The fragility of life

Yesterday the Danish midfielder Christian Erikson passed out on the pitch during a game against Finland in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. The official broadcast carried on showing live pictures of Erikson getting CPR not to mention concerned players in tears not to mention his girlfriend and there was no need to broadcast that but it was and it distressed thousands of people with their own mortality suddenly in the middle of a football game. Not the sort of thing one needs after the last 17 months however the positive to take from it was that it does remind us to make what we can of something we only get one chance at.

Unless you’re a Buddist. But that’s cheating.

As for Erikson he’s thankfully stable in hospital but there was one moment to life the soul afterwards which was this.

Japan’s Resident Evil Village ad campaign is genius

Resident Evil Villiage or RE8 was released this week to much acclaim but the advertising campaign in the UK, and much of the world was what you’d expect with scary adverts playing up the usual aspects of the game. Meanwhile in Japan they were for a bizarre, and quite wonderful campaign with all the main baddies of the game featured as puppets. It is quite brilliant.


The return of the big event comic

30 years in the making, Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters is out and I’m a third of the way through and so far, it is truely extraordinary.

May be an image of book and text that says 'BARRY WINDSOR SMITH MONSTERS'

I’ll be reviewing Monsters once I’ve finished reading and digesting it but it struck me that in this day and age when comics are in such the public eye that so few books like Monsters are coming out. Sure, there’s plenty of excellent books coming out, not to mention some fantastic reprints of classics, but works that aren’t just ‘product or a sideways pitch for a film or TV series swamp the market. Some of these latter works are fine but many are trying too hard for a media deal so the creator/s can put comics behind them while here’s a work meant for comics.

As fans of the medium we should be doing more to shout about these immense works from the rooftops because Monsters, and works like it, are going to improve and better the medium while the latest ‘blue chip key’ or Marvel/DC event book will do the exact opposite.

What I thought of Alien #1

I’m writing up a blog of comics I’ve read in March/April and notice how positive it isoverall but one comic stinks the whole thing up so I’ve split it off from the rest. Without much further ado let’s dive into Alien #1 from Marvel.

For decades Dark Horse have carefully nurtured the Alien license from small beginnings with some of the many series they’ve put out being excellent. Aliens: Hive by Kelley Jones is highly recommended for example. So when Disney bought 20th Century Fox it was always on the cards they’d give the license to Marvel and this long-awaited first issue by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Salvador Larroca disappoints on so many levels from the thin, lacklustre script to the surprisingly dreadful art by Larroca who Is normally a fairly safe pair of hands.

As an example take this spread.

Most of those figures are all derived from the old Alien model kit.

Which is why they all look stiff and inorganic because the artist can’t be arsed with his take on the Xenomorph. Of course there is a chance this is a request from editorial which if so should lead to arses being soundly kicked as it just looks awful. Slap on top a dreadful colour job(why are colourists scared to use bright colours rather than using different shades of shit blue/green/grey?) and what should have been a big triumphant blare from Marvel they can do as well as Dark Horse, ends up looking as if the corporate monolith which is Disney have sucked the life out the Alien concept. We shall see but this is a poor first issue and I really can’t see there being much of an improvement in future with this team.

Also, just to drive the nail home of Marvel/Disney fucking with a license, there’s an omnibus edition of all the Dark Horse stories being released starting next month. None of the original creators stand to earn a penny from it even though over the decades they’ve all earned royalties from trades, reprints, etc. Marvel will make money from this, the creators won’t. So something that would be nice to have is something I’d rather avoid if the likes of Mark Nelson, Kelley Jones and Steve Bissette lose out because Disney/Marvel are tight bastards.

About the one off Glastonbury event

There is to be another year without a Glastonbury Festival and I am sad, but there is a one-day pay-per-view event featuring Coldplay and a selection of bands you’d see on the Pyramid and Other Stages, but as a representation of the festival as a whole, it’s still just a part of it all. It just represents the main stages.

20 quid for a one-day event like this is fine, and I’ll chuck them the money as this is to help support the festival and folk who haven’t been able to work in over a year. I’m fine with that, plus it will be nice to see the farm, but the line-up is the sort of thing that if it were a real festival line-up, I’d be spending time in the comedy tent or up the Green Fields. I just wish it was a wee bit better and more open.

But hopefully this is the last year with no festival and next year, we finally have a festival again, assuming we can get tickets…

Colin Noble RIP

This is horrible and hard blog to writer as Colin Noble was just an ordinary comics fan though one with the sort of encyclopedic knowledge of British comics that would often make you think someone had spliced a hard drive with his brain. That person sadly passed away from cancer at far too early an age, and Colin will be greatly missed from British comics fandom as this article makes clear.

I knew Colin initially thanks to this blog which he found, and for years just chatted on Facebook. Upon my return to Glasgow I managed to meet him at comic conventions in Edinburgh and like mny liked this man with his infectiously upbeat personality which would see you listen to him educate you about old British comics you didn’t even know existed. Eventually Colin helped me out at a few shows and pre Covid, we were talking about splitting some tables at a one-day Edinburgh show which obviously didn’t happen, and now sadly won’t ever happen.

Fandom in the UK is made up of hundreds of people like Colin who keep their own niche part of comics fandom alive. Comics fandom runs off these people not only for whatever their wee sepcialism is but because the enthusiasm and joy for the medium and the fans is like no other. With comics fandom changing there’s always a fear that people like Colin are fading out and I hope that isn’t the case, but the fact is the knowledge Colin had goes with him. Thankfully much of it will survive thanks to his blogs and contributions and that’s what people like Colin do for fandom in keeping the history going so subsequent generations can appreciate the medium in years to come.

These blogs are hard things to write, especially if it’s about a mate, and he’ll be missed. Taken far too early. My condolences are with his family in this time.

The brilliance of Hanging With Doctor Z

YouTube comedy is at best a hit and miss affair. Much of it is complete drivel created by people you wouldn’t want to share a lift with. Some of it though is glorious in it’s ingenuity, or just plain daftness, and that is the best way to describe Hanging With Doctor Z, a ‘chatshow’ hosted by Doctor Zaius of the Planet of the Apes films. Created by Dana Gould, Robert Cohen & Pete Aronson, the series is a pastiche of 1970s American chatshows if they were headed up by a super-intelligent talking ape.

Get on board now as this stuff is gold.

The lengthy, long year that is January

This has been a long year this month. We’ve had an armed attempt at a coup from white fascists in America, tens of thousands dying daily from Covid, and the beginning of the hell which is Brexit as here in the UK we endure food and drug shotages while industries are days away from collapse which has prompted Boris Johnson’s government to tell business they should set up in the EU to avoid problems. Who knew eh?

We are firmly in the frozen, rainly grip of Januaryland. Where lockdown never ends and you’ve forgotten your own name.

Can’t wait til Februrary…

What I thought of Star Trek: Discovery season three

I’ve had a weird relationship with Star Trek: Discovery since its first season. First season was crazy in terms of how over the top it was, but it was fun nonsense if not exactly Star Trek. Second season was fun mainly due to the addition of the Pike era Enterprise but this season sees the series break any promise it had mainly because in focusing purely on the character of Michael Burnham, the concept breaks credulity so often that it falls apart.

Everything we’ve known as Star Trek prior to this focused upon an ensemble, even the original series which was mainly Kirk-Spock-McCoy would venture off and give us episodes where the rest of the cast were at the core of an episode, or did more than just sit in the background. We found out details of say, Scotty, or Troi, or Geordi, or Bashir, or Harry Kim and on and on. Here the series is laser-focused on Burnham. Sure, we get a bit about Tilly, Saru and Stamets but before we know it the focus switches back to Burnham and development of an ensemble is dropped for the focus on one character. This wouldn’t be a problem but Burnham is shown to be deeply unqualifed to be even a Commander as her track record is awful (she did start the Klingon War which costs the lives of billions making her one of humanity’s greatest monsters) yet by the end of season three she takes the captain’s role even though even during this season she’s shown she’s not fit for command.

This is all the fault of bad writing so we get the stereotypical ‘maverick who gets things done’ plotline, but as we’ve seen in Starfleet, there has been people with an aspect of that in their character like Kirk, but they also know the chain of command and how to take an order. The problem is with Burnham is she resolves all major problems with violence which isn’t very Star Trek, and yes, even Kirk was more inclined to solve things diplomatically than blow up loads of ships.

I’m not sure the producers and writers of Discovery get what Star Trek was about, or if they do they’ve decided the best thing to do for a 2020’s audience is to dumb down (and dear god some of season three’s scripts dumb down to ridiculous degrees) which is playing the audience for idiots as the demand for smart science fiction is there, and there’s plenty of space opera with the increasing amount of Star Wars material out there.

Then there’s the issue of diversity. As the most diverse Trek series so far, it’s begun to fail to do anything with this cast. At the start having a gay married couple and just presenting them as any other married couple was a nice, decent way to do it, plus both characters were very good with Paul Stamets being one of the shining lights (along with Saru) in terms of characters. By this season Stamets is reduced to an hysterical incompetent mess, but don’t worry there’s Nu Wesley, the Adira character who is ‘non-binary’ and instead of exploring what that actually means in a 32nd Century context insteads just plants a crudely inserted scene to explain things and explore it in a SF context. Instead they’re just there to give easy routes out of problems as Wesley Crusher was in the start of TNG. It’s also a weirdly sexless, bland show with relationships being written at the level of teenagers on the internet, with the exception of Culberd and Stamets though they were infantilised eventually.

All of this is infuriating as there’s a load of potential here being wasted by some of the sloppiest writing and the general direction taken by the producers, and I don’t blame the actors. Most of them are working hard to do good work with what they have, with Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh (who will be sorely missed) working wonders with what they have. It can still be saved at this point as it effectively starts season four fresh but until it graps intelligent writing alongside Star Trek’s basic principles of a positive future, dropping the constant need for a space battle every episode, while at the same time making a true ensemble that act like real people and not one-dimensional cut-outs it’ll be the mess it is at the minute.

2021 sucks

This time last week we were all cheering on the end of 2020 and looking forward to a perhaps better 2021. In seven days we’ve seen the new strain of Covid run rampant in the UK, a failed UK government trying easily to cock up the vaccination program, meanwhile the effects of Brexit are kicking in with the fishing industry on its knees and shortages being found in supermarkets and pharmacies.

The year is seven days old.

And on top of this a fascist coup was attempted in the US while the American president is cheering them on while racists in England refuse the Covid vaccine as it’s ‘foreign‘.

The year is seven days old.

At this rate we’ll be lucky to get into February.