Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Being a comics creator outside of established publishers is not an easy life. There's plenty of great titles out there that have had the heart and soul of their creators poured into them, and if we're honset there's a fair bit of shite as well - just like anything, really. Let's just say that doing your own comic isn't generally a way to fame and fortune, but it's the best way to get your vision out there, and deeply satisfying if you're the one creating it.
Edge Of Extinction is an interesting one. Originally started in 2015, it had a rather large break between issue one and two due to the personal circumstances of writer Baden James Mellonie (which he candidly writes about in issue 2). Indie books traditionally have a slow rate of publication (for good reason), and when the series returned in July 2018 it was with intent, and issue 3 followed a mere 9 months later, with issue 4 promised any day now. Yeah, it's a slow burn, but as I say it's pretty standard. So what's it like?
I'm not normally a big horror fan, although I've certainly enjoyed my fair share. What I mean, I suppose, is I don't tend to track it down, but will happily give it a go if it comes my way. I loved The Walking Dead, and found Crossed to be a marvellously guilty pleasure, so zombies aren't a literary turn off if done well. As you may have guessed, EOE is a zombie book, but as it's by UK creators it's set firmly in the UK, in Bedford of all places. with locations taken from real life. The three issues don't fart about and we soon get to the zombies without yet having a clue why it's all happening. We get the standard group of survivors trying to stay alive and work out what's going on, mainly because that's how stories work. As I read them all in one go I got to enjoy them as a free flowing narrative, and I have to say I'm really enjoying what the lads have done so far. Nothing is rushed, with the story given priority over gratuitous corpse reanimation, and in issue three there's a real gut punch of a scene that is handled really well.
The art is handled by Paul Peart-Smith, who contributed some art to 2000AD in the 90s and has done a fair bit of work since, including curating the history of black comics exhibitiion "Black Power" as well as Horrible Histories and more. His art in issue 1 is, well, a bit scratchy if I'm honest. It does the job and is in no way offputting, but it didn't quite grab me. Fast forward to issue 2 and it all comes together much more, as there seems to be that bit more thought put into it and it works really well, improving even more for issue 3. At this point I can safely say I'm a fan.
The comic itself is very solid, with thick covers and pages that use thick paper that will stand up to a marmite stain or two (sorry guys, I like to eat crumpets whilst reading comics). For a £2.99 cover price it's remarkably well made, and this is only made better by the fact that variant covers are available by the likes of Ryan Brown (top man, top artist, top drinker), Max Millgate (top Rush fan) and more. Basically, everything about EOE shouts "Quality Product" which is always good to see, especially when it's backed up by a story worth reading.
Obviously, if you dislike zombie comics you may not get much out of this. The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later are obvious paralels, but EOE is it's own beast rather than anyone's pale imitation. The absolute best thing I can say about it is that I want to see what happens next. If you don't feel that way about a comic series then it's failed, and EOE issue 3 ends in a way that had me quite pissed off that iuuse 4 wasn't at the bottom of the pile, hissing and biting and daring me to read it. So if you want to read a really good horror comic and support enthusiastic, talented comic creators you should certainly checkout Edge of Extinction, because if you don't the zombies'll get ya!
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Wednesday, 2 October 2019
After his successful autobiographical book on his life in comics, concentrating on his years at 2000AD ("Mighty One"), Steve MacManus has decided to take a stroll through the fiction section with the strangely titled "The Sheerglam Conspiracy", although it's clear his roots are still firmly planted in the golden years of British comics. After all, they do say you should write what you know, and Steve knows comics.
The book is set in the 1970s, at the offices of Goodenough Publications, who produce several big selling weekly UK comics such as Whaddagoal!, Frightful and Patsy (for girls, naturally). The readers are intoduced to the variety of staff and comics through new girl and aspiring artist Sinead, as she does a turn on each comic and is introduced to the odd buggers that create it.
Underneath it all we have Gloria SheerGlam, head of the Patsy team and a formidable lady to boot. She has plans to enlist Sinead into her cult that worships Wagner (not John) and Hitler whilst dressing in Liederhosen (hence the odd cover). Seriously, this is pretty bonkers stuff. Meanwhile there's the standard inter office shenanigans as well as a pair of genius Scotsmen locked in a room whilst creating a super secret new comic that will blow away rivals Tartan Comics.
Naturally, much of this is drawn from Steve's own experiences of working withing the offices of a comic publisher during the golden age, although hopefully not the cult part. The style is very similar to that of Pat Mills, whose "Serial Killer" books are set in the same type of place. Whilst Mills' books are more densely plotted, both authors seem to agree that comics in those days were made by a bunch of sex mad perverts with only a slight grip on sanity and reality.
The SherGlam Conspiracy is an entertaining book, made more so if you are a student of British comics history or are of an age to remember buying the sort of comics it describes. It's funny and completely bonkers in equal measure, and if you are happy to let some of the more off the wall plot points go on their merry way I'm sure you'll find it a fun read, as I did. It's not that long a book so doesn't outstay it's welcome, and the ending sets up volume 2 nicely, after which you get some sample scripts from the stories you've just read about, which is a nice touch.
A solid, entertaining first novel, The SheerGlam Conspiracy should be devoured hungrily by anyone who wants a nostalgic romp through the 1970s British comics scene.
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