Thursday, 26 May 2011


Every time I visit my old home I try and get at least one attic rummage in to clear things out and, on occasion, unearth toys with ornamental value. So far I've found all my ghostbusters except Winston, which is pissing me off. Especially as I've found THREE Janines. Seriously. THREE. Why would I have even had ONE Janine?What I did unearth this most recent trip was an old "Ren & Stimpy" comic, apparently the last one ever, which makes sense as it was put out around the time the show itself would've been canceled. I'd forgotten about this completely but I wanted to show it some love here because it holds up surprisingly well. As passionate a "Ren & Stimpy" fan as I was, I never got that excited over the comics. Most of the artwork was by Mike Kazaleh who, despite being a perfectly passable artist, was very distinct stylistically and didn't really replicate the atmosphere of the show. The stories by and large were much lighter in tone, with far less by way of the violence and psychotic meanderings that gave the show its edge. You would get some lovely artwork from time to time, like this:Generally I wasn't a regular buyer and at present only have the first sixteen issues collected over four graphic novels. Rediscovering the final issue I'm kind of curious to look into what came between.The art is by Jeff Jarka and it's really fantastic - a lot of severe, extreme poses and an overall tone that echoes the faster pace of the unfairly maligned Games-era episodes when they were in their stride.I guess the reason I never really committed to subscribing at the time is the rather sad admission that, in all honesty, I'm just not into comics. Unless there's something really special about the draughtsmanship (eg. Doug TenNapel, Eric Drooker) or the story ("Maus" = no brainer) or if it's just really weird, creepy or funny. Otherwise I struggle to muster up much by way of excitement.
It's sort of bizarre, given my passion for art, animation and sequential storytelling, as well as the fact that I've produced several of my own graphic novels and comic anthologies (available at these LOW, LOW PRICES, kids!), with two more being worked on at present.The only series I ever followed with any fervour was "Clive Barker's Hellraiser", mainly motivated by my love for Barker himself and the first few "Hellraiser" movies, helped along by the comic's lack of mainstream popularity that made them fairly easy to grab up in bulk on eBay. Recently, and for reasons I'm unsure of, this series was revived after a twenty year hiatus. I've bought the first two issues and enjoyed them, but mainly I'm curious as to what Barker's long game is with the characters. If it's to gauge consumer interest, the outlook is good as both seemed to sell out the moment I got my copies.I'm personally hoping it will serve as a prelude to "The Scarlet Gospels", a forthcoming Barker book almost as mythical as the universes he creates in so much as he's been writing it FOR-FUCKING-EVER. I seriously cannot think of another book I've been more excited about seeing published. Supposedly it will serve as a magnum opus, concluding the story of his progenies Harry D'Amour and "Hellraiser"'s Pinhead in a presumably far more respectful manner than the relentless parade of stilted, straight-to-DVD sequels. But my "Hellraiser" geekery is a post for another time.
I was recently at a small press expo in Bristol where a few friends of mine were exhibiting. Wandering around it seems that there really is an impressive degree of talent in the independent scene as far as artistic ability goes, if not necessarily as much in terms of storytelling. Some standout stuff such as "100% Squishy" and "Babel" really grabbed me on a visual level, as well as this anthology put together by a bunch of artists at Aardman:I'm working on a feature on it for Skwigly, and so far the people involved I've discussed it with have some pretty interesting things to say about the process, so I'll let you all know once it's up. It's essentially a collection of short stories and standalone artwork that encapsulates the spirit of Great Britain, in an alternately patriotic and derogatory sense, but where it really shines are the visuals.
Meanwhile my two graphic novels "Throat" and "Erica" are continuing to take shape, and I'll leave you with the first full-colour layout from the latter. I've had to blur out certain bits to keep it family friendly.Reckon it'll be targeted toward something of a niche market. Ah well...

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