Lets all have a thermonuclear war!

Seeing as Donald Trump is now running his foreign policy as if it was a clip from Robocop, it seems that those of you under 35 or so now have a wee snifter of what those of us slightly older put up for most of our lives. Welcome to the fear and tension of a potential nuclear war.

These days Millennials will Tweet and maybe write an angry blog about how nuclear war is a sign of the patriarchy while sipping a craft beer, but back in the day we had art like this.

Or we’d confront the fear in comics such as this Marvelman tale..

But until the Netflix generation does their own version of Threads they won’t experience the cold sweats of waking up thinking the streetlight is a nuclear blast. That was fun back in the 80’s.

So for those of you not familar with this fear; welcome to the party. For those of us who’d forgotten it, time to dust off your Protect and Survive tips to pass down to the younger generations as we all unite in fear that a pair of cunts could doom the world before we even get to the end of the new Twin Peaks.

Now that would be the end of the world!

A short word of praise for the woman that helped make Marvel Comics, Flo Steinberg.

One of the most crucial but unsung figure in the creation of Marvel Comics, Flo Steinberg, has passed away.  At a time when women in American comics were at best, limited, Steinberg’s role is extraordinary in that if she didn’t act as not just Stan Lee’s ”secretary” (she seems to have had more like an editorial role) but as the glue, and blood of those early Marvel years in the 1960’s.

Steinberg famously left Marvel when they wouldn’t give her a $5 pay rise, but she didn’t just hold together Marvel at a time when the myth didn’t reflect the reality, she was an essential part in subsequent decades in trying to sort out who created what, and who essentially got shafted by Stan Lee’s myth-making. Of course only recently did the Kirby family finally get a settlement from Marvel/Disney, but as Steinberg herself later found out, Marvel wasn’t the merry place we all thought it was mainly thanks to Flo ‘s work with The Merry Marvel Marching Society (a Marvel fan-club in the 60’s) that cemented fandom’s image of Marvel Comics that lasted long after she left.

I especially like Kirby’s barely suppressed passive-aggressive tone…

So cheers Flo, you held it together and helped give us of a certain age joy. I hope now you get the credit you deserved when you were alive.

A word of appreciation for John Hurt

John Hurt has passed away, and the world is a wee bit darker today. I’m not going to go on as there’s better than me doing tributes for the man, but this is a little tour through what Hurt meant to me.

I first saw him as a kid in the superb I, Claudius, and I think at that point he became an actor who I deeply admired and over the years from there even as a young lad often unable to get into see his films I tried to keep up with his work but the man was prolific. It was however Alien that cemented Hurt in my mind forever in a scene that’s a classic in horror cinema.

From there Hurt seemed to pop up everywhere from the splendid Elephant Man, to even taking the piss out if his death in Alien in Mel Brooks Spaceballs.

Hurt dabbled with science fiction often his role as Winston Smith in 1984 is for me, utterly perfect, and although he ended up doing stuff like Harry Potter and Doctor Who, this just showed how astonishingly a versatile actor he was.

So cheerio to John Hurt, we quite literally will never see another like him again.

Today would have been David Bowie’s birthday

In 1947 David Bowie was born and last year he died far, far too early last year which seemed to kick off what was a pretty dreadful year for anyone who isn’t a racist or a fuckwit.

Last September I posted about how I’d never listen to his final album,Blackstar, due to the wish to forever hold one final unheard bit of Bowie there at arm’s length. It was a nice idea, but unrealistic as bits and bobs of it have sneaked out into my ears so I’ve decided that it’d be a nice treat to myself to listen to it when I’m (hopefully) told my cancer is in remission after my (hopefully) final set of treatments which start at the end of this month. I don’t think I can face an idol of myself making music about their impending death while I’ve still got the thought and possibility of my own possible early demise rattling around in my head.

So happy birthday David Bowie. Here’s Absolute Beginners for no other reason that its my favourite Bowie song of the 1980’s…

Steve Dillon’s death is a massive loss for comics

This afternoon the brother of British comics artist Steve Dillon confirmed that his brother had passed away.

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That’s all the detail we have, and we should have now because the details are for friends and family. We don’t need to know anything else bar that the world of comics has lost someone who for decades had been lynchpin of British comics. Indeed, friends of mine who’ve known Steve for years are in mourning as this was utterly unexpected, and that this comes after he’s enjoying the financial rewards coming from the success of the TV adaptation of Preacher, which allowed him the freedom to do what he wanted is painful.

Like many fans I first saw Steve’s work in Hulk Weekly, the flagship title of Dez Skinn’s Marvel UK revamp, where he not only drew the Hulk, but a Nick Fury strip written by Steve Moore. He was 16 and this was 1979.

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These early strips are rough in places, but for a 16 year old to turn out such a high quality level of work with his own very distinct,clear style was extraordinary, so its no surprise that Steve was not only finding more work with Skinn at Marvel UK, but 2000AD leapt in to grab him. During this period he and Steve Moore created the popular Dalek killer Abslom Daak for Doctor Who Weekly.

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While for 2000AD, he worked on a variety of strips (including some Future Shocks with Alan Moore) before bagging the art duties for Judge Dredd.

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I loved Dillon’s Judge Dredd work. True it was smoother than Esquerra or McMahon’s art who I adored, but this was a crisp, clear Dredd who wasn’t boring which is what I found Brian Bolland’s too smooth Dredd. If you’re reading this with only knowledge of Dillon’s DC or Marvel work, then it’ll read like he was massively prolific which is because he was. During the same period he was also doing art for Dez Skinn’s Warrior and the Laser Eraser and Pressbutton strip, again written by Steve Moore. This I think is my favourite work of this early period of his career.

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He could have also been the artist for the return of Marvelman too as Alan Moore suggested him as a possible artist to Dez Skinn, who went for Garry Leach, but we did get a tease of what could have been in Warrior #4 where Dillon did draw a few pages of a Marvelman strip,

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Dillon had also picked up a reputation by now of being fast, talented and quick. He was also great fun at marts and conventions where you’d see him in the bar, and at the first big Glasgow comic convention in 1985 I had to try to find him from the loo when he was a bit too tired and emotional. Steve had a bit of a reputation as a drinker, though friends have said in recent years he’s come off the bevvy but let me make it clear here; in the 80’s and early 90’s there were a number of creators and fans in the British scene who could drink all night at cons and often did, myself included.

Steve though was a nice guy. Even when years later at a party in London for Deadline, the magazine he helped launch and edit,when I brought it up he laughed it off, thanked me, and bought me a pint.

By the late 80’s Steve’s work filled 2000AD, sometimes it was brilliant, sometimes it looked rushed, but it was there for not much longer as Steve was being courted by DC Comics, as were many other creators from the UK, but Steve took time to break. Skreemer was his first taste of DC Comics, but it remains still a sadly under-appreciated work.

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Then in Hellblazer #49 he drew a John Constantine Christmas story. Entitled Lord of the Dance and written by Garth Ennis it was a little bundle of joy for those who enjoyed the drink.

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Ennis and Dillon clicked as a creative team. Both liked going on the piss, both were from working class backgrounds and they started a run on Hellblazer from #57 that was magnificent. The pair then created Preacher for DC’s Vertigo imprint.

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Preacher was the perfect mix of Ennis and Dillon. As a comic it was probably DC’s finest comic of the 90’s and last year a television adaptation was finally broadcast which managed to capture some of what was in the comic. Sure, his superhero stuff was alright, but I always felt him wasted on spandex, as he was able to make pages of people just sitting around talking to each other seem extraordinary. Not in a flashy sense, but in a ‘I’ve managed to capture a truth’ sense, something few artists for Marvel or DC have managed to do in the last few decades.

Lured to Marvel, Dillon drew a number of titles, from the Punisher with Ennis again writing, to Wolverine. Although his work was fine here, I wasn’t taken with it. It didn’t have that joy his other work had, and it felt odd seeing him doing material as mundane as superheroes though when he worked with Ennis (who despises superheroes) it worked a treat. Few creative teams have a spark where both feed off each other. Ennis and Dillon had that. That team is now never going to create anything new ever again, and a number of people who knew Dillon as a friend, or knew him through his amazingly long career and body of work are at a loss tonight as this is a loss. He had years left in him and 54 is no age to go these days.

So I wish well for his friends and family, and I extend a debt of gratitude for his work from those early days at Marvel UK to his recent success with the Preacher TV series.Thanks for the work Steve and thanks for the pint..

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A better tomorrow

Well there’s no point moping or wallowing in the seemingly relentless horror that is 2016. Yes, my dad did pass away before I could get back to Glasgow and I’ll have to deal with that but time for a new, fresh start. by leaving Bristol and getting to Glasgow so I can recuperate properly from my stroke, cancer and slipped disc.

It has been somewhat of an eventful year. It can’t get worse unless we have a nuclear war thanks to America electing Donald Trump so please, don’t do that.

Anyhow, focus shifts to the actual process of moving from Bristol to Glasgow, which when you look at it on a map is actually quite terrifyingly a large distance to do in a day.

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It’s actually a nice easy-ish drive once you get past Manchester, but til then it’s a bastard of a drive which is why I’ll be on drugs most of the time. Drugs are cool, which brings me to this wonderful clip from the latest episode of Ash vs Evil Dead.

I imagine there’s people everywhere trying to make their own recipe now for a Pink Fuck.

Anyhow, this is somewhat rambling because moving on is the best thing for me now. Tomorrow is another day so I just need to move onwards and upwards, especially upwards where it’ll be cold, wet and even more wet, but it’s a chance to rebuild and regenerate.

Mine’s a Pink Fuck by the way.

One bad day

‘All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.

Those are the words Alan Moore put in the mouth of The Joker in The Killing Joke.

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Today’s pushed me. A doctor’s appointment which took ages thanks to a receptionist cocking up, bus drivers being dicks. A women in the shop being a prick because I didn’t thank her for when she let me walk past her, the stroke means I walk slow, and if you think I had harsh words to say you’d be right but then someone closed a door in my face which was annoying. One of the things about being fairly new to the world of being disabled is that you learn people bloody hate you for being disabled and enjoy inflicting small humiliations upon you.

Then I finally got home after all to have an answerphone message from my dad’s nursing home in Glasgow and upon returning the call I was informed he passed away last night. I was planning to return to Glasgow from here in Bristol back in the spring but having a stroke and being diagnosed with cancer has put me back. I am though going back for good next month.Sadly not in time.

So today is one bad day. Tomorrow will be a better day.