Sunday, October 1, 2023

X-Men (Classic) by Art Adams - part 1 of 3

There's something about 1980s Art Adams X-Men that feels like the real, true X-Men, and the frontispiece art he used to provide for issues of Classic X-Men gave him the chance to portray them in their prime. 

I just think they're neat pieces of art, and am happy to showcase the best of them over the next few Sundays.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

The man with the harmonica

I have a weird soft spot for the harmonica, we had an ancient one when I was a kid that had weight and character, and I wish I still had now. I couldn't ever play a single fucking tune - it's way more comlicated than it looks - but I could make a good, mournful noise. 

The best use of the harmonica is obviously in the maestro Ennio's score for Once Upon A Time In The West, but I personally believe the greatest use of the instrument in the past 20 years is the solo that really kicks in about two minute into the Go! Team's Bottle rocket. 

Breaks my fuckin' heart every time, I swear..

Friday, September 29, 2023

Daddy issues at the movies

It's such a fucking cliche, but movies about parenthood and all the things that come with it really do hit me more in the heart, now that I'm a parent myself. 

Most obviously, any type of movie that features children in jeopardy really knock me on my arse now. I always felt bad for that poor fucking kid on the inflatable in Jaws, disappearing in a fountain of gore just a few metres from safety, but now it's the worst possible thing I can imagine.

But it's not just that. I've seen the Godfather in recent months and it hits differently, in surprising new ways. There is a sudden new sympathy for the plight of old Vito - he only wants the very best for Michael, and the tragedy is that he doesn't get it, and knows that before the end. And I might have watched The Carousel scene in Mad Men a million times, but there are new pains in the family photos of better times, and a place that you are loved and can't get back to.   

It's not just the classics. Even a dopey fucking movie like Sean Penn's recent Flag Day gets some kind of emotional reaction out of me, even when the father he plays does the dumbest things in the world.

I'm also way less forgiving of shit dads, and can get judgemental as fuck about it, and can't bear to see parents abusing their kids, because I literally can't imagine the mindset that it's okay.

Hollywood movies and TV shows always the characters suffering from daddy and mummy issues, and it's become such a trope that it's hard to get any kind of new resonance out of it. But if the writing is good enough - hey Hollywood, pay your fucking writers - I can find something new in the oldest of cliches.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Where's my Gallows Pole at?

There are so many options to see your favourite TV and movie shows these days, with streaming services offering a plethora of excellent content, all available with a click of the remote. But I just want to see the new Shane Meadows, and I'm shit out of luck.

I've been big on all of Meadows films, right since stumbling upon the graceful brilliance of Twenty Four Seven at the local film festival in 1997. The This Is England series is a complete goddamn masterpiece, Paddy Considine does things in Dead Man's Shows that still haunt 20 years later, and all of his films are filled with such warmth and humanity and humour and life, in ways others filmmakers never touch.

And The Gallows Pole - the latest BBC series from the big man - looks just as fucking brilliant as all the rest, but I really wouldn't know, because I can't see it anywhere.

An anti-heist set in medieval times, with the usual hint of pastoral horror that comes with any such period piece now, it screened on British TV earlier this year, and none of the streaming services in my country have picked it up. None of the TV channels are showing them, and there is no chance of any kind of physical release around here - now that all the video stores have faded away.

I even tried the 'this TV show just fell off the back of a truck' of torrenting, but came up short without diving into dodgy website that want my credit card details (only for verification purposes, honest). Pirating has long been the last resort for this kind of thing, but still can't deliver.

It's a little maddening in this day and age, to be able to read all about the work of a major filmmaker, to be able to see all sorts of behind the scenes material and trailers, but to be cut off from the work itself. It feels like it's back in the 80s, just waiting for some considerate local programmer to throw it out on TV late on a Tuesday night. That was still a thing well into the 21st century - that's how I first saw The Wire in the mid-2000s - but it's not even there anymore.

I'm sure I'll see The Gallows Pole at some point, some rotter will rip it out onto Youtube one day or something and I'll finally get my mental mitts onto it, but other than that, it's a brick wall, or an empty field, bereft of all the best things in film.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Stealing the Batmobile

With a household policy of buying the kids a new Batmobile Hot Wheels toy every time I see one, they now have 11 distinctive Batmobiles, which is 900% more Batmobiles than I ever had as a kid, so I feel like maybe civilisation is slowly getting better.

They actually have 12, but the latest one is a car the 2-year-old straight up stole from his Aunty Kat's house. It's one of the Batmobile from the last movie, and while that car may be the second best Batmobile ever seen on screen - I'll ride and die for the Lincoln Futura all day long - it's gotta go back.

He probably did it because the collection was over represented by Batmobiles from the 1990s, with few of the 2000s models. But I have explained to him - and I'm fairly sure he has understood me - that Bruce Wayne would not approve of stealing one. He gets mad when a Robin does that, let alone some stranger kid.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Goodbye, Joe Matt: Wanking never looked so good

I guess I always thought that spite would keep him alive, and that Joe Matt would live to be 120, with his lifestyle of frugality and pettiness keeping him going long past his contemporaries. And I was sure that he would be producing comics tales about being a shitty old man for years to come.

But Joe only made half that, and even without much in the way of new comics from the artist recently, it still hit so hard.

Because his comics were always so good - full of self-loathing and nitpicking to such an inhuman degree that I'm still confused about how much of it was an act. Judging by the tales from his pals, there wasn't much exaggeration in his depiction of his own frugality, but i always thought it was more of a Curb Your Enthusiasm thing, where it's clearly Joe Matt, just more Joe Matt-ish.

What I am sure of is that his art was always so fucking beautiful. Joe dealt with the grubbiest of subjects with the most open and inviting of styles, and you'd find yourself happily reading pages and pages of his attempts to edit together the ultimate porn video tape because the art was so smooth and appetizing.

There is certainly bravery in showing yourself as such a total shitheel, but I'll miss Matt's small exaggerations and clear storytelling most of all. He was also a shit-hot colorist.

I just thought he was always the finest natural artist of that beautiful little comics clique he lucked into, and he seemed happy doing weird little Batman and Judge Dredd sketch commissions in his later years. They were beautiful. His comics were always beautiful, even when he was just wanking all over the page.

Monday, September 25, 2023

I still live by the list

Whenever I go to the supermarket to do the weekly grocery shop with the kid, we seem to be the only shoppers that bother using a pen and paper to write out our lists, everyone else is just glancing at their lists on their phone.

I tried that once, and it was a fucking disaster. The battery life was low, so the thing kept dimming, and it felt like I was forever swiping and fiddling with the tiny touchscreen keys and entering the pin to unlock the phone over and over and over, while rushing to get through the full list before I got down to 0%.
I just think you can't beat a list on a notepad, scrawled on with a pen, for convenience and efficiency. It's just so much easier.
It's the same deal when it comes to keeping track of my massive comic collection (and yeah, I just put a shit-ton of it into storage, and I ache all over so trust me when I say it's massive.) I could never remember every issue of every comic I own - especially when covers all turned into incredibly generic splash shots decades ago - but I still need to keep track of what Haney/Aparo Brave and the Bolds I don't have, and that's when I go to the list.

I know there have been all sorts of digital databases and spreadsheets for keeping track of your collection since the freakin' 90s, but I never had any time for that. I just have one A4 sheet of paper, with all the numbers of the issues printed out.

It's definitely not as big as it once was, as I slawly but surely got the last issues of Shade The Changing Man I needed. After decades of hunting, there's not enough wanted issues to make it worth fucking around with a database, just the numbers printed out and gradually crossed out, one by one over months and years. 
I crawl the numbers out, then update the list and print it out every six months or so. And it's all I need.
I'm never scrambling around waiting for an app to open, or having a quick look because I'm down to 9% battery. It's always clear, it's always accurate and it's always so easy. Now that nobody bothers with cash anymore, it doesn't even bulk out the wallet.
And I like the tactile experience, jsut as I like paper comics over digital. It just feels more real to have the numbers I'm looking for printed in black and white. It keeps things simple. When you're trying to figure out if you've got that issue of Jimmy's Bastards, simple is good.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Who was Who in the DC Universe: I just think they're neat (part 4 of 4)

Art by Keith Giffen and Al Gordon

Art by Joe Staton and Jose Marzan Jr

Art by Mike McKone

Phil Foglio and Ty Templeton

Art by Tom Grummett


Art by Norm Breyfogle

Ambush Bug is obviously the greatest, but it's unbelievable that DC is just sitting on Joe Potato like that. 

(This is the end of the Who's Who stuff. Starting next Sunday - Fighting With Frank. )

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The ants of Jerusalem

It's been a couple of years since I read Alan Moore's massive Jerusalem novel, and parts of it are still sticking in my head, like a dream that keeps resonating into the waking world.

There's the eternal coloured light at somebody's birth; and the burning of the false city at the end; but the one part my brain goes back to the most might be when you get a quick glimpse of the future of the Britain, and it's one where the gulf stream shuts down and the nation freezes into oblivion, and ant colonies that have achieved a kind of hyper-sentience are the only things with a soul to ever rise again in England.

Sounds about right.