Every Panel Ever: Panel Ten

What’s the best way to get people interested in comics? Show them some comics. Every day The Spire posts a comics panel, with the ultimate goal of one day having posted every single panel which has ever been written, drawn, edited, inked, coloured, and lettered. It’s, y’know, obviously going to happen.

Here’s why people like Spider-Woman now.

epe008

From Kelly Sue DeConnick and Stefano Caselli as part of their run on Avengers Assemble (which really picked up once they came onboard – I think this might have come from their very first issue, actually), here’s the reason why Spider-Woman went from being the sad-faced girlfriend of Hawkeye to entertaining character once more.

After years of depressing stories dropped on her during Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers run, Spider-Woman’s last low came when she was paired up with Hawkeye – seemingly just because there was nothing left to do with her, so she may as well be developed as a relationship rather than a character herself. Initially popular during the Avengers run, Secret Invasion revealed the character we’d been following for years wasn’t actually Jessica Drew herself – it was a Skrull disguised as her.

Which meant we were then subsequently reintroduced to the ACTUAL Jessica Drew Spider-Woman in a quick-cancelled ongoing series from Bendis and Alex Maleev. Here she was suicidal, alone and confused, and that characterisation moved along as she rejoined the Avengers. She’d had a lot of fan support, but blurred into the background as more and more characters joined the Avengers in the lead-in to ‘Avengers Vs X-Men’.

Which is where DeConnick enters the picture. A Spider-Woman fan, she immediately put the character in her Avengers team – alongside Carol Danvers, at whose side DeConnick placed her frequently. Everything was wiped to one side, as the character was rebuilt one step at a time – including, as seen here, her sense of fun and humour.

The upshot? Spider-Woman is now popular enough once more to have a go at a solo series – albeit one which has Greg Land on interiors, but still. All it takes is one panel to turn around the fortunes of a character who’d fallen into personality limbo. Just one panel!

Or, well, three, I suppose:

 

epe0081

Alert! Dungeon Fun 3 Cover, Release Date Announced

Come gather round the keening bell, people of Midgard! Or however Thor likes to rally the troops. If you do happen to have a keening bell, I would suggest that you follow his advice, however, for news of high value has been revealed to the internet: Dungeon Fun 3 will be released at Thought Bubble this November, and the cover is thus:

dungeonfun3

From Neil Slorance and Colin Bell, Dungeon Fun has been perhaps my favourite comic book of the last few years. They publish it through DoGooder Comics, with the first issue coming out last year and part two earlier in 2014. It’s the story of a girl called Fun Mudlifter, who happens upon a sword, nicks a shield, and heads out into the world of the monster dungeon in order to fight some creatures, bicker with cretins, and generally sass things up a whole load.

It’s really fun, brilliantly entertaining, and all kinds of other things. Now that you have gathered by the keening bell – ring it! Tell everybody else this news. Dungeon Fun returns in November!

Review: Blood Blokes #4 by Adam Cadwell

The story of a group of vampires living in modern-day Manchester, Blood Blokes is written and drawn by Adam Cadwell and published by Great Beast. This review is based on a physical copy I bought.

bloodblokes1

“Contemporary vampires” isn’t a particularly new concept, having been played with by various generations over the years. Blood Blokes, for everything, doesn’t pretend like it’s revolutionising comics by bringing monsters to Manchester, and is all the better for it. Despite the foreboding cover, issue #4 is a pretty inviting issue, bringing you straight into the household where all the main vampires – amongst them new, just-turned vampire Vincent – live together. Well, not live, as they’re all dead. But you know what I mean.

In terms of tone, Blood Blokes plays in the same sort of world as something like ‘Being Human’. The series is unflinchingly realistic, and can flit to brutal at a moment’s notice – but for the most part, ‘realism’ means ‘naturalistic’. This isn’t about piling grit on the characters so much as it is about capturing everyday speech and putting it in the mouths of the most unlikely protagonists. Issue #4, for example, is consistently conversational in a light-hearted manner, as the characters discuss various day to day interests with one another. That these interests intermittently flick to things like ‘drinking blood’ and other vampire things, that provides an uncanny feeling which settles across each scene.

Cadwell largely decides to follow all the standard tropes of vampire stories – Anne Rice’s take on them seems to be the source for how they operate here – which means the book throws most exposition to one side, realising that readers don’t need it. This gives the book a stronger sense of pace than many other vampire comics have, and allows Cadwell to focus more on the characters than the mythos. With more space freed up for this, you start to really see how much he leans on visual storytelling to convey ideas and feelings across for the reader, at several points holding onto a small moment in time so you can see the subtle shifts in facial expression.

bloodblokes2

This is perhaps the strongest art of Cadwell’s career thus far – granted, much of his work has been autobiographical and therefore composed on a daily basis, whereas Blood Blokes is a more composed piece drawn over a longer period of time – and you can sense that thought has gone into each page layout. He seems more interested in trying out things like two-page spreads here, and there are some really interesting choices for where he leaves a panel wordless. The above spread perhaps gives you a good glimpse of the sequences where he sets a mood, establishing Manchester before diving inside one of the buildings to explore it from the perspective of the characters.

It’s also a really funny issue, sharing out the jokes between script and art. The best scene is a wordless one, in fact, where a character throws something into the Manchester canal – hey, that’s what the canal is for, let’s face it – without a care in the world for what he’s doing. I read the first issue a while back, but there’s been a break for me since, and the characters felt fairly distinct from one another here. It certainly helps that one of them (the guy on the cover) has amazing hair.bloodblokes3

Of course, it also has to be noted that this is an issue which introduces a part of Manchester called ‘The Spire’, in what is almost certainly a clear tribute to this very site..

As with Being Human, the realism of the storytelling means that there isn’t a particular sense of tension or panic as of yet. Things roll along in a normal sort of manner until all of a sudden a crisis breaks out of nowhere, and the characters suddenly have to scramble and sort things out. That does make for a more unpredictable comic, and brings out the surprises at the most unlikely times – it also means the comic doesn’t have the regular flow of a single-issue piece. There isn’t a build up to the last page – there are instead ebbs and flows throughout the span of the issue.

It’s entertaining for that, though, and I think it’ll probably play out best once collected with all six issues together. It’s fun; a light-natured and then suddenly dark-hearted comic, mixing classic vampire mythology with the bluntness of modern-day life in t’North.

 

 

The Spire has an open submission policy, and accept review copies via the email address on the right. If you have a comic of your own you’d like to see reviewed on the site, please feel free to send it across – bear in mind that I’m going to give an honest opinion on the book, though! Reviews at The Spire can be up as well as down, etc etc.

Every Panel Ever: Panel Nine

What’s the best way to get people interested in comics? Show them some comics. Every day The Spire posts a comics panel, with the ultimate goal of one day having posted every single panel which has ever been written, drawn, edited, inked, coloured, and lettered. It’s, y’know, obviously going to happen.

Ever heard of a comic called Casanova?

epe2

 

Doctor Who as written by Jeff Noon, Casanova is a series which frequently falls back in on itself, sometimes on purpose, as it offers what the creative team feel is the most comic-book of comic-book storylines. That’s Casanova on the right there, outright stating his opinion on such matters.

Much of the comic is centred around him being dragged into things he doesn’t want to do, by people he doesn’t want to spend time with and for reasons he doesn’t really comprehend. At every page, Matt Fraction, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba bombard him with yet more sensory overload he doesn’t need in his life, and he makes sure to let them know whenever possible.

Sometimes, of course, he jumps into things himself – and that’s where the comic really starts to get daft.

RIP Jim Petrie, Legendary ‘Minnie the Minx’ Artist

Cartoonist Jim Petrie, best known for his long-running association with The Beano comic, passed away last week at the age of 82.

petrie1

Petrie took over the Minnie the Minx strip from creator Leo Baxendale, and went on to illustrate over 2000 stories with the character, a career lasting more than 40 years. His was a definitive take on the character, a rebellious girl who defies her parents wishes at every turn and wants nothing more than to eat giant plates of chips, eggs, and sausages.

His first Minnie story was in 1961, his last in 2001 – meaning he was also ‘my’ Minnie the Minx artist, as I grew up reading the Beano during the last 90s. For me, there was only ever Petrie’s Minnie the Minx – and she was an indelible role model for every aspiring rebel.

He worked with DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano, right up until his retirement in 2001. In his very last Minnie strip, he decided to give her a taste of justice, as only an artist can:

petrie2

Beano editor in chief Mike Sterling commented

He’d been a teacher by profession, and became known as ‘the only teacher who could control Minnie the Minx’.

DownTheTubes remember Petrie in their fantastically detailed obituary here.

Every Panel Ever: Panel Eight

What’s the best way to get people interested in comics? Show them some comics. Every day The Spire posts a comics panel, with the ultimate goal of one day having posted every single panel which has ever been written, drawn, edited, inked, coloured, and lettered. It’s, y’know, obviously going to happen.

What’s the best way to introduce a character? Do you do it by having them make a dramatic entrance? Well here’s a quick lesson from Al Ewing and Henry Flint, taken from the pages of 2000AD. They have a character called Zombo, a firmly polite zombie, and when he walks into frame he simply says this:

zombo

Three sentences, eight words, everything you need to know about the character. Perfect.

%d bloggers like this: