Friday 30 April 2010

Pithy Reviews of the Comics I Read Last Night

I just emailed these to Mart, but I thought I'd post them here as well, slightly embellished:

Brightest Day #0. This performed the miraculous feat of setting up storylines for lots and lots of characters but leaving me with absolutely no interest whatsoever in following any of those storylines, despite previously having had some interest in Aquaman and the Flash and one or two of the other characters featured herein. Well done Geoff Johns. I was mildly intrigued by the new Green Arrow series advertised at the back though. Don't ask me why.

#7. This was a bit 'talky', but once the explanations were out of the way, it ended quite well. I shall persist with this series, although I had to get this latest issue in St. Albans (on a day trip prior to being on a panel about Dan Dare at the University of Hertfordshire) as my local comic shop didn't have it. So maybe I shan't persist. Love that cover though. Well done Jeff Smith.

Unwritten #12. This was quite amusing, a twisted take on Winnie the Pooh. Bit of a bobbins ending though. Must try harder Mike Carey. See me after.


I've just found out there's no new episode of Lost tonight. I was looking forward to that too.



You wait ages for a copy of Plunder Squad, and then two turn up almost at once:

That's a 1974 UK Coronet edition of the book – the first and only British printing – which I nabbed on eBay last week. I got it just in case the US hardback I bought didn't make it past the Icelandic volcano, but it did, so now I have two editions. Whoops. The paperback's in good shape, although the spine's very creased, so the pages aren't quite as firm as they could be. It'll have to be read carefully. I'll probably stick it back on eBay when I'm done with it, so anyone who's interested in taking it off my hands down the line, let me know...

Thursday 29 April 2010

Comic Questionnaire!

Stolen from Mart!

1. Did you read comics as a kid?

I did. I can remember having The Beano bought for me from an early age, as well as reading the likes of Whizzer & Chips, The Dandy, and even the girls' comics my sister used to get, like Bunty. There were some great stories in those – I remember one about this weird mirror that turned everyone who looked into it into an evil(ish) reverse person. I've been trying to work out what that story was for years... I also used to get the weekly black and white Spider-Man comic Marvel UK published. I think I used to buy that myself from the local newsagent.

2. Who bought you your first comic?
I think my dad used to buy Beano for me. It would be delivered every Saturday along with the paper. Same with 2000 AD when I switched to that slightly later.

3. Did you take any time away from comics? Why?
There was a period from about 1989 to 1998 when I fell out of comics completely, chiefly because I was also into music and became much more interested in going to gigs and then, through the '90s when I was a music journalist, to clubs. Sex (well, some) and drugs and rock 'n' roll (well, dance music) distracted me from comics.

4. What brought you back into comics?
I happened to wander into a comic shop in Camden one day and bought the first issues of Marvel's Heroes Return comics, when their characters came back from the Heroes Reborn universe. Avengers, Iron Man and Thor I think it was. Pretty soon after that I was hooked again.

5. Do you prefer getting comics monthly or in trades?
Monthly. A big part of the attraction for me with comics is their serialized nature. I like that weekly-trip-to-the-comic-shop fix. Although I buy fewer comics these days, so it's not always weekly. But I'll pick up collections and graphic novels too.

6. Do you know the name of your Local Comic Shop (LCS)?
Dave's in Brighton.

7. Does your LCS know your name?
Nope, although a couple of them recognise me when I go in.

8. Do you own any old number 1 comics (must date before 1980)?
Hmm... a few, yeah. At one point I did have some great old Neal Adams X-Mens and Steranko X-Mens and Captain Americas (not number 1s, I know, but still...), but I flogged them a while ago. Now I think I only have a few things from the '70s I picked up more recently, like Steve Gerber's Guardians of the Galaxy and Omega the Unknown, like that.

9. Do you own any original comic art?
No, just a few signed graphic novels.

10. Do you bag and board your comics?
Not really these days. But the comics I have in my mum and dad's loft – thousands of the buggers – are mostly bagged and in some cases boarded.

11. Where do you store your comics?
See above, and also in the top of the wardrobe in my flat. There's a huge amount of space up there, so that's more than you'd think...

12. How many comics do you read right now, in either floppy or trade format?
Something like ten or so comics per month, including Captain America, New Avengers, Batman and Robin, Stumptown, Rasl, Walking Dead, Unwritten, Invincible Iron Man and Ex Machina. And I'll get a new graphic novel every few months; I just picked up Dan Clowes' Wilson, for instance.

13. What would be your number one, all-time desert island, favourite comic series?

14. Do you follow comic creators on Twitter?
I follow Ed Brubaker and Brian Michael Bendis, but I rarely remember to log on.

15. Do you have a favourite comic creator?
Ed Brubaker.

16. Do you harbour any aspirations to create your own comics?
Not really. I wrote a script for a friend once, and I used to write and draw my own comics when I was younger, but not anymore.

17. Do you access comic news online, if so where?
Comics Reporter, Journalista, Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, Every Day is Like Wednesday, and Bleeding Cool, although the guy behind that one is a div.

Time to pick sides:

Marvel or DC?
Marvel at first when I was a kid getting into Spider-Man and Captain America. Then DC. Then Marvel when I got back into comics, then DC for a while, and now mostly Marvel again.

Superman or Batman?
Probably Batman, but I've followed both at various times.

Spider-Man or Wolverine?
Spidey I guess, although I don't read any of those godawful current retro Amazing Spider-Mans. It's just dated.

Iron Fist or Luke Cage?
I used to like Iron Fist years ago, but now Luke Cage is in New Avengers I follow him more. But I'm not that arsed about either of 'em really.

Nick Fury normal or Nick Fury Sam Jackson?
Nick Fury normal.

Spandex or real life stories?
Bit of both. Spandex for that weekly serialized fix, real life other times.

Golden Age or Silver Age or Modern Age?
Modern Age. Golden and Silver Age comics are fun, but I prefer the more sophisticated approach of today's comics. Well, the good ones anyway (see question 12). The large majority of today's comics are pretty workmanlike.

Digital or paper?

Gotham or New York?
New York, 'cos it's real and full of comics shops (and book shops – that's where I'll be going next time I'm over there).

Hero or villain?
Kang the Conqueror.

Cape or no cape?
No cape.

Cowl or domino mask?
Domino mask.

I splurged.

Not only did I get most of the comics I wanted this week (predictably, they didn't have Stumptown #3; I guess it'll be Ebay for that), but I also got the issue of Unwritten I missed from two weeks ago 'cos I didn't go to the comic shop that week 'cos there that was the only comic I wanted (there was one copy sitting there, which, considering I buy Unwritten from my local comic shop every month, means it was simply waiting for me; thanks for waiting, Unwritten). And not only that, this came in too:

The first new Dan Clowes book in an age. And it's all original material too – previous Clowes books have consisted of comics already published in his Eightball comic series (Ghost World, Ice Haven). His David Boring is one of my favourite comics ever, right up there alongside Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde, Miller and Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, Eddie Campbell's How to Be an Artist and Mike Carey and Peter Gross' Lucifer. So I'm really looking forward to reading Wilson. It's a lovely book too – the size of an old British annual (as Paul Gravett has pointed out) and beautifully printed, Clowes' linework and colours looking gorgeous.


Plunder Squad by Richard Stark

The vagaries of international mail couldn't stop it. Icelandic volcanoes couldn't stop it. I've been hinting about it for weeks and now it's finally here:

A first US edition of Richard Stark's Plunder Squad, the fifteenth Parker novel, published in hardback by Random House in 1972. Took a while to track down a copy I could afford – the cheapest copy on AbeBooks, ignoring the non-existent listing for one at £50 (believe me, I checked), is over £120 for an ex-library copy – but eventually I did, and it's now in my sweaty paws. It's a nice copy: not ex-library, the only defect is a water stain to the lower part of the back of the jacket. For what I paid, I can live with that.

And it means I now have a copy of every one of the first sixteen Parker novels. There's still a few particular editions of those novels I'd like to get hold of – an Allison & Busby hardback of The Rare Coin Score, for example – but I can take my time over those. And there's a few Parkers from the second run of books I'll have to pick up at some point, but I'm reading Parker #7, The Split, at the moment, so plenty of time to secure those.

Mind you, I still need to track down the three Grofield novels following The Damsel... A collector's work is never done...

Wednesday 28 April 2010

The Coronet Parkers

Here's another exceedingly dull discovery for you. For some reason I'd got it into my head that when UK publisher Hodder Fawcett/Coronet published Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's Parker novels in paperback in the late sixties/early seventies – the first time they'd been published in the UK – they were issued in the correct order, i.e. the order they were originally written and published in the US. But a recent win on eBay of two Coronet paperbacks – The Rare Coin Score and The Green Eagle Score – has proved otherwise.

Coronet did start off with the first book in the series, The Hunter (originally published in the US in 1962), except they went with the book's more famous title, Point Blank, to tie in with the 1967 John Boorman/Lee Marvin movie. As the Coronet edition of Point Blank was published in the same year as the film, the publisher opted for a movie tie-in cover:

Thereafter, I'd always figured the publisher had carried on with the series in its original order, with The Man with the Getaway Face – retitled The Steel Hit – coming next. I also thought that after the movie cover of Point Blank, Coronet has settled on a snazzy but simple double-cover design for the rest of the series, where the titles of the novels could be glimpsed through a bullet hole:

And indeed Coronet did publish all of the rest of the Parker books in that format – eventually. But before that, immediately following Point Blank, Coronet actually opted for the ninth Parker novel, The Rare Coin Score, for their second release in 1968, with a completely different cover design:

Why did they do this? Well I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing The Rare Coin Score was the most recent Parker novel at the time (it was published in the US in 1967), so perhaps Coronet wanted to stay in touch with the US schedule and stop any American copies of the book coming into the UK and eating into their sales. That's a common publishing strategy. As for why they chose that design, well, it's just really, really lovely. I have no idea who the illustrator is there – it doesn't say in the book – so if anyone knows, feel free to comment.

After The Rare Coin Score, Coronet next published the tenth Parker novel, The Green Eagle Score, in the same cover style, also in 1968 (originally published in the US in 1967):

Another classy cover there. So those are the two paperbacks I won on eBay. After The Green Eagle Score, I'm not sure how many other of the Parker books Coronet published in that manner. They may have issued the next Parker, The Black Ice Score, in that style, and thanks to The Violent World of Parker I know for sure they published The Sour Lemon Score that way:

They also released a movie version of the seventh Parker novel, The Seventh, as The Split in 1969, to tie in with that year's Gordon Flemyng film:

After that, I guess they switched to the double-cover design for the Parkers they'd yet to publish, and reprinted the novels they'd already published in those double-covers:

So there you go. Anyway, it's nice to have those first UK printings of The Rare Coin Score and The Green Eagle Score. I think they're pretty rare; I've certainly never seen those first printings online anywhere else. Of course, now I'll have to keep an eye out for the other Parker novel(s?) in that style...

Volvanos permitting, it's The List!

I think there'll be a new comics delivery on Thursday. Apparently last week's comics, which were delayed by the Icelandic volcano, came in to UK comic shops yesterday. But as non-existent regular readers already know, there was nothing in last week's delivery I wanted. However, I did get terribly excited prior to establishing there was nothing I wanted because I mistakenly read this week's list of new comics instead and thought there were five comics I wanted to get, a figure that's practically unheard of these days (for me).

Well now it's this week, and assuming the delivery gets through, those five comics are still on the list. Sing Hosanna! And here they are:

Captain America #605
Invincible Iron Man #25
New Avengers #64
Stumptown #3
Walking Dead #71

So there you go. I also missed The Unwritten #12 from a couple of weeks ago, so if that's still around I'll pick it up. Of the new comics, I missed #2 of Stumptown, which is the Greg Rucka-written mystery/detective comic, but I just ordered a copy on eBay (oddly enough from a comic shop near where I used to live in north London, which is interweb-only these days I think), so if my comic shop has #3, I'll pick it up.

The end.