Friday 5 December 2014

After seriously considering what I can offer the world to make it a better place, I've decided to start a really expensive line of shoes

Why yes, I am watching all the Star Trek films this week in chronological order For Like The Umpteenth Time, how perceptive of you!
I'm only begrudgingly and incidentally enjoying them, though, as the rewatch has been prompted by needing to check out the quality of a blu-ray box set edition of all 10 original movies (to make sure the discs aren't borked) to evaluate its fitness as a Chrimbo prezzie, but I have to say that I liked The Motion Picture a lot more this time out, even if it still drags a bit.  The close proximity of the viewings this time around made me notice how some of Final Frontier was directed to call back to the style of The Motion Picture, and that Undiscovered Country's final line from Kirk is actually a clever allusion to the line he delivers at the end of Wrath of Khan.  The actual final shot of the Enterprise from UC is, in my humble opinion, absolutely perfect even if the actual film is well-made and played nonsense, but I never noticed before how great Yosemite National Park looks in FF, even when that final, brilliant panning matte shot is ruined by the obtrusive insertion of credits about fifteen seconds too early and what was - by then - the theme of The Next Generation, a show the producers clearly wanted to start making movies about so they could finally ditch these old geezers.
And then Generations.   Blech.  The deleted scenes include the original ending, in which Kirk goes out like a trooper fighting a physically superior opponent in hand-to-hand combat, finally getting the upper hand with the deployment of the patented Kirk Double Axe Handle Blow before buying the farm on a wisecrack when he's treacherously gunned down from behind, which is a bit of a contrast with the actual re-shot ending they went with, in which Kirk and Malcolm McDowell play tag for a few minutes before Kirk trips on a stair and breaks his neck because he is a hundred.  The official ending basically makes him look like a chump to put the new crew over with audiences, though possibly if that is the desired effect, it's ruined by the new crew losing their ship on their first adventure and constantly being taken to the cleaners by panto Klingon villains and stock footage from previous Trek movies - the stock footage thing is particularly at odds with the notion of the franchise moving forward, I would also think.  I am going to do a Fanboy Thing from this point onward and just ignore all of Generations in much the same way that the rest of Trek itself has chosen to do.  It is for the best.
Of the others, Voyage Home is very much of its time, particularly the scene where Kirk tries to hide his futuristic communication device (a mobile phone) but made relevant by the chemistry between the leads, and Search For Spock remains a functional but not very interesting addition to the series.

I briefly considered watching the two reboot flicks after the original movies, but discounted this for two reasons:
1 - the intended recipient of aforementioned Chrimbo prezzie already has the first one on blu-ray, and
2 - despite being capable of watching absolutely anything if it's sci-fi - to the extent that at one point it was lamented that Tank Girl was not yet available on blu-ray - when I took them to the cinema to watch the second one, they leaned over to me during the bit where Kirk is trying to kick a giant sparkplug to make a space engine work again and said "this is going on forever, isn't it?" and it remains the single Trek film I've seen only once.  Which was too many times.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

I like my booze two ways only: straight up, and by myself

Whoring time again!
As well as a strip in Something Wicked #10 which can be found here, I have a strip in Zarjaz #22, which can also be found here, containing work by PJ Holden and Al Ewing, who are "comics famous" - which basically means that people who are into comics like what they do or hate and resent their success, but normal folk will likely pass them in the street and toss loose change in their direction - and yet their contributions are not the most surprising thing of this issue, nor that I've got to draw Shako for the second time in print without anyone chasing me off with a pointed stick (or the third time if you count the free Christmas comic hosted by Zarjaz back in 2012 that can be seen here on the Quaequam Blog in a post that also advertises my first graphic novel Babble, which BOOM! Studios' lawyers assure me is legally distinct from James Tynion's Memetic), no, what is surprising is that Dave "Bolt 01" Evans - health service worker, father to what I am assured is a number of children to rival Screaming Jay Hawkins and editor/publisher of FutureQuake, Something Wicked, Zarjaz, and Dogbreath - somehow found the time to draw a comic strip.
Anyway, my contribution - which one reviewer has called "almost convincing" - naturally contains a bear.  It's an encounter between Bionic Man homage MACH 1 and ursine killing machine Shako set before either of their strips began proper, and has been described as "the strip you didn't know you wanted" by one podcast whose name sadly escapes me, rubbish as I am.  By all means check out this fine publication before the new Tory-approved tax rules for digital exchanges utterly destroys the British small press in the same way they've fucked everything else the fat greedy sack of cunts have got their reptilian fingers on.  Funny how they almost seem in a rush to get this stuff done like they don't expect to be around this time next year, isn't it?  They are very much robbed of even the honesty of a mugger or a ram raider, as those are just coping with the failure they already experience rather than planning for the failure they know is coming.  Say what you like about the American government, at least it actually kills its own citizens without shame, not like the Tories, starving people of money and dignity until they take their own lives - at least Darren Wilson got his own hands dirty when he went out and killed a poor person, IDS just smirks behind a tower of paper forms as his string of failures force others to do it by their own hands, the weasel.  You'd think someone who lives in his wife's house would understand about dependence on others, but that would require a capacity to give a single fuck.
Anyway, buy my comics while you can.  That would be lovely.

Monday 1 December 2014

Just as an exercise, let's take stabbing off the table

Note to self: delete texture brushes from Manga Studio.
No witty banter to impart today - regular readers of the blog will call days such as these "weekdays" - so I'll give a shout out for this tri-month's issue of Something Wicked, in which I illustrate a story by my writing donkey Lee Robson.  Something Wicked can be purchased here in physical form, with a more Borg-friendly digital edition to follow sometime later.

Friday 28 November 2014

Professional assassination is the highest form of public service

I must give Hibernia's Best of The Library of Death collection a quick rec for anyone looking for reading-related presents for kids.
I know that the primary audience for much of Hibernia's output is very likely adult blokes who approach this stuff through a haze of nostalgia or because they're hobbyists with a taste for vintage UK comics - I think I have established by now that I can most certainly relate there - and that kids supposedly hate black and white comics compared to stuff that's been coloured in with felt tip markers by an editorial assistant and a has a free plastic toy on the cover, but from my own experience kids actually seem to go crazy for black and white UK supernatural stuff from that whole 1970-1990 period.

I love her, but she plays that cancer card a lot

My old GN Babble has been uploaded to the Borg mega node for macro neural redistribution... okay I don't bloody know what the hell's going on and I refuse to pretend otherwise - Lee seems to know what it means that Babble is "available on Madefire now", so I'll let him explain it to you better than I could.
Basically the book is a spin-off James Tynion's Memetic miniseries, at least that's the easiest way to explain it now the lawyers are sniffing around - so buy Babble on Madefire.  Yes, totally do that.  It's a sophomore work and thus full of the thrill of invention more than my later stuff when I just concentrated on storytelling clarity and consistency and fucked fancy layouts and playful use of colour on the head.  I'm a journeyman these days, but back then I was enjoying it more and it really shows, I reckon.

Thursday 27 November 2014

I really want to slap you right now but I wouldn't know how to stop

Well, that escalated quickly.
I rather expected tracking down comics printed on thirty year-old toilet paper would take a little longer than it has and that I would get bored after a week or two, but beginning with a couple of non-sequential copies I found tucked between old Warrior issues, an eBay trawl and selling off a small mountain of manga digests has yielded me an unbroken run of The Eagle from 27th March 1982 to 29th April 1989, so I expect I shall now read them while I track down the last hundred or so and then inevitably move onto collecting Tiger and - blimey - Roy of the Rovers because I am totes for real about being all over Johnny Cougar.
The pile I have trails off around the time the book was melded with some sort of Star Trek knock-off called Wildcat that took up a third of the pages, and there also seems to be an effort underway to remove creator credits from the strips - possibly because a talent drain to America was underway at the time and they didn't want to go advertising the names of Vanyo, Jose Ortiz, Eric Bradbury and Mike Dorey when they were more or less keeping the book afloat (NOTE TO SELF: insert contextually-relevant Robert Maxwell joke here).  I suppose it survived the MASK merger a few months beforehand, so it'll survive this one (for a year or two).
I am actually looking forward to reading it all, mainly as I once - to fill a blog post - reviewed a random single issue I found in a shoebox in what I felt to be an appropriate manner, but if anything, that issue was pretty tame.
Flicking through even the earliest po-faced photostrip issues reveals hilariously deadpan stuff like an episode of Doomlord where you don't even notice it's got to the very end of the story and there hasn't been a cliffhanger set up, so Doomlord is chilling out at dinner in his alien form - having hypnotically blocked everyone in the room from seeing him as he truly is - and a new person just walks into the room and sees him and goes "JESUS CHRIST!" and then the Next Week banner reads "Guess who's not coming back to dinner?" and I am sorry, but it is quite clear to me that I am not imagining it and they were clearly taking the piss, a conclusion I am helped towards by Alan Grant on many occasions admitting that he and John Wagner can't remember who wrote what in a period between the late 1970s and mid-80s because they did their writing in the pub and the official credit/paycheque was given to whoever of the two typed up the notes from their trying to trump each other's daft ideas for scenarios and cruelties to inflict on their characters.  Realistically that scenario should be a recipe for disaster, yet they more or less pissed out classics at this stage and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Thursday 6 November 2014

I've been doing, like, an assload of soul-searching

I really should make fun of the American mid-term election results, but... well, it's not like anyone living in the UK can really make fun of other countries that vote for rich white men who never did a day's work in their life who keep telling people living in poverty to pull their boots up, is it?  I do find some of the commentary amusing, though, especially those expressing surprise that in an election where most of the population was too busy working to vote, the winners were predominantly guys who appeal to the upper middle classes.
I am surprised that there's talk of Obama being unpopular, all the same, as the sheen faded ages ago and I'm confused why it's only a problem now when US debt has been slashed, the stock market has doubled, US troops are dying in significantly smaller numbers, and Bin Laden is burning in Hell alongside Jimmy Saville.  I've seen it suggested that Obama trying to take credit for a recovering economy has backfired because a lot of people are still struggling to make ends meet, but let's face it - that scenario would entail believing that America's poor matter.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

I don't know what I want to do with my life and every day I'm being crushed by the weight of each new failure

So, because I wasn't poor enough or a big enough catch for ladies already, I decided I would collect all 505 issues of the 1980s iteration of boys' adventure comic The Eagle, best known for being the home of Dan Dare after 2000ad got shot of him.
You can't just collect Eagle on its own if you want to follow the stories, though.  See, most comics of the 1970s and 1980s, when they finally folded from low sales or because the publishers wanted to spite the unions, were merged with another more successful title, and this happened several times over the span of 2000ad's life, as it merged with things like Starlord and Tornado after those comics came to an end, and Eagle was likewise merged with cancelled comics like Scream!, Battle, and Tiger, the latter of which I now have to collect* if I ever want to read the whole of Star Rider - and just so we are clear, Star Rider is a comic strip about a teenage alien prince who looks like Cthulu that comes to Earth to take part in BMX (it was the mid-80s) championships, SO YES I WANT TO READ THE WHOLE OF STAR RIDER - only while looking through what issues of Tiger I can get my hands on, I have found another strip I now have to track down: Johnny Cougar.
By the standards of 1980s weekly UK comics - many of which seem to have been conceived as some sort of bet among Scotsmen about what kind of nonsense they could pitch before they stopped getting paid - Johnny Cougar is kitchen-sink stuff, being about a perfectly normal human being doing perfectly normal human being things... during his travels as an international professional wrestler who fights lumberjacks and/or grizzly bears on log rafts as they're going over a waterfall.  Basically, it's like someone in 1962 got up in the morning and decided to make a comic strip just for me.  And then I find out he teamed up with Big Daddy:

And yeah, after that, work was pretty much over for the day.

* Well, more like "collect a small fraction of it", as there were over 1500 issues between 1954 and 1985.

Monday 3 November 2014

You're a great couple - you're terrible people and you're both liars

I like to watch The Good Wife and then Madame Secretary in a double bill.  I am sure wine-tasters can come up with some fancy-pants explanation about how one subtly compliments the flavors of the other, but don't listen to those guys, as they're clearly used to downing two different bottles of wine at the one time and we have a name for that where I come from.
No, I like to watch Good Wife and Madame Secretary in a double bill because I am a bit of a snob and I enjoy the juxtaposition of elements: specifically I enjoy the juxtaposition of a good tv show with Madame Secretary.  In this week's Madame Secretary, her husband tells her isn't having an affair and that he's actually a spy and the beautiful young woman he was seen with was his handler.  Sounds legit.  Anyway, there's this other bit where someone is grounded for drinking in a bar because they're 20, and I had to stop and think about it for a minute until I remembered what a backwards third-world shithole America is, no matter what its disproportionate influence on global culture.  If you're 18 in the US, you can sign up for the military and go kill all the brown people you want, but if you want a stiff drink afterwards to wipe their dying screams, pleas for mercy and the sizzle and crackle of their children's flesh burning from your mind, you're totally out of luck.  Still, I can't really expect more from a nation that takes it for granted that they have to pay more than any other country in the world for the worst healthcare in the world - seriously, if you're American and reading this, you have no idea of the amount of contempt and pity the rest of the world has for your healthcare model.  You need another civil war or something to finish off the job you started with the last one, because those rich white Southern dudes who run everything and treat the population like cattle and that you thought you'd got rid of?  Totally still there.

Friday 31 October 2014

Get outta bed, your son needs to be let out to take an eight foot crap

Another shamelessly recycled strip, and another shameless plug for the Something Wicked omnibus from FutureQuake Press - containing 140 pages of terrible tales of terror to terrify for two pounds - to go with it.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Hashtag the Hell out of him

I didn't want to run this bit of filler for reasons that I would hope would be plainly obvious to those with functioning eyes and a basic knowledge of how things like art and lettering are supposed to work, but I don't have anything else to run in its place so here we are.  Written by Al Ewing before he started slumming it writing Judge Dredd and Avengers comics for money so he could finally do all those things he'd dreamed of like eating each day, if I had half an ounce of sense I'd try and pass off my contribution as the result of this being done back in 1978 or something, but instead I must cop to it being a more recent 2007-ish vintage so you can at least believe I've wised up a bit.
Should you against all reason still want to see artwork by the person who committed the above, it can be found in the Something Wicked omnibus from FutureQuake Press for e-readers and tablets, and which includes much-better illustrated stories written by Al, such as personal favorite The Big If, a neat alternate history tale for anyone with a passing knowledge of the American comic book scares of the 1950s, though it also works just as well if you know Fanny Adams about such things.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Who better than an accupuncturist... TO KILL WITH ACCURATE PUNCTURES?

Another old strip - also scripted by writing machine Lee Robson - just to keep the Halloween thing going.
If you liked this, why not buy some more of its ilk from FutureQuake Press?  We promise we won't hold it against you if you do.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

If I cannot forget that, I shall not be able to sleep again

I haven't actually posted this before, so this is likely the first of many appearances it will make: presenting another spooOOooOOooky tale for Halloween, The Thing in the Window was written up by my writing mule Lee Robson when I was between drawing gigs, and is so frightening it made me never want to use Adobe Photoshop for art ever again.  Okay, admittedly that might have had just as much to do with the fact that Manga Studio has some purdy line correction options built into the pen tool for use with vector layers that practically draws things for you and makes mistakes look like part of your artwork - you can see the attraction of that from my point of view.  This is the story that killed bitmaps, I guess, but if you liked it and would like to see more from Lee and myself , check out the Something Wicked omnibus collection for e-readers like iPad and Android - though I guess it'll work on Kindle, too, as long as you don't mind contributing to the destruction of digital comics distribution, the bullying of authors, tax dodging, and the erosion of workers' rights.

Monday 27 October 2014

We both know I'm borderline creepy

My recycling old strips as blog filler is something regular readers are well-used to by now (yes, I do have regular readers - I'm likely more surprised at this than you are), but on this occasion it's all in a good promotional cause, as FutureQuake Press have released a Something Wicked omnibus for digital readers, featuring artwork such as that above - that I would rather never have seen the light of day ever again but hey at least it's not the werewolf story - and also some much more assured contributions from others too numerous to copy and paste here, many of whom went on to stuff like 2000ad and some monthly with the word "Avengers" in the title put out by indy auteurs Marvel leaving their lazier small press comrades like me scratching our bollocks and wondering where we went wrong in our lives.
140 superhero-free pages of original content for 2 pounds could only be better value if they were giving it away, but we aren't communists yet so dig deep and help support independent comics this Halloween!  Alternatively, anti-democratic tax-dodging slave-driving multinational Amazon probably have some Batman graphic novels you could buy for around the same price, which I am sure is exactly the same thing.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Man, there is so much drama at this vagina clinic

A while back, I mentioned here on the blog that one of my must-read comics -The Woods - while entertaining, was not terribly original, and in a karmic donkey-punch for saying that, I get to watch the writer put out a comic with a premise that hasn't been done quite as much.

Babble was, of course, a story primarily set in a New York university campus about a sound that propagates a memetic virus that turns people into violent zombies and brings about the apocalypse, but Memetic is a story primarily set in a New York university campus about a picture that propagates a memetic virus that turns people into violent zombies and brings about the apocalypse, so they're completely different things.  I mean, yes, there are similar characters and some identical panels and scenes, but we're chalking it up to being exposed to the same inspirations - however, I might feel a lot differently if the second issue sees a cop being punched in the balls by a Geordie listening to The Smiths, and/or the artist forgets how perspective works for roughly 70 percent of the backgrounds he draws.
I kid, of course, as me and my writing mule Lee Robson totally ripped the whole premise off ourselves from a Monty Python sketch, with the linguistic McGuffin getting its technobabble origins in Sumerian mythology derived from intensive research that amounted to watching Ghostbusters 17 times to see what Gozer's deal was and also to see if those zombie hands that come out of the chair really were grabbing Sigorney Weaver's boob, but Lee likes to pretend that the original inspiration was Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and I usually just go along with that even though it's totally lies.

Friday 24 October 2014

Bernard William Jewry 1942 – 2014

Bummed by the death of Alvin Stardust today.
I will remember him most fondly for the sheer delight to be had letting My Coo Ca Choo blast your eardrums to oblivion just like you would with a metal track, though by the time he performed that standard, he was well into his thirties and treating glam rock like a lark, his stage persona being tongue-in-cheek and reliant upon you knowing that he knew that you knew that he was ridiculous - what the Klingons call tova'dok - though you can see a shockingly young Stardust performing as Shane Fenton - the adopted stage persona of a deceased friend - in Play It Cool, doing more straight-faced 60s teen rock:

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Oh great, I probably just killed someone and I lost my best knife

The Legend of Boggy Creek is the proto-Blair Witch movie (say what you will about the Blair Witch franchise, I always liked that the sequel worked from the notion that found footage was over and only a cunt would keep at it), and most of its thrills come from throwing its central concept right out there in broad daylight and none of this "WHAT IS IT WHAT IS IT WHATS GOING ON OMG WHATS GOIN ON YOU GUYS OMG" bullshit that typifies modern horror moviemaking's fascination with the idea that it is dealing with people encountering the mysterious rather than making its money from depicting how people deal with their encounters with the mysterious - we simply don't need ninety minutes of the creature in the shadows, and movies like Legend of Boggy Creek stand alongside The Host and Aliens as examples of film where you can let the cat out of the bag early on and still do a good frightener.
It's showing its age, but the makers really do their best with the tiny budget and a cast drawn from the citizenry of the town where the film was made, including the local high school - which makes the reaction of the kids having a sleepover all the more hilarious when they get frightened and scramble to jam bullets in "the woman's rifle" they've been left with so they can get killin' whatever's at large.  Usually dumb teens in these movies are just stereotypes that could have stepped out of a cop procedural like CSI, only relocated to somewhere with trees, but the instinctive impulse to get a shooting iron rings true as the actions of a smalltown type and the rest of the functional acting lends things a matter-of-fact charm that reinforces the feeling of a dated documentary rather than a trashy drive-in feature.

Finally something we can dance to and not that eighties shit you like

My sister described her son hitting his teenage years while addicted to Xbox multiplayer gaming as "like living with a terrorist in the house", but call me old-fashioned if you will: I don't think it's really that hard to see that when your child owes all his social skills to what are essentially voices in their head, things probably will not end well, especially if those voices are a constant stream of rape and murder threats against a soundtrack of war and the screams of the dying.
That's more or less how I imagine Gamergate came about - the screaming, whining, entitled kids on a headset who grew up with no social filters thanks to the anonymous freedom of XBox Live have now become the screaming, whining, entitled adults with no social filter and a Twitter account.  They know certain words and phrases from exposure to them in media and are capable of parroting them when backed into an intellectual corner - my favorite is the use of the words "journalistic ethics" which somehow seem to constantly rear their head in discussions about the sexual harassment of female games developers - but the attitude with which their contributions to the discussion is delivered is no different from the week I spent back in 2007 vainly trying to use XBox Live without being called a faggot, a nigger, a bitch, or a jew for five whole minutes...
I left the world of online gaming to the children that populated it, and now I get to see the car-crash gaming culture they've created for themselves when left to their own devices, but hey, I read Lord of the Flies in high school so I can't really say I didn't see this coming.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

My one solace is that gran was a cruel and unforgiving woman and her ghost will haunt you forever

Just checking in with the blog, and I have just this past few minutes finished watching this week's episode of CSI (episode 04, series 15), and it is quite possibly the worst episode of anything I have ever seen, and just to put that statement in context, I have seen other episodes of CSI.  Also, in this week's Madame Secretary, an Iranian diplomat looks Madame Secretary in the eye and says "I have two children, NINE and ELEVEN" and then he does this pause that's a bit too long, so the people making this might be taking the piss now to keep themselves amused.  I know I would if I had to make Madame Secretary each week.
I made it a full three minutes into Red Band Society's cheap-ass take on The Fault In Our Stars' thunder, and it wasn't the ever-annoying atmosphere in medical dramas that socialised medicine is wrong that made me tap out - despite free nationalised healthcare providers being world leaders and the US system trailing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the Hell behind so much that it's funny until you remember all the people that are dying in the failed experiment that is paid healthcare - no, what annoyed me about Red Band Society is that it is annoying.  Annoying, dated, and written like a fifty year-old dude has heard some words from a person under twenty and written them down in a way that is not quite factually or contextually accurate, but he is still getting paid, so that makes me the idiot and not him.

Saturday 18 October 2014

I fought in Vietnam so you two could speak English

I promise I'm not really taking a whole week to finish a single page, even if it does have 16 panels on it - I just don't screengrab stuff that I do for other people and boot up stuff I tinker with in spare minutes to convince you I'm actually working away and aren't a hugely lazy get.  This does not stop my employers putting pictures on their Facebook, all the same, and said tinkering project seems to be nearing a point where it's finished, too, so God help me I might have to actually self-publish something again.  Is there a market for cavemen comics?  Here's hoping.

Blood and Chrome I enjoyed a great deal more than the series that originated it, as while I appreciated Battlestar Galactica's high production values, its pretentiousness seemed an ill fit with an embarrassing reliance on tropes like sex robots, a sub-Terminator backstory and "they look like us" plot dynamics that stopped being interesting somewhere around 1960 and didn't get fresh again just because characters didn't make jokes onscreen.  The use of made-up swearwords was also deeply, deeply irritating, as for all its po-faced space-politics, the overuse of the word "frac" as an analogue for "fuck" reduced dialogue to something on the level of twats in elf costumes shouting "SMEGHEAD" at each other in public and unable to grasp what they sound like.
This episodic mini-movie is pretty entertaining, though - while it still has the annoying made-up swears that only just sound acceptable in the 1978 original on account of it being a big load of cheesy shit, Blood and Chrome at least drops the sex robot nonsense and returns to its roots as a pulp romp, with some fantastic production work realising an ice planet, establishing shots that look like they jumped off a 1970s sci-fi paperback, and at least one great action setpiece in the form of a dogfight in and around the wreckage of a starship, no matter how hard the laughably overactive cinema verite camerawork tries to ruin the action scenes.  Some of the sets look a bit dodgy, but otherwise it's an eventful and undemanding 90 minutes.

Friday 17 October 2014

If people want to take off their clothes and chase one another, it certainly wouldn't hurt morale around here

Just like I watch NCIS: New Orleans because it stars Scott Bakula, I watch NCIS: Los Angeles because it stars Chris O'Donnell - yes, I love Batman and Robin that much - though I also like that the show can fall back upon LL Cool J's sellout status as a prominent black Republican who stars in a notoriously right-wing tv show and espouses the joys that wealth and privilege bring him should it ever run out of unfunny dialogue, intrusive background music that the makers of a Tom and Jerry short would consider too much, or ways to waste Linda Hunt and Miguel Ferrer's time with shit that is beneath them to attract viewers.  I don't know why I am so down on it, as it's really just a poor reflection on myself personally that I still watch it despite knowing what trash it is, but here we are.

Escape From Los Angeles is very entertaining, but the obvious model work that featured in the prequel had an organic charm that is sadly lacking in the similarly-obvious primitive CGI that covers the screen of Snake Pliskin's second cinematic outing even if the rest of the film is solid, especially Snake's expanded range of grunts, one-liners, and facial expressions.  I was hooting with laughter at the surf chase and basketball combat scenes, and while the "satire" of much of the film is unsubtle, it feels like a nice throwback to the punk aesthetic of the era of the original Escape From New York (which I watched yesterday), should you be willing to indulge the film and not dismiss it on its poor reputation.  Of course, I was similarly-inclined to indulge Ghosts Of Mars' bonkers b-movie approach and enjoyed that despite its reputation, so what do I know?  Some of it - like the hang-glider assault and fisticuffs with the main villain in the final stretch - seem less John Carpenter-ish than usual, suggesting he was going a bit more mainstream like he did with Big Trouble In Little China, and it's a shame that he didn't succeed in making more mainstream action movies aimed at a younger audience, because this kind of daffy high concept, over-the-top action film full of unsubtle digs at American excess wouldn't be unwelcome in cinemas right now when superheroes are joyless and sombre murderers, and Star Trek is populated with bad writing and a cast of obnoxious pricks.
It's not brain surgery - neither was the original - but it's good fun and makes a point or two about its originating culture.

Thursday 16 October 2014

You ain't over it 'till you over it

Madame Secretary is basically terrible, but if you watch it on a PS3, you can set the playback speed to "1.5" so you get through it quicker while still being able to understand dialogue.
There are lots of "tough ladies in a male environment" tv shows that are really good at what they do, but this isn't one of them,  though I continue watching because it occasionally makes me laugh when the lead character shows how tough she is by cradling a crying child or having conversations about absent men.  Were I more convinced that my online image as a recalcitrant gobshite throwback was known to be a facade crafted for the purpose of entertaining you, I would also fashion a sexist joke around this point about how the character still knows her place in the kitchen or something like that, to further underline how much this show is not about a strong female character who can exist outside stereotypical feminine idioms of the televisual medium, but I'm sadly not that secure, and also every episode I've seen thus far contains a scene where the character comes home from doing man-politics and immediately seeks the comfort of her kitchen.  It's not a motif I consider to be a good idea.
There's also some obvious padding going on, too, like the lead character getting a grown-ass daughter out of nowhere that even the characters in the fiction can't believe is something they are going to do now, asking why this grown-ass daughter was hidden from them only to be told that actually she "just wasn't mentioned, I don't know" and then she comes home and the parents are like "shit, there is literally no room for you, we'll have to clear a couch" which is all very meta as then the character drops out of college because the writers haven't decided what they're going to do with her, they only know that they were told to get a teenage/early 20s female in there somewhere.  This show is a bit of a mess, but possibly that's why I'm still watching.

NCIS New Orleans is unambiguously bad tv, but it performs a metatextual commentary upon the city in which it is set by not only having only a single black character in the main cast despite being a show that is set in New Orleans in the year 2014, but also banishing that character to the background despite her being played by the charismatic CCH Pounder.   This is, of course, par for the Big Easy, previously an island of sanity in the bible belt, NCIS:NO is an inadvertent paradigm of how white America has stolen the city and populated its councils and government with white faces - hell, it doesn't even try to disguise the fact that its three main characters are white, one of them is even a Texan.  This might sound like I'm hatin' but I'm really not as this is no worse than the other NCIS shows (although fair play this makes it pretty bad) and it really does provide an invaluable insight to right-wing American culture that a reactionary, conservative franchise like NCIS now feels at home there.
But it stars Scott Bakula, and fuck's sake, internet, I'm not made of stone.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Junkies arguing about mundane things is one of my favorite things about New York

Forever is basically Castle if the character of Castle from Castle was also the character The Highlander from The Highlander, and is about a guy who keeps dying and coming back to life, and the first time this happened is when he was transporting slaves hundreds of years ago, and no, that moral minefield is never mentioned again beyond this scene.  He dies and comes back to life and assumes that this incident was somehow the cause of his immortality rather than simply the first instance of his resurrection, but don't look too hard at this kind of reasoning because the show is rife with nonsensical and often contradictory deduction, like that bit where the doctor deduces that someone has tried to make a murder look like an overdose of heroin when he sees that the heroin has "pooled in the muscle" because it was injected postmortem and thus didn't enter the victim's bloodstream on account of his not having a bloodstream by this point, and then less than two minutes later, the doctor instructs his aide to catch a rat that chewed on the victim's face in order to obtain a sample of the heroin that wasn't in the man's system.  In a previous episode, a guy has his briefcase stolen by a mugger who runs off when the guy dies of a heart attack.  Later, the doctor opens the briefcase that was brought in with the older man's body to see what's in it, and don't even get me started on the heavy use of coincidence to bridge story elements, the biscuit possibly being taken by characters simply running into escaping suspects on the notoriously deserted NYC subway system.
Forever is not a good show if your attention span is 80 seconds or more, which is probably why they front-load each episode with pictures of the lead male with his shirt off instead of a blank screen with the words "ELEMENTARY IS ON A BREAK SO PLEASE WATCH THIS WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THE NEW SEASON" emblazoned across the tv, and the way they haven't made a single reference to Elementary or Castle a full five episodes in makes me think the people making Forever are being a bit precious about their piggybacking on the success of other, better NYC-based murder-mystery shows, because the goofy and light-hearted atmosphere of proceedings is screaming out for some conspicuously-absent lampshade-hanging or at least a bit of genre-awareness.
Forever is televisual landfill, a placeholder until you find something else to watch in its stead and the way it's written and the way it shirt-offs its lead at the drop of a hat (without ever asking why he isn't on a sex offender's registry for streaking public places every week) suggest that those making it at least know that much and have built their product accordingly.  It is not good, but it is amusing and passes the time, and I suppose that's the best they were hoping for even if we might have been holding out for something better with such a romantic high-concept premise at the heart of what is essentially an identikit mystery show you've seen many times before even in the current televisual season.  There's plenty of other shows coming up with an identical setting, too - iZombie is likely the one that springs immediately to mind as it's going for the teen viewership for some reason, but I'm not sure who Forever is aimed at.  I suppose that's just another one of life's mysteries.

I'm done with American chicks, man, they're all boring and they've all told each other about me online

Thank God that writing is such a lazy and unimaginative profession - it means I don't even have to write individual reviews for shows and movies anymore, I just have to write one review and then group the relevant shows together with it.
For instance: "I think it's awesome that the lead character is an asshole because it makes you want to emotionally invest in their predicament and root for their success."
See?  Now I don't have to write individual reviews for shows like Selfie, Scorpion and Blackish, although if I was a professional type writer-ing person of things, I would probably have to pad the different reviews for each with relevant specifics even though I was essentially saying the exact same thing about them overall, which doesn't seem at all fair when people specifically get into writing to avoid work, but I'd likely mention the "know your place" message of Blackish that is totally not racism because a black guy is doing it, and we know he's only a total eedjit so it's even more okay even if the keen observer will note that the actual notions of racial segregation that he espouses are not ridiculed but taken as a given, it's still okay because it's a black guy doing it, and if you try to point it out that actually makes you the racist, or possibly - even worse - a Social Justice Warrior who values fairness and equality, and no-one wants to be one of those.
With Selfie, I would probably point out that it is yet another example of a female-led tv show that doesn't seem to like women very much even while profiting from displaying them prominently as sexual objects, but hey, Bitten is getting a second season so what the Hell.  Do your thing, Selfie, just stay the fuck away from my tv.
Scorpion is basically Mind Games, only dumber.  Well done Hollywood.
Personally, I expected something a bit more intelligent from a show produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci etc,etc, but it's the usual nerds-act-like-jocks to solve problems involving driving cars very fast and/or defusing bombs bullshit, and I imagine if you are 12 this show is pretty great, but there are far too many shows right now that pursue an aggressive anti-intellectual agenda while using big words to disguise this agenda, and I'm getting along just fine with Hawaii Five-0 so I'm not sure how many other dumb-as-fuck things I need going on at the same time on my tv.

Saturday 11 October 2014

I just smoked a big fattie and the Cartoon Network's entire lineup makes sense to me again

I did like the humorously meta "we knew this day would come" line delivered by Chakotay when faced with the prospect of Borg storylines at the introduction of season 4 of Star Trek: Voyager, but it's hardly the only metacommentary to be found around this time, especially in the episode "Worst Case Scenario", when characters argue about the internal logic of stories and the importance of consistent characterisation, which is just hilarious in the context of an episode of Voyager, doubly so knowing what's coming in the next couple of seasons of the show when it would often become lcd trash in pursuit of viewers, losing the warm and emotionally mature character of Kes in favor of something more friendly to the halfturbating fanboys that were presumed to be the only people watching televised sci-fi at the time.
The much-vaunted Year Of Hell two-parter is a lot flabbier than I remember, and doesn't line up with the show's canon, which wouldn't normally be much of a problem except it's a storyline that's a year-in-the-making thanks to an unusual and welcome amount of inter-episode continuity for a Trek Show not called Deep Space Nine, specifically a (pretty decent) time-traveling Kes adventure back in season 3, and on top of that, Chakotay removed from Voyager  to the midst of the enemy timeship and trying to solve a problem with science sounds more like a Janeway resolution to conflict, Paris using engineering trickery to help him sounds more like a Torres story, and we've found out from the earlier time-travel episode that it's Janeway and Torres who are absent from Voyager during this storyline, so there's the suspicion that rewrites went a lot further than the obvious substitution of Seven of Nine for the departed Kes that we can discern from such scenes as the "chroniton torpedo" bit where it's supposed to be Kes, not Seven, that has a close encounter with a time-weapon (the earlier time-travel episode cannot have happened without this encounter occurring).
Continuity quibbles aside - in time-travel stories all questions about why story specifics are bullshit can be hand-waved as being the result of "timey-wimey stuff" - the average episode is - no pun intended - top-heavy with Seven Of Nine appearances after her introduction.  It's not that Jeri Ryan is awful as an actress, as she clearly has charisma enough to sell the idea she's an imposing presence rather than someone who wandered in from an underwear photo shoot next door (a common problem where I live), but the earliest scenes on Voyager with the Seven of Nine character when the actor is trying to do something onscreen have considerably more depth and nuance than later, when ironically the character is supposed to have more depth and nuance.  In the beginning, the writers, the actor, and the show are all clearly trying to do something and find their feet with a new dynamic created by the emotional vacuum of the departure of series regular Jennifer Lien's elfin androgene Kes, but this experimental period quickly comes to an end and instead the last character through the door dominates the show from this point onwards.
While watching CSI MIami in its entirety - an endeavor which I admit stalled around season 3 - the lead performance of David Caruso clearly evolved in response to what his character was given to do, requiring emotional depth only in the opening episodes when he was given sad children to riff with, but Caruso quickly nails down the minimal requirements of his role and then refines them to create a consistent center around which the rest of the show could revolve and I would be remiss if I did not mention this as a possible rationale for Jeri Ryan's eventually-minimal and cold performance, though it does rather hinge on the idea of this being Star Trek: The Seven Of Nine Show rather than the fourth season of an ensemble piece that already had at least one Mary Sue (Janeway) and one egotistical socially-awkward robot type (the Doctor) in the core cast.  It makes no sense that so much of the episodes would be devoted to her, with episodes centering upon other characters moving along nicely and then suddenly someone says they have a problem that usually they could solve on their own while standing behind their space-desk, but for some reason from this point onwards they just look sideways at whoever they're talking to and say "you know who might be able to help me with this?"  There's often some fumbling attempts to hide this shoehorning by the lines being something like "hey, you know we could ask Seven of Nine to take a look at this" or some other supposedly offhand way of making it look like an afterthought on the part of the character rather than a directive from the producers to involve her somehow in stories where she has no place, almost like they're aware of the shadow cast over proceedings by the character and want to downplay it.  If I didn't know any better, I'd call it embarrassment.
To Voyager's credit, in fetishising 7, they don't actually have an episode that revolves around a visit to a mudwrestling planet, but on more than one occasion IT IS A VERY CLOSE THING, and yes I am looking at you, episode starring the Rock...

Friday 10 October 2014

Curiosity is my sweet tooth. Knowledge is my candy.

My rewatch of Star Trek: Voyager rattled along nicely, though it became apparent that the problems of the show are not something we can retroactively lay at the feet of certain producers just because they went on to make Star Trek: Enterprise, but because there is clearly a struggle between two different Trek universes going on behind the scenes and it was clear that the producer who eventually got kicked off the show they had created (Jeri Taylor) was the one pushing for expanding Trek beyond the rut it had been dug into with later TNG seasons, with episodes like The Thaw and Mortal Coil attempting new approaches to stale material in a way that would later become the norm for sci-fi in shows like the remade Battlestar Galactica, while Coda (written by Taylor) even goes so far outside the Trek wheelhouse as to establish that Captain Janeway's unseen arch-nemesis is the actual effing Grim Reaper, who follows her around eating the souls of those who die in her wake and who is 100 percent for-reals-canon waiting for her like a slavering wolf at the end of her days.
There was hope that maybe I'd misremembered a lot of the show's problems or at least exaggerated them because it wasn't Shakespeare, but nope - what potential there was - and there's a lot of it in the beginning - is not so much eroded over time as it is hammered from very early in proceedings into a more banal shape than it should be, such as the showdown between a 16 wheel truck and a spaceship piloted by a time-traveling archeologist - who's just escaped a compound of gun-toting survivalists under armed siege by the FBI - that involves a laser battle that ends with people jumping away from explosions and this sequence of events is somehow one of the most boring and unexciting things you will ever lay eyes upon.  You can still see the cracks where brilliance tries and fails to shine through the brick wall of middle-of-the-road mediocrity that defined the show - Nemesis, Living Witness - but by and large the struggle to make this a classic-style Trek show about people in extraordinary circumstances rising to present the best in themselves rather than the worst is instead about a bunch of unexceptionally exceptional individuals - all equally flawless and without character - encountering minor inconveniences on their drive home.
And then Seven of Nine's big stupid boobs arrive and it somehow manages to go even more to shit.


Thursday 9 October 2014

In Minnesota I'd be a supermodel

Whoopsy.  Got so used to not posting daily I forgot to post anything yesterday, but to be fair, I haven't watched much new genre tv lately so I'd be pressed to think of a way to fill the space anyway.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Us loners gotta stick together

Okay, yes, I know I flounced off the Blog in a big huff a few months ago, but bear with me here, as I want to see what happens when I do a post or two, as I seem to be getting hundreds of views on the blog every couple of days now that I have actually stopped posting things on it - even after I went back and edited the wording of that post about the BBC's Wolfblood so it no longer had the phrase "children are all f**king idiots" in the body of the text because it kept attracting visitors using the search term "children f**king."  I still seem to be getting loads of visitors and I'm buggered if I can fathom why, so let's see how the hit counter behaves while I fill the blog with my usual shite on a daily basis.

Tuesday 24 June 2014


Well, the time has come to bid farewell to Blogger, as the straw met the camel's back behind the scenes, and though there's probably a fix I am buggered if I'm looking for it when I have work to do, so should you still be of a masochistic bent pronounced enough that you can't get through a day without seeing what - in an episode of a terrible-looking tv show you've never seen and never will - has enraged some hungover layabout enough to take to the internet to grumble about it, I'll be taking my rambling, occasionally angry but always entitled rants over to Tumblr where I intend to continue much as I have done for the last four years here on Blogger.
This is sort of goodbye, then, but no reason to post a link to - perhaps - Florrie Forde's Goodye-ee... if this is the end of our dalliance, dear reader - and I shouldn't blame you if it is, given the four years of justification for a parting of the ways in evidence below - then instead listen to this and think of me - it's not a funeral, after all.

Unless you've photoshopped my head onto the body of a dragon don't interrupt me

And lo there came a day that Bryan got orf his arse and got his shit together and went back to daily blogging instead of Skyrimming the day away*, and for good measure decided to put a deadline on all that stuff marked "I'll get to it whenever."  It seems like I take forever on these caveman pages I'm drawing at the minute, which is weird because you'd think an average of 18 panels per page would go by pretty quickly, and this is why I prefer collaborating to writing my own stuff - because when you collaborate, you get to blame everything on someone else.
So is there like a writer's retreat doing a discount on bulk orders of time jumps in narratives or something?  So far this week there's been a time jump in Fargo (1 year later), Falling Skies (four months later), Crisis (five days later), Defiance (nine months later), Dominion (20 years later), DC comics have a weekly comic book title launched a month or two back that's set five years in the future**, and I'm sure I mentioned that The Survivalist jumps 500 years between novels to a time where only white people live on the planet Earth (which I imagine does wonders for any poor fucker defending the books to people who dismiss them as the deranged fantasies of a right-wing chauvinistic gun fetishist).
Okay, it was an original turn once in that sci-fi show about the humans in the big spaceship full of civilians trying to find Earth while being pursued by a larger fleet - you know the one, it had that love triangle between the cocky young pilot and the flighty lady type that always seemed to be beyond his grasp and ended up with some other guy when the pilot accepted a more healthy relationship with a career military woman who worked on the bridge of the ship answering the space phones, and then they got to some desolate planet where they settled down and built an uneasy culture with the people from the fleet that were pursuing them which also looked like humans and even managed to interbreed with humans, too, and the show jumped ahead 18 months at that point and dang it, I just can't remember the name of the show, but I'm sure it'll come to me later - anyway, that show did it first and then Lost did it, made it mainstream and ran it into the ground until we hated it, then other shows started doing the same thing because it seemed like us thickos could understand this new flashforward concept but you know an idea is old hat when Brannon Braga starts using it so they all stopped, until this week when for some reason every show on tv decided to do the exact same time-jump gimmick at more or less the same time in a depressing display of morphic resonance again, playing the thing out even faster than the plague of In Medias Res/jump back to the beginning openings did to that concept over the last year or so of US telly.
Ah, I'm rambling now, I have to go watch the rest of Falling Skies so I can properly ridicule it, having stopped watching when it got to the "X time later" bit because coming as it did at the end of four minutes of tropes that were lazy and decried and awful by fans of V: The Series thirty years ago, I was genuinely angry at how lazy and unoriginal the show was despite the effort expended upon its production and how little the makers think of my intelligence, which is a dick attitude to have about me when I've stuck with this turkey for four years now.   I mean, I don't expect you to buy me a ring, The Makers Of Falling Skies, but after all this time I thought at least you respected me.

* I mean I play the videogame Skyrim a lot, and not that I'm doing some disgusting sexual act that even the Turks would think was going too far.
** Future's End, the first issue of which is reviewed here and which - despite treading some over-familiar territory - feels a lot more like the relaunch DC tried to do two years ago.

Saturday 21 June 2014

My dad didn't mean to hurt anyone, he just wanted that cop to leave us alone

Even for me, this drawing lark is going slow now I have to keep it to the morning or late evening when the heat is at it's lowest ebb.  Days were spent dumbly staring at the tv or reading until I cottoned on that the meds I've been taking for my hayfever have been double-teaming me with the heat to leave me listless and drowsy.  Also I am a big lazy get, but let's see if we can't get back to the routine presently...

Friday 20 June 2014

Let me guess - the boring stockbrokers you usually date come in through "the door"

Been trying for a two-header of Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley followed by the film version starring George Peppard, but in an inversion of my usual approach, I've read the book, but finding the time to watch the film is proving elusive.  I did find the time to watch Robot Jox again, though, which is like letting your brain go down a water slide going WHEEEE, as it's about a free market capitalist and his rivalry with a communist, which they play out by piloting giant robots against each other in a post-holocaust version of pro wrestling.
It is as dumb as it sounds and then some.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The more of these KGB assholes we kill, the bigger the smile on my face when the bullet finally finds me

I haven't been working much as it's blisteringly hot over here and so mostly I have been catching up on my reading, getting back into novels again and plowing through the late Jerry Aherne's Survivalist pulp series of square-jawed action adventures featuring the unkillable walking genocide that is Dr John Thomas (HO HO!) Rourke, a man who is so perfect that he's often referred to as a god not just by other characters, but also by the omniscient narrator of the books.  Rourke's eyes are so perfect that he wears sunglasses even at night to give anything that walks the Earth a fighting chance to get out of his way before he sees and kills them, and it's evidenced constantly that proximity to Rourke grants mortals a small measure of his invulnerability and capacity for genocide, first in the opening novel when he and "the jew Paul Rubenstein" massacre hundreds of bikers in a stand-up gunfight, and then through the first dozen or so books where characters mow down countless communists and "brigands" without fear of their own mortality until the absolute microsecond that they leave Rourke's divine aura and promptly get shot, captured, tortured or killed.  It ticks over like this for 12 books where the sunglasses-wearing gun-loving main character - with a secret hideout in the mountains he built for the inevitable day that the government fell and anarchy reigned - fights against biker gangs, spear-chucking savages, youth gone wild, women driven insane by Rourke's perfection, and traitorous pedophiles before the whole thing goes officially batshit insane and turns into Rourke versus communists versus Nazis at the end of the world after he and his family take a 500 year nap with which he engineers the advanced aging of his 8 and 10 year-old children so that they can shag his best mate and his mistress when they all wake up, but all told, it's good fun so far, and quite knowing about its own chauvinism and outdated racial and gender politics - despite being a self-confessed chauvinist, Rourke is quite fond of delivering Adam West Batman 1966-style lectures in the middle of conversations in order to correct lazy thinking and stereotyping, usually undermined seconds later when he utters the word "but..."
I have also been reading my way through pulp comic adventures in the Battlestar Galactica universe, with Rick Remender's Classic Battlestar Galactica really hitting the spot in a way that Dan Abnett's BSG books didn't quite manage (capable outings though they were), taking the characters from the tv show and transplanting them into a different medium with some really subtle interplay that underscores the personalities from the tv show rather than simply creates new characters with the same names, as is the case with Tony Lee's Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck, whose title seems to go forward with the bizarre notion that it's putting a spotlight on a character who isn't the focus of 70 percent of  stories already - kind of like doing a miniseries called X-Men: Wolverine - and then compounds things further in its very first image when it uses the wrong tv series as art reference, and then in its first line of dialogue where it wrongly names the Battle of Cimtar - the very first thing we see in the tv series and which has its own entry in the Battlestar Wiki because of course there is a Battlestar Wiki - and then gets the name of one of only 8 named Battlestars from the show wrong repeatedly, which might all on the surface seem like nerdy complaints, but in my defence, (a) this is page one and it doesn't bode well going forward, and (b), it is a Battlestar Galactica comic and I'll go out on a limb and say it'll mostly be fans of the show buying it and we might notice things like this, as I clearly have done.  I think Lee's probably just not much of a BSG fan, which I understand completely, as being a BSG fan is not something one does for a paycheque, it is a higher calling from Lizard Space Jeebus McNee and yes, I am writing this post in my underpants and haven't shaved in a week, why do you ask?

Monday 9 June 2014

Rik Mayall 1958 - 2014

"This house will become a shrine!
And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader and all the grown-ups will say "but why are the kids crying?'" And the kids will say, "haven't you heard? Rick is dead! The people's poet is dead!"
And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say "why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?" Then another kid will say--"
(Rik farts loudly and shits his pants)

Upon death, the muscles of the bladder and rectum relax in a way they cannot while the body still lives.  Death, when it comes, leaves behind a body wallowing in its own fecal matter, the chemical stew of human biology, so dependent upon acids and bacteria, begins to ferment and bubble away now that it's left to its own devices and not concerned with the occasional influx of organic material provided by the living human to keep the growls of hunger at bay.  The gases build up, trapped in kinks and corners of intestine, awaiting any movement of the corpse to loosen and free these foul-smelling pockets of deathly stench upon the world, and so Rik Mayall (silent "p") has thus farted - silently, but dead-y - and shit his pants for the final time upon this mortal plane.  He didn't do it on stage or in front of a camera, though I don't doubt he'd have wanted to if he knew it was the last time he'd have the opportunity to fart and then shit his pants for an audience, but fart and then shit his pants he most certainly did, much as every man and woman to depart this realm will inevitably do, as the saying rightly goes: "nothing in life is certain but death and then farting and shitting your pants", though it's usually abbreviated.
It's not unique to die and then fart and shit your pants, and thus it's arguably nothing special or exceptional as epitaphs go, but I like to think that the - possibly fictional - Rik Mayall who loomed so large in my childhood, pratfalling and shouting at the injustices and humiliations heaped upon him by a universe determined to see him suffer and lacking the wit or intelligence to rebuff those misfortunes in meaningful or memorable ways and so simply called those misfortunes a bastard as he stumbled towards the next catastrophe - I like to think that as he floated above his corpse and looked down upon his farted and shitted pants, realising with the cool detachment of the departed that he had indeed farted and shit his pants at the last, I like to think that Rik Mayall, or even the real Rik Mayall who energetically played out his pratfalls and disasters as a neverending tragedy, whichever of the two were truly Rik Mayall, if either were, or neither, perhaps... I just like to think in some way, through the veil of death, from the afterlife, that Rik Mayall could look down and see his farted and shitted pants and think that this was what he would have wanted.

Friday 6 June 2014

This is one of those rare occasions things can't be fixed with weed

James Tynion Jr's and Michael Dialynas' The Woods is a comic I was looking forward to so much I didn't even spot the tropes in evidence despite the fact I not so long ago posted a comic strip on this very blog making fun of how ubiquitous those tropes currently are that even a child could see them coming (and I didn't even get to mention half of the more recent-ish examples like Under The Dome, Catching Fire, Predators, Cube, etc).
In a nutshell, The Woods is "high-school-kids-meet-Lost" - yes, again - except this time it's on an alien planet - yes, again - and the kids die in horrible ways one by one - yes, again - while also turning on each other - copy and paste - and trying to survive and/or understand their situation - copy and paste.  In retrospect - and leaden with disappointment - I suppose I can admit that I should have seen these tropes going in, but like I say, we're at the point in what I shall laughably call "our culture" that even someone as notoriously slow and unreliable as me is getting comics out there about how tired some of this stuff is, so I would have thought that we'd be seeing from published professionals a more active subversion of those tropes  alongside their repetition.
It's not that The Woods is a poorly-made comic, either, as Michael Dialynas'  art has real character and you can tell the main cast apart (which should not be underestimated as a skill in a comic artist), while James Tynion Jr piles on the plot beats at a good pace so things unfold briskly - he ensures we get our first view of a space bear in the second issue, so I most assuredly like the cut of his jib - even if none of those beats have so far caused much in the way of surprise.  It's that over-familiarity that scuttles it for me, combined with the lack of breakout characters and some forced and obvious expository dialogue where characters tell each other their own backstory - although this has become so familiar it's not really a storytelling failing anymore so much as an accepted - if not expected - component of teen soap operas that use exposition as punctuation.  We know our way around this story already, and the only thing that I think could have saved it would have been a more engaging central mystery,  as I'm not terribly invested in what we've seen of that so far.
Still, I'll cop to it that I'm likely dragging my own personal genre-awareness into things and not giving the book a fair shake based on over-familiarity with the Most-Dangerous-Game-in-a-mystery-locale genre and I might not be allowing for the book finding its audience elsewhere amongst those not aware of Lost, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Predators, Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, Morning Glories, Avengers Arena, the Maze Runner, or the 100.  Just as likely, you see, is that given how many examples of the genre there are, perhaps just like those watching the seemingly endless parade of identikit romantic comedies or Friday the 13th sequels, audiences for this kind of thing don't want it being subverted so much as they just want more of it, and on that score, I don't really fault Tynion and Dialynas' for delivering, as it's a good example of the genre even if it's arriving a bit late in the day for the liking of some internet culture snobs.