Sunday, 30 October 2011

Top 10 Graphic Novels

I get pretty annoyed each time a broadsheet newspaper does a "Top 10 Graphic Novels" feature, mostly because what they really mean is "Top 10 Pretentious Graphic Novels".

As a comics reader that prefers to enjoy the experience, I thought I'd have a crack at a more representative (at least more representative of me) top 10. So, here they are, in reverse order:

10) Indigo Prime: Killing Time by John Smith and Chris Weston. A perfect graphic novella. Love the thing with bandages.

9) Marshal Law: Fear and Loathing by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neil. Great indictment of superheroes.

8) Scarlet Traces: The Great Game by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. A post War of the Worlds British Empire collapses. Possibly the greatest comic story about Britishness.

7) The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller. Okay it's right-wing bollocks really, but very powerfully done.

6) Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others by Mike Mignola. A beautiful collection of short horror tales.

5) Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The seminal graphic novel. Any top 10 without this book isn't trying.

4) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 2. Pretty much the conclusion of Moore's second great period of productivity (with ABC Comics), he's arguably better than ever here, and not yet heading back down the motorway to obscurity.

3) Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Easy to overlook but a masterclass. Page 1 has 35 panels.

2) The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. This is a mainstream comic raised to perfection.

1) Zenith Phase I by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell. My favourite comic.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Mission Accomplished (in 2007)

It's good to remember sometimes that Massacre For Boys has already graced the pages of the Galaxy's Second Greatest Comic:

We were the featured Small Press strip in Meg 261.

I'm hoping that a re-lettered and coloured version of this story will appear in the Action Special. I still love it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011


I had the germ of an idea of a possible Zarjaz submission, a short sequel to Fiends of the Eastern Front, a few weeks back. I quickly got a brief outline down into OpenOffice. However, I wasn't totally comfortable going back to WW2 again and when Steve told me he's now working as the artist on a separate Fiends strip, also for Zarjaz, I decided to give up on the idea.

This is the rough outline:

Fiends of the Eastern Front: Downfall

Berlin, 1945.

Hitler discusses his escape plans with Captain Gruber, head of his special guard. The he retires for the night with Eva Braun.

Later, Gruber loses contacts with his men guarding the Hitler's quarters.

He finds them dead, drained of blood. Hitler is locked in.

Hitler wakes up to find Eva Braun standing over him, She leans forward, baring fangs. Hitler runs her though with the spear of destiny, which he keeps in a box near his bed.

A bat flies in, Hitler takes cover.

The bat turns into Captain Costanza.

Costanza: “The war ends tonight.”

Hitler throws the spear.

Hitler: “It has only just begun!”

Costanza is hit by the spear, but pulls it out.

Costanza: ouch. Is this the spear of destiny? A worthless trinket.

Hitler produces a machine gun.

Hitler: Let's try something a bit more scientific then.

Hitler blasts Costanza. Who vanishes into a fog.

The fog coalesces behind Hitler into a figure, who then bites Hitler's neck.

Hitler: Aaaargh – eh?

Costanza:By the Gods, your blood is stagnant with evil.

Hitler: Ha, Vampire idiot. You have no idea what I am capable of.

Costanza: You may be right.

Costanza shoot him in the forehead.

Costanza: Better if we never know.

The door to the quarters clicks open. Costanza emerges and gives his gun to Gruber.

Costanza: The Fuhrer tried to kill a vampire with a machine gun. A clear case of suicide.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Dept. of Monsterology

Regular readers of this blog will recall Steve was the announced colourist on a graphic novel called Monsterology with script by Gordon Rennie, art by PJ Holden and Letters by Jim Campbell.

No longer.

Now Steve is the announced colourist on a limited run comic called Dept. of Monsterology with script by Gordon Rennie, art by PJ Holden and Letters by Jim Campbell.

For more info you can like the facebook page.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Writing On The Wall

I'm increasingly convinced that comics are primarily an artists' medium.

Almost anyone can write, schools are pretty hot on that. Yet virtually no one can draw. This creates a disparity, at least on the indy/small press side of things, where writers are not much valued but artists are highly prized. In many ways this is only natural. Illustrating a comic strip takes a damn sight more time and effort than writing one, so even if there were just as many artists as writers - which there aren't - the artists would still be making by far the greater commitment in taking a job on.

My principal outlet for writing over the last few years has been Massacre For Boys, and when I've strayed outside of it I haven't had very much success. I've had ideas rejected, accepted but not published and various other mishaps. Even when something has appeared and been relatively well received, it hasn't led to anything else. I could of course put this down to being shit, but I more think it's because no one really needs comic writers. Indeed, if you look at the Futurequake and Something Wicked anthology titles, two of the jewels in the British comics crown, they've been closed to new scripts since the start of the year.

In my role as an editor I am equally guilty of this. I've pursued artists with some vigour, but never sought any help with the writing. Mea Culpa.

Progress on Massacre For Boys is pretty slow at the moment, mainly due to Steve's many other commitments (pro colouring work, lots of other indy strips to illustrate, full-time job and, selfishly I feel, a personal life). It's not that I write fast, or write much, but it's so much quicker to write than draw. I'm quite far ahead of the curve at the moment, so don't need to do any more on this front. Which is probably just as well.

This year, as may be apparent from the above, I've become pretty disillusioned with comic writing, and indeed would consider retiring completely except that would imply I'd ever done it professionally - which I haven't - and also would be nothing but a futile gesture. The reality is I haven't written anything for ages, and I suspect I won't write anything for a while , but I'm pretty sure I'll find some enthusiasm from somewhere and pick up the pen again at some point.