Sunday, August 13, 2017

THAT COMIC SMELL GUEST POST: Mike Sedakat

For a few weeks, I'm running a series of guest posts from my friends over at That Comic Smell podcast. The pieces are any length, style, whatever. The only brief I gave was to write something about comics. This time around, it's Mike Sedakat.




Imagine the setting, the end of the Cold War, the height of Thatcherism and outrageous styles and fashions! It was 1988, I was 10 years old and spotted a graphic novel based on one of my favourite tv shows – Spitting Image on top of a table in a supermarket. I begged my mum to get me it and she did, thinking that because it was a big comic book alongside stuff like My Little Pony and Care Bear books that it was safe for kids! My parents always let me watch Spitting Image as this really helped my grasp of politics in the 1980s (the show’s absence from today’s satire scene is all too obvious), however, when we got home my mum was outraged to see the extreme nudity, swearing and complete filth which I so easily adored (I was a mischievous schoolboy). She confiscated it and within a few hours I found it on the top shelf of her cupboard. I pinched it back and it remained hidden under my bed for decades (even when I’d moved out of home!).

This book is the work of several comedy geniuses and is a much more honest look of the world back in the late 80s than many a textbook now. Ronald Reagan dressed as a gun-wielding cowboy about to shoot the big pimple off a pensioner’s nose, Jeffrey Archer being shrunk and being plopped out of Thatcher’s bottom and an SAS soldier assassinating characters throughout the book. That said, there is no real overall story to the book, it’s a bit like a Viz comic or an adult version of The Dandy or The Beano. There are many nods to sci-fi here from Restaurant Reviewer John Hurt having a polite alien burst out of his chest to a time traveller who aims to visit Victorian Times, disgusted by the horrendous poverty and corruption only to discover he’s only zoomed a week into the future when he sees Anneka Rice on the telly! Fans of the show would love to see the Robo-cop PC Dimbleby.




The world of comics is represented in the piss-take of popular culture. Tum Tum is a crude adult Tin Tin drawn in the same way. Tum Tum is a complete drunken bastard who would stoop as low as he can to get a scoop. Seeing him pissing on the wall after being chucked out of his flat by his landlord is absolutely hilarious! Judge Deaf is of course a parody of 2000 AD’s favourite lawman, but more scary (imagine Dredd wearing a judge’s wig while riding a bicycle). Deaf’s biggest problem is not being able to hear anything so when someone calls for his help, the Judge shoots him for shouting in a public place! This story is filled with gems such as: “MORNING JUDGE DEAF!” “How dare you call me a moron. Ten years hard labour.” And “Loitering in a public place. I sentence you to death.” “He’s already dead, Judge Deaf. You had him hung a week ago for not knowing the cricket score.”




Johnny Onejoke is based on a combination of Dennis the Menace and I think a real comedian who I haven’t been able to figure out yet! The Transformers are taken the mickey out of by the Merchandisors TM. No story, just a bunch of robots that want to fight each other for absolutely no reason at all! Sound familiar? The appearance of each robot is signified with the price of the toy version. Dare I say that Superman is er,,,, parodied by the show’s version of God. This has to be the bravest (or most reckless depending on your point of view) story in the whole book! The Adventures of GOD The Ultimate Super-Hero shows disasters about to happen such as a train crash, a plane crash, the Chernobyl eruption and mass famine with people crying out for God to help them before they perish. The show’s version of God appears in the last caption (dressed like a super-hero) stating that having given mankind free will, it would be wrong to interfere. I’m not sure if given the current social climate if a book like this would be released again. I could be wrong.


All in all, Spitting Image: The Giant Komic Book is certainly a good laugh over most of its pages plus it is a no-holds-barred piss-take on everyone in the spotlight at the time. There are some extremely controversial stories, but mostly it’s a well-informed look at politics and popular culture in the 1980s and I wish the show would return to our television sets soon. 



You can listen to That Comic Smell podcast at iTunes, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

THAT COMIC SMELL GUEST POST: Tom Stewart

For a few weeks, I'm running a series of guest posts from my friends over at That Comic Smell podcast. The pieces are any length, style, whatever. The only brief I gave was to write something about comics. First up is Tom Stewart.



Dear comics,

I think it’s about high time you and me sat down for a little chat. Don’t worry I won’t take up too much of your time. Before you ask, yes I have been fine. No I haven’t had time to read any of your vast back catalogues as of recent. I’m still trying to plough my way through “The Stand” which is taking approximately 100 years. I’m sure you will still be there when I finish up though.

Enough about me, let’s talk about you. Haven’t you been a busy lot recently? Not only have all of your medium been taken and adapted into various films and TV Shows (Some good. Some utter shit) but your vast array of genres, subject matter and styles are getting bigger and bigger by the day. No your bum doesn’t look big on that shelf, although some of your works do come in all shapes and sizes. I’m just getting a bit shocked at how far you have come over the years. The snowball that is comics (you) shows no signs of stopping either. With the sheer enormity of comic conventions cropping up these days, also the size that some of them have become is crazy!! It almost seems like you’re a respected art form. Yet... are you?

As far as I am aware, whenever I mention you to people I still get “oh, that thing about superheroes. Isn’t that a bit kiddy” I honestly thought that with the popularity of the superheroes these days that, that kind of thing wouldn’t matter. It’s funny as well seeing as how the folks that come away with such phrases are usually the first people to sprout things like “Have you seen the new Avengers?” or “Spoder-min looks AWESOME doesn’t it?” and that’s the problem isn’t it? People only take you seriously when it suits them. They don’t see you as this platform for artists and writers to get down some of the most gutting punching and heart wrenching philosophical/political ideologies on paper in an understandable manner by accompanying it with diagrams and detailed references. To show how really fucked up the world can be or similarly how their world can be. To show the most romantic feelings ever conveyed or the most evil even one person can commit. The power to tell someone’s entire life and have it beautifully rendered also. To have 2 worlds colliding in perfect synchronicity on paper. Writing and pictures. I’ve got to say, you do one hell of a good job. These folks don’t understand you the way we do. By “We” I of course mean your fans. Now stop blushing, you know you have a massive fan base out there. I mean hell, there is an entire industry of incredible writers and artists that have worked with you over the years, there’s no need to modest. Stand proud. You have worked with some of the best. Alan Moore, Frank Quitely, Moebius, Frank Miller, Robert Crumb, Derf Backderf, Scott Snyder, Jack “The King” Kirby, Stan “The Man” Lee, Bill Finger, Steve Ditko, Mike Allred, to name but a few. These folks have been eager to work with you too. You have a lot to be proud of. So why do you reckon the stigma still?

Maybe it’s that when you put pictures with words people think that it lacks intelligence. Maybe that you lack imagination, even though I can’t think of anything more imaginative than the majority of the stories to come out of your being. Who knows?

All I know is, those folks are missing out.

It’s so good catching up with you. I know you don’t get a lot of time due to the aforementioned rate in which you are growing. Yet, the more you grow, the more I feel we all have time to catch up with you.

I best let you get off though. You’ve got more minds to mould and melt. I’m sure we will sit down and have another one of these catch up’s soon. There are lots more we need to discuss in the future.

Take care.

Tom



You can listen to That Comic Smell at Youtube, Soundcloud and iTunes.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

THAT COMIC SMELL 12: Image Comics


25 years of Image Comics!
The new episode of That Comic Smell is now online.
Have a listen at Soundcloud here and YouTube here.

From the website:

"Welcome again folks to another exciting episode of "That Comic Smell" Podcast.
The folks, this time around, discovered that it had been Image comics 25th birthday not too long ago and thought that they should celebrate by talking about the company, what books made them aware of Image, some of their most well known titles, how they changed the landscape of comics creation and so much more.
All of that and so much more on the only podcast to be coming to you in 3D!
*Disclaimer. This podcast does not guarantee 3 dimensions. Only enjoyable sound*
Thanks again folks.
These were some of the titles discussed:
Airboy (James Robinson, Greg Hinkle)
Spawn (Todd McFarlane)
The Wicked + The Divine (Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen)
The Walking Dead (Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Ardlard)
Battle Pope (Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore)
The Maxx (Sam Kieth)
Sex Criminals (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky)
Invincible (Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker)
The Astounding Wolf-man (Robert Kirkman, Jason Howard)
Velvet (Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser)
The Creech (Greg Capullo)
Jupiters Legacy (Mark Millar, Frank Quitely)
Hip Flask (Richard Starkings, Joe Casey)
Prophet (Barndon Graham, Simon Roy, Rob Leifeld, various artists)
Outcast (Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta)
Black Science (Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera)
Big Man Plans (Eric Powell, Tim Weisch)
Fadeout (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser)
Good Hates Astronauts (Ryan Browne)
The Goddamned (Jason Aaron, R.M. Guéra, Giulia Brusco)
Spread (Justin Jordan, Kyle Strahm, John Bivens, Felipe Sobreiro)
Pisces (Kurtis J. Wiebe, Johnnie Christmas)
Birthright (Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan)
Huck (Mark Millar, Rafeal Albuquerque)
ODY-C (Matt Fraction, Christian Ward)
The Dying and The Dead (Johnathan Hickman, Ryan Bodenheim)
Chrononauts (Mark Millar, Sean Gordon Murphy)
Lone Wolf and Cub (Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima)
1963 (Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Steve Bissette, Dave Gibbons, Don Simpson, John Totleben)
Cinema Purgatorio (Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill)
Bone (Jeff Smith)
The Last Christmas (Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Rick Remender)
The Great Unknown (Duncan Rouleau)
Silver Surfer - Marvel Platinum Collection (Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Marv Wolfman, Marie Sevrin, John Buscema, Gene Colan, Moebius, John Byrne)
The World of Edena (Moebius)
Terminal City (Dean Motter, Michael Lark)"

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

REFERENCE REVIEWS Vol.31 No.5


The latest edition of Reference Reviews - Volume 31, number 5 - is out now, featuring a review I wrote of William Patrick Martin's "Wonderfully Wordless: The 500 Most Recommended Graphic Novels and Picture Books"


For more information, please go here.