Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Few Thoughts on The Human Beings issue 4 from SJ McCune




The Human Beings


Issue 4.


Written and drawn by SJ McCune.


Published by Millicent Barnes Comics.


I’m already in a different place. I left where. I let the tether out more and more. I am losing sense of where I left.....’


And so starts the labyrinthine fourth issue of what started as an anthology of sorts and now morphs beyond that. The strings are drawing tighter yet the world of The Human Beings is still a darkly mysterious universe. Dive in.


Hands up. Stuart is a friend of mine. He is also one of the few people that I trust the opinion of in areas of creativity. In my own opinion his comics expose his character. He is alternatively and concurrently dark, humorous, generous, intense and most importantly intelligent.


I have read this comic three times and come to a different conclusion as to it’s meaning, both hidden and overt, on every single page turn.


What I can say is that it is unlike the mainstream. It lives in the shadows. It is sharply insightful into the movements and emotions of the ‘Human’ condition. It also incites a mood and a feeling that will infest your thoughts. I have said it before and I will say it again, this comic reads you as you read it!


I have never come away less than incredibly inspired to write about what he says and then go away and create something for myself.





I have had conversations with Stuart about this series and I harbour notions that it is in some way autobiographical. A notion that he denies with what I read to be a wry grin. From our friendship I know a little portion of what drives him and where and what inspired him to create this comic. We see passages and movements that seem like escape and flight, both literally and figuratively. I can almost see Stuart shaping the panels in his mind as he boards a flight for a strange and beautiful land.


So..... what is this issue about? 


It deals with the exposing of a terrorist conspiracy. One that will change the face of this totalitarian world and the comic that possesses its soul. The players who range from being dead-eyed poster children to flamboyant hostesses to sinisterly masked figures seemingly birthed from a sci-fi BDSM monster movie. And they are now out in plain sight. Buttons are being pressed that will change things. 


Change. Hmmmm. An arising theme in my mind as I read. Change through travel, change through memory and change through rebellion. 


I paraphrase but...


The revolution is just a panel away...’


As always Stuart pushes at the boundaries of art in experimentally exquisite colours and bold lines and characters. He shows a thought and a feeling and a sinister creeping eventuality like nobody else can manage when writing a comics page. At moments his art seems completely abstract before he jolts you back with the wide eyes of a face you feel that is familiar. I go backwards and forwards through the comic and hold at certain images. You feel a conjoining of fine art, abstract emotions, deeply uttered words and all in an item which is without doubt a comic.


It’s hard to describe certain events without spoiling this ball of wool that is unravelling at speed as it rolls down a heat bitten pavement. 


But I hope that you will give it a try.


My words never do it justice.





Find out more about this comic at www.millicentbarnescomics.bigcartel.com or follow this creator on Twitter @StuartMcCune


Many thanks for reading.

Preview - Awesome Comics and a ‘Streetwalker’.





With the first issue of the Awesome Comics Anthology round the corner I thought it was time to start focusing a little on the background players in the story. This is a piece that originally featured in the Cockney Kung Fu mailer over at www.tinyletter.com/CockneyKungFu Myself and CKF artist extraordinaire Mr Nick Prolix have been putting this mailer together for around six months and it allows us to experiment with format and style. We are having a blast so make sure you sign up.


Cockney Kung Fu is only a third of this anthology. It also features Murder Road from Vince Hunt and Daniel Marc Chant and Vyper by Dan Butcher. Both are fucking ace. How good is that cover with art by Vince and colours by Dan.


We are very excited.


Awesome Comics is getting released at the True Believers Comic Festival at Cheltenham Race Course on the 3rd of February 2018. Pop along and have a chat if you are able. Tickets are available at www.oktruebelievers.com


The Cockney Kung Fu world is slowly growing and whilst we waited for our big release day I would focus in on some people who only maybe get one line here and there.


Peggy makes an appearance in part one. Can you spot her?



‘Peggy was a rubbish whore.’


Peggy was rather terrible at being a prostitute. She never really tried very much when she was working. She used to poshly refer to herself as a ‘streetwalker’ as she heard it called that on a tv show from America once.


Yeah, they got style those Americans’ she’d think. She wished at moments that she could be far away from all this. 


Truth be told she didn’t actually do much walking at all. She did quite a lot of standing, not enough laying down to earn a wage and the occasional bit of running when her and her boyfriend Marty went shoplifting.


Whilst Peggy was a rubbish whore she was a reasonably good thief. She would be in and out of Boots in a couple of seconds and then down the Blackstock Arms in Seven Sisters Road to sell the proceeds. Her technique was simple. Run in, knock a pile of something over that looked noisy, apologise in what she thought was a middle class style voice and while the staff ran over to clear up the mess she’d grab what she wanted and escaped. She might even on occasion take orders.


Want some batteries? ‘No problem darling.’


Need a pack of razors. ‘You want some posh ones sweetheart or just bic?


She should really have just concentrated on stealing rather than the whoring. The only fly in that ointment was that she was so well known by the shops that she kept getting arrested. The Old Bill would turn up to the disturbance, recognise the description the staff gave and head off to find Peggy. After a few instances of shoplifting that shit will get you a six months here and a year there banged up. 


Being in prison was a real problem for Peggy. Mostly because she was on the gear. She had to spend at least fifty quid a day on brown just to keep herself on the level. Nothing really touches the sides anymore and she is now waking up and in need of a fix. Forget chasing the dragon, she left that long ago. She injects as soon as she gets the gear. Recently she’s been injecting into a sore on the back of her knee. She can get away with the punters not seeing that patch and she’s begun to have trouble finding a vein on her arms.


She wasn’t proud of it but on occasion she’d resort to grassing. She knew a couple of the local CID at Vine Street and would pop in and see them or call them and meet them down by Green Park tube in the park opposite. They were ok to her and she actually quite enjoyed talking to them. They never looked to fuck her or knock her about and when she gave them something juicing they would always slip her a few quid. They told her that if she got nicked they could be called on for a bit of bail and they’d always flatter her a little.


You’re looking better Peggy, got a bit of meat on you for a change.’ Or ‘You could save up a few quid and get in a decent rehab, that’d sort you out properly darling.’


The cops made Peggy feel a little bit more human and actually listened to what she had to say for a change. Of course she had to keep this ‘business relationship’ very secret from her boyfriend Marty. He’d go more mental than usual if he found out she was a grass. She was always really careful not to be seen with the cops.


Her boyfriend Marty is even by her standards a total scumbag. He depends on her to get money from being a working girl. He sits about at home sleeping or drinking and waiting for her to bring home some cash so they can ring Black Tony or Paddy for some brown. If Peggy ever stops to think about it she realises that Marty doesn’t really care about her. He allows, no hang on, forces her to head out and work the streets. When she’s got some fat pervert’s cock in her mouth she knows she’s doing it for two things, the ever constant need for heroin and Marty her layabout boyfriend.


When Peggy and Marty get a bit flush from a bit of thieving they’ll head down the pub and drink cider. On occasion Marty will get purposely chatting to a punter at the bar and start pimping Peggy out. She’ll hear him saying things like..


She’ll suck you good mate.’


Or..


Head in the bogs and I’ll send her in after you.


Often the geezer at the bar will look back and see the ragged, dirty, toothless, skinny, lipstick smeared face of Peggy trying to smile back at him and run a mile. This usually resulted in Peggy telling Marty that he’s ‘a cunt’ and that she should leave him and get off the gear and find someone who will actually care about her. Peggy knew that she has a mouth on her and sometimes just likes to let rip on Marty, even though she knows what she’ll get in return.


Go on then, I dare you. Who’d want you and your saggy arse and clout. Get back in the real world’.


This would almost always be accompanied by a hard slap across the face and Marty shouting and smashing up what little they had in their mattress on the floor, single lightbulb, newspaper strewn flat. The pair would make up later when the stomach cramps began to attack them and the need for gear returned. No amount of cider or whiskey would stop that need.


So here she stood. In porn alley in Soho. She didn’t have a flat or a hotel room that the punters could head to so she would let them fuck her against a wall in one of the alleyways near to Rupert Street. In fact she would let them do anything to her. Bend her over and fuck her in the saggy, spotty shapeless item she called an arse or she’d more often than not blow them and let them finish on her grey and blue bruised tits. She’d walk away hopefully with a tenner for her time (at most). 


But a tenner will get her and Marty some gear.


And that’s all she cared about.






Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 19 January 2018

In Preview - PETRICHOR by Gareth A. Hopkins.




Petrichor.


By Gareth A. Hopkins.


An unusual review for an unusual book.


‘The war rages. People are slain. Vince Hunt decides he doesn’t like pork pies. Dan Butcher this week doesn’t imagine painfully murdering someone on the commute and the world will never be the same again.’ 


As quotes go that is one that is completely made up. Outrage huh? I’m actually referring to the sub-tweeting snarky debate about what is ‘allowed’ to be a comic. I see this often popping up on the social media of the fat and pompous and snarky and cool. Various formats and delivery systems are argued over until we end up ‘reverse flippin’.


Let me start by saying that I have always considered the work of Mr Hopkins to be comics. 





This creator often steps outside of the comfy world of superheroes and autobiographical and horror and sci-fi and cats to create something monumentally different yet nonetheless intriguing and original.


With Petrichor he takes a step forwards to something new and different. Something altogether more intimate and idiosyncratic.


In the life we lead the seeing of the hidden and honest face of even the person that you think you know well can occur through the art that they produce. In this book the creator combines his own true voice with the abstract art he has of recent time become known for.


The black and white art reminds me alternately of a detailed rock face or a crystalline structure or even the wind blowing over a beach in winter. But what Gareth does here is that hovering above these visuals are some personal thoughts and words of the moment to moment of his day. Gareth is also a very thoughtful creator and I enjoy talking about his work with him, but this comes over as incredibly moving. Like we are hearing his thoughts float over art that we are interpreting beyond their meaning.


I know.... I’m not making much sense. This book is more of an experience you have to observe for yourself.


And in saying that I realise that I have written far too much for something that just needs to be read.


I can only do justice to this comic by saying that you should read it and think about it....


Petrichor will be out soon.


Get yourself a copy.


I generally don’t know what I am talking about but I do know that this is very, very good!





Many thanks for reading.


You can find more about Gareth at www.grthink.com or follow him on Twitter @grthink

Sunday, 14 January 2018

In Review - ‘A Night With Friends For Nosferatu’ by Grisso.



A Night With Friends For Nosferatu’


By Grisso.


Published by Enigmatic Labs - $3.00 - Black and White mini comic.


The Story - ‘We get to meet some of Nosferatu’s friends. Lead by Nosferatu they have an intervention with the elusive Bigfoot.’


You don’t need to have much knowledge to jump right into any of these mini comics. They are just plain fun.






The Review - As comics come and go the sizes change I have observed recently. Especially in the small press and indie world. A Night With Friends For Nosferatu is about the size of a large beer mat. It has forty-eight pages of art and story all of which are done in a panel a page style. The art is crisp and sharp but with a foot in the realistic and the cartoony. 


It is a comic that made me chuckle quite a lot.


Nosferatu can’t be an easy guy to be friends with. He is a bit of a moaner and is prone to looking up what people think about him on the internet. He yearns for the days when people were actually frightened of vampires.


‘They said I looked like a buck tooth nerd who finally decided to come out of his Mom’s basement to ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.’


So Nosferatu and his pals, a witch and a werewolf, sit in a bar having a drink. As they leave they bump into another of their group Bigfoot. What has he been up to? He’s been buying porn again. They accuse him and he flees. Turns out he’s been working the little Wookiee in the woods. Falling asleep and then leaving his porn laying about for teenagers and hikers to find.


Yup! I told Mark Norfolk it was a Bigfoot!!!!


This was a present that a good friend brought back to me from America. I just read it and will be searching out more by this creator. I recommend that if you are fond of this sort of fanny humour you do the same.


Although $3.00 does seem a tiny bit on the high side.


Head over to www.enigmaticlabs.com to find out more.


Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

In Preview - ‘Gamayun Tales: The King of Birds’ by Alexander Utkin





In Preview - ‘Gamayun Tales: The King of Birds’


Written and Drawn by Alexander Utkin.

Translated by Lada Morozova.


Published by Nobrow.


67 pages - Full Colour Hardback - £12.00/$19.95.


The Story - ‘This is the story of how a small golden apple started a great battle. It all began with a mouse and a sparrow, but soon all the animals and birds were waging a mighty war. After all, the King of Birds forgives no one....But what will happen when he finds himself at the mercy of a plucky merchant?’





The Review - This is a comic based on traditional Russian folklore and translated onto the drawn page by the super talented Alexander Utkin. Like all good stories of yore it is not story for the meek. Utkin brilliantly transfers to the comics page the feelings that we all had as kids when we heard these frightening stories. In the same way that the Brothers Grimm filled their stories with murderers and thieves this book has that sharply unsettling feel to its story and art.


In the narrative we follow an argument between friends that escalates to a world war of too proud nations. From that we see transformative Machiavellian shenanigans that result in nefarious twists and turns in a fairy tale that you never really get to second guess. The wisdom of our forefathers is self evident in the selfish emotions of many on the page and they echo through our current news cycles. And so should all great stories be that are told from fireside to computer side.


Utkin excels in the colourful weirdness on the page. He has adopted a style that draws out iconic images in fully realised figures of grandeur. A favourite page has the King Eagle atop a gnarled branch, wounded yet proud the backgrounds show the browns and yellows of an autumn evening. The light on the page has to be seen to be believed. Each panel seems to have been swept off an easel and into this book.





My favourite player in this book is a merchant who is the saviour and then plaything of the King of Birds. He is a thick set and ruddy faced individual. He watches and obeys as the giant Eagle King morphs in front of him from bird to statuesque god in Utkin’s marvellous brushy and bright pastel drawings. He is a cracking character who bravely follows the seemingly brash and unwise orders of his friend for good or bad.


This is a book that was previously published in Lithuania and is presented here in a glorious hardback for a great price by the mighty Nobrow. Alexander Utkin himself is a comic creator, illustrator and musician from Russia.


Highly recommended.


Released on the 15th of January and well worth a few quid.


Find out more about Nobrow and the rest of their titles at www.nobrow.net or follow them on Twitter @NobrowPress


With the Hilda on the Netflix horizon this should really be the year for Nobrow and they are well worth having a look at and buying at least a couple of their library.



Many thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

In Review - ‘Tomorrow’ from BHP Comics.



Tomorrow.


Written by Jack Lothian.

Art by Garry Mac.

Colours, design and lettering by Sha Nazir and Kirsty Hunter.

Flatting by Greg Watt.


51 pages - Full Colour - Published by BHP Comics.


The Story - This is a book that opens quietly. We see the beach at an unnamed seaside town and the sea beyond. In the sand you can see the indentations of two bums and four feet. A couple have sat here alone and you imagine that they have looked out to sea. A shadow of a love left as a moment of time in the sand.


The scene then changes to an alarm clock going off and a little old lady getting out of bed and heading to the shops. She seems alone yet cheerful. She heads down the high street to the local supermarket and is rudely brushed off when she tries to make conversation with the young woman cashier. She seems unbothered and heads home and then to bed. She is awoken later that night by noisy music from the flat above. She heads up and politely complains to the chav at his door but is again bluntly rebuffed.


The following day her routine continues again except that this time she finds that the streets are empty. There is nobody about anywhere. Everyone has gone and she is actually (rather than emotionally) alone. She cries ‘Hello’ but no one answers. Until she turns a corner and finds some strange short and squat aliens dismantling a wall. As she attempts to hide two taller, grey and centaur legged humanoids pass her and ignore her. She is scared but realises that these creatures will continue to just ignore her.


So the little old lady continues with her life. She continues to shop and wash her clothes until one day whilst hanging her smalls on the line she is approached by one of the worker aliens who has hurt its hand. She takes it in and dresses the wound. She gets attached to it and begins to see this small being as a surrogate child and starts dressing it up as a baby. One hilarious moment has her dressing it up in a toddler’s sailor costume and taking it to the seaside.


We suspect that this will not end well......





The Review - This is actually the first comic that I have discovered and then reviewed after obtaining my Comichaus app and membership. I think that it may also be one of the first books that I have reviewed from BHP Comics, it won’t be the last. It’s a great little book. It speaks to a theme of elder loneliness through the framework of an alien invasion and seeming extermination of mankind. It’s not every day that you see those two in the same comic.


It is also a fun read. The writing and art combine to present a quiet style of storytelling that is pitched in just the right tone to make you smile, be a little creeped out and also give you the odd sad moment.  the visuals carry much of what is going on here. The writer allows the artist to carry the narrative without interrupting it with speech or thought bubbles, this is deftly done. The art is clean and open and coloured superbly. Garry Mac manages to carry both the scenes that have literal scope and size to the smaller more personal moments with facial acting done with subtlety and care. I’d love to see what he handles next.


You warm to the little old lady and see her as both cute and polite but also really brave both in the post apocalypse world and also when dealing with the ghastly rude and chavvy people she comes across before everyone disappears. She is perhaps less alone after this event than before. It is also a book that will stay with you and get you ringing your mum to make sure she has the radiators on and enough shopping during this cold snap.


Highly recommended.





I read this on Comichaus but you can also get a hard copy through the app or directly from www.bhpcomics.co.uk and follow them on Twitter @BHP_Comics



Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Cockney Kung Fu Backstory.... (Contains terrible language).

Hey readers,


We are about to go to the printers with Cockney Kung Fu so I thought I could re present a story of one of the side characters.


(This previously appeared in the mailer www.tinyletter.com/CockneyKungFu - so sign up!)


This is a little bit more of a back story of one of the CKF characters. I'm beginning to compile a load of prose relating to characters who turn up in the story so thought you could have a look at one of the pieces in advance.


Hope you enjoy it....


Why does no one write about those funny little moments in your life? Does comedy not translate well to the comic or prose world these days. The books that actually seem really funny are slim on the newly released shelves. All we seem to get are the obligatory 'name' or 'hot' comedian who is pushed into our faces like a cow turd at Scout Camp. I don't like many comedians. Even the ones that I enjoy on stand up like Stewart Lee and Frankie Boyle seem a little self satisfying and egomaniacal when translated to a page. So what are we left with.


Bring back Barry Cryer I say!


Has Amy Schumer EVER said anything remotely funny?


So here I sit. Back in a bar starring at a pint. For those that know me personally are painfully aware of what happens when I drink. Usually I find it hard to stop, I believe myself to be hilarious and I usually end up with a little voice somewhere in my brain shouting 'Let's do shots!' If you ever see me drinking then please just step away. Join the army and shoot some unarmed and naked foreigners because that may be slightly more life affirming than hearing me talk again about the time I did a shit in a bush with a horse watching me!





So I decided to start drinking alone. Maybe I secretly can't admit that I have no alternative - who the fuck knows? I actually looked at this like a freakish and self indulgent research project. I have wandered all over London looking for somewhere suitable. The selection of really bad and dirty clubs is sadly not as rich as it was in my prime days of 1976 to 1985. I don't want anywhere that is busy. I don't want to spend ages waiting to get served. I want a bar that I can sit at the actual counter with bar staff who I won't hit on when I've had a few (that's a whole other ass clenchingly embarrassing story that I may save for another time if ever). Like the old and smelling of piss man that I am I also don't want painfully noisy music or clanking 'pub grub' to annoy me. These are the places I can take a tatty old paperback, sit and hate everyone like all good Englishmen should.


And yes, before you ask the prospect of drinking at home is a non-starter. I couldn't cope with the judging eyes of my dog Stan....


So after some time and a number of half finished pints I found somewhere. No I'm not telling you where so that you can 'pop along' for a chat. You can fuck right off. This sad cunt drinks alone. I go there a couple of times a week. The barman is always the same young Irish kid. He has on occasion tried to tell me about a club he's been to or a girl he's seeing. I wave him away and point at the optics for a scotch. He probably thinks that I am an alcoholic. Of course as a pretend alcoholic I would never admit this and it only goes to reinforce his theory. One day this shit eating with turn us all inside out like a Bobby Sands modern art piece.


As the pints flow and I begin my every drunk pint trip to the toilet I begin to feel that loss of control creeping in. I think that we are all at our hearts self-destructive. We like to feel something and in the pain and desperation of a violent or dangerous moment we can feel at least something. So I occasionally get into the odd slanging match with the other regulars. They shout out about a football team or something they saw in the news and I immediately take the opposite opinion on purpose. This conversation goes from hasty debate to 'You're an ignorant black/Irish/bird/young/old/add descriptor here cunt'. We are told to calm down and I continue falling.


Things happen when you are in an inner-city pub. They always have and I hope that this never stops. You never get this type of entertainment in a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks, all you seem to get there is a pompous cunt behind the jump pointing out what a Caramel Latte is to a little old lady. The realm of the truly demented, criminal and violent still lays in the stinking and grubby council estate public house. I have seen all sort of stuff in these places over the years. Whatever happens is normally ignored with nothing more than a raised eyebrow by the staff and regulars and accompanied with an odd 'Get out!'


Recently I was in my local. Locked in after closing at 3am. I decided to take another piss and walked into the lean to shed of a toilet at the back. Bailey was another regular an old and skinny man who would be in the dictionary if there was a page for 'He will be dead soon'. He clearly wasn't feeling too well and that packet of artisan crisps he'd bought from a junkie shoplifter had obviously gone down the wrong way as I could see the post vomit dribble still hanging from his lips as he leaned against the bottom yellow lip of the urinal. Slunched over double on the floor I could see in his lap and on the floor around him was the black and yellow sick of a hardened drinker with no small amount of old blood in his stomach.


So like all good citizens I decided to ignore he was there and go for a piss in the cubicle. This is a cubicle that could never pass as a proper toilet in toilet heaven or Toilet World in Swindon. It has no door for starters. Builders fresh off a job and regulars would shit with the door open and shout at you if you looked. As I was pissing and complimenting myself on both my aim and the clear bloodless colour of my piss I noticed a pair of shit stained socks next the the white porcelain. What would be your immediate response to seeing socks with shit on them? You hipster fuckers would immediately think 'Ewwww, how common' or 'I feel sorry for the state of modern society and it's care of the mental or old!'


Me... I thought 'Clever'. They never have any toilet paper in this pub. They tried but everyone kept stealing it. So some clever fucker has needed a rush shit (the only kind suitable to an establishment such as this as I would rather take a shit in the middle of Victoria train station than this disease ridden hovel) and dropped it out of their arse before discovering there was no paper. Being a practical bugger they have then taken their socks off and wiped with them. Genius!


So back to the bar I wander. As I take my seat again at the bar I shout over at the barman 'Dave, there's a pair of socks with man-poo on them in the bog.' He makes a comment similar to 'Fuck, not again' and wanders off with a carrier bag to get them. The bag was one of those cheap ones you get off market stalls.


Dave retuned shortly afterwards with the cacky socks in the carrier bag that's tied off in the same way that you would with a dog turd you pick up on the morning walk. This is a bag with still some air trapped. Dave, because mostly he is a stupid cunt but also because he likes to break the boredom of the shift up with some humour on occasion then takes the bag and throws it as hard as he can at one of the other regulars at the bar. This regular is now chuckling and in turn then throws the bag as hard as he can at me. And on and on this goes until the bag finally bursts and someone gets a portion of a turd on them.


Oh how we laughed.


Who says that comedy is dead?


Stick that up your arse  Michael MacIntyre!!!



Many thanks for reading.