From Under the Stairs Avatar

Notes

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you’re celebrating, have a good one!

3 Notes

randomhousedigital:

Coltrane, by Paolo Parisi, and several other excellent titles from Jonathan Cape, are now available to buy in the Sequential iPad app. Sequential presents graphic novels in a beautifully optimised, easy-to-read digital format, that is faithful to the original print editions. 

randomhousedigital:

Coltrane, by Paolo Parisi, and several other excellent titles from Jonathan Cape, are now available to buy in the Sequential iPad app. Sequential presents graphic novels in a beautifully optimised, easy-to-read digital format, that is faithful to the original print editions. 

3 Notes

Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean was originally published by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury as part of their Escape line of graphic novels (which also included Alec by Eddie Campbell, and Doc Chaos by Phil Elliott, amongst others). This here, though, is the cover of the programme for the 1998 stage play of the graphic novel, directed by Eric Jarvis and performed in Battersea.

The programme contains neat little chronological bios by both Gaiman and McKean. McKean notes that his first comic was Mighty World of Marvel #3 and mentions Meanwhile (see previous entries) which he says he did “to learn how to draw comics”. Gaiman’s notes for 1988 read “Currently writing Sandman for DC Comics, Miracleman for Eclipse Comics, a story for AARGH! and ‘Sloth’ for Knockabout’s Seven Deadly Sins…”

I have no idea how I came to have a copy of this… I didn’t attend the stage play, and by 1988 had very little to do with comics… A beautiful cover though…

27 Notes

 ”Chris Ware… currently attends the University of Texas. He has done strips for The Daily Texan regularly for the last 3 years.” RAW - Required Reading for the Post-Literate, from 1990, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly.

The 4-page strip shown here is entitled “Waking Up Blind”.

5 Notes

At SDCC this year I was incredibly lucky to meet some amazing comics people. I even had a chat with Jaime Hernandez who miraculously appeared on the same table that I was standing at during a party.

Once I got over the shock, I told him about how I had covered Love & Rockets back in 1984 in INFINITY, about Alan Moore’s take on the series at the time, and about the illustration above published in the August 1984 issue and inked by Pete Scott, a prolific writer for fanzines… It’s indicative of Jaime’s standing at the time (29 years ago!) that Dave Dursley, in the following issue, noted: “I didn’t mind Pete Scott’s inks on Jaime Hernandez’ pencils too much myself, but down Wendy’s at the Strand (after the last Westminster Comic Mart) they were forming a lynch party…”

As detailed earlier in this blog, Alan Moore discussed Love & Rockets in the same issue as the above was printed and summed up with: “Anyone out there who hasn’t yet bothered to check out The Hernandez Brothers’ work… maybe because they want to hang on to their cash to buy the entire “Secret Wars”… should stop being such a gutless and ineffectual wimp and go and do so immediately.”
Well said, that man!

At SDCC this year I was incredibly lucky to meet some amazing comics people. I even had a chat with Jaime Hernandez who miraculously appeared on the same table that I was standing at during a party.

Once I got over the shock, I told him about how I had covered Love & Rockets back in 1984 in INFINITY, about Alan Moore’s take on the series at the time, and about the illustration above published in the August 1984 issue and inked by Pete Scott, a prolific writer for fanzines… It’s indicative of Jaime’s standing at the time (29 years ago!) that Dave Dursley, in the following issue, noted: “I didn’t mind Pete Scott’s inks on Jaime Hernandez’ pencils too much myself, but down Wendy’s at the Strand (after the last Westminster Comic Mart) they were forming a lynch party…”

As detailed earlier in this blog, Alan Moore discussed Love & Rockets in the same issue as the above was printed and summed up with: “Anyone out there who hasn’t yet bothered to check out The Hernandez Brothers’ work… maybe because they want to hang on to their cash to buy the entire “Secret Wars”… should stop being such a gutless and ineffectual wimp and go and do so immediately.”


Well said, that man!

402 Notes

fantagraphics:

largeheartedboy:

Charlie Brown & the Smiths

okay

11 Notes

Here are all the Chain Reaction fanzine covers in one place, along with a page from #1 with photos of some of the key people involved. Thanks to Ewan Brownlow who provided scans of the missing issues and Martin Hand for the photos page. More scans of Steve Whitaker’s work can be found here and here (again courtesy of Martin Hand).

5 Notes

I’ve been away with a little project called SEQUENTIAL… you can read about it here in Publishers Weekly, or download the iPad app directly.

Given SEQUENTIAL’s non-superhero stance, it’s nice and ironic that the zine at the top of pile (and promised last time) is Chain Reaction….

Chain Reaction was a wonderfully put together zine published in 83/84/84 and edited by Frank Plowright, the late Steve Whitaker and Hassan Yusuf. There’s a few Steve W. illustrations above… Just LOOK at his amazing Daredevil, Warpsmiths and Hawkgirl illustrations… I wish he had done all the covers…

CR was a zine that thrived on superheroes, as can be seen from its covers and cover features, but it was edited by a group with a vast knowledge (just consider SW’s alone) of comics of all types… This made it difficult for me, as I attempted to “position” INFINITY against something that good… Especially as I really loved the zine. It was the epitome of everything that was good about about British superhero fandom at the time – intelligent, knowledgeable, witty, self-deprecating and full of humour…

One of the recurring features was Whoopsies, which lacerated some of the truly absurd goings on in mainstream superhero comics. Another was Fandumb by Lew Stringer which was so true it hurt…

The standard fare though was superheroes, and CR had articles such as how to do The Defenders properly, interviews with Archie Goodwin and Jim Shooter, profiles on creators such as Joe Sinnott and features on Secret Wars… (and just to make it harder for me, essays on Euro comics… bah!).

I once had every issue of CR, but some seem to have gone astray. If you have scans of the missing issues, do send them along…

P.S. Fun Marvel trivia: Neil Tennant, he of the Pet Shop Boys, was the editor of British Marvel comics in the 70s… Not many people know that…

2 Notes

quaequamblog:

The very talented Terry Wiley of Sleaze Castle fame has turned his Verity Fair comic strip into an iPad app. Preview here (PDF): http://t.co/60nORWcDjM
Buy the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/verityfair-part-1-custard/id598153355?mt=8&affId=1736887 (£2.99).

quaequamblog:

The very talented Terry Wiley of Sleaze Castle fame has turned his Verity Fair comic strip into an iPad app. Preview here (PDF): http://t.co/60nORWcDjM

Buy the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/verityfair-part-1-custard/id598153355?mt=8&affId=1736887 (£2.99).

1 Notes

Hellfire was an unusually well-produced zine from David Roach (with the early assistance of Ian Jenkins). The first 1984 issue had a John Ridgeway cover and an interview with Alan Moore and Garry Leach (who were at that point doing their thing with Marvelman in Warrior). There was also a strip by David himself, Vander, and it was amusing to see this given I’d just read his latest Judge Dredd strip, which featured a woman who wouldn’t be out of place here (though better drawn, of course). In addition to the interview, the first issue had features on Starslayer, Born Again and French comics.

Issue 2 had a cover by Garry Leach and features on Batman, Alex Nino, Clarence Nash (the voice of Donald Duck), another episode of Vander, and a long David Lloyd interview, in which David is recounting the struggles to get V for Vendetta to people in a collected format. “Titan did very much want to do it [the album], but they wanted too much money… the original plans for V to be reprinted by Pacific have collapsed as most of you know, because Pacific’s gone under… vanished from sight.”

Issue 3 had a cover by David Roach and features on The Rocketeer, Milo Manara, Camelot 3000 and TV21. Commando and Warrior artist John Ridgeway was interviewed and there were strips such as Dicky Ducky and Rambo Goes to Russia

I’m not sure how many issues of Hellfire there were in all, but it was a great fanzine of its day, good to read and as well produced as any.

Next up, a firm favourite: Chain Reaction

1 Notes

Yesterday, February 15th, was Art Spiegelman’s 65th birthday, so here’s some of his stuff from under those stairs.

The graphic magazine that overestimates the taste of the American public. 

The torn-again graphix mag.

Open wounds from the cutting edge of commix.

Required reading for the post-literate.

and the first volume of Maus.

I covered Arcade earlier, and don’t forget you can read Alan Moore’s take on Art Spiegleman in issues 1 & 2 of our INFINITY magazine… Available for iPad here:

https://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/infinity-digital-graphic-novels/id540599442?mt=8

and as a PDF here:

http://issuu.com/russellwillis

Alan Moore’s view of Arcade vs RAW from the article:

"To me Arcade was an almost perfect culmination of the whole idea of Underground Comix. Granted, there have been worthy individual efforts by the various Arcade contributors since then, but somehow without the same flair. RAW is a splendid magazine, but it’s intimidating. I can’t bring myself to criticise anything that is that well printed and I find myself approaching RAW in almost the same way as I approach gallery art – coldly and from a polite distance."

2 Notes

With the British parliament passing legislation to allow gay marriage, it reminds me again that cynicism about politics and politicians, whilst an easy and cool position to take, is not always merited. When I was born, homosexuality was illegal and civil rights in the US were still being violently contested. In 1987/8 when I edited the students’ union magazines above, the Conservative government was trying to make it illegal to “promote homosexuality” and Nelson Mandela was in prison. The 80s for me (as can be seen from the contents of OVERDRAFT) were a mix of alternative comics, Meat is Murder, anti-apartheid, anti-fascism and anti-sexist activity. At the time, shivering in the cold on yet another demo, I remember it all seeming a bit futile. But looking at where we are today, I think we can say that those efforts by millions in the UK, and around the world – including efforts by progressive politicians – paid off.

The world has changed to one where Nelson Mandela is an ex-president of South Africa, to one where Condaleeza Rice, as US Secretary of State, goes to Rosa Parks’ funeral, where the US has a black president and a woman is the favourite to be the next one – and gay marriage legislation is promoted by a Conservative prime minister.

These victories are not an excuse for inaction, or a lack of vigilance, but they are an argument against cynicism and an antidote to feelings of futility.

Viva!

Notes

Alan Moore on the work of the late Spain Rodriguez from 1984, from the original INFINITY #7 
"… the very best was a portrait of Stalin by Spain Rodriguez (Arcade #4). Within a limited number of pages, Spain created a convincing picture of the brooding and psychopathic ‘Red Monarch’ and the strange abstracted landscape in which he lived. The use of heavy block shadows and Rodriguez’s powerful sense of composition give a real atmosphere and weight to the story, with an abrupt and brutal pace to the storytelling that matches the chilling nature of the subject matter quite adequately. A scene in which Stalin’s wife is reported a ‘Suicide’ (whatever that meant in Stalinist Russia) is portrayed as a severe downshot, looking straight down from near the ceiling of an elegant bathroom at the woman sprawled upon the floor like a stringless puppet, hard lines of black ink radiating from her slashed wrists and trickling off across the white tiles. And the final images are perfect: The narrative caption boxes relate how, during his final years, Stalin would travel by car along highways built for his solitary personal use across Russia. Wherever he stopped along the way there would be a room waiting for him specially constructed so as to be an exact duplicate of his room in the Kremlin, right down to the book lying open on the bedside table. While this is sinking in, we see three pictures, showing a simple side elevation of a sparsely furnished, neat-looking bedroom. Each picture is identical to the others except that they get progressively smaller. In effect, we get the impression of an endless series of identical rooms stretching away into the empty distance, proving an unnerving glimpse into the mind of someone who once controlled half of the world.”
You can see the whole of the article by Moore about Arcade in the iPad or PC version of INFINITY #1.

Alan Moore on the work of the late Spain Rodriguez from 1984, from the original INFINITY #7 

"… the very best was a portrait of Stalin by Spain Rodriguez (Arcade #4). Within a limited number of pages, Spain created a convincing picture of the brooding and psychopathic ‘Red Monarch’ and the strange abstracted landscape in which he lived. The use of heavy block shadows and Rodriguez’s powerful sense of composition give a real atmosphere and weight to the story, with an abrupt and brutal pace to the storytelling that matches the chilling nature of the subject matter quite adequately. A scene in which Stalin’s wife is reported a ‘Suicide’ (whatever that meant in Stalinist Russia) is portrayed as a severe downshot, looking straight down from near the ceiling of an elegant bathroom at the woman sprawled upon the floor like a stringless puppet, hard lines of black ink radiating from her slashed wrists and trickling off across the white tiles. And the final images are perfect: The narrative caption boxes relate how, during his final years, Stalin would travel by car along highways built for his solitary personal use across Russia. Wherever he stopped along the way there would be a room waiting for him specially constructed so as to be an exact duplicate of his room in the Kremlin, right down to the book lying open on the bedside table. While this is sinking in, we see three pictures, showing a simple side elevation of a sparsely furnished, neat-looking bedroom. Each picture is identical to the others except that they get progressively smaller. In effect, we get the impression of an endless series of identical rooms stretching away into the empty distance, proving an unnerving glimpse into the mind of someone who once controlled half of the world.”


You can see the whole of the article by Moore about Arcade in the iPad or PC version of INFINITY #1.

2 Notes

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN LOCK (PART THREE | THE HARRIER COMICS YEARS)


What made you start Harrier?

It gradually crept up on me.  BEM had been running serial strips, generally “H.M.S. Conqueror” and lighter single and part pagers, and had a couple of “summer special” issues with added extra strips by such luminaries as Eddie Campbell.  And the black and white independent comics boom, soon to become a glut, was just starting.  So somehow the idea came for “H.M.S. Conqueror” to go, boldly of course, into its own comic, soon accompanied by the anthology title Swiftsure.

Tell us about Harrier New Wave and the comics publishing scene in the UK at the time.

Different comics had different amounts of input from me, and with titles like Second City, Deadface, !Gag!, Paris the Man of Plaster, and Rob Sharp’s books I wasn’t really involved except as publisher, I didn’t have editorial input, which was probably just as well, as people like Phil Elliott and Fast Fiction were a lot better qualified on that side than I was.  I remember Eddie Campbell being less than pleased with a “house ad” I put on a Deadface back cover, probably the Nightbird one on issue 4… We did have some overlap with Trident, and of course Valkyrie Press who took over Redfox… there were never any legal contracts, so creators were free to move if they wanted to.  It must have seemed a strange moment for the artist “Fox” when modern-day avatars of his two heroines turned up on his doorstep, but as a team they did pretty well;  I may be wrong, but I think that Redfox almost got its own “shared world” text story anthology, but there was some problem over the rights.

Why and how did Harrier end?

Well, the black & white independent market crashed, and Harrier did have the disadvantage of not being based in the USA, so we were very much at the mercy of how the comics distributors presented our titles in their monthly advance listings.  Creators had been bringing in their new work, and we’d been proceeding on the assumption that we’d be getting the level of order we were getting at that point; luckily I didn’t make firm promises, so didn’t end up paying people on spec, but when you expected orders for 3,000 or so copies, and the figure came in at around 850, days did appear to be numbered.

Have comics always paid your way (either as publisher, writer or dealer) or have you had a “day job”? 

I worked in the sales department of a chemicals company when BEM started, in offices in a wing of Bush House in London and my very first printer was in The Aldwych nearby; I’d tend to walk across to Dark They Were & Golden Eyed in Berwick Street in my lunch hour, or otherwise browse the shops in the middle of town.  When the company, who had their main factory in Droitwich, decided to move the head office to Worcester, that rather suited me, as it was a city I’d often visited with my parents to visit relatives, and I knew it well.  I can’t say that I’ve ever earned enough money from comics and fanzines to live on, it has just been a hobby.

What were the most stressful moment in your career in comics?

I’m not big on stress, though the tumbling order figures didn’t make for a happy time.  Nobody made a scene, luckily, so things just drew quietly to a close.  It’s a shame that the interest in black & white comics just faded away so fast - we had more projects planned, and Stephen Baskerville had drawn the whole of his strip for a “Jim Dandy in the Underworld” limited series, which was really excellent work… I’d worked on a back-up script or two and had an artist lined up for that.  As with the serial in Swiftsure, it was so tightly done that it really wasn’t suitable for publishing any other way.

What are the highlights of your career in comics?

Well, an Eagle Award was nice, though I suspect it was more for my fanzine writing than the comics.  Suggesting that “Fox” turn his fanzine-style Redfox into a regular black & white comic, and then getting massive orders for the issue, was fun, though I suspect that the artist/writer may well have been hoping I’d have such a bright idea.  If only we’d been geared up for newsprint-type printing at that point, instead of the more boutique style of my normal British printer, we’d have made serious money then!  Getting covers generously donated by people like Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, and John Bolton, who were thusly kindly aiding the newer artists we used like Steve Baskerville, Lew Stringer, Steve Yeowell, and the ever-reliable Dave Harwood.  Putting together the pulp/anthology-style Conquerer Universe… and of course each time one saw the finished fruit of one’s labours, the sense of achievement was nice.

What have you been up to since the demise of Harrier?

I made the decision to “sex up” Barbarienne a bit, and got it published by Fantagraphics in the USA, under their Eros imprint.  They did decree that it had to be mainly sex, though, which rather got in the way of the projected story arc.  Gary Groth and Kim Thompson took another couple of series, but their market eventually dwindled, rather.  The Barbarienne characters, with their clothes on, have made a few minor appearances since.  Otherwise, I’ve been relatively quiet, though I always have a few ideas bubbling away!

Can I assume I’d be right to say that you are now in your 60s?

You can, yes - well, early sixties, anyway.  A relative sent me a photograph she took on an outing to Bekonscot a few months ago, and I didn’t recognise myself for a moment; I could audition for a role in Last of the Summer Wine if it was still going!  Fandom used to be a young man’s game, but people have stuck around, and I guess it’s okay to be grey now.  And of course some of the people we used to know, like Rich Morrissey, Steve Whitaker, Martin Skidmore. T. M. Maple, and a few others, are no longer with us, so growing old is definitely better than the alternative…

I’m sure I’ll be joined by a large number of people from the UK comics world when I thank Martin for all his great work over the years and wish him the best in his future endeavours. In a private email he hints at some new comics-related activity in 2013…

Notes

More FA covers….