Thursday, 12 April 2018
Saturday, 7 April 2018
The Human Beings issue 5.
Created by S J McCune.
Published by Millicent Barnes Comics.
(Not a review.)
A discussion on the connection a comic made with the reader (me) after a spectacular bout of insomnia.
This is a series that I have followed closely. A series that has me thinking about themes and meanings after each and every reading. I find it darkly dreamlike. It possesses you as you read. A possession of the moment. Dive in.
I opened up issue 5 after twenty six hours with no sleep. This frazzled state has me snappy and weary, the bright light of the morning is stinging my eye balls, but in a strange way improved the impact of this comic on me, a person who is merely a reader, well maybe. (I may be a little paranoid and/or angry? NO I don’t want milk with my black coffee!!!!)
I’ll start with the cover. This close up of the face and the seemingly sedated dead eyes of the woman remind me of some of the iconic images of a previous series of Stuart’s called Monolgue. Added to this image is the ghostly hand passing over the right eye of the subject. The cover makes use of bright colours as a counterpoint to an otherwise darkly created image. It’s a strong scene setting opener. Powerfully in your face, close up with that added twist. This is a cover that you would reach for on a shelf.
Page 1 was a surprise. Not at first viewing did I think that this was part of the story but after reading this and working back through previous issues I am now wondering if I need to reconsider.... It’s a self portrait of the creator himself, partially hiding in a hood. A shadow over the image shows the shape of a hand and a smart phone that are in turn photographing the self portrait. An image of an image of a person. Hmmm, the revelation of the self, the view in the mirror, the establishment of the person. Underneath reads the quote;
‘Everything is and is not as it should be
Nothing left to burn
What does this quote mean? How does it link to the narrative. Does it stand alone with just the creator pictured above? I’m guessing it’s a bridge into the story.
The Human Beings remains both a story that I have obsessed over at each release and also a mystery to investigate. There are clues dropped throughout this series. I have followed and deciphered and guessed. As Stuart is a friend of mine I occasionally challenge his wry grin at my guesses both on the phone, online and in person. This cunning bugger never gives much away. But I do feel that his comics are both a story and a communication. A reach out in a real way to the reader.
I am reminded of Bacon’s assertion that art is a recreation of something else. A figure, a feeling, an emotion, a story, politics, beauty, horror. All reimagined in another way. And yes, maybe a discussion or a proposition.
The Human Beings is a comic that gets you thinking. It inspires me to write about it and leads me to tangentially write about other subjects. That should be enough. But I do love a mystery! Follow the clues.
My thoughts on some of the comic follow. But I am careful not to spoil.
The story takes place after the cliffhanger of issue four. Things are seriously going off the deep end. Crowds in a busy train station bustle about to get on carriages. A spotlight of colour picks out faces for the benefit of the reader whilst a narration talks about the reality of a government that are unprepared for a destructive event of this scale. I am struck with how Stuart deals with faces throughout his work. His style allows for the strangers in a crowd, unnoticed and anonymous but also for the close-up, the character study through the sudden look and the reactions of his more focused character studies.
In the middle of the description of how the world was falling I began to realise that words that are on occasion whispered in previous issues are now almost shouted. The story is breaking out......
‘Power took root in the insane.’
What you also get from this sequence is that The Human Beings is very much of the moment. I’m not sure how much this is intended but should that matter. The drama of our own real-world news seems in sync with some of the drama in the comic. However I really hope it wasn’t.
The reflections of current news items is only a small part of the themes of this series. It is in other ways in my mind a reflection of ourselves. Our strange and hidden motivations. Our knowledge of the lives and actions of others are on occasion an alien country. Stuarts cast are strange and oblique reflections of ourselves, they will look sideways at you and through you as they speak.
‘So this is what makes us Human Beings?’
This characteristically intense and mysterious artistic approach is intrinsically at harmony with the layouts and art experimentation you experience as you turn the pages. As with other comics he mixes multi movement images in an excellently designed full page series of flowing images. It shows the value of both experimentation, but also doing so with a reason linked to the narrative. This includes overlapping dialogue and narration boxes on occasion to show a fever dream echo of the chatter of voices.
See what I mean about reading when sleep deprived?
The story keeps on rolling and you see some genuinely touching moments come along as the seeds laid in issue one are played out (for what I suspect is just the moment). Some mysteries are expanded upon and will again pique your interest and judging my the teaser page for the next issue there are more on their way.
It is a reading experience that you will return to. Add to that a shorter story and a hint at what will follow in the next issue. This is highly recommended (with or without sleep!)
I backed this on Kickstarter and await the collection and the single issue any day now. Stuart is one of those reliable creators who uses the crowd funding platform as a pre ordering system. I can’t wait to see the next physical copy!
Find out more about this and other comics from Millicent Barnes Comics at www.millicentbarnescomics.bigcartel.com or follow the creator Stuart McCune at @SturatMcCune
Many thanks for reading.
Friday, 6 April 2018
Written by Harry Harris and CD Mick.
Published by Mediaaria CDM - 336 pages - £12.00 - Black and White interior illustrations.
The Story - ‘META WORLDS was conceived with the intention to introduce a new type of storytelling. Storytelling with a focus on interconnected, on-going storylines which comprises of a range of characters and factions of complexity, scope and depth.’
‘The concept behind Meta Worlds originated in C D Mick’s and Harry Harris’ mutual love of the comics genre and high drama storytelling, with influences ranging from science-fiction to gritty crime thriller fiction. The launch of Meta Worlds introduces a new line of publications, comprising compelling characters, concepts and themes, rooted in both the contemporary and fantastical worlds.’
‘MMi (Meta-Mercs Investigations), is the second of Meta Worlds’ ongoing anthology stories, which introduces MMi, - the Crime-Fighting Team of extra-ordinary individuals made up of law-enforcement operatives that nobody wants, but society soon discovers that they desperately need...’
The Review - Every so often we see a prose novel about super heroics come along. Who remembers books like The Wild Cards series written and edited by George RR Martin himself, Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman or Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin. Meta Worlds came along recently and was a little different from the norm but nonetheless enjoyable. It’s about a group of super powered Black Ops heroes but it’s not told in the traditional prose style that you might expect from previous iterations.
This volume has two stories and I have just finished the piece by Harry Harris, a story entitled ‘MMi - Meta-Mercs’. It mixes a modern Detective/Spy drama with all the touchstones we loved about books like The Knights of Pendragon or even Espers. It has that British feel about it, you can hear some of the characters talking with a Sweeney style cockney lilt. It’s brash and cocky and cool in all the right ways.
This is a Special Ops Superhero team that I’d love to see return and feature in more novels and comics. Characters include Danny Carter (Codename: ‘Bulldog’) an ex Detective Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police and now the leader of the group. Alexandria Sinclair (aka ‘Red Soldier’), an ex army officer with extraordinary abilities and Steven Green (aka ‘Minotaur’) an ex Marine who looks like he could tear your head off and poop down your throat! The story opens on a brutal underground powers fight club, the tension build and never stops even after the fight ends.
If you looked at the structure of the writing on the page you might be forgiven in thinking that it was prepared as a film or tv script but upon closer examination it has richer scene settings and a more elaborate descriptive style. This script(ish) style also allows for the action to race along and the superbly pulpy language to spark. I soon warmed to this style and found it a cracking reading experience. It had me remembering books like Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan series or The Destroyer from Warren Murphy. An unapologetic hard boiled action thriller fiction and a perfect distraction from the BS of the modern world.
I’m yet to read the other story ‘Silencer’ in this volume that is written by CD Mick but after enjoying ‘MMi’ it’s certainly next on my list.
Not only is this a cracking read it also features the spot illustrations of my Awesome Comics Pod Brother - Dan Butcher. A perfect choice to illustrate this series you get a fleshing out of some of the designs of the characters. Dan is the creator of Vanguard, an ongoing British superhero webcomic that you can find at www.VanguardComic.com and on twitter @VanguardComic You also get some of those classic character profile breakdown pages in the back matter.
The cover is by Ciara McAvoy a noted Scottish artist and respected illustrator in the Film Industry, where she has won numerous awards for her work; including a Davey Award and a Creativity International Award for her Filth poster in 2014 and five total Communicator Awards in 2015 for Filth, X-Men and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Ciara’s art for Meta Worlds is her first book cover artwork.
The author Harry Harris has served in the British Military and in UK Law-Enforcement for thirty- three years. A lifelong Comic, Sci-Fi and Action movie fan, “MMi” is his first published work. You can find more about this creator on Twitter @HHarrisMMI
A Writer, Publisher and Founder of the publishing company, MEDIAARIA CDM, CD Mick is a lover of Literature and Storytelling in all its forms, dedicated to exploring the craft of creative writing to its fullest potential.
Find out more about this new publisher and their other books at www.mediaaria-cdm.com
META WORLDS was awarded a Gold Davey Award in the ‘Design/Print –Promotional Covers (all inclusive)’ category at the 13th Annual International Davey Awards 2017. Winners of the Davey Awards are selected and judged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts (AIVA); an assembly of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts, dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media.
You can find this book on Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/META-WORLDS-C-D-MICK/dp/0992715555/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523045345&sr=8-1&keywords=Meta+worlds
Many thanks for reading.
Wednesday, 4 April 2018
I’m also pleased as punch to brag that at 11am I’ll be interviewing the mighty John Wagner of 2000AD, Judge Dredd, Batman, Rok of the Reds, Strontium Dog, Boba Fett, Star Wars comics fame. He’ll be releasing the trade of Rock at the event and signing copies. This is a fucking ace collection of a comic that successfully mixes sci-fi, alien invasion, humour and football all in one gorgeous romp that is brilliantly drawn by Dan Cornwall. I’ve already read it and shall be double dipping on the collection as soon as I arrive. I’ve got loads of questions to ask John about his days at the Prog as well as how he found working for DC and Marvel. And why he chose to go another route with his new mini series Rok. Anyone who has heard John interviewed before will know that he’s honest, straightforward, funny and really interesting. Should be ruddy great!
Monday, 2 April 2018
Today its a bit of a preview of a preview if you understand what I mean. The Edge Off is a new comic that will be hitting Kickstarter on the 20th of April 2018. the creators are very wisely creating a bit of buzz for the undoing bid before it goes live. I got a press release through from the guys as well as a cheeky look at the whole comic. It’s a little bit special. Here’s what they have to say about the venture.
The Story - ‘Mob enforcer Lee Butler was always the old man’s favourite, but now the old man is gone and Eddie, the son who always felt usurped by Lee, is calling the shots. When Lee wakes up to find himself spiked with a new designer psychotropic and his daughter kidnapped, he figures Eddie has worked out that Lee has been moonlighting for one of his rivals. Desperate to get his daughter back, Lee sets off into a swirling nightmare of danger and double cross, his perceptions fried, unable to tell which monsters are real and which are imagined. As the night unfolds, Lee finds himself compelled to run a violent gauntlet towards a confrontation that will force him to face up to every terrible decision he’s ever made.’
This is what you call in the business a class press release it explains what you need to know and allows for sites to cut and paste into articles (as I have where). the guys went on to talk about their influences in the style of the Edge Off. there are a couple of mentions here of some of my favourite movies. if you haven’t seen Performance or The Long Good Friday I highly recommend a viewing or two.
Straight off the bat I loved the cover for this. The starkness of the background plays well with the feelings of isolation and paranoia. Add to this the strangely double tied masked figure and the face of burning emotions that is revealed. That’s how you do a cover!
“Nightmare Noir” - The Edge Off Influences
‘When approaching The Edge Off, creators Iain & Fraser wanted to blend Fraser’s love of noir, crime thrillers and action with Iain’s signature brand of unsettling horror inspired by figures such as David Lynch, Jeff Lemire and Daniel Clowes. Into that mix they threw the woozy thrum of Performance, the acid fried perplexity of Inherent Vice and the dour grime of British mob films like Get Carter and The Long Good Friday. What emerged is The Edge Off. A nightmare noir, that takes the main character on a terrifying journey he doesn’t even realise he’s on until it’s far too late for him to turn back.’
I have now read and reread this comic. It is quite the experience. Fraser and Laurie do indeed channel the movies and styles they quote above. But added to that is something more. Reality morphs and quakes around the story. Even to the point where you feel that the edges of the panels are quivering and shaking as the hallucinogenic take hold of them. One favourite panel of mine has as it’s frame a mouth and teeth for example. This is a comic that shows the backwards and blind fall into madness and *without spoiling) does so in a way you might not expect. My advice would be that you don’t try and second guess what happens. Just go with it. I have a feeling that this will crush it’s total on Kickstarter very quickly.
Fraser Campbell is the writer of comics Alex Automatic and Sleeping Dogs, and publishes work under his own Cabal Comics imprint. His comic Alex Automatic won best UK Single Issue at Edinburgh Comic Con in 2017. Catch up with him on Twitter @FraserC69
Iain Laurie is best known as the artist behind Iain Laurie’s Horror Mountain and the smash-hit indie horror And Then Emily Was Gone. He also contributed to DC’s Love is Love anthology in 2017. Have a look at more of Iain’s brilliantly disturbing art on Twitter @iainlaurie
David B. Cooper is a colourist from Glasgow, Scotland. In addition to colouring
books such as Alex Automatic, Forged and Double D, he has written and self-
published comics Face Down In The Mud and Dead Silence.
More information can be found here https://alexautomaticblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/comic-soon-the-edge-off/
Many thanks for reading.