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Topics - Frank

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« on: 03 October, 2019, 06:07:24 PM »

cover by the great Ian Kennedy


Here’s a brief description of the comic and how it came about:
This comic is part of the Great War Dundee (GWD) Hidden Histories project. It tells the story of the effect of the Great War on Dundee, and its aftermath, and draws on many of the resources and knowledge that the GWD Partnership has introduced into the public domain over the last few years.

The comic contains a story written by legendary comics creator Pat Mills, who worked at DC Thomson before creating the hugely successful British science fiction comic 2000AD (1977-present).

In the 1970s Pat Mills started work on one of the most acclaimed war comics of all time, Charley’s War. This told the story of Charley, an ordinary soldier in the trenches during the First World War. This is a poignant and realistic tale that remains very highly regarded.

For the GWD comic Pat has written ‘Ragtime Soldier’, a story about a Black Watch soldier returning to Dundee in the aftermath of the First World War, and his attempts to adjust to civilian life. The artist is Gary Welsh, one of the University of Dundee’s recent graduates.

The other strips included in the comic are ‘The Women’s Toon’, written by Hailey Austin and Erin Keepers, with art by 2000AD artist Anna Morozova, and ‘Casualties of War’, written by Calum Laird and drawn by Elliot Balson.

All these creators are graduates of the comics programme in Dundee. Ian Kennedy provides the cover artwork. The comics was edited by Professor Christopher Murray, chair of Comics Studies, and Phillip Vaughan, senior lecturer in Comics Studies and Animation (University of Dundee). Dr Billy Kenefick (University of Dundee) and Dr Derek Patrick (University of St Andrews) were consultants on the project.

We hope you appreciate all the stories!

Off Topic / Hong Kong 2019
« on: 30 August, 2019, 07:17:22 AM »

Good to see Xi Jinping reads the Case Files*

Three Hong Kong Protest Leaders Arrested Before Weekend Rallies

Hong Kong police arrested prominent opposition figures including Joshua Wong a day after banning a mass protest planned for this weekend, raising tensions in the city as authorities seek to quell pro-democracy demonstrations that have raged for nearly three full months.

The 22-year-old Wong, who was scheduled to speak about the protests in the U.S. next month, was among well-known pro-democracy activists arrested by police on Thursday and Friday. The others included Wong’s fellow leader of 2014 Occupy protests, Agnes Chow, independence advocate Andy Chan and Hong Kong District Councilor Rick Hui.

The arrests appeared to be part of a broader push back against the largely leaderless protest movement, which flared up in June over now-suspended legislation allowing extraditions to China before widening into a broader push for more democracy.

The Civil Human Rights Front -- the organizer of the biggest recent demonstrations -- said Friday it was forced to cancel a rally planned for Saturday after police withheld approval.


* Actually, he's more of a Hachette guy, isn't he.

Prog / Decompressed Storytelling - Yes or No
« on: 18 August, 2019, 08:02:52 PM »

.. or somewhere inbetween. Every week's prog review features several readers saying they think something will read better in the trade.

Just in case anyone's lost regarding definitions - that means stories like Thistlebone or Brink, where atmosphere and tension are key and events play out over the course of the entire series, rather than each episode working as a self-contained story in its own right (i).

Examples of series employing compressed storytelling are the most recent Absalom, Skip Tracer, and all the strips of the classic era.

Obviously, everyone thinks 2000ad should be more like The Golden Age, but it's stuff like thought bubbles and Pat Mills captions explaining how each member of Slaine's tribe had their own stall in the main hall and went into battle skyclad that we're talking about here.

(i) With an inciting incident, some action and either a resolution or a cliffhanger that's resolved at the start of next week's episode.

Books & Comics / Adverts in 2000ad
« on: 28 July, 2019, 12:06:33 PM »

Do you remember the point in the early nineties when reader numbers fell so precipitously that ads for Coke and Barclays disappeared and were replaced by classified ads that made the Galaxy's Greatest look like the back pages of The Daily Mail?

Thanks to the efforts of Julius Howe, you can finally discover the secrets of The Warrior Mindset that allowed Paul Wellard - his real name - to survive the mean streets of Jersey and his Bruce Wayne-style extensive travels in the Orient:


Who can say why offshore tax shelters were so attractive to those purchasing ads in increasingly unpopular nerd periodicals of the glasnost era, but I'm sure the Isle of Man residents sharing their secrets of BUILDING MUSCLE FAST weren't just selling vulnerable mummy's boys whey powder cut with Polyfilla and gonad shrinking pills that preserved their virginity in aspic forever.

From prog 889, May 1994

Books & Comics / Bill Sienkiewicz's Lost Batman Epic
« on: 08 July, 2019, 09:25:44 PM »

Sienkiewicz's Gotham looks like Chicago had sex with Paris, or maybe the French quarter of New Orleans

The Year 2005: Kelly Clarkson turns getting dumped into a career, the only John Wagner film adaptation to break even hits cinemas, and Bill Sinke ... Bill Shanky ... Elektra Guy draws a Batman book!

Well, he drew one issue of a Batman book then did a Big Numbers and bailed on writer David Lapham. The pages he did complete are great, though, treating Bats in a similar way to Superman in Dark Knight - a ball of black kinetic energy that freight-trains petty criminals through drywall.

And a cape! Bats's cape exists in a state of quantum uncertainty, one minute as tattered as the hem of a Leveller's jersey, the next a literal (metaphorical) murmuration of bats. Mensch Lapham explains how the whole thing happened (or didn't) and posts Billiam Zinkywink's pages here:

BATMAN RETURNS    (but Sienkiewicz doesn't)

Thanks to Ade Hughes on the 1977 Group for finding this

General / Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« on: 19 May, 2019, 09:29:41 PM »

Thrillpower Overload describes how IPC tempted Pat Mills into creating 2000ad with the promise that the title would be 'contracted out' (page 12). Creators would have a continuing financial stake in work they originated.

Though IPC later withdrew that offer, prompting Mills (and Wagner, who he'd invited to recreate their Battle partnership) to down tools (page 12), those are the terms under which the launch strips, including Dredd, were created.

Pat Mills accepted a bigger paycheck to return and launch 2000ad on IPC's terms, but Wagner - a freelancer, not an employee - only ever worked on the nascent Dredd under the original terms.


IPC were free to withdraw those terms, but that doesn't mean they owned the characters created under those terms. Wagner would have to assign them his copyright.

Under the old IPC system, that was done by creators completing a docket and signing the back of the cheque they were depositing/cashing.

BUT WAGNER NEVER DID THIS   (to be read in an Adam Curtis voice)

From an interview Wagner gave to the 2000ad Thrillcast:

'IPC still didn’t speak to me. As far as they were concerned I wasn’t there. In fact, in order to pay me, Pat had to write scripts himself and pay them to me. I realised I had been getting royalties from some of these scripts, like Mach One, and had to tell them to stop paying me because they weren’t mine'

So Wagner signed the back of cheques, but not cheques for developing or even writing Judge Dredd. John Wagner never assigned IPC his copyright for creating Judge Dredd. *

IPC NEVER owned Judge Dredd. That invalidates all subsequent changes of hand between publishers, since Judge Dredd was never IPC's to sell. Any subsequent contracts could be invalid if predicated on prior agreements.

* This is the same loophole that got Hilary Robinson the rights to her characters back. So there's precedent, although that case was never tried in court.

News / Strontium Dog Without Wagner or Ezquerra
« on: 15 May, 2019, 07:58:17 AM »

John Wagner and Alan Hebden panel at Enniskillen Comic Convention

Wagner wants editorial to continue Strontium Dog without his involvement*. He says Carlos's family should receive royalties from future stories - if Tharg's prepared to bend his rules and pay creators royalties when others use company-owned characters, he gets major Good Guy points.

More interesting, to me, is Wagner's desire to continue Ezquerra's Spector character with either Colin MacNeil or Simon Coleby.

* It's interesting that, in this case, it's editorial who were reluctant to carry on making cash by passing the character on to another creator. It's a Bizarro World version of how things usually play out in the comic industry

General / Bootleg Movie Universe Anderson Doll
« on: 19 December, 2018, 06:11:53 PM »

If stupid Tharg won't give the fans the high-quality merch they desire, then others will step up to fulfil their fantasies.


General / John Burdis KTT (hons)
« on: 15 December, 2018, 07:48:08 PM »

It's a jumper.  A jumper.

Knitting by Rachael B, photography by JJ Abrams.

Film & TV / Grant Morrison developing The Invisibles for TV
« on: 08 November, 2018, 07:12:49 PM »

Claims Morrison first came to the attention of comic readers on Animal Man, which is outrageous. How can you ignore Captain Clyde?

Grant Morrison Inks Deal To Bring 'The Invisibles' To UCP
Rob Salkowitz

Superstar comics writer Grant Morrison may be best known for his work on iconic DC superheroes like  Superman, Batman, Justice League and Green Lantern, but he first made his mark on the industry in the late 80s and 90s with surreal and subversive titles like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and his magnum opus of revolutionary weirdness, The Invisibles.

Yesterday, it was announced that Morrison will be developing The Invisibles for television as part of an overall content deal with Universal Cable Productions. UCP is currently producing Happy!, an adaptation of the graphic novel by Morrison and artist Darick Robertson, which is going into its second season on SyFy.

Variety reports the Glasgow-born Morrison will "work with the studio to develop and producer original content for network and streamers." This follows similar deals struck with high-profile comics creators like Mark Millar (Netflix), Robert Kirkman (Amazon) and Neil Gaiman (Amazon).

The Invisibles, which debuted in comics form on DC's mature-themed Vertigo imprint in 1994, features a multicultural and gender-fluid crew of adventurers who use magic(k), altered consciousness, time travel and other metaphysical machinations to battle secret threats to humanity and unravel conspiracies against freedom.

It was simultaneously ahead of its time in its use of a traditional superhero-style of comics to tell a complex and sophisticated story, and very much a product of the technopagan Mondo2000/Burning Man counterculture of the mid-1990s.

The series was a modest success and cemented Morrison's status as comics' philosopher-king: a writer capable of smuggling the truly radical visions of people like William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna into the pages of DC comics.

But as he was spinning these stories of subversion and reality hacking, he also moved decisively toward the superhero mainstream in his other work, with best-sellers like JLA, X-Men, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis, and a 10-year stint at the helm of Batman.

He also found time to write plays, author a book on the iconography of superheroes, edit the long-running science fiction magazine Heavy Metal, and pocket an MBE honor from the Queen for his contributions to British art and letters.

For long-time fans of Morrison, the possibility of seeing The Invisibles adapted into episodic TV is a cause of excitement, particularly in the current cultural environment. The idea of a revolutionary cell devoted to the liberation of consciousness and a never-ending battle against the dark psychic powers of fascism and oppression seemed trippy and cool in the 90s. By 2020, when the UCP series is set and is likely to debut, it may well feel like current events.

The comics, which featured the artwork of Steve Yeowell, Jill Thompson, Chris Weston, Phil Jiminez and others, deftly combined action, suspense and character interplay with high-concept plots and thematic overtones. Reading it often felt like watching a TV show. Now Morrison will have the chance to bring his masterpiece to that medium, hopefully with the vision and impact undiminished.

I am an author, consultant and educator with a professional interest in the business implications of new media and a personal passion for comics and visual communication. My 2012 book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture (McGraw-Hill) looks at trends in entertainment. I'm faculty at University of Washington CommLead, and consult on future trends in technology and entertainment.


Books & Comics / Do you follow characters or creators?
« on: 04 November, 2018, 02:15:00 PM »

In terms of 2000ad or other titles.

The nineties (and subsequent) reboots made me aware that it was the work of specific creators I had been enjoying during the original runs, as opposed to Stogie, Durham Red, or even Judge Dredd just being inherently great in themselves.

In terms of other publishers, the only reasons the spare room contains a few W.I.L.D.C.A.T.S* and X-Men comics are the brief tenures of tetchy British magi on both. Dropped them right after.

But you might think different. Are you up for Simon Furman and Leonardo Manco's Return To Armageddon or do you think only Michael Cook and Simon Jacob can be trusted to continue the legacy of Dead Meat?

* Which I actually thought contained some fun ideas

Books & Comics / George Orwell On Comics
« on: 22 September, 2018, 12:33:02 AM »

Sort of.  A fascinating survey of the weekly story papers that were the forerunners of the violent sci-fi crap that rotted our brains and stunted our emotional development. I strongly encourage you to read the full (magnificently written and acutely observed) text here - what follows are heavily-edited passages chosen to highlight how little has changed in the last ninety years.

Some proper nouns may have been changed for my own amusement:

George Orwell: Boys' weeklies

You never walk far through any poor quarter in any big town without coming upon a small newsagent's shop. Probably the contents of these shops is the best available indication of what the mass of the English people really feels and thinks.

Certainly nothing half so revealing exists in documentary form. Best-seller novels, for instance, tell one a great deal, but the novel is aimed almost exclusively at people above the £4-a-week level.

The weekly paper with a smallish circulation and specialized subject-matter only exists because there is a definite demand for it, and these stories reflect the minds of their readers as a great national daily with a circulation of millions cannot possibly do.

Here I am only dealing with a single series of papers, the boys' twopenny weeklies, often inaccurately described as ‘penny dreadfuls’. What the circulations of these papers are, I do not know. The editors and proprietors refuse to name any figures,

The heroes of these papers continue week after week and year after year, never growing any older. Very occasionally a new character arrives or a minor character drops out, but in the last forty years the personnel has barely altered.

All the principal characters are still having much the same kind of adventures and talking almost exactly the same dialect. And not only the characters but the whole atmosphere of 2000ad has been preserved unchanged, partly by means of very elaborate stylization.

The stories are signed ‘John Wagner’ and 'Pat Mills’, but a series lasting forty years could hardly be the work of the same person every week.

Consequently, they have to be written in a style that is easily imitated — an extraordinary, artificial, repetitive style, quite different from anything else now existing in English literature.

There is a constant, untiring effort to keep the atmosphere intact and to make sure that every new reader learns immediately who is who. By a debasement of the Dickens technique a series of stereotyped ‘characters’ has been built up, in several cases very successfully.

Sex is completely taboo; occasionally girls enter into the stories, and very rarely there is something approaching a mild flirtation, but that is all it ever amounts to. Even the bad boys are presumed to be completely sexless.

The editors evidently expect their readers to be aged round about fourteen, but it is quite common for people to write to the editor and say that they have read every number of 2000ad or The Megazine for the past forty years.

It is well worth getting hold of some back issues simply to have a look at the correspondence columns. What is truly startling is the intense interest with which the pettiest details of life in MC1 or Tir Nan Og are followed up. Here, for instance, are a few of the questions sent in by readers:

'How old is Johnny Alpha?’ ‘What rank is Rogue Trooper?’ Can the Council Of Five overrule the Chief Judge?’ ‘Who is the Prime Minister of Brit-Cit?’ ‘Where is Downlode situated?

It is clear that many of the boys and girls who write these letters are living a complete fantasy-life. The characters are so carefully graded as to give almost every type of reader a character he can identify with. If one studies the correspondence columns one sees that there is probably no character whom some or other reader does not identify with.

The mental world of 2000ad and The Megazine, therefore, is something like this:

The year is 1977 — or 2018, but it is all the same. You are a 10-year-old boy, Noel Edmonds is on the telly, and the pound is worth a pound. Everything is safe, solid and unquestionable. Everything will be the same forever and ever. That approximately is the atmosphere.

Merely looking at the cover illustrations of the papers which I have on the table in front of me, here are some of the things I see. On one, an engineer is lighting a stick of dynamite while a steel robot feels for him with its claws. On another, a man in airman's costume is fighting barehanded against a rat somewhat larger than a donkey. On another, a nearly naked man of terrific muscular development has just seized a lion by the tail and flung it thirty yards over the wall of an arena

Death-rays, Martians, invisible men, robots, helicopters and interplanetary rockets figure largely: they owe a great deal to H. G. Wells, who, rather than Jules Verne, is the father of ‘Scientifiction’(?). Naturally, it is the magical Martian aspect of science that is most exploited.

The other thing that has emerged in the boys’ papers is bully-worship and the cult of violence. Instead of identifying with a schoolboy of more or less his own age, the reader is led to identify with some single all-powerful character who dominates everyone about him and whose usual method of solving any problem is a sock on the jaw.

This character is intended as a superman, and as physical strength is the form of power that boys can best understand, he is usually a sort of human gorilla. You get real blood-lust, really gory descriptions of the all-in, jump-on-his-testicles style fighting, written in a jargon that has been perfected by people who brood endlessly on violence.

But, after all, it is the lack of development that is the really striking thing. Foreigners are exactly the same figures of fun that they always were. If a Chinese character appears, he is still the sinister pigtailed opium-smuggler of Sax Rohmer. If a Spaniard appears, he is still a ‘dago’ or ‘greaser’ who rolls cigarettes and stabs people in the back.

George Orwell: ‘Boys' weeklies’
First published: Horizon, No. 3. — GB, London. — March 1940

News / GOOD NEWS! Frank Miller no longer right-wing racist
« on: 28 April, 2018, 10:19:46 AM »

Comic fans breathed a sigh of relief this AM as the realisation slowly dawned that they no longer had to pretend Year One isn't the best Batman comic ever published.

Underneath a photo of his ruined face that looks like a Cubist portrait, it's revealed that Frank Miller is just another aspect of the comics industry which Neal Adams has fought hard to put right:

"Whenever I look at any of my work I can feel what my mindset was and I remember who I was with at the time. I don’t want to go back and start erasing books I did, I don’t want to wipe out chapters of my own biography. But I’m not capable of Holy Terror again.”

It’s worth noting that whatever his detractors may think of his politics, Miller still happily inveighs against “white, heterosexual family values” and has no interest in defending his views on Occupy Wall Street. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” he confesses. Does he support Donald Trump? “Real men stay bald,” he says with a grin, lifting his hat to run a hand over his bare scalp.

Miller got his start in comics when he convinced his idol (Neal Adams) to take a look at his portfolio. It was “awful,” Adams says, laughing. “It was so bad. My heart sunk, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, one of these guys.’”

Many artists were so humiliated by the harsh feedback Adams gave that they never came back – not Miller. "I made it hard for him! If you’d gone through it, you’d have gone home crying. I never would have thought that he’d turn out to be what he is. He’s become like a son to me. I didn’t teach him any other of life’s lessons, unfortunately, and I should have. That was the bad part.”

Adams blames the traditional trappings of fame – bad influences and alcohol. When asked about his absence, the limit to Miller’s candour is revealed. “I just got very distracted by real life,” he says. “I’d rather not go into it.” Through a publicist, he declined to respond to his mentor’s assessment.

Adams wishes he’d told Miller that life wasn’t just work. “We just talked about work. And if you don’t teach family or good health to somebody, then suddenly you turn around and go, ‘Oh, my God. We didn’t have that conversation.’ And you feel like shit, because Frank didn’t. And now he’s having to learn it.”

In part, he blames Miller’s success for the years he says his friend sacrificed to that lesson. “You cannot accept other people’s view of you. You cannot believe when other people say, ‘Oh my God, you’re great, you’re a legend.’ You cannot accept that. It’s no way to live. And as soon as you do, you start convincing yourself that you’re something that you’re not, that somehow you can drink two bottles of whiskey and nothing will happen to you.”

In his last conversation with Miller, Adams says he told his protege he was going to die. “I told him he was white trash, and I’d be surprised if he makes it for six months, because he’s taken his life and ruined it, and he said, ‘Well, I’d like to show you I’m not that way,’ and I said, ‘If you recover, I’ll see you in six months, maybe a year.’”

“‘I think of you like a son,’” Adams remembers saying, “‘and I’m gonna lose you.’” Now he believes Miller “will mend”.


'The Rebellionverse begins here'

US format, full colour one-shot - 'The Leopard From Lime Street, Adam Eterno, The Steel Commando, Dr. Sin, Pete's Pocket Army and Blake Edmonds (Deathwish) team up to face Von Hoffman and Dr. Mesmer'.

Released August 2018, available in newsagents as well as your local comic shop. Furman and Coleby are joined by 'guest creators'.

John Freeman has the scoop: https://downthetubes.net/?p=44964

Edit to add the cover from the 2000 AD blog post

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