Category Archives: Comics

The Corbyn Comic Book

Politics and Cartoons have gone together since man first put pen to paper to pillory politicians for perfidy in print and picture.

It is far rarer I think that our ruling classes are celebrated in cartoon form, Barack Obama was one such leader and now (thanks to the folks at SelfMadeHero) Jeremy Corbyn is another.

A few years ago Mr Corbyn seemed like an archaic left-over from Labour’s more left-wing militant past; a reminder that politicians were not all slick carbon copies with PPE degrees from prestigious universities.

Then one day he was chosen to run against his more centrist colleagues in a leadership contest…

and he won.

The words “Labour will be unelectable for a generation” were bandied around, murmurs of mutiny from the Parliamentary Labour Party became louder, votes of no confidence to remove him happened; attempts to undermine him became an almost daily occurrence, with briefings to the press and high-profile resignations happening with tiresome regularity.

Throughout all of this he became more and more popular with the electorate; not that you would believe this considering the vituperative attacks by Britains right-wing press.

Theresa May, believing what she read & heard from the news about Labour being fatally weakened by an unelectable Corbyn; saw her chance to destroy all meaningful opposition to her Brexit plans and called a snap election.

She did not win.

Labour under Corbyn pulled them back enough to prevent a Conservative parliamentary majority, wiping out the Tories’ electoral lead and forcing them to go hat in hand to smaller parties to prop up their failing government.

Written and drawn in a variety of styles The Corbyn Comic Book is a collection of over 30 one to three page comic strips celebrating Corbyn the man, the jam lover, the Prime Minister?

Yes this comic is an indulgence, but it is wonderful and a window into how Jeremy Corbyn is seen in the minds of some wonderful comic artists.

I am a fan*!

Get it today!

*Of both Corbyn and this comic

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman & Fred Fordham

Today, the 18th May 2017 marks the 156th anniversary of the ship that became known as the Mary Celeste, the ship that achieved notoriety when it was discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Azores Islands, on December 5, 1872.


Another mystery ship is the Mary Alice – the ghostly ship whose crew travels the seven seas unbound by time first set sale in the first issue of the sadly scuppered weekly comic The DFC, then, as now it was penned by the inimitable Philip Pullman. The original artist was the phenomenal John Aggs; when it took to the high seas in the pages of The Phoenix it was redrawn by the equally talented (but new to me) Fred Fordham. The Pullman/Fordham collaboration is now available as a graphic novel, produced by David Fickling Books and the Phoenix Comic.

I grew up of tales of ghostly ships and spectral schooners, living as I did on the coast with a father who was an ex-navy man and The Mystery of The Ghost Ship reawakened that part of me that thrilled to nautical tales of hair-raising mystery and derring-do. With a no-nonsense heroine teamed up with a mysterious boy and a whole crew of time-displaced sailors all trying to get back to their timelines and survive an all-powerful foe determined to destroy them for reasons of his own.

This book is a thing of beauty, a hardback with a beautiful full-colour dust jacket that hides a gorgeous navy blue cover emblazoned with a mysterious, glowing Macguffin. Speaking as a somewhat obsessive book collector – the outward appearance of items that I choose to keep on my shelves is incredibly important – almost as important as the art and story contained on the pages within and believe me when I say the reread potential in this tome is incredibly high – the story works just as well huddled up in bed under the duvet at midnight with a torch (my favourite reading location) as it does on a bright summer day at the seaside!

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler, John Jennings and Damian Duffy

I’m black, I’m solitary, I’ve always been an outsider!
~ Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler has been described as the greatest science fiction writer of her generation, not the greatest female science fiction writer or the greatest African-American science fiction writer, she is simply put, one of the greatest! Her words cut across class, race and gender and have found a home in the collections of millions of readers the world over!

She was awarded two Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards and the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship.

Kindred is one of her best-known novels; the tale of Dana, a modern young woman swept back in time to an earlier period in history, in this case the antebellum South, a time of cotillions, southern gallantry and all very romantic unless, like Dana, you happen to be black…

Kindred is a story of contrasts, of kindness, humanity and cruelty, of a modern world (in this case 1970’s California) where people are free to live their life and marry whomever they please and a time where people are treated as chattel, bought, sold an abused as they are considered less than human.

This graphic novel version of Kindred, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings with the agreement of the estate of Octavia E. Butler is a beautiful hardcover, with an eye-catching dust jacket that looks as perfect on a shelf with novels as it does with other works of graphic art.

Damian Duffy has pared back Octavia’s text, preserving the essential story but making it flow perfectly for this graphic adaptation; John Jennings brings the text to life with his amazing artwork, imbuing the characters with movement on the page without glossing over the bloody and brutal mistreatment of humans by their fellow man. He has captured the cold cruelty of the slave owners in contrast with the pain and damaged humanity of the slaves. This is not a pretty story, no matter the beautiful artwork that adorns the pages; indeed it is shocking to modern liberal sensibilities and makes uncomfortable reading to be confronted by callous indifference to human suffering, but is necessary to remind ourselves how easy it is for us to dehumanise others and although we have come far, there is still a distance to go before we treat each other equally.

Kindred is rightly considered a classic of the science fiction & literary genres. Duffy & Jennings’ version is a perfect gateway for readers to encounter Octavia’s work.

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler, illustrated by John Jennings and adapted by Damian Duffy. Published by Abrams ComicArts (£15.99)

HiLo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

I have had a copy of Hilo written and drawn by Judd Winick since December – it is a comic book that I loved and have been meaning to write a review of since I read it. However I have been dragging my feet with this and I have no idea why.

Last night I had a dream, and in that dream I wrote a Hilo review and compared it to The Iron Man by Ted Hughes – this is better known internationally as The Iron Giant thanks to the fantastic Warner Bros. animated movie. When I woke up I was confused as on the surface they two beings appeared to be completely different; on deeper reflection I realised that the stories had a number of similarities, my brain also threw about Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy and Frank Miller and Geof Darrow’s The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot into the mix as well as the parallels to Judd’s early work The Adventures of Barry Ween Boy Genius (the book that made me a Winick fan-boy)

Judd – if you do read this can you *please* let me know if Barry Ween will ever come back – thank you!

ANYWAY! Hilo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth is funny, sweet and contains some surprisingly hidden depths to the surface story of a mysterious boy who falls to Earth and the children that become his best friends.

There is a lot of screaming and running away from alien monsters and pathos in the form of familial relationships and the feeling of not fitting in with both Hilo and D.J. filling the role of outsider Hilo on earth and D.J. within his family.

JW has always been championed diversity in his works and HiLo is no exception, a Caucasian from another dimension with a Hispanic and African American as best friends who get equal development within the story.

HiLo is a fast-paced, enjoyable romp for all ages and there are two other books in the series that are also available so there will be no long waiting for more once you have finished it!
If I could sum up HiLo The boy Who Crashed to Earth in one word then it is:
OUTSTANDING!

HiLo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth is published in the UK by Puffin

Study Hall of Justice

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My name is Bruce Wayne, and I’m the new kid (UGH) at Ducard Academy.

I can’t say for certain, but I think something fishy’s going on. There’s a gang of clowns roaming the halls, a kid named Bane wants to beat me up, and the guidance counselor, Hugo Strange, seems really, well, strange.
 
At least I have two new friends – Clark and Diana are kinda cool, I guess. We’re going to solve this case no matter what, even if I have to convince Alfred to let me stay up past eleven.

 

x0x

 
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Justice league of late, mostly due to the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a grim and gritty movie about the formation of the Justice League.

If your desire for super-hero team-ups is getting too much for you then I highly recommend Study Hall of Justice, the first book of the Secret Hero Society by DC Comics and Scholastic.

This book is awesome! Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen take the core concepts and mythologies of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman and render them down into middle school students, losing none of what makes the three characters so brilliant and adding new elements that make them even more enjoyable!

Study hall of Justice is a children’s book but one that will be enjoyed by all ages, the kids for the sense of mystery, menace and ninja that permeate the pages and for older readers who will also enjoy the story as well as spotting their favourite villains amongst the student body and faculty staff..

This book is perfect for fans of JL8 and Gotham Academy

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption by José Domingo

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Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is one of my favourite books, published by Flying Eye Books (the people that brought you the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill).

It is a brightly-coloured insane romp that appeals to the cartoon, adventure and monster loving young reader inside of me! The artwork sears itself onto the back of my eyelids so that each time I blink I catch flashes of the story, It is a bit like after-images of the sun when you walk inside on a really bright day.

But – for all the brightness, Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is a dark, twisty adventure story filled with insane cat scientists, monsters, a heroic mouse and two children on an urgent journey through the monster dimension. The artwork is beautiful and incredibly intricate, it is what you get if you mash up Where’s Wally, Billy & Mandy and fever dreams that Roman Dirge & Jhonen Vasquez would shelve as being too far out there!

It is not just the story and art that is fantastic! Flying Eye has gone all out to make sure that Pablo & Jane feels as wonderful as it looks, from the gleaming soft-to-touch cover to sumptuous end-papers and high quality paper the book is a work of book-making art as well as being a bright and beautiful book to read!

This is an adventure comic book to read again and again, to revel in the art, and work your way over the pages marvelling at all the little things that you missed the first 50 times you paged through the book. If it was purely a written work it may be as long as War and Peace as so much is going on in the pages!

Seriously take a look at the image below:
pjpagepiece

and that is just a part of one page.

If there was ever a book to buy to keep your kids quiet or partner out of the way or even just to full hours of time with looking in amazement at and enjoying the story; then Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is it!

I don’t often say this, but, buy this book! Support Flying Eye Books and Nobrow Press as they challenge the boundaries of what picture books are and can be!

Find out more about the book and where to get it here:

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption

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Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption written & illustrated by José Domingo and published by Flying Eye Books is available now!

Creating a Thirst for Knowledge: The Dawn of the Unread

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Nottingham Trent University won the Teaching Excellence Award for The Dawn of the Unread online, interactive comic.

Incensed by the closures of libraries and low literacy in 21st-century Britain, the famous historical literary figures of Nottingham rise from the grave to wreak revenge.

Find out more about the project here:
http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/mar/19/teaching-excellence-category-awards-winner-and-runners-up

Visit the Dawn of the Unread website here and be inspired: http://www.dawnoftheunread.com/

The remit of Dawn of the Unread is not to thrust ‘complex’ books on people to read. It’s to create a thirst for knowledge. To tease, tantalise and inspire. To use digital technology to enable numerous routes into literature knowing that our reading paths are ultimately solitary and taken at different speeds. And if kids go on to the library to get out books it will be because they want to learn more.

Read the full manifesto for Dawn of the Unread here

Inside the Box: a Selection of Comics and Graphic Novels for All Ages


The Federation of Children’s Book Groups is a national voluntary organisation, whose aim is to promote enjoyment and interest in children’s books and reading.

They also produce a range of brilliant book lists, their latest is called Inside the Box. Compiled by Mélanie McGilloway and Zoë Toft (with support from Neil Cameron) it is a comprehensive list ranging from picture books and comics for all ages to comics for teenagers and young adults. The list also suggests several books about comics and comic creation as well as weekly comic magazines.

This list is essential for those that feel that they do not have the breadth of knowledge needed to make informed decisions on selecting graphic novels for a school or public library and even for librarians that know their comics there are introductions to new titles.

Find out more about the FCBG here and see what book-lists they have available

You can order copies of Inside the Box and other book-lists by e-mailing the Federation at: info@fcbg.org.uk

Lenore: Pink Bellies a review

I am going to be totally honest here and say that I am not unbiased when it comes to Roman Dirge’s comics, I have been a fan since 2004 when I purchased Noogies the first Lenore collection at Gosh Comics and have been hooked ever since.

Lenore is a cute little dead girl who lives in the town of Nevermore with Pooty Applewater a bucket-headed demon and Ragamuffin a vampire doll waiting in a huge house for her parents to return.

So far so weird right? The comic comes with lashings of the blackest humour that will make you feel guilty for enjoying it so much.

The latest volume, Pink Bellies gives the back story of Taxidermy, Lenore’s neighbour who turns out to have a connection with Lenore going back to her very beginnings. You do not need to read previous volumes to pick up this one as although there is a sort of continuity, each collection can be read independently.

While more structured and serious than previous collections, Pink Bellies pokes fun at reality TV, religion and in one memorable scene brings back all Lenore’s dead pets. All in all it is a good wicked read to enjoy if you have slightly twisted tastes* and a fondness for weird stories – hell it will make you care for a pickle hat that gets brought to life – remember I did say weird!

I will say that it is probably not suitable for younger readers – they will probably find it hilarious but if you loan it to them you may get some upset parents coming at you, the hilarious scenes of Ragamuffin getting stuck in a bear come to mind!

Titan Books very kindly sent me a copy after a went a bit excitable after finding out that there was a new Lenore volume out.

*including (but not limited to) the music of Aurelio Voltaire, Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac

Comic Book & Graphic Novel Collection free from Taylor & Francis Online

Taylor & Francis Online is making the Routledge comic book and graphic novel collection articles freely available until the end of August.

Take a look here:

Comic & Graphic Novel Collection