Sunday, March 27, 2011

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and and Joe Eisma

Morning Glories is a fairly new comic book series published by Image Comics. The first issue came out in September last year and the first collected volume entitled 'For a better future' was published a couple of weeks ago. You can find it on amazon.

The story focuses on a school for gifted children. Six teenagers, all of whom share the same birthday, have won places at this exclusive academy. When they get there it becomes clear that something isn't right. Something almost demonic is going on....

It's well written and well drawn. It's a bit of a page turner and you can see it being made into a popcorn movie. It's early days so far but it will be interesting to see how this book develops.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bryan Talbot at Plan B Bookshop, Glasgow

Bryan Talbot is a comic book writer and artist who is responsible for the Grandville books as well as several others. He started his career with the underground series Luther Arkwright and he came to promenance for his work on Nemesis the Warlock for 2000AD.

Plan B is a new graphic novel/comic/coffee shop in Glasgow. They are trying to market the more intelligent side of comic books. They are organising things like a graphic novel book group and events like todays Bryan Talbot signing.

Talbot is a very nice bloke and he was really warm when he signed and sketched my books. He also gave me instructions on how to finish off one of his sketches to make it look even better. I'll have to sort that our in due course.

Plan B is a nice venue too. I've written about the shop before. It's located in an arty corner of Glasgow, just off King Street, near the thirteenth note and Mono. They are gradually expanding their stock of books and they sell nice decent coffee.

After signing lots of books Talbot gave a talk on the genesis of Grandville. He started with a history of anthropromorphic characters in religion, folklore and literature. He then focused on 'funny animal' characters in comic books.

Grandville is littered with literary references as well as tributes to fine art. Talbot highlighted several of these allusions. He also sneaks in a very nice sequence where Snowy Milou is seen as an opium addict. I hope that an annoted version of Grandville is published at some point. It would be very interesting.

Finally Talbot shared the creative process behind Grandville, from the inital conception of the idea to the final polishing of the artwork. Grandville is clearly a labour of love as well as a great read.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Goldie Lookin Chain - live at the Doghouse, Dundee

I have to spend time in Dundee for various reasons. I had nothing to do the other day and my mate suggested going to see Goldie Lookin' Chain at the Doghouse. As my Dundee social diary is fairly empty I thought 'What the fuck'? and went along.

I last saw GLC in 2004 at T in the Park. I find some of their tracks fairly funny but I do not consider them to be high art. A bunch of dick jokes are much better than high art very now and again. It was also a good chance to check out a music venue in Dundee.

Oddly enough, GLC were supported by two local funk-metal bands. I thought funk-metal died with the coming of Oasis in 1995 but I was wrong. The first band was called 'hey esse' and they were OK for a local band. I kinda enjoyed the funk-metal nostalgia thing. The second lot were called 'harry' (I think) and they had a fairly good live sound. They were slightly stylistically mixed up but they could play their instruments. They reminded me of Senser.

GLC are a cabaret act. They have a very big tour bus and 10 on-stage members. Tickets cost 15 quid a head and the venue must take a fair slice of that. I would estimate that maybe 100 people were in the venue and I'm not sure how many bits of merchandise were sold. The economics of touring are fairly fucking scary - difficult to break even.

Anyhow, GLC took the stage to a backing tape - there were hundreds of the fuckers on stage. It took me about 5 minutes to count them cos they were running about all over the place. They played all the hits and the interaction with the crowd was a hit. Personal favourites were 'half man, half machine', 'your mother's got a penis' and 'old ladies'.

I laughed. Fun for Dundee

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Defendor - DVD review

This was another recent cheap supermarket deal. I think I'd read a review of the film somewhere but I couldn't remember much.

The film is about a man with learning difficulties who thinks he is a superhero. He dresses up in a costume and tries to fight crime. It's very similar to Kick-Ass.

I liked it - decent entertainment. Well made. Woody Harrelson is good in the title role.

Worth seeing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Horde - DVD review

I picked this DVD up in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago. It was described as the 'Die Hard of zombie films' and it's French. This film has subtitles and that will probably alienate about 70% of the normal zombie film audience.

The story follows a group of police officers who decide to get revenge on a criminal gang who have killed their partner. The criminals are living in a rundown tower block. The two groups are getting on like a house on fire when zombies attack.

I enjoyed this film but it is not high art. The zombies are fast, there is a lot of blood and gore, a crazy amount of guns and some exotic French swearing.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Diagnosis: Death - DVD review

I picked up this DVD because it looked like it could provide a couple of cheap laughs. A couple of the guys from Flight of the Concords are in it.

The story follows two people who are diagnosed with terminal cancer and enroll in an experimental drug trial. Strange things start to happen when they take the drug.

As someone who has enrolled a lot of people in drug trials over the years I did smile at a couple of points. This film is cheap and mindless entertainment. Not oscar material but OK for 3 quid.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

you know how it is. You wait for ages for a decent anthropomorphic detective comic book and then you read two in one week.

Blacksad is the work of two Spanish creators, Diaz Canales and Guarnido. The comic books have been massively successful in Europe and a hardback collection of the first 3 volumes was published in English towards the end of last year. The art is beautiful and the storytelling is intelligent.

The cyberpunk elements of Grandville are missing and have been replaced by a gritty version of '50s America and a more recognisable version of our world. At least, a funny animal version of our world.

Blacksad is a large black cat who works as a private detective. He investigates murders, rubs shoulders with beatniks and communists, encounters nazis and racists and generally entertains. There are rumours of a film version and I would love to see it.

Check it out.

Grandville by Bryan Talbot

Grandville is the first in a series of hardback comic books about Archie Le Brock, a Scotland Yard detective who happens to be an anthropomorphic badger. The book is written and beautifully illustrated by Bryan Talbot, the English comic book artist who has previously worked on Nemesis the Warlock, Sandman, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and The Tale of one Bad Rat.

The story begins with an English diplomat escaping imperial France before being murdered in his home. The existence of talking animals is not the only difference in this story. Britain was for many years a beaten part of the French empire and has only recently regained Independence after an anarchist revolution.

Le Brock investigates the murder and follows the plot to Grandville (Paris).

This book is funny, exciting and original. I look forward to reading subsequent volumes. It is also full of sly references to other comic books, such as the opium addict Snowy Mileu with his morphine dreams of a Blue Lotus and a Crab with Golden Claws.

A modern classic.

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie is a talented guy. He's probably most well known nowadays for the American TV series House but he had a solid career writing and acting in comedy programmes on UK TV for 20 years before house. He also graduated from Cambridge University with a good degree and did a lot of rowing as a student. He's a bit like a Swiss army knife, able to adapt to any situation. Just like his friend Steven Fry.

As far as I am aware, Laurie has only written one novel, The Gun Seller. It's a great book and he should write more. It's written as a first person narrative so I couldn't help but imagine the main character as looking like Laurie in his House persona. The storyline is very cinematic and I could see this book being made into a decent comedy/thriller at some point.

Worth finding. Hope he writes more.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

new clothes

So after getting my first full doctor wage with an on-call supplement in 30 months (40% more than my generous research doctor basic wage) I went out and bought some new clothes today. I haven't bought any new clothes for nearly 3 years and I was starting to look a bit like a tramp.

I picked up a new pair of Levis (75 quid), a shirt (50 quid) and a top (40 quid). It's all nice stuff but when did clothes get so expensive? Is it VAT or have prices just shot up over the past year?

Anyway, I'm happy to be looking a bit less trampy.