad. In fact, I'm really enjoying Clay Mann's work, he has a wonderful sense of drama and positioning in his panels, and his action sequences are movie-like. However, in this issue a couple of pages looked rushed; slightly edgier and rougher than usual, and in some cases lines looked blurry as though they were badly copied or enlarged digitally. Maybe I have a funky print of the issue, but it didn't seem like a one off thing.

Otherwise it's great fun to read, and Magneto still has some brilliant characterisation from Carey, and some fun lines. Also, there's a sequence with a brilliant panel structure that moves along dual plot lines with ease, and almost works better than having a caption saying 'Meanwhile...'

RED - Warren Ellis (w), Cully Hamner (a)

Tweeview:- "RED: Fantastic use of panels to convey speed and urgency, and a neat little thriller story. Wish it was longer though"

So, yes, I seem to be a little late in discovering this, but what with the upcoming film, I decided I should read it. Which is odd, because if the trailers are anything to go by, the book is completely different.

In fact, it comes across that the book is the germ of an idea that someone went wild with for the film. I just hope the film will turn out half as good.

Anyway, RED is a fantastic, if typical Warren Ellis book. Nothing new here if you're a fan of Ellis' work (which I most assuredly am), so if you're a fan who like me has missed this one, you must get it. If for whatever insane reason (brain weasels?) you are not a fan of Ellis, then you may not dig RED for anything other than the art.

That's a thing see. The art in this book is so fantastic and slick that it's impossible to not like it. It's some of Hamner's best work, and this is from a couple of years ago now. Also, he uses panels with a deft knowledge of conventions, managing to emphasise the speed and frantic sense of the action sequences through subtle changes in panel layout and style.

Story wise, as I mentioned, it's pretty typical. A damn fine thriller, but perhaps a little obvious at times if you've read a lot of Ellis' other work. It is sadly also far too short. I would have loved to see more of the character's, even the spineless ones, and learned more about them and their personalities. Sadly, we feel like we're only just getting to really know them by the time this ends. However, we certainly give a damn about them, which given how short this is damn fine work.

If the film manages to keep some of the same beats and themes of the book, then it will be good watching indeed.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Weekly Comic Pile 23/09/2010

Thor #615 - Matt Fraction (w), PAsqual Ferry (a)

Tweeview: excellent start to new run. Art is superb, characters well rounded, dialogue sparkling. Follows on wonderfully

Matt Fraction's eagerly anticipated run on Thor begins, and it's off to a great start. Obviously, I have been waiting to get my hands on this since Fraction's Thor one shots, which were epic and seemed to really find the voice of the character naturally.

That's continued in this issue. In fact, all the characters feel fully formed, as most of the main cast is given a couple of layers within just one issue, and others seem to have interesting ideas set up before them.

The great thing about this issue if you've already been reading Thor is that it doesn't just start afresh. It builds and flows on organically from what Kieron Gillen has done on the book, including strands and character arcs that Gillen was exploring being continued here.

And yet, it remains a perfect jumping on point for new readers.

The story feels immediately epic and grandiose, whilst being filled with small human moments, and light, well-handled comedy. Easily some of Fraction's best in-house work, much like his run on Invincible Iron Man.

As for the art, Pasqual Ferry knocks it out of the park. Many of the panels and pages feel huge, with large vistas, flowing line work, and excellent story telling. It's topped off by some great colours from Hollingsworth, which feels much more like the colours were lavishly painted on digitally, instead of blocks of colours and tones. In fact, the deftness of the modern 'painting' technique manage to infuse the art with a sense of the new and the old, which is where Thor is always at its best.

The lettering from Workman is a great job, with perhaps onepossible exception. The new villains of the piece all have an odd white fuzzy thing (that's seriously all I can describe it as) in their speech bubbles. I found it so hard to tell what it was or why it would be there that it actually managed to pull me out of the story for a moment. If it turns out that this is on purpose and will be explained later, fair enough, but if it's some kind of artistic license, I really hope they drop it.

Overall though, this book is excellent, easily one of the best picks of my haul this week. In fact, it's only being trumped as my best by one ...story...and it's an odd choice, which I'll be getting to at the end.

True Blood #3 - Alan Ball (w), David Messina (a)

Tweeview: story a little clunky, and art too. It's great when Messina isn't working of photos, but ref'd panels are static

The True Blood comic is an odd thing; I find most liscensed comic books to be odd though. It's hard to tell if we're supposed to consider this canon. Fact is, I'm fairly certian Ball has said it is, but it feels like it shouldn't be.

It's possibly that on a comics page, the characters just don't come across as well as on the screen; dialogue often reads as forced, or plain bad. Similarly, the plot is a little clunky. In this issue, three rednecks appear from seemingly nowhere, and fight sequences end as quickly as they start. And the ending just feels sudden, almost like an 'oops, out of pages, ah well' moment.

However, it has it's moments. Occasionally, the characters feel like the ones we know and love, and in some cases lust for, and the mood and themes match the show well enough.

The art by David Messina is a bit 'clunky' too. The art seems to split into two types: art that is referenced from pictures of the cast and show, and art that is entirely Messina's free work. The free work is excellent, and dynamic, and the movement is palpable. But the referenced panels feel entirely static. They look excellent and spot on for the most part. Only when perhaps a character is smaller in the background to they look completely off.

All in all, this continues to move te story forward at a slow and slightly clunky pace, but it's hardly the worst comic around. I just can't help but feel it would have worked better as a Graphic Novel, and with Messina not referencing so much.

Avengers #5 - Brian Michael Bendis (w), John Romita Jr. (a)

Tweeview: Important plot element added, but otherwise straightforward middle issue. Pacing little too fast. Art is great

The problem with this issue is that it feels like a fairly standard middle of a run issue, but it's issue 5, and it's hard to see how this arc can be wrapped next issue in anything but a breakneck pace.

In fact, that accelerated pace is felt strongly in the last couple of pages of the issue. Bendis' pacing in New Avengers has been proving much better than here sadly.

That being said, it's not a bad issue. It's nostalgically reminiscent of classic Avengers/Marvel stories, with uneasy alliances being heroes and villains, but with Bendis' usual element of intrigue and modernity to it.

The main reason I had for picking this up was the apparantly important double-page spread in the issue hinting at possible future events within Marvel. Now, it by no means feels original: DC have already done this, twice or more, with Rip Hunter's whiteboards. This one equally feels like not just a big important plot element to this arc (though that in itself raises the question of why it's being introduced so late) but will also have intriguing things for fans of the rest of the Marvel Universe. Whether it's worth picking up for the $3.99 price tag if you don't usually read Avengers....probably not. And you certainly couldn't read this issue without the others.

Artwise, Romita Jr. continues to produce some fine work, not his best, but pretty solid, with some fantastic spreads. He feels like a good fit for this book as he can produce good work like this, that can tell a story plainly and well, on a fast turnaround, which frankly this arc certainly needs to keep interest.

Uncanny X-Men #528 - Matt Fraction (w), Whilce Portacio (a)

Tweeview: nice story progression. Finally some Northstar&Dazzler action. Art sometime sparse and but effective

The story of the Five Lights is progressing well. So far, I haven't been that excited wih Fration's X-Men work. It has it's spectacular moments (Utopia) and it has it's slow and not very spectacular moments, not bad, just not amazing (the Sisterhood and Predator X arcs).

However, I think what's needed to properly understand those slow moments is to really view the run so far as a whole. The stories Fraction has been weaving seem to be very different themes than usual X-Men stories: instead of just focusing on how hard it is for people persecuted for being different, we see people and societies struggling with ideas of change. Similarly, the effects of fame and being thrust into the spotlight on these people and groups. This thematically links with what Morrison was doing in his stellar New X-Men run; though unlike Morrison who introduced these themes to look at the same classic X-Men stories from a new angle, Fraction focuses on these new themes with the characters.

Classic style X-Men stories then are now being told in the other X-books, but Uncanny is dealing with a very different theme, and is having to do so on a broad scale, across whole arcs. The book itself is changing just as much as it's dealing with the concept of change.

Thus, if we look at it like that, as well as being a good issue in and off itself with interesting character moments and good progression of individual character arcs and intrigue; it's also a great story progression for the overall theme, especially evidenced in some dialogue beteen Hope and the newest Light, and a scene with Northstar and Dazzler.

And another thing, FINALLY some Northstar/Dazzler action! We got a tease in a previous issue, but since then this 'tag team to watch' have essentially just run around in the background if they appeared at all in the main book. Finally here we see them bantering away at each other, a gay and his glamorous fag hag, as they kick ass! And it's brilliant to see them! There needs to be more. Hell, if it were up to me, they'd get their own mini. But offering the chanceto shine, in Uncanny of all places, is great to see.

The art by Whilce Portacio...well, I'm not the biggest fan of his superhero work. I think he works fine doing grim 'n' gritty and horror, but superhero not so much. But it does the job. The story progression is easy to follow and clear. However, some of his panels and pages are sparse, with blocks of bare colour or characters and action all appearing to one side of the panel. Also, there are a couple of occassions where the anatomy is way off (in one panel, Emma Frost looks like a butch man with fantastic tits). But as I said, it works. It tells the story and does so well, it may nt be the prettiest to have graced the book, but it damn well gets the job done. Plus, it's some of Portacio's best on the title so far, so it feels like he's getting more of a feel for the characters now.

Jimmy Olsen's Big Week: Action Comics Co-Feature part one
Available for free on the DC App - Nick Spencer (w), RB Silva (a)

Tweeview: it's free! It's funny. It's smart. It's pitch perfect. And the art is superb. RB Silva is a revelation!

Now this is the odd one. Odd because this has been my favourite bit of comic book picked up today...and it was done online, or rather on my phone, for free, and is technically a back-up feature, not a main event. Yet it hands down beats the full comics I spent cash on this week.

Jimmy Olsen can be a fun character. Grant Morrison showed how quirky and insane and wonderfully entertaining he can be in All Star Superman....however, in the main DC Universe, he's not handled quite so well lately. In fact, in Countdown he was used pretty badly.

However, Nick Spencer gets him. He gets the concept of following Superman's powerless 'best pal'. And not only does he know what made the concept great and fun and quirky in the past, but he knows how to update it and make it modern yet essentially stay true to the original idea.

Also, the DC Universe finally has it's Chloe Sullivan. She's smart, she's sassy, and she's quite literally Jimmy's answer to Lois Lane. He even gets his answer to Lex Luthor.

And I think that this is going to be one of the fun things about this story: if Superman is meant to make us realise our potential and live our lives a bit more bravely and optimistic like him, then Jimmy Olsen is the Everyman Superman. He may take a little time to realise it, but this guy can save the day when he sets his mind to it.

The Everyman thing is important: we instantly connect with Olsen and root for him, and understand him. He's likeable and geeky and funny, and he's just this gawky adorable guy you wanna see win (but kinda wanna see the mishaps along the way too).

The art is stunning. RB Silva is a revelation to me, being completely unfamiliar with his work. His art looks a cross between Olivier Coipel and Ryan Sook, and all the characters and settings look great! In fact, that's part of what makes this 10-page comic more enjoyable than the full comics; I spent time pouring over each panel admiring the craftsmenship and artistry, on my tiny iPhone screen.

Frankly, as if you really need another reason to be picking up Paul Cornell's Action Comics anyway, but if you still need convincing download this on the DC app and be blown away. A bloody great pick!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Movie Review: 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'

Yes, I went to see it. I had to review it. If only to forewarn all you lovely readers out there (yes, all five of you) about how bad a film this is, as I have done the previous films in the past.

However, I have to break with tradition. As much as it burns me to say the sun burning the skin of a REAL fucking vampire...but Eclipse is actually, bizarrely, and unexpectedly, better than the first two films.

This is much like pointing out that breaking one's cock is better than getting it bitten off, of course. Ultimately, you'd rather not ever experience either. But new director David Slade has managed to answer the silent prayers of all those teenage boyfriends dragged along to two hours of simpering, mind-numbingly painful 'romance' by their brainwashed other-halves; he's made the film marginally more watchable.

This seems to be mostly done by vastly improving upon the action sequences and special effects; by making the soundtrack less obtrusive; by toning down the ridiculous dialogue (although there are still some howlers in there); and by offering the far more interesting background characters a chance at some backstory.

That last part is a bit of a double edged sword, however. By creating some genuinely interesting backstories for characters such as Riley, Rosalie, Jasper and the wolf clan, it only serves to point out how boring the main love-triangle and it's participants are. Add to this the fact that each of these origin tales is choppy, and cut far too short, and you wind up with five minutes of relief at a time. Hopefully spaced out perfectly to prevent the ever-suffering boyfriends from tearing off their own genitals to bash out their eyes and clog their ears.

Furthermore, these backstories initially, to a non-TwiHard, come across as flying in the face of previous continuity, and sometimes leave the viewer confused. Easily rectified if we could continue to follow these characters and be reminded where they fit in with the general mythos of the world, bt this simply doesn't happen. Meaning the film is technically inaccessible to anyone without a pretty strong familiarity with the source material.

The dreadful, mysoginistic, dangerously opinionated source material.

Now, these good points aside, the film still, as a whole, is rubbish.

The main thrust of the plot is drivel, and seems to serve to do nothing more than push ever onward the theme that sex is incredibly dangerous and will ruin your life irrevocably. The leads are mildly more charming this time, though Edward continues to come across as a abusive, controlling boyfrend, Bella is a simpering, nymphomaniac cocktease (yeah, it's astonishing that she can be both a nympho and a cocktease frankly) and Jacob, who was bearable before if not in fact likeable, actually comes across worse, being arrogant and a boiling pot of rage ready to go off at a moments notice.

The plot is as littered with holes as ever. Why should I give a damn about the supposed threat of the Volturi? Only one seems to have any powers, and that is simply she can make one person feel intense agony at a time...the Cullens have a mind-reader, a psychic, a powerhouse, a speedfreak and a former Confederate Army officer on their side FFS. They could easily take Dakota Fanning and Daniel 'delivers lines like a tinny Colossus' Cudmore is a fight. So where is the threat?

Bryce Dallas Howard is sadly underused, as I think given more time she could have been a very threatening Victoria. but given that she has just joined the cast, and has no time to get a feel for the character, it really comes across in her portrayal. In fact, there are a few moments she poses, and I swear you can see her being reminded of her lines in the reflection in her ridiculous contact lenses.

(Plot Hole Moment: the 'vampires' all have deep red, or bright yellow, eyes....and yet they go to school and no one says, "What the holy fuck is up with your eyes, dude?!")

Also, I think we're supposed to feel something for Bree Tanner. However, she has all o two lines in the whole film, and is seen for one minute intervals at a time. She's portrayed brilliantly by Jodelle Ferland, one of the best child actresses in Hollywood, but her character just isn't given the screen time to make any of us feel for her, making her presence scream 'cannon fodder'.

Kristen Stewart, for me, came across as mildly more likeable, although she is still the worst heroine ever committed to film/book. And Robert Pattison, with his one note acting, actually manages to come across as kind of sinister in this.

So as ever, I have to declare this film atrocious. Not as atrocious as the first two, but your money could be better spent watching better vampire films, or True Blood.

Avoid if you can, but if not, rest safe in the knowledge that it's a little bit better. In other words, you won't be trying to swallow your own fist in a desperate attempt the crush your own heart by the second act. ...Maybe by the third....

Monday, 21 June 2010

White Trash!

So, fantastic surprise on my way home from the day job today. The fantastic artist working on the group project I'm on, Stiffs, Mr. Gavin Mitchell has popped up a character design sketch for a character in a project I'm looking to get off the ground myself called Pride.

The character is called White Trash, a kinda Luke Cage/Iron Fist mix with a twist. The characters look is based closely on the stunning and cool model and pin-up artist, Trevor Wayne.

The character looks ace, and hopefully Mr. Wayne will love the likeness too.

That and a nice couple of compliments I've had today about the comic idea give me the verve to really push this project, so hopefully, watch this space and maybe you'll hear more soon.

In the mean time, here's the sketch. Totally go and check out Gav's blog, and Trevor's site too, as they deserve your attention!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Slow Days (to the sound of vevuzuluhs)

So, today is one of those slow days where not much happens on the comic front. Or more accurately, from the perspective of the writer.

Stiffs is momentarily out of my hands waiting on some details to come back. I've done some preliminary planning on some other projects, including tweeting (a pretty invaluable tool for new creators to mix and mingle these days) an editor I know to see if he'd be cool with me running a couple of ideas by him. This is not something I generally recommend doing, especially not unsolicited, but if you're lucky enough to know a creator/editor well who is willing to do it unofficially there's no harm in using what contact you have.

Aside from that, there's no movement. Having a big chunk of my day taken up by the day job (how else are you supposed to fund your endeavours?) can be problematic like that sometimes.

Of course, it could easily be that projects could be coming on leaps and bounds, that artists are intrigued to work with me and composing those tentative first emails now.

Well, we live in hope.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


So, I don't wanna go into too many details as yet as obviously, as mentioned before, the process of creating a new comic and getting it ready for pitch can be so tumultuous. But things seem so near completion now I had to say something (add that to the fact I really needed to update this blog).

So the comic that I'm working on with the ever fantastic writers Drew Davies and PJ Montgomery, with art by the permanently genius Gavin Mitchell and Adam Cadwell, has had yet another name change. It's only fair, and wise. It's out of respect to a far more amazing and established writer having already used a near identical title for a series at the beginning of the decade.

So anyway, now the comic is called STIFFS (a pun on the working stiffs and walking 'stiffs' that populate the story) and the pitch package is complete. We're waiting on a little something I cannot go into, and we have to print it out, and then we're sending it off to our publisher of choice, who will hopefully LOVE IT! ...everything's crossed now.

Anyway, for anyone who actually reads this blog, here's a look at a fantastic painted cover design by the surely-soon-to-be-huge Gavin Mitchell.

Always stunned when I see that.

Anyway, you can see more of Gav's work on his own blog, or on the recently updated Facebook page (which technically also let's you roughly follow the tumultuous journey this project has been on).

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Cardiff Gay Scene: A Return

A long time ago (okay, two or three years, but that’s an era to some people), I blogged about the state of the Cardiff gay scene and argued it could be seen as a microcosm of gay culture as a whole. The article was…scathing seems the right word, as I dismissed the scene as being stunted; not diverse enough to be of any use to anyone but the most vacuous of twinks.
I stand by that conviction.
But as I mentioned, two or three years is like an era to some, and there have been a fair few changes to the scene here in Cardiff.
In Cardiff these days, gays are now presented with a number of new venues and events. The gay scene is spreading itself across Cardiff, with Churchill Way and Charles Street seemingly competing for the title of gay street of Cardiff, and a new event that is increasing in popularity and numbers around the castle area. There is a tiny gay bar aimed at the more well off members of the community (i.e. old and with lots of disposable income) down the Bay, and the old standard gay pubs, The Golden Cross and King’s Cross (now named King’s X in an effort to make it seem all cool and stuff).
The most significant new event in Cardiff would have to be Hell’s Bent. HB is an alternative/indie/electro gay club night, the first of it’s kind in Cardiff. Well, the first successful one; King’s once had an Indie night, that didn’t last long, and which pretty much only played Indie music that had managed to make it high up the charts, obliterating it’s ‘alternative’ cred. Gay fans of punk, rock or more obscure indie still had nowhere to go. Thus, Hell’s Bent.
HB began life as a once a month club night at The Point, an old church (thus the name) and one of Cardiff’s best music venues until Cardiff Council decided it didn’t like the idea of a diverse music scene in Cardiff and caused it’s closure (a rant for another time, I assure you).
Now, HB continues to go from strength to strength. It is now held twice a month, once at Clwb Ifor Bach and once at Barfly, which just goes to show how much it is needed and wanted.
A gay night for all those who hate the gay scene, but gay enough for those that love it too, HB is exceptionally inclusive. No matter gender or sexuality, all are welcomed there, and the atmosphere as such is vastly improved over gay pubs and clubs in Cardiff’s scene. Overall, this leads to a more enjoyable night; no one feels judged or frowned upon, everyone feels welcome, even the straight mates of the gay patrons. And I’m not just saying this because I was featured in a picture with my ex in the Gay Times, when they wrote about the night.
Or maybe I am. If it was anything like the usual gay night, me and my then boyfriend wouldn’t have had our picture taken (okay, he might’ve for being very cute). Instead, some skinny, hairless, topless mainstream kid would have. You know the kind: they look like they’re maybe on something, and are probably pretty easy at the best of times anyway.
HB however embraces mainstream but celebrates the alternative, heard in the choice of music, seen in the mix of regular attendees and felt in the welcoming atmosphere.
There is also the fact that the crowd is a little different between the two locations it’s held at. The regulars pretty much attend both nights. However, Barfly seems to attract a younger crowd too, and the music slightly changes to reflect that. An example of fine DJing to be fair, to realise the change in audience and atmosphere. Both nights are incredibly welcoming and fun, and is a glowing example of the kind of variation the gay scene needs.
Of course, Hell’s Bent isn’t the only new addition. As I mentioned before, the gay scene has expanded exponentially on Churchill Way.
There have been three new additions to the street: 4Play, Wow, and Wow Deli.
Now, obviously, a deli doesn’t exactly do much in the sense of diversifying the scene, other than providing gay-prepared sarnies, but they are lovely, and I certainly recommend going. Wow, the bar/club next door, however, does.
The atmosphere in there is again very welcoming, with a good mix of young and old, skinny twinks and hairy bears, and Drag Queens aplenty. In fact, it’s a slightly different feel to most of the other bars in Cardiff, sitting somewhere between general let’s-get-shitfaced-pub and a show bar like Minsky’s.
The feel of all-inclusiveness is exemplified by the smallest detail that I only noticed there the other day: beneath the usual gay pride flag sticker on the door there is a Bear Pride flag sticker too. Which I honestly cannot say I have seen anywhere else in Cardiff.
4Play I can really say little about. I have yet to go, but have heard some second- and third-hand reviews, all of which are pretty mediocre. Owned by the same people as Pulse, I have heard it’s the exact same kind of night and club, but vastly smaller…which is a feat in itself, given that Pulse is reminiscent of a meat market.
The old standards too, I am glad to say, have changed, but only minutely. After three years they all run the same kind of events and special nights. King’s X still by and large attracts an element of gay culture that gives any straight ‘interloper’ evil glares the moment they step over the threshold, Pulse is the same monument to youth as always, and so on.
In fact, it’s only the subtle shift in the taste of gay culture as a whole that has caused the subtlest of changes. As a whole, gay culture seems to shifting ever so slightly away from the stereotypical skinny gay twink image, and this can be scene on the cover of most of the big gay mags out there. Instead, cover stars (and reader’s tastes) seem to be skewing more towards cubs, bears, athletes and boy-next-door types. In fact, even articles seem to focus less on waxing off all your body hair in some narcissistic-masochistic fashion trend, and more about trimming and taming body hair, but essentially keeping it.
The focus seems to be less on forcing yourself into some kind of manufactured aesthetic, and judging those who don’t do it; instead, it’s more about accepting what is more natural, including appearance and personality.
This can be seen more in some of the younger patrons of the gay scene: I stumbled into Pulse on what must have been some kind of student night, and was welcomed with a vision of hundreds of hairy, young University cubs. You can still hear the squeal of vapid queens over the throb of Lady GaGa (replacing Britney these days) but it’s a welcome change to the aesthetic.
In fact, Cardiff Gay scene as a whole is feeling a little bit more welcoming because of the more diverse selection of venues, events and people going out and enjoying that scene. It’s still not perfect: we still have nothing catering more to the Bear aesthetic (unless you count the Locker Room, but there are plenty of Bears who aren’t into saunas and sex clubs, I’m sure).
So Cardiff is no longer stagnant; it is changing slowly, but surely. And if you have avoided the gay scene in the past, fearing the judgemental glares of some vacuous, make-up caked queen, there are now options for elsewheres to be, or even feel like they are the minority, not you. The air is generally friendlier, and the Cardiff gay scene can only continue to get better and more diverse on this path. And I for one would welcome that.