Best Bun Toon Ever? Yay!

Horselover Fat:

As people who read this blog regularly will know, I’m somewhat disparaging of most modern superhero comics for being identikit, predictable, badly written rubbish. This week DC Comics have been getting people to ignore again the fact Bill Finger was one of the main creators of Batman by plugging something called ‘Batman Day’, which is designed to cash in on the added interest in comics this week thanks to San Diego Comic Con. It’s really just an excuse to part people from their money.

Ty Templeton currently draws Batman ’66 for DC and he’s done this work of sheer genius which diffuses the last 25 years of Batman stories into a few panels. It’s bloody brilliant.

Enjoy.

Originally posted on Ty Templeton's ART LAND!!:

It only comes but once a year!

It only comes but once a year!

Sorry this was a bit late, my computer has been bitten by something, and I have to upload on the wife’s machine.  Sheesh!

This week included Bat-Day, the 75th Birthday of the guy who pays my mortgage.  So in celebration, I give you…

BEST BATMAN EVER

There.  Now you don’t have to read Batman comics any more, I’ve topped them all.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Batman251

In case anyone was wondering, THIS is the best Batman comic ever…and if you ask at a convention, I can prove it.

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For last week's Bun Toon of colour, click here.

For last week’s Bun Toon of colour, click here.

For the Bun Toon archive...click here

For the Bun Toon archive…click here

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Don’t get your knickers in a twist about a female Thor

The news that has been positively rocking the world of mainstream American comics the news of a new female Thor, which was shortly followed by the news Marvel would make The Falcon the new Captain America, meaning there is a black Captain America. This was treated in much of the media outside the comics press as something new and progressive (a word which is beginning to lose it’s meaning) which means Marvel get some brownie points with the increasing female readership and they can parade around Comic Con in San Diego this weekend looking better than the frankly pathetic DC Comics who seem not to care about equality.

Only problem is it’s not really equality, nor is this an original or new idea to change the sex, race, or character of a major hero at Marvel and DC. Thankfully some people have sussed out it’s a publicity stunt, and not an especially good one, plus when Marvel last made Captain America black it was the subject of one of the best, but sadly overlooked, superhero comics of the 21st Century, Truth: Red, White and Black, written by Robert Morales and drawn by the great Kyle Baker. That’s a comic worth looking at as it deals head on with race rather than this fuzzy fudging of race that seems to be going on here.

Race/sex changing is always a sales gimmick. It’s designed now as well to give the idea of equality but in fact serves to hide the fact that Marvel and DC don’t serve equality well in their books, or indeed, in their staff.

There’s also the fact that creators are reluctant to give away ideas without retaining rights, so those smart enough hold onto those ideas for when they get a deal at a company like Image, and seeing as Marvel and DC aren’t going to start fighting for creators rights overnight, expect things to remain pretty much the same with the odd bit of window dressing like a black Cap, or a female Thor. There’s too much money riding on these characters with film, TV and merchandising deals bringing vast amounts of money into the coffers of Marvel/Disney and DC/Warners. The subject of equal rights will be discussed but until the audience reflects society as a whole then things won’t especially change and these stunts will continue.

Also there’s something else and this might be hard for some older and newer superhero comics fans to swallow. The fans themselves need to change. They need to exert their power upon companies rather than just be consumers because that’s exactly what they want. There is absolutely no point complaining about say, a female Thor being a sop to the cause of equality and going out and buying it s it gives you no leverage at all. That’s one of the big problems with the explosion in what’s called ‘geek culture’ in that it’s essentially capitalist based, so there needs to be a greater understanding of the politics in action here, and that involves fans, new and old, to expand their reading material. Some comics fans would do well from reading a few newspapers, not to mention understanding the history of their own medium, and how vast events like San Diego have to clean the homeless off their streets so fans can have a event without having to see the victims of the sort of aggressive capitalism that we have today.

I’m not suggesting the world becomes an egalitarian socialist utopia tomorrow, though that would be very nice, but that fans realise when companies are playing them for wankers. So don’t get your knickers in a twist about a new Thor because things will be back to normal soon enough and Marvel will have gained some ‘credibility’ with enough fans that they can carry on doing what they’re doing. These companies treat you as consumers so use that as leverage to get change. Don’t just sit back, moan and then carry on buying the comics, toys and seeing the films because then it really doesn’t matter about how loudly you protest and change will never happen. Don’t give these companies your money if they do something you dislike. It really is that amazingly simple and if enough people do the same, they will act.

I should have been tearing up the San Diego Comic Con right now…

If you hate those sort of wearisome, self-pitying blogs where you want to strangle the writer for wanting attention and wallowing in some self pity then I’d click off this now, and go do something else. For those still reading, I hope you share some of my pitiful moaning.

This year there was a plan by myself where I’d not only attend San Diego Comic Con with some friends, but would have done a road trip across the US after meeting up with Andrew Hope in New York, or his home in Minnesota. It was a trip I’d been planning in my head since I was probably a teenager, but sadly last year things went tits up and plans were cancelled.

San Diego Comic Con opens in just a few hours and I wish I was there. Not even watching John Barrowman murder the gift of singing and braw lassies dressed as Tunnocks Teacakes in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is completely shaking my misery.

tunnockscommonwealth

Well, maybe just a wee bit……..

What I though of Video Nasties: Draconian Days

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Video Nasties: Draconian Days is the second of Jake West’s films about the history of the ‘Video Nasty’ and censorship in the UK. Like the first one it’s amazingly accessible, but unlike the first one which dealt with the initial Video Nasty boom and told a well told story, this deals with what happened after the Video Recording Act (VRA) was passed and the post-1985 world for the horror/transgressive film fan.

For younger people reading this it’s hard to imagine how tough things were, but you couldn’t just go online and get an uncut version of Zombie Flesh Eaters or Story of O, but you had to hunt in often the most dubious places to get to see what is now, perfectly legal. but thanks to the VRA passed by a Tory Party (supported by a supine Labour Party) wanting to censor films it though was ‘harmful’ to the working classes we had the situation outlined at the start of this film.

Having lived through this time I can say it was extraordinary. This was open state censorship of a kind we’d never seen in peacetime, and for people like me born in the late 60’s and early 1970’s, it was something we’d never seen before at all. We were the generation a wee bit too young for Punk so we came in after the burst of energy Punk created was dying and was being diffused into 100 different ways, but we did it ourselves. In my own wee part in this, I organised the video room for Scotland’s first ever comic convention in 1986 which involved late night showings of some stuff (like Zombie Flesh Eaters) which went down well, on the whole. It wasn’t though until 1988 when I moved from Glasgow to Leicester that things started getting silly.

In the few years from 85 to around 87 or so, you could still find video shops where with a nod and a wink, you’d be able to access the good stuff, that was hidden away. However moving away from Glasgow meant that the gorehound in me could no longer walk down the road and get a dodgy video shop which would rent me a pre-certificate video from a stash well hidden in the back.  Nope, now I had a few shops on the Narborough Road in Leicester which only had the hacked to peices versions of films that managed to scrape an 18 certificate. It was, frankly, fucking shite that adults couldn’t watch adult films legally in their own home because of some manufactured outrage over horror films. As skillfully pointed out in Draconian Days, there was, and never has been, any connection between  horror films and violent crime. But there was a lot of lies and government spin which was published in the British press with virtually no counter-argument. It really was oppressive so no wonder kids were rebelling against the government of the day by organising ways to get these films seen via swaps/trades in the back of horror fanzines.

These fanzines varied in quality, but they were wildly enthusiastic & that’s all that mattered. Again I played a small part in this by helping fight their corner when I worked at Neptune Comics Distributors in the 80’s when my boss wanted to take them off our order forms. I wasn’t fully in the horror film scene but I skirted round it, and dived in every now and then and attended the odd all-nighter or late night double bill at the Scala cinema in King’s Cross in London.

I almost cheered when Draconian Days discussed the Scala days because even though I wasn’t a full part, they were immense. The documentary describes how you walk along the road from King’s Cross station and be offered sex, drugs and pretty much everything you can imagine. King’s Cross then wasn’t the shiny, sanitised metropolitan hub it is now, but it was fucked in every sense of the word. The area was falling to pieces and the Scala was slap in the middle of this tatty, filthy but somehow glorious part of London where police were often scarce. The Scala saved me from muggings or worse on those nights when I’d missed my last train back to Leicester, or I’d lost friends/partners so couldn’t get to, or even remember, where they lived. Rather than kip in a station, I’d take myself along to the Scala and stay til the wee hours. It was indeed like walking out into some post-apocalyptic landscape coming out of the Scala into King’s Cross.

The film also discusses the dealers who’d deal in getting banned films into the UK (normally from The Netherlands/Europe) and copy them for sale to fans starved of their fix in those pre-internet days when a film was a click away. Getting a good copy of a film was frankly, sheer fucking luck and depended on how much you’d trust the person selling it to you, and they’d be shady at best normally.  Film conventions and comic marts used to have dealers who’d sell pirate videos , but few were actually reliable. Thankfully when I was working at a mart at the TUC building in London, I came across a dealer (who I think was a large black chap called Mike) who didn’t just have good quality stuff, but he had copies of films that had been taken from laserdisc! I got myself a nearly perfect Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Beyond, and as much as I could get my hands on. At a mart in Birmingham I got a preview copy of Peter Jackon’s Braindead months before it came out in the cinema in the UK because somehow, he managed to get a source who could supply him with preview copies.

Every now and then a mart would have the police sweep down, bust a few people (I remember hiding a box of porn comics during one such bust by sneaking them out the hall and legging it to the van to stash them there) and leave. Things didn’t get really tasty at the marts until after the murder of James Bulger and the tabloids were blaming his death upon violent videos, especially Child’s Play 3. The allegations were nonsense, but this is where the documentary becomes essential viewing as it details how the tabloids and MP’s combined to try to push through legislation that would have effectively banned every film in the UK over a U certificate.

It’s also worth putting this into a larger context as at the same time, there was a tabloid and government campaign to outlaw raves, and dance music with the Criminal Justice Bill which included a section to ban “repetitive beats”  in an attempt to crush an inclusive youth culture. This is what I think scared the government and most of the media. It was young people going out doing things like dancing til dawn, or organising all night horror film shows off their own back and they didn’t care for authority. Of course nobody was hurt but it was threatening to the establishment, so it had to stop.

Draconian Days ends with the last days of former chief censor & head of the BBFC James Ferman in 1999. It ends on a fairly optimistic note as it reminds us how in the early days of Tony Blair’s government they were fairly reforming and liberal in places, but we didn’t know what they were going to do to civil liberties in a few years into the new century. We certainly couldn’t have predicted this new puritanism that’s bubbling up from not just the Tories, but also some so-called liberals and on the left. There’s now barely a day that goes by without some campaign popping up on my social media asking me to help someone from banning something. People seem to have an incredibly low tolerance of anything now in an age when we should be more informed and enlightened thanks to the internet.

I hope West does a third film to take in the internet era and the reform of the BBFC before it all comes crashing down when David Cameron comes to power. There’s still a lot of be told, but til then I heartily recommend getting both of West’s documentaries and wallow in those awful days of state censorship which we somehow made the best of. They were bloody great days….

45 years ago today, humans stood on the Moon

45 years ago today, humans took their first steps on another world. It might only have been our Moon, and in galactic terms, this is the equivalent of popping down the shops for a pint of milk. For humanity it should have been the first step for us to push on and out, but instead we’ve sent out robotic craft and built a space station, which is fine, but we’ve not went back to the Moon in 45 years, and probably won’t for a long time to come. As for Mars or beyond, humans won’t see those worlds with their own eyes for decades, at best.

We became insular, cynical and although the Moon race was political in origin, it did more than just getting one up over the Soviets, it showed humans where we are, and how unique we are in our wee corner of the galaxy as the Apollo missions showed us in our place.

earthrise

But we pulled back. There’s still plenty who’d rather we spent no money at all on spaceflight and exploration on other worlds. They see it as a waste, and anyhow, that money could be spent better on Earth as if it’s as simple as that.

In reality space exploration is what we as a people need as we need to push on and find out new things about the origins of the universe, not to mention these discoveries add to our knowledge. Cutting off this source of knowledge would plunge us back into a new Dark Age as predicted in Orbiter, a fantastic comic written by Warren Ellis, and drawn by Colleen Doran.

orbiter

I don’t want a backward future where we sit in our own filth in our own backyards with nothing to inspire us as a species, and right now we need inspiration to break the cycle of unjust slaughter, pointless death, or corrupt institutions clinging onto control. But you may still say, ‘what about the money spent?’. 20% of the US’s budget is spent on defence. $530 billion. Imagine a world where the most powerful country on the planet spent half of that on feeding the planet, curing diseases, and of course, spending more money on space exploration than the $17 billion it currently spends on NASA.

Of course money is tight, but if we didn’t treat war as a commercial opportunity, not to mention if we taxed those corporations/people currently using complex schemes to ensure their taxes aren’t spent on infrastructure or welfare programmes, but instead sit in Swiss bank accounts, then just maybe, we’d get on with it as a species rather than sit here still in our nappies throwing shite at each other.

I recommend just looking at what those men did 45 years ago and if you’re not awed by the idea that we went to the Moon, and came back then you’re dead from the scalp down.  Here’s a typically awesome clip from The Space Movie with Mike Oldfield doing the soundtrack to get the blood pumping.

So think that 45 years ago the first human stood on the Moon. We need to go back and go on beyond because we need to as otherwise we’ll end up destroying ourselves with bombs and stupidity.

 

A small bit of appreciation for ZZ Top

It’s too hot & I’m melting. There’s too many big scary, miserable things happening in the world and the planet is full of arseholes. Rather than go on about these horrible things on a day like today, let’s take a moment out to appreciate Legs by ZZ Top in all it’s wonderfully sexist glory.

I’ve always held a wee soft spot for ZZ Top not because they’re clearly utterly ridiculous and they know it, but because they’re a fucking great American rock band with ridiculously catchy tunes, and of course, they have beards……

So enjoy….

What I thought of The Wicked and the Divine #2

Thoughts about #1.

Wickedandthedivine-2

This second issue picks up directly after the explosive end to the first issue as it focuses upon Laura, the teenage girl following the gods at the heart of this story, as she gets more deeply involved with Lucifer, who is in prison.

wickedandthedivine3

 

Most of the rest of the issue deals with Laura’s attempts to help Lucifer, and in the process be transformed into something more. It’s a more interesting issue than the first one, though it’s still trying too hard in the way someone waxing their moustache while sitting outside on London Fields is trying too hard.

There’s not a lot of naturalistic storytelling here, but when it comes (as it does in one three page section), it’s superb and that’s what’s annoying me about this series so far. Gillen is a good writer, even if there’s a lack of distinct voices at times, and while McKelvie is a good artist, and at times, very good indeed, there’s times when his people look too much like the Jamie Hernandez characters he’s based part of his style upon.

This said, I enjoyed this second issue more and there’s a cliffhanger which will make you buy the next issue, but The Wicked and the Divine isn’t doing anything new with the comics medium, but it is going old ground well enough for me to pick up the next issue and see where this story is going.