Tuesday, February 2, 2016

THE ALL STAR COMICS 5TH YEAR IN BUSINESS/ 1ST ANNIVERSARY AT 53 QUEEN ST $500 GIFT VOUCHER GIVEAWAY!


February 4th will see us celebrate our FIFTH year of selling and celebrating with the city of Melbourne all things comic books, while later in the month, the 20th of February marks our first year in our Queen St location!  Two exciting dates and milestones for us. Of course as important as it is for us, the only reason we are still here is because of the continuing support we get from people just like YOU!

So like last year as a small way to show our appreciation, we want to give you all the chance to win a birthday present from us!


Our gift to one of you will be a voucher for $500 for you to spend on whatever you like in the store!


Now how do YOU get a slice of this excellent prize?

From February 4th until the 20th of February, every time you spend $50 you will receive a raffle ticket and go into the draw to win! Spend $100, that's two tickets and so on and so forth! Just picking up your weekly comics could score you a further $500 to go crazy with in the store!

All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and the winner will be drawn at random.
Entries end at close of business on February 20th and winner will be drawn and announced the next day.

We still can't believe that after five years how the Melbourne comic reading, collecting and creating community has embrace us and we couldn't be more thankful. We are still doing our very best to give you the best comic retail experience possible so that we continue to earn your already loyal support now and for many years to come!

Best of luck to everyone and here's to the 4th AND 20th of Feb! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

DEADPOOL DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.


DEADPOOL HITS CINEMAS ON FEBRUARY 11 and to celebrate the release of everyone's favourite Merc With A Mouth, we’re giving you the chance to win one of 10 in-season double passes to see the film!

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is tell us, "Deadpool hasn't always been the most popular comic book character but now he is everywhere. What is it you love about Deadpool ?"


Terms and Conditions:

-Only entries made via the comments on the Facebook post will be included in the draw.
-All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and winners will be drawn at random.
-Entries close 6pm Monday the 8th of February and winners will be announced Tuesday the 9th.
-Tickets will only be available to pick up from the store and winners must produce photo ID upon pick up.
-Tickets MUST be picked up no later than a week after the draw. Any remaining tickets after this date will be given away at our discretion to make sure they don't go to waste.


DEADPOOL - IN CINEMAS FEBRUARY 11

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR FEBRUARY 2ND


Good day to you.

Perhaps I’m rebounding from my Bowie grief but I fell madly in love with Savages this week, literally a fortnight after I rather stupidly and melodramatically proclaimed I’d probably never like another “new” musical act ever again. I assume you cool kids are way ahead of this old man on the Savages bandwagon, but if not, here, let me give you a hand up.

Okay, comics. But music too! Synchronicity rears its head.




COMIC OF THE WEEK : THE FIFTH BEATLE: THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY

By Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson w/ Kyle Baker 
Published By Dark Horse 

Confession time: I am far from the world’s biggest Beatles fan. I find the old stuff annoyingly chirpy and twee and even the later stuff, while pioneering, still just too playful for my tastes. The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” for example, may not match the sheer creativity of “Tomorrow Never Knows” but it’s just a way better song, IMO. Different strokes and all that…

Okay, so with that disclaimer out of the way, you’ll understand why it took me a while to read The Fifth Beatle, a bio-comic of the group’s manager and all around business mastermind, Brian Epstein. The book was lauded as one of the best of 2013 yet still I didn’t listen to critics, I just shrugged my shoulders and figured I’d get around to it when I got around to it.

Well, I got around to it. I really should have way sooner.

Charting Epstein’s rise from record store owner to manager of the biggest band the world has ever seen, The Fifth Beatle is a loving and lovely tribute to a man who’s mission to make The Beatles “bigger than Elvis” never wavered. Epstein’s charm and dedication shines through for the entire journey of the book – a book that rips through the years but never feels rushed, Tiwary’s breakneck pacing perfectly capturing the cultural tornado that Epstein’s charges were at the centre of. More than that, however, The Fifth Beatle is the story a warm, kind and generous gay man living in a time (not that long ago at all) when homosexuality was considered not just a serious aberration but a criminal offence.

On a purely visual level alone, the book is superb. Robinson evokes the period(s) effortlessly and his representation of the whirlwind that was ‘60s fashion is painstaking. The suits, the dresses, the parties, the décor – it’s all here, drawn with such vibrancy that you may never have to watch an episode of Mad Men again. That very same playfulness that I find too saccharine in the bulk of their tunes is caught on the page in Robinson’s lively, bouncy, representations of The Beatles and Epstein – art that is just perfectly on the right side of caricature. All of the group’s famous members are immediately and consistently recognisable. His Liverpool is an aquatic dystopia, seemingly flooding with teeming downpours, white blades of rain slicing through the dark nights. It’s Gotham-like in its grimness. Around Epstein himself, however, all is (for the most part) light; his optimism and exuberance alone cheering up almost every place he’s found. The fact that such joy and creativity came out of this place is something that literally just stuck me writing this, cleverly underscored by Robinson’s moody work.

There is loneliness here too, however. Epstein, by necessity, seeking romance in inappropriate ways and places, searching for some companionship and reciprocation of all the love he had to give and never finding it, gives the book a sad, bittersweet tinge. Epstein’s solitude in rare quiet moments when the Beatles’ maelstrom falls quiet and “the screams die down” provides a compelling and touching explanation for his increasing drug dependency and workaholism. The perfect visual representation of his isolation, rendered beautifully by Robinson, is a moment where Lennon, McCartney and their partners peer out of a limo window at Epstein, whose reflection perfectly captures him, content at the success but ghostlike in actual presence. Comics. That right there is just one more example of what makes the medium so special.

Although Epstein cuts his business deals with grace, a smile on his face and genuine loyalty to his charges, the ugliness of the music business is also present, perfectly captured in a scene in which Epstein has breakfast with Col. Tom Parker, Elvis’ gluttonous, self-serving manager. Parker is almost Bizarro-Epstein here – greedy, ugly, corpulent. It’s a beautiful sequence, even if Robinson perhaps goes a little overboard in visually demonstrating Parker’s more demonic aspects.

Epstein’s love for the group seems only matched by Tiwary and Robinson’s love for Epstein. Tiwary, in his afterword, describes The Fifth Beatle as “his life’s work” and Robinson is clearly drawing on another level here, infusing every page with passion and skill and just the right amount of surrealism. The Fifth Beatle is a wonderful book and, if like me, you had some resistance to it, you should pick up a copy as it’s a true, authentic labour of comic book love and a beautiful biography of one of pop culture’s most important historical figures.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : LITTLE MAN IN THE BIG HOUSE 
By Paul Tucker & Ryan K. Lindsay 
Challenger Comics 

Sigh. I’m so tired of people stopping me in the street and asking either, “Are you Lupin III?” or “Can you please stop blathering on about existentialism and just give me the maximum pulpy thrills in the most minimal of reading time?”

There’s not much I can do about the former except hide behind my beard. But the latter? Relax. I got your back.

Free to read at Challenger Comics is “Little Man in the Big House” by writer and local boy done good (Canberra, but close enough) Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Paul Tucker of IDW’s Tet.

Macbeth is the hero formerly known as Little Man who now works as a guard in Flinders Prison, a supervillain Big House. A riot breaks out and only Macbeth’s ability to manipulate size can help. How many bad guys can he beat up in twelve pages? Tune in and find out.





COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL: HEAVY METAL FEBRUARY 1979 

Quite a few silent comics in this the February 1979 issue of HM. It truly is, as stated in the editorial, a “gold mime” of material. Okay, so that’s a pretty lame pun, so let’s just move forward and never mention it again.

An ad for Bambu rolling papers kicks us off in a perfect piece of advertising and publishing aesthetic agreeing they are a perfect match and giving each other a warm hug. Following on from a rather lusty chapter of “…Arabian Nights” is the first of the silent pieces, an untitled story by none other than Yves Chaland who, coincidentally, is scheduled to be the creator of (probably) next week’s Comic of the Week, the collected Freddy Lombard. Partly responsible for the Atomic Style (more on this later), Chaland’s Lombard books, created between ’84-’89, were homages to Herge’sTintin and in particular the ligne claire (or clear line) style Herge developed. However, this untitled piece, drawn in 1977, is unrecognisable when compared to the Lombard books.

Look, here’s a page from Freddy Lombard: 

And here’s the final page from this untitled HM story: 


You’d swear these two pages were created by two different artists with different interests and aesthetic end goals in mind, no?

Over these six remarkably illustrated pages, Chaland works in a much more realistic style, in the vein of Bilal and Moebius, intricately cross-hatching many of his panels. Yet, he’s clearly playing here, alternating between this fine, inky depth and stripping away all texture to reveal his bold outline. He even squeezes in a four panel newspaper-style cartoon at the bottom of his third page. This is an artist experimenting with his medium, with his levels of comfort, with which direction to take his vision. It’s like watching him work out. The end result is baffling but lovely stuff (there is no real plot to speak of. I’m not glossing over anything here) created just several years before he would hone the beauty of ligne claire over the course of the Lombard books and a cruel reminder of just how gifted he was and how young he died. But more on that next week.

Mercado’s far-out “Telefield” breaks the silence as our space hippies discover that last issue’s “parapsychic machine” was just an insidious ploy to sell miniature take-home versions of the contraption and its narcotic effects quickly spread citywide. I love Mercado’s grungy retro-futurism and ‘60s sense of longhair, druggy free love but I can imagine many a reader growing impatient with his already (by this point) outdated sense of transcendental SF.

Philippe Caza’s striking depictions of cosmic femininity return in “Hydrogenesis,” bringing the silence back to the issue. A naked female alien is birthed from some viscous cosmic fluid. Pulling herself loose, she explodes out into space, mercurial drops of her birth-stuff floating freely. She then herself explodes into the same droplets, part of the cosmos now, part of the creation process of the universe as planets form from her womb, I know, it all sounds just so trite, but Caza’s comics about cosmic mothers are just so exquisitely drawn in near obsessive pointillism that I almost defy you not to feel something, anything as you stare at the almost Dali-level surrealism of this exploding Goddess.

There’s more “Airtight Garage,” some more Paul Kirchner who’s always welcome and two from Bilal including the continuing “Exterminator 17,” and more “1996, ”but let’s conclude our look at this issue with another silent piece, the loaded post-colonial “Quetzal” by Sabine and Halmos (I tried to dig up some more info and these two, but was unlucky).

In “Quetzal” an Atzec girl sees a shimmering light. She approaches, touches it, then crosses herself believing it to be an aspect of the Christian God. She brings a family member to the light and soon several women are on their knees praying before it. The girl tells her Spanish colonial overlords about this godly aspect, bringing them from their grim, dim, house of Christianity out into the open. At first they laugh at her, but once in front of whatever this ball of light is, they very quickly believe that not only was the girl telling the truth, but that she is somehow responsible for what they believe to be satanic in nature. This all becomes a little hard to keep reading as the girl is stripped and beaten by these men of god, tortured and then burned at the stake in front of her friends and family. The end.

A truly grim indictment of post-colonial attitudes and the actions of pious holy men, “Quetzal” is obviously not an easy, cheery read. And what of its title? A Quetzal is actually a beautifully plumaged bird, considered one of the most beautiful of all birds, in fact. Does the title refer to the ball of light or the girl? Or does it refer to the feathered serpent, the mythological Quetzal (bonus awesome movie here!) that Aztecs believe was related to the gods of, among other things, knowledge? Whatever your take, “Quetzal” is powerful stuff.




COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : PEPLUM, VON BLUTCH 

A real standout on The Guardian’s list of 2016 comics (as mentioned last week), is Peplum by revered French artist Christian Hincker, better known as Blutch. The only other work of his thus far translated into English is So Long Silver Screen, but with Peplum generally regarded as his masterpiece, we can hope that a lot more follow and in fairly short order. Set in ancient Rome, Peplum looks beautifully brooding and apocalyptic. From the product description:

“At the edge of the empire, a gang of bandits discovers the body of a beautiful woman in a cave; she is encased in ice but may still be alive. One of the bandits, bearing a stolen name and with the frozen maiden in tow, makes his way toward Rome—seeking power, or maybe just survival, as the world unravels.”

Let’s have a flip through, eh? 


See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you’ll likely never read. He’s the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Comics For Wednesday 3rd of February





What what?!? Welcome to Feb folks! After your neck snaps back in place from the speed of January flying by lets have at this week New Comic List. Oh, wait...does that mean our birthday is coming up soon too?! More on that later in the week!

The Deadpool movie is nearly here, so close you can almost already see it in your mind but until it's release get your Pool fill with the latest mini, DEADPOOL MERCS FOR MONEY #1. Also if you were that kid asking for a PG-13 Deadpool flick here is the comic for you, MARVEL UNIVERSE DEADPOOL AND WOLVERINE DIGEST TP. Miles Morales is hands down the single best thing to happen to Spider-Man in years, celebrate him joining the regular MU with Bendis and Pichelli on SPIDER-MAN #1. Beautiful pastel colours, stunning art in a odd surreal setting with story by Emma Rios, MIRROR #1 is definitely looking good. What happens when anthropomorphic characters are sent to the darkness of their prison system and can't deal with the harshness of their new surroundings? They break out into song is what, the only way to get through the day in KENNEL BLOCK BLUES #1. With new episodes of this long cancelled cartoon, replace that Gir shaped hole in your heart with the excellent, INVADER ZIM TP VOL 01. A stunning indie release, MEAN GIRLS CLUB ONE SHOT is just that, a gang of girls that are very, VERY mean! Skottie Young fans can get their fill of cute Marvel madness in the collection, GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL AVX HC. And if Marvel isn't your think but you are still keen keen for some super cuteness try Dustin Nguyen's from Descender doing pre-teen DC's Trinity dealing with the dramas of grade school in SECRET HERO SOCIETY HC VOL 01 STUDY HALL OF JUSTICE. More oddness from the self proclaiming manga classic, JOJOS BIZARRE ADV BATTLE TENDENCY HC VOL 02MANIFEST DESTINY TP VOL 03 following the continuing exploits of the troubled discovery expedition of the New World with the most horrific trek yet. Music Super Gods deicide mystery continues with Gillen and McKelvie's hit WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 03. Friendship and fighting woodland fiends is always in fashion with the latest collection of the runaway hit series, LUMBERJANES TP VOL 03.

Spot something here you just got to have? Just let us know and we'll get you sorted.

MARVEL
A-FORCE #2
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #7
CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON #6
CAPTAIN MARVEL #2
CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #5
DEADPOOL MERCS FOR MONEY #1 (OF 5)
DOCTOR STRANGE #5
GUARDIANS OF INFINITY #3
HOWARD THE DUCK #4
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #6
NOVA #4
OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN #2 (OF 5)
ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT #2
SCARLET WITCH #3
SPIDER-MAN #1
SPIDEY #3
UNCANNY AVENGERS #5
UNCANNY X-MEN #3
VISION #4

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #49 NEAL ADAMS VAR ED
BATGIRL #48
BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #18
BATMAN BEYOND #9
BATMAN EUROPA #4 (OF 4)
DETECTIVE COMICS #49 NEAL ADAMS VAR ED
GREEN ARROW #49 NEAL ADAMS VAR ED
GREEN LANTERN #49 NEAL ADAMS VAR ED
MIDNIGHTER #9
SWAMP THING #2 (OF 6)
WE ARE ROBIN #8

VERTIGO
SHERIFF OF BABYLON #3 (OF 8)
SURVIVORS CLUB #5
UNFOLLOW #4

BOOM
GIANT DAYS #11
KENNEL BLOCK BLUES #1
KLAUS #3
TOIL & TROUBLE #6 (OF 6)
WOODS #20

DARK HORSE
ANGEL AND FAITH SEASON 10 #23
BARB WIRE #8
JOE GOLEM OCCULT DETECTIVE #4
LARA CROFT FROZEN OMEN #5 (OF 5)
LONE WOLF 2100 #2 (OF 4)
MYSTERY GIRL #3

DYNAMITE
BOBS BURGERS ONGOING #8
TRAIN CALLED LOVE #5 (OF 10)
VOLTRON FROM THE ASHES #5 (OF 6)

IDW
AMAZING FOREST #2
DONALD DUCK #10
EIGHTH SEAL #3 (OF 5)
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #11
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER #25
UNCLE SCROOGE #11
VICTORIE CITY #2 (OF 4)
WALT DISNEY COMICS & STORIES #728

IMAGE
MIRROR #1
NAILBITER #20
PAPER GIRLS #5
PRETTY DEADLY #8
SAINTS #5
SHUTTER #18
SPAWN #260
VELVET #13
WALKING DEAD #151

ONI
EXODUS LIFE AFTER #3
RICK & MORTY #10

VALIANT
X-O MANOWAR #44

MISC
CODE PRU #2
GRANT MORRISONS 18 DAYS #8
JOHNNY RED #4 (OF 8)
MEAN GIRLS CLUB ONE SHOT
MERCURY HEAT #7 (MR)
PEEK THE FIRST (ONE SHOT) #1
PRINCELESS RAVEN PIRATE PRINCESS #5
PROVIDENCE #7 (OF 12)
REPLICA #3 (MR)
WAR STORIES #16

TRADES
ADVENTURE TIME SUGARY SHORTS TP VOL 02
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE SC
ANYAS GHOST GN
ART CAMILLA DERRICO HC VOL 03 RAINBOW CHILDREN
AVENGERS BY JONATHAN HICKMAN HC VOL 03
BABY SITTERS CLUB COLOR ED GN VOL 04 CLAUDIA  & ME
BATMAN ARKHAM SCARECROW TP
BEVERLY GN (MR)
BIZARRO TP
BUNNY VS MONKEY GN
CLIVE BARKERS NIGHTBREED TP VOL 02
CONAN TP VOL 18 DAMNED HORDE
DAREDEVIL BY MARK WAID HC VOL 04
DMC GN #2
DRAGONS RIDERS OF BERK COLLECTION TP VOL 01
FUTURE SHOCK ZERO GN
GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL AVX HC
GRUMPY CAT HC VOL 01
HERO CATS TP VOL 03
HINGES TP BOOK 02 PAPER TIGERS
IDENTITY CRISIS TP NEW EDITION
INVADER ZIM TP VOL 01
JLA GODS AND MONSTERS HC
JOJOS BIZARRE ADV BATTLE TENDENCY HC VOL 02
JUDGE DREDD DAILY DREDDS HC VOL 01
LADY RAWHIDE LADY ZORRO TP
LAIKA SC NEW PTG
LUMBERJANES TP VOL 03
MANHATTAN PROJECTS HC VOL 02
MANIFEST DESTINY TP VOL 03
MARVEL UNIVERSE DEADPOOL AND WOLVERINE DIGEST TP
MONSTER TP VOL 07 PERFECT ED URASAWA
MOVIE POSTERS REIMAGINED ALTERNATIVE DESIGNS CULT
NEW SUICIDE SQUAD TP VOL 02 MONSTERS
OXYMORON LOVELIEST NIGHTMARE TP
PREZ TP VOL 01 CORNDOG IN CHIEF
RED SONJA CONAN BLOOD OF A GOD HC
REGULAR SHOW TP VOL 05
SECRET HERO SOCIETY HC VOL 01 STUDY HALL OF JUSTICE
SHERLOCK HOLMES CRIME ALLEYS HC
SIDEKICK TP VOL 02
SKYDOLL DECADE GN
SLAINE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES HC VOL 02
SUPERIOR FOES SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS HC
SWEATERWEATHER HC
TIPPING POINT HC
UNCANNY TP VOL 02
UNCANNY X-MEN HC VOL 01
WHERE IS JAKE ELLIS TP
WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 03

BACK IN STOCK
ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS #1
ALL NEW WOLVERINE #1
HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL 2016 #1
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #3 ART ADAMS 2ND PTG VAR
I HATE FAIRYLAND #1
I HATE FAIRYLAND #2
I HATE FAIRYLAND #3
I HATE FAIRYLAND #4
MS MARVEL #1

POISON IVY CYCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH #1 (OF 6)

Monday, January 25, 2016

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 26TH


Hi.Thanks for tearing yourself away from your public holiday comics reading for a little bit. I’ll try to make it worth your while.

ITEM! Zainab Akhtar is back at it again, this time penning a two-part look ahead to comics 2016 that, frankly, makes mine of a few weeks back look pretty pedestrian. Among highlights I missed and had no idea about are works by the tremendous Dilraj Mann, Blutch and Michael DeForge.  Check out Part One here and Part Two here and keep a pen and paper handy. Zainab’s the best.

ITEM! Fans of reading book-books along with their comic-book cousins should think about picking up
David (John Dies at the End) Wong’s latest, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.  It’s a funny and engaging, if slightly overlong, look at speculative technology and potential superhumanity. I’d give you a plot run-down, but why do that when I can quote from page 361 instead?

“The guy was wearing a camouflage outfit with knee pads, elbow pads, and bafflingly oversized shoulder pads.  The rest was a crisscross pattern of straps and bandoliers full of bullets. Everything else was pouches. So many pouches. His boots had pouches on them…The other four men seemed to be in competition to see who could fit the most pads, blades, and bullets onto their bodies while still remaining ambulatory. Yet none of them had helmets or any other kind of head or eye protection.”


What did that remind you of? Anything like this, perhaps??


Hmmm....

ITEM! The last two 2015 issues of Frontier arrived in my mail last week, with Becca Tobin and Michael DeForge and Becca Tobin handling issues 9 and 10 respectively. DeForge spins the tale of a former radical now working for a real estate developer who puts all of her urban insurgency skills to use infiltrating developing communities and ruining them from within for corporate profit. Tobin’s is the bizarre story of a musician who creates a sentient musical instrument from kitchen ingredients, nails and her own blood. Both are excellent and maintain the ridiculously high standard Frontier has set over the course of its run and with Eleanor Davis looking to kick off 2016s set of issues (as mentioned by Zainab), I’d say we’re in for another excellent year ahead from publishers Youth in Decline.




COMIC OF THE WEEK : FRANK IN THE 3RD DIMENSION 
By Jim Woodring& Charles Barnard 
Published By Fantagraphics 

If you’ve spent any length of time staring at Jim Woodring’s Frank comics and wondering why your brain seems to vibrate, you, like me, were pretty excited by the prospect of Frank in the 3rd Dimension. Well, the book has finally arrived and, incredibly, does not disappoint.

Frank, a “generic anthropomorph” who resembles something like Mickey Mouse reflected in a funhouse mirror, can be both cruel and kind, adventuring across a landscape of archetypes and monsters and critters both cute and grotesque in largely silent adventures and in the process tunnelling his way into bits of your brain you normally need sleep to access.

Along with his faithful “godling” companion, Pupling, Frank’s travels frequently beggar belief and defy description, rolling along with their own bizarre dreamy logic, as he faces down not only his foe Manhog but invasive creatures that alter his body in disturbing ways, alternate versions of himself and the demonic, crescent moon-headed Whim, who is always tempting and luring Frank into strange new places and states of being. Reading Frank is like experiencing the ultimate Cheese Dream, a crazed, cinematic unfurling of your subconscious that stunningly, beautifully throws all manner of contradictory information and imagery at you.

The Frank books are the most hypnotic comics ever made in my opinion, and Woodring has been justly lauded as a psychonaut of his own subconscious. Duncan Trussell has called him a “mystic” (and if you’ve never heard Trussell’s podcast with Woodring, you really must) and Neil Gaiman claims Frank will “re-arrange your consciousness.” It’s difficult for me to disagree with either opinion.

The stakes are raised in Frank in the 3rd Dimension, however, with Charles Barnard taking 32 Frank images and making, with between 200-400 layers per drawing according to his acknowledgments, some of the most eye-poppingly realised 3D I’ve ever seen. This is no gimmick, no Batman: Digital Justice or even the far more recent Crossed 3D, where people and objects seek to pop through two dimensional space clutching a badly-rendered Batarang or a fistful of entrails. With Frank in the 3rd Dimension, Barnard clearly seeks to bring the reader even further into Frank’s world, rather than have him emerge into ours. Forget how detailed it is, on that level alone it’s a success.

The gang’s all here – Frank, Fran, Pupling, Whim, Manhog – in moments of happiness or abject terror or just casually ripping holes in the sky to reveal the universe’s goopy entrails. The best pieces are obviously the most intricate, where the illusion of depth is at its fullest but each page is pretty incredible in its own right. A true labour of love by Barnard, the book also comes with its own groovy pair of Woodring-designed 3D glasses for you to wear during the long hours you may find yourself staring at its pages. The book’s a hit in my house, with Mrs Ashley making her way through Woodring’s visions with the kind of excited exclamation I haven’t heard since she finished reading Preacher.

Frank in the 3rd Dimension kicks comics 2016 off perfectly, so put down that triangle of mouldy stilton, strap those glasses on and get comfortable; this book is a shortcut to a grotesque but mesmerising virtual reality that’s destined to sit on your coffee table forever.



WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : SOME OTHER ANIMAL’S MEAT 

By Emily Carroll 

Emily Carroll releases a new webcomic and all is right with 2016 once more.

Stacey sells Alo Glo, an all-natural range of makeup and moisturising products at terrible Amway-style parties. If that’s not scary enough, she’s allergic to the products she endorses and is frequently repulsed by the human body, most obviously her own. Things take a turn towards the phantasmagorical as Carroll putting her own Gothic spin on body horror and Stacey begins to unravel.

Beautiful art and particularly striking lettering (those word balloons!) highlight “Some Other Animal’s Meat” with Carroll also once again doing new and interesting things with the space of your screen. An absolute treat.




COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL: HEAVY METAL JANUARY 1979

Happy New Year 1979! HM kicks this, the last year of the ‘70s, off excellently with the continuation of some old faves and the arrival of some new ones, gamely determined to continue bringing us impossibly high standards of reading pleasure. Chantelle Montellier’s “1996” returns (yay!) but none other than Trina Robbins also stops by this issue, turning in “Exercise In Gold” a lovely – and I mean *lovely* -- piece of work that pre-dates She-Ra: Princess of Power by seven years, yet somehow looks like the slightly fuzzy yet saturated Filmation-made cartoon anyhow.

A fierce warrior woman with golden hair and breastplate armour to match arrives at a seemingly deserted castle. Entering, she’s assaulted by all manner of harpies, serpents and “huge winged horrors.” Robbins’ captions are gloriously purple, simultaneously celebrating and sending up the often ridiculous fantasy cliché that has often been found in HM. Stumbling upon a handsome Christ-like prince, all gorgeous colour leaks from the page and as everything turns black and white, our heroine awakens, attached to a machine that creates dreams. Weeping, clearly tired of the drab, mechanised future future-life, she walks out to continue her sad existence. It’s a little, okay a lot, cliché, sure, but “Exercise in Gold” is just too full of beautiful, rich cartooning to be even remotely annoyed at its conclusion.

The flipside of “Exercise in Gold” is “Only Connect: The Tumor,” by Alias, in which the yearning for romanticism is replaced by a desire to extinguish all existential dilemma, hope and desire. A man has his brain removed and replaced with some cybernetic doohickey that “frees’” him from the “horrors”of life. A touch trite, but inoffensive at only two short pages and it likely made many a reader back in the day pause between bong hits in a moment of self reflection. Interesting that the female in “Exercise...”seeks escape through adventure and possible love while the man in “Only Connect...”seeks to annihilate all true trace of his self, huh? I’ll just leave that one to dangle there for you to pull at if you like.

Sergio Mercado returns with another chapter of “Telefield” which has been away for so long that I totally forgot about it despite digging Mercado’s space hippy adventures quite a bit. So our space hippies hit the city of Metropolis 5 to attend a “para psychic trip.” There they are accosted by street thugs and witness police brutality and ultra-violence by the “robot fuzz.” Never fear though, our space hippies arrive at their event, which features a kind of giant lava lamp connecting to the brains of all attending, creating a super-pleasurable “unified energy field.” I dunno. Sounds a bit nightmarish to me, but let’s turn the page and see. Oh, so “fantastic visions” unfold; a diaphanous, lightbulb-headed being plays an organ transmitting visions that flicker between the utopian and the horrific. Hitler with no pants! An orgy with a guy wearing terrifying clown makeup! I was right – this is terribly unpleasant, and indeed some sort of psychic trap by the organisers. What they are up to, I’ve no idea, but hopefully next issue we’ll find out...

Laseur’s “Station 34-728” continues the downer vibe as factory workers assemble huge robots which, at the very end of the production line, look like real life elephants. These robo-phants are sent out to “Darkest Africa Game Park” for hunting as, presumably, their real life counterparts are extinct.

Ouch.

“...Arabian Nights” continues, as does “Airtight Garage” and “So Beautiful and So Dangerous” and Druillet’s “Gail” concludes with all the nightmarish cosmic craziness you’d expect. Just as well really. I literally have run out of superlatives to heap upon Philippe Druillet, who even pastes in photos of himself and his late wife into this final cataclysmic chapter. We are even treated to double Bilal, who provides the continually lovely black and white art to “Exterminator 17” and also lush full colour art to a short, sharp, SF piece, “Ultimate Negotiations,” which he also scripts. Paul Kirchner’s “The Bus” also arrives, but we’ll get to that in due course.



COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : FRYE TV GENIUS JIM WOODRING& VISIONS OF FRANK
To close this week, a pair of excellent Woodring-related videos. The first is two and a half minutes of Jim Woodring at work. The peek into his sketchbooks alone is reason enough to watch, but there’s a lot here in such a short viewing time. The second is a nine minute Frank animation that, if you’re an old man like me, might make you long for the days of MTV’s Liquid Television.

Genius Jim Woodring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7PizlF4Tk8

Visions of Frank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brHZ69DsfQI

See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you’ll likely never read. He’s the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.