Hi folks, it’s me again with another shellacking of my opinions from the last couple of weeks or so and of the comics I’ve read and other things. This has ended up being way later than it should have been, I came down with the flu last week and its taken longer than I thought to recover.

RANTS

1. Last week started with the news of the death of John Hicklenton, a ground breaking artist mainly published in 2000ad and Judge Dredd: the Megazine. I guess he wouldn’t be that well known in the USA which is a real pity. He broke through into comics at the age of 19 by drawing a Neil Gaiman “future-shock” story for 2000ad which garnered him the notice of writer Pat Mills who immediately commissioned him to write 2 books for his long running character Nemesis: The Warlock. This was one of the most popular 2000ad characters which had artists of the calibre of Kev O’Neill and Bryan Talbot work on it before Hicklenton which I think shows how stunning his art was for a 19 year old to take over from those masters.

Its hard to understate how much of an impact Hicklenton’s art had, readers either loved or hated it but over the course of a couple of years many more loved than hated the organic sinister subversiveness of his creativity. Imagine if HR Giger (designer of Alien) had drawn comics then you might get a handle on where Hicklenton’s imagination lived, he could draw disturbing characters and visceral action. He passed away 2 weeks ago at the age of 42 from multiple sclerosis. There are some clips of him from the award winning 2008 documentary about him

2. Then as if the week couldn’t get any cheerier I heard of the death of Dick Giordano. He was a lot older than JH but still its disturbing to hear that death of one of the greats. Dick Giordano is most famous I suppose for the innumerable inking jobs he did, especially on Neal Adams work and for many Batman titles over the years. He was also a great pencilled with a beautiful delicate line, I recall only a few years ago he did some fantastic work on Devin Graysons Gotham Knights title.

He was also hugely significant as editor in chief and an executive for DC during a very successful time during the 80’s and early 90’s including encouraging the “British Invasion” of new artists and writers, regenerating the Teen Titans franchise, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, Dark Knight, the beginnings of Vertigo. The only failing you could say perhaps was letting Alan Moore get disenchanted with DC but then Alan Moore always seems to fall out with everyone eventually.

I’ve seen on Marvels June solicits that the Dracula story he did with Roy Thomas is being reissued, I’d recommend that anyone who enjoys a great story and beautiful art pick it up.

3. In comparison to the first two sections the other stuff like who’s artist on what pales into insignificance in the order of things but still we should talk about the normal stuff in our hobby as well as the heavy stuff, its all part of the tapestry of life and the world keeps moving on and its ok to talk about the stuff that’s important to us at the time…speaking of which…

4. No more Batwoman – Three words even more devastating that Wanda’s “No more Mutants”, the news that Greg Rucka has quit all DC’s projects and will be concentrating on his creator owned stuff. This is fine, I’m sure I’ll be checking out Queen and Country and whatever else he has planned but it is somewhat sickening that the single best mainstream comic of the last year is no more. The Rucka/J.H.Williams III Batwoman stories in Detective Comics were pretty damn amazing, great writing, outstanding art, fine colouring, just a complete package.

The proposed Batwoman title which was forecast for this summer could have been great but now we’ll never know as I don’t think a replacement writer would have as sympathetic take on Kate Kane, they’d probably get some hack like Winick to do it. Rucka has been very nice to DC in his announcement about it but I can’t help a nagging feeling that someone in management at DC poured some cold water on a “lesbian title”, I hope that’s not the case. (Editor’s note: It was announced today that J.H. Williams III will be co-writing and drawing the new Batwoman series beginning later this year)

5. No more PhonogramThis interview from Comics Alliance puts some things in a fairly poor perspective in my point of view. The fact that a great series like Phonogram couldn’t sell as much as C list Marvel and DC comics shows how fucked up the comics business is now. The writing was smart, the art was appealing yet it couldn’t sell much more than 4000 copies, that’s just a disgrace, some fucking piece of shit like Rulk can sell 60000 copies yet Phonogram can’t even sell enough to pay the artist electricity bill??? That just shows how fucked up the comics market is now. Maybe if the characters had all worn costumes and punched and stabbed each other to death, maybe that would have made it more appealing to the masses?

The comic had the reputation of being “elitist”, but for me it was one of the most joyous books of the last year and the comics world is all the poorer if it loses books like this. Hands up who needs more Deadpool books?

6. Youtube – For fucks sake, why in hell did they have to change it? Now the comments section is all fucked up and its lost all sense of narrative. And the info section is all over the place, none of the links or options are in as handy places as they used to be, youtube you fucked up, you bastards!

COMICS MINI-REVIEWS

Battlefields #4
I love this comic, Garth Ennis is such a good writer when he’s doing war stories, he can treat the subject seriously yet still leavens it all with the black humour of the ordinary tommies, yanks and fritzies. In it Sergeant Stiles commands a Sherman Firefly and leads his men in search of fearsome King Tiger tank. Its full of set piece action, good characterisation (even for the Germans who are far from the evil cardboard cut out characters as usually portrayed in TV and movie) and excellent art from Carlos Ezquerra. I’d love to see Jose and Elliot review this one actually.

Air Fighters #1 (Moonstone)
From the sublime to the ridiculous as it were. This was half price on dcbs and since I love war books, especially aviation books I figured it would be worth a chance….boy was I wrong. The cover by Tom Grindberg is very nice but after that it goes all kinds of wrong.

It’s a 72 page anthology based on characters from the Golden age of comics and most of the stories are hokey and just plain stupid. I prefer my war stories with a good realistic base and these are fantastical and make little sense. And as for the artwork….I’m not going to name any names because the art is so awful, its embarrassingly bad, some of it looks like a monkey doodled on the page or something. Some of them didn’t even bother to do some simple reference work, one story portrays a kette of Ju87 Stukas doing a combat air patrol complete with twin 37mm cannons when anyone who would have an interest in this book would know that’s ludicrous beyond belief and just shows how little the writer and artist cared about the whole charade.

Solomon Kane: Deaths Black Riders 2 & 3 (Dark Horse)
Ahhhhh back to something good, 2 issues of Robert E Howard’s puritan antihero and his encounter with some evil demons (are there any other kind?) in the black forest of southern Germany. It reads like a modern version of a classic Hammer Horror film or EC comic, I had to switch off the computer and read this in silence so as to give it my full concentration, so I could absorb every eerie word of Scott Allie’s script and drink in every line of Mario Guevara’s atmospheric artwork which draws you completely into the story so much as that you feel that you are in that dank forest surrounded by bloodthirsty demons with just a pistol and a trusty sword to protect you.

Power Girl 9 (DC)
This comic is such a joy to read, Gray and Palmiotti subvert the normal superhero clichés on almost every page and deliver a quality story every time. This issue sees PG up against Satanna and her “gun-toting Animal men and PG gets thwacked around with a big hammer for most of the issue until that other Amanda Conner favourite Terra turns up to save the day. It’s a real pity that Amanda Conner is quitting as this is a title she was born to draw, can’t wait to see what she works on next.

King City #5 (Image)
Another comic I fell in love with instantly, you can’t help but like Brandon Grahams Ameri-manga art style which has hints of Adam Warren but a more looser, expressive style. The story is about Joe and his Cat who steal things to order and the dramas that they get into. The humour in this title is definitely of the black cynical variety but that makes it no less funny. Its also black and white which shows the linework to its best advantage and its bigger than the normal comic book size so it fits more in, it’s a winner on both counts.

JLA #41 (DC)
Jose asked if anyone is reading JLA at the moment, I don’t remember if anyone answered and I couldn’t blame them. I started reading the book at #38 and the Blackest Night issues were horrible, just really awful writing and art, especially the Dr Light vs. Dr Light battle which got into misogynistic areas. I actually enjoyed #41 though, it felt like those old Avengers issues where Cap or Iron Man would put a new team together, of course this is JLA so it was Donna Troy putting the team together. Perhaps I took a liking to it because I loved the New Teen Titans so seeing Dick, Donna, Cyborg and Starfire on the same team again brought back good memories. Even Mark Bagley’s art seemed tighter and less rushed in this issue.

BACK ISSUE BIN

DC Action 1-6 (London Editions Magazines)
This is a title which came out in 1990 from LEM who specialized in DC reprints for the British and Irish market. I had already been reading their Batman and Superman/JLI reprints when they came out with this oversized 68 page magazine with a cardstock cover featuring the classic Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans, the Grant Morrison Animal Man title and a third strip which changed every 2 issues. In 1-2 was the Creeper, in 3-4 was the history of Paul Kirk and the Manhunters and in 5-6 was the start of the Perez History of the DC Universe.

This book introduced me to the wider DC Universe back when Marvel Comics were by far and away my favourite company. Unfortunately it only lasted 6 issues, the book had production values that have still not been equalled by any American or British comic in my opinion but that was its downfall as at £1.75 ($3.50) an issue in 1990 it was by far the most expensive comic on the newsstands but still it has fond memories for me. If you are ever in the UK you might be able to track it down in some second hand shops or at car boot sales.

BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Monster Blog
http://monsterblog.oneroom.org/
This is an old favourite which has loads of scanned Monster comics from the Lee/Kirby pre-Marvel superheroes era including “I was face to face with the Creature from Planet X!” and “Invasion from Outer Space!”, its full of those fun goofy stories from the King!

Here in Duckberg
http://texcap.wordpress.com/
This is a cool little blog focusing on comics mostly but some game stuff as well and it seems to mostly feature stuff I like which is great lol. Its straightforward and informative without being confrontational and controversial like the CCW blog. Blogger Texcap has a friendly open style and a good eye for his layout which is easy on the eye.

Paleofuture
http://www.paleofuture.com/
This blog takes a look at the sci-fi and comics genres predictions of the future, in its own words it’s “a look into the future that never was”. I just love all the retro-future stuff, especially from the 50’s and 60’s when the world was going to be so bright and modern complete with Domed Cities and flying cars…..I want my flying car now dammit!

TV
One of my favourite recent TV shows is Newswipe with Charlie Brooker which was broadcast on BBC2 in February/March. It is a topical news show presented by comedian Charlie Brooker who dissects news organisations and politicians with savage satire, sort of like Stephen Colbert but with less joshing and more vicious wit. There’s also a philosophical side amongst the funny asides, don’t trust the news media, there’s always an agenda, make up your own mind.

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Comments
  1. Deemar says:

    John Hicklenton I’ll see what I can find of his work, sorry for his passing.

    The end of Batwoman, I’ve bemoaned this for a few days now so I won’t go into a tirade.

  2. Deemar says:

    Dude youtube is shooting themselves in the foot.

    How counter intuitive is that site now?

  3. tomstewdevine says:

    Wow, great fucking post LM. Do not stop with these.

    I was very worried that JHW3 had some sick panels already done that we would never see, but with this news today it looks like he might be able to use some to the idea’s he had.

    I have tried 3 titles from Moonstone and they have all been garbage, so it doesn’t surprise me that Air Fighters is among the same lines.

    • Locusmortis says:

      Thanks man, I’ll try and keep doing these 🙂

      Regarding Batwoman, I had the same fear, that there were some pages already worked on that wouldn’t see the light of day. This article had already been sent to Jose before the news about JH Williams taking it over had broke. I’ll give him a chance but its still not Greg Rucka writing it and sometimes its about serendipity, the writer/artist combo being in synch and you take out one of those elements and it can all become blah.

      I figured that the art would at least be competent in Airfighters but it really was terrible, very rushed and amateurish.

  4. cballsack says:

    I’m digging the paleofuture site. It’s occupied the last twenty minutes of my internet time.

  5. Deemar says:

    Paleofuture what about some darkofuture? heh

  6. DidioForever says:

    RE: The Batwoman thing, I’m really happy JHWIII is hanging on in there for Rucka. I don’t think anyone knows the reason why Rucka couldn’t finish the Alice origin at DC, but with this set up it looks like they’re making it REALLY easy for him to come back.

    I’m willing to bet he’ll be back for the 20th issue of Batwoman at the latest

  7. Ashaman_18 says:

    I too will be missing Phonogram. Its what made me like Gillen’s writing. Seems like he is not doing well in the industry seeing how he is being kicked off of Thor. Is he going to be writing anything after his run on Thor?

  8. Linwood E. Knight says:

    Crap on the Phonogram news!! I was going to pick that up when it went to trade!

  9. DidioForever says:

    Come to think of it I think I remember that Nemesis The Warlock series from 2000AD – Was that the guy with the arrow/dragon-shaped head? Gorgeous artwork. And was Hicklenton the same artist who sometimes worked on Slaine? Or am I confusing him with Simon Bisley?

    Either way, that’s really tragic news.

    • Locusmortis says:

      You’re mostly right, Nemesis is the alien demon with the arrow/dragon shaped head but it was mainly Bisley and Fabry on Slaine at that stage.

      The full artistic lineup for Nemesis The Warlock was
      Book 1 – Kev O’Neill
      Book 2 – Jesus Redondo
      Book 3 – Kev O’Neill
      Book 4 – Kev O’Neill partly/Bryan Talbot mostly
      Book 5 – Bryan Talbot
      Book 6 – Bryan Talbot
      Book 7 – John Hicklenton
      Book 8 – David A. Roach
      Book 9 – John Hicklenton
      Book 10 – Henry Flint mostly/Kev O’Neill did final part and last ever Nemesis story

      Thats a really strong artist lineup and happily the books are going to be issued in Essential type trades in the States soon (they are already out in the UK and Ireland and available on Amazon)

      John Hicklenton started Book 7 when he was only 19 years old and his art was so grotesque that readers didn’t know what to think at the time (consider that the average age of 2000AD readers would have been mid-teens back then) but when you got into what Hicklenton was doing you really got it.

      Happily his early work is up on the following site (which I wanted to post in my next column but needs must) http://www.htmlcomics.com/Book/html.asp?Series_Name=2000%20AD%20%280501%20-%200600%29&Book_No=045&Page_Number=2&Alpha=0&Lookup=

  10. […] of Superman, while the former two were printed in the later, short-lived but really quite fantastic DC Action (a comic my Dad got in trouble with my Mum for letting me read, thanks to the Animal Man issue in […]

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