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Messages - norton canes

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Announcements / Re: The Letters Beast - Online!
« on: 24 September, 2021, 09:29:40 AM »
It arrived! And mercy me, it's Mercy Heights. Which is at least something I haven't read, running as it did during my 27-year prog-lapse.

Ah, that cover. So brilliant. You get comic art legend Mick McMahon to do you a Dredd cover, expecting to see something like the Lawman of the Future astride a Lawmaster, blasting his way through the Big Meg; and he gives you Dredd in the most bizarre pose imaginable, brandishing a long red umbrella. This man is a national treasure.

It's hilarious that the layout droid has made a rather half-hearted attempt, with the sparky font, to convince us it's actually an electric baton of some sort. Nice try!

A rather polarized selection of strips on offer this jumping-on week. The prog cruises along at the very highest levels of thrill-power for the first three, then completely falls off a cliff, only to be saved by an Abnett-shaped crash mat at the very end.

Dredd is glorious, and ably demonstrates why the Williams droid (in conjunction with the Wyatt-bot here, of course) is the ideal choice to introduce viewers to the world of Mega-City One in the upcoming TV series (yes it will). Although having seen upthread that the Red Queen was part of a Megazine story, I'd have liked a slice of backstory.

The wonderful Diaboliks demonstrates why a prog never seems properly complete without a strip by the Rennie droid. And the prog's highlight - a seriously stunning return to the world of Scarlet Traces from the Edginton and D'Israeli team. Reading the first two pages I wondered why the art looked so crude, then of course that breathtaking double-page spread makes it clear, before a genuinely gripping further six pages - utterly fantastic stuff.

And then...

It's a prog of two halves, Clive. Okay to be more accurate a prog of four-sevenths and three-sevenths.

At the risk of courting controversy, can I ask... when was the last time there was a genuinely good Anderson strip? I remember enjoying the one-off from a couple of years ago with Jake Lynch art, the one where the guy pretends to be Judge Death or whatever. But ongoing-wise nothing seems to really work, and this is no exception - it's all a bit by-numbers with some routine debate at the start and a nice attempt at a freaky under-cit gang but the story is just getting in the way and even Lee Carter's art looks a bit drab with a lack of backgrounds and the Anderson on the penultimate page doesn't even look finished (okay maybe there were huge pandemic-related production issues, fair enough) and then there's some hand-waving spells and it's all over for this instalment. Sorry, not really gripped. Though to be fair, I'm trying desperately to come up with even an idea for the Thought Bubble so props to all the droids that are involved in making fully-fledged strips.

Actually, speaking of the Thought Bubble, I wonder if this prog's Future Shock would have stood a chance as a submitted script? It seems like a lot of effort by the Weston droid for a slight payoff.

Anyway, two strips to go... one's a ostensibly light-hearted story about a woman heading into the unknown after a radical change of identity, and the other - yeah you get the drift. The difference is that one's a triumphant piece of work that'll hopefully grace the prog for some time to come while the other looks hopelessly out of place in the current line-up.

Oof - I see there's a 15p price rise next prog. They like to sneak those in after a jumping-on prog, don't they.

Other Reviews / Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« on: 22 September, 2021, 10:31:28 AM »
Tooth and Nail which I still don't get

'Tooth and Nail', I was trying to think of that the other day when trying to remember the better recent 3rillers. Intriguing concept but a slightly confusing resolution IIRC? Didn't Andi Ewington come on the forums here to explain it? Great art by Staz Johnson too. Would still love to see another chapter of this, it was intriguing stuff.

Prog / Re: Prog 2249 - Her father's PSIs
« on: 16 September, 2021, 09:41:40 AM »
That's weird... I've spent all week thinking this was going to be the jumping-on prog, and was surprised when first glimpsing it in WH Smith's to discover it wasn't. This despite the fact the ongoing strips last week clearly hadn't reached a conclusion. I think I'd seen that McMahon cover posted around so many places in the last few days, I assumed it was the upcoming one.

Anyway, putting aside my inability to distinguish one week from another

Dredd wraps well, the Percival droid's ethereal art lending it a suitably hallucinatory air. Only quibble with the story was the callbacks to Necropolis - I know they didn't exactly demand an in-depth recall of the plot but as demonstrated above I have trouble remembering what happened this week let alone 30-odd years ago.

The 3riller seemed a bit perfunctory and while the ancient gods aspect might provide plenty of material for a series, I'm not sure the dialogue or characterisation was really compelling enough. In fact there seems to be a certain circuit with which only some of TMO's droids are equipped that allows them to rattle off pages of engaging dialogue with apparent nonchalance - I presume this circuit contains fire opals from the heart of Betelgeuse, or some similarly hard-to-obtain substance, otherwise it would be fitted as standard to all droids.

Fortunately the Rennie droid appears to be fitted with a deluxe version, as in Jaegir his output continues to fire on all cylinders. The second page panel with Rosario and the Souther insignia picked out in cyan was especially striking. Please, can 'Ferox' be an uninterrupted 10-parter?

Agree with the consensus that the Terror Tale was too convoluted. I feel that as a reasonably intelligent adult (albeit one that doesn't know one prog from another) I shouldn't be confounded by a six-page comic strip but... yeah, it just doesn't click, even though I sort of get the gist.

And finally... Skip Tracer ends, with a touching last page (and the only cover by its own artist). I wonder, if the whole series had been framed as Nolan's bedtime story to Eden...

Announcements / Re: The Letters Beast - Online!
« on: 10 September, 2021, 04:01:43 PM »
More on the Regened topic next (make it stop!) from Andy Currington on Lancaster who wisely suggests that Tharg start a separate comic to cater for older readers and call it ‘Degened’. Brilliant! Nearly as clever as the last time this was floated by an unnamed Paisley lettersmith who suggested the title be the less obvious ‘Blue Harbour Genes’. You had to have been there. This is Andy’s first letter to see print but that’s no excuse! He trails in the wake of Lancaster’s ‘Mr Letters’ Austin ’Officer’ Dibble who has seven scores to tell the cats about, the last being in 2017’s Prog 2061

Aha! I knew there was a thread on the forum somewhere which commented on readers' letters. I think if anything it's even more of a thrill being mentioned here than it is getting my first missive actually published.

As I mentioned in the prog review thread I thought TMO gave me pretty short shrift in his reply, though the tongue-in-cheek nature of my title probably didn't help. I'll be sure to say hi to Officer Dibble next time I bump into him.

How long does one normally have to wait until one's complimentary graphic novel arrives..?

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 02:35:39 PM »
Anyway, about this week's prog...

That cover is absolute filth (in the way da yoot use the word now to mean 'rather wonderful'). Flawless design and execution.

It's all kind of a bit disjointed inside with some strips only having short runs but Dredd provides some welcome stability as well as adding a nice twist to its tale. I'm beginning to wonder if Sinister/Dexter (delete as applicable) really is building to some kind of finale, or whether this story will just rumble on ad infinitum whenever a few progs need space filling (though I should say it's rumbling on brilliantly). 'The Mask of Laverna' is a bit by-numbers; we didn't get any backstory on Adelphi in the last one, did we? I think that might have helped.

As always with runs of the Rennie droid's stories, the major frustration is that they're over before you really have a chance to get into them. Oh for Jaegir to have enjoyed as much prog space as Skip Tracer over the last few years!

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 02:29:47 PM »
At one point in its past, the Meg was square-bound and 100 pages. 88 pages of strip and 12 of feature/ads/editorial would deliver roughly the same amount of thrill power as a month of progs. You could run—what?— six 12-page strips and maybe a 16-page Dredd every issue? The longer page count for each episode would make the instalments feel… meatier and help to offset the longer wait between issues.

Literally beyond excited at just the thought of that.

I mean I pay £12.40 for four progs a month; I would happily spend a bit upwards of that on a lovely prestige-bound monthly publication instead.

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 01:44:07 PM »
Although, thinking about it, that would be a lot of extra content (four weeks' worth of a typical strip being ~20 pages) to fit in a monthly Meg.

A weekly Meg, on the other hand...

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 01:08:35 PM »
I've advocated in the past for the regular prog to go all-ages, and the Megazine to become the home for everything 'grown-up'

Yes! Brilliant.

Strips have moved back and forth between the prog and Meg in the past (Devlin Waugh, Missionary Man) so some clearly unsuitable strips for an all-ages treatment (like Brink) could migrate to the Meg whilst some others might be in line for a soft-ish reboot and stay where they are — Kingdom, for example.

If the Meg picked up a few thousand extra readers from the pool that don't currently buy both titles, it might even be financially viable to either up the page count, or drop some of the feature to make room for added strip, so more of the transfers from the prog could find a semi-regular home.

Which, IMO, neatly solves the all-ages issue without the expense (and administrative/editorial overhead) of launching a new title at all

Yes! Of course - no need for a new 'Degened' publication. The Megazine is the missing piece of the jigsaw.

(Not sure about a 'soft reboot' of Kingdom though : ) )

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 12:30:00 PM »
No, nothing devious about it : )

It would all be up-front ("Exciting news for readers inside!")

It just think it's a way that hasn't been considered of passing the thrill-baton (sorry, the 'Thrill-baton') to the next generation of Squaxxes.

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 09 September, 2021, 11:52:16 AM »


It was the letter captioned 'For Mature Readers' proposing a solution to the Regened impasse. And although its tongue-in-cheek tone saw it given short shrift by TMO, I think it's got mileage.

Let me expound...

As has been explained many times here, the major obstacles to the creation of a new Regened weekly have been the cost of marketing a new publication and the potential difficulty of getting it shelf space at the newsagents. So why invite those risks? The regular prog is already well-established, so there's no need to start from scratch. By filling it with all-ages content on a permanent basis you've created your new publication by modifying an existing one. We know the 'veteran' readership of 2000 AD is (how to put this kindly) dwindling, so sooner or later it's going to get to the point where there's a greater return to be had from aiming at the new generation rather then the old.

But of course the 'loyal Squaxx', as I put it in my missive, still want to buy and read the comic they love - which is where the new publication, aimed squarely at them, comes in. The difference is, it won't need to be marketed; the long-term readership will simply transfer their allegiance. If Tharg announced today that all 2000 AD's strips were going to continue in a new organ, I'm willing to bet that 99% of us would take up a subscription (or modify their newsagent purchase) immediately.

I don't seriously believe, as I suggested in my letter, that the new publication should actually be called '2000 AD Degened', or that its content should exactly mirror that of the GGC in its formative years - that was a little humorous aside. But as time marches on I think it not only should, but must and ultimately will happen.

BTW until I saw my letter in print, I didn't realise the Betelgeusian style guide capitalises 'Thrills'

Prog / Re: Prog 2248 - Death Wish
« on: 08 September, 2021, 04:41:54 PM »
Yes! Finally, I got a letter published in 2000 AD!

Admittedly it was only the second one I've ever written, the first being in 1978 (accompanied by a drawing of a robot horse). But still.

Prog / Re: Prog 2247 - Sick Building Syndrome
« on: 01 September, 2021, 05:58:26 PM »
Pretty good for a semi-jumping on prog (a 'semi-on'? perhaps not)

A promising start to 'The House on Bleaker Street' - and how very Niemand to imbue the titular towers with a personality. Love the way Dredd casually exhorts his junior colleague to catch the plunging infant. Sure thing, sir! Let me just extend a Chimpsky-esque limb and pluck him from the air! Couldn't be simpler!

I'm puzzled by Dredd telling the other judge to disregard spooky stories of the haunted block when he himself spends a load of time fighting all sorts of supernatural stuff..

Well, yes, but equally, I suppose he's hardly likely to tell his subordinate they're about to embark upon one of the most dangerous and terrifying escapades of their lives. (Or perhaps that's exactly the sort of thing Dredd would do..?)

Jaegir goes straight for the jugular, as usual. It's been fantastic to have the Rennie droid consistently in the prog of late. 

There's an odd colouring error on page 3 of 'The Path of Kali', where the GI (Rosario?) is given normal human skin tones for her first appearance

I can only assume that the surfeit of cyan already in that frame put the O'Grady droid off its game!

Dexter continues to be a joy, it's really benefitted from a run of more than a couple of weeks. I mean plot-wise it's all a load of clichés but it's done with such elan. Klinks is the robot that guarded their apartment, right..?

BTW I was so intrigued as to how the Abnett droid came up with a name like 'Vegvísir' that I Googled it; turns out it's an "Icelandic magical stave intended to help the bearer find their way through rough weather". I mean you guys all knew that already, yeah?

The 3riller was decent enough; like most of us I had to go back to progs 2215-17 (not 2217 Tharg, come on, it's a 3riller, there's a clue in the name) to remind myself how the last one played out... suffice to say, I'm hoping for an equally gruesome and gratuitous payoff in a couple of weeks' time.

Is it bad of me to say that Skip Tracer always seems better when there's less dialogue?

General / Re: Forthcoming Thrills - 2021
« on: 27 August, 2021, 02:28:47 PM »
Just seen that Eoin Coveney has lots of finished panels and production sketches from all eight instalments of The Alienist: Inhuman Natures among tons of other fantastic artwork on his Behance pages.

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