Rory McConville and George Gousis go old school with The Face at Rory's tumblr.

Posted by John Robbins on Wednesday, August 6 2014 | Permalink

The Blue Bus is pleased to present a poetry event, with Sean Bonney and M J Weller, on Tuesday 15th March, from 7.30 at The Lamb (in the upstairs room), 94 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1. This is the forty-seventh event in THE BLUE BUS series. Admissions: £5 / £3 (concessions). For future events in the series, please scroll down to the end of this message.

MJ Weller is writer, artist, poet. As Mike Weller he is well known for his comic and zine art published last three decades 20C. Running own 'visual associations' imprint and Home'Baked Books press 2000s and twenty-ten Weller has produced printed chapbooks and digital bookworks Space Opera: The Artist’s Book, Madeline My Love in Death And Fancy, S Club 7 vs the Anti-Capitalists, Beowulf Cartoon and bookwork installation, Slow Fiction: twenty-three tales in a box. His HomeBaked poetics are dedicated to permanent artistic revision, making each title different in re-format or printed edition. A poetry collection from Veer Books, Beat generation Ballads is forthcoming.

Sean Bonney has written, among other things, For the Administration (Crater, 2010), 5 after Rimbaud (Grasp, 2010), Document: Poems, Manifestos, Diagrams (Barque, 2009), Baudelaire in English (Veer, 2008) and Blade Pitch Control Unit (Salt, 2005). His long poem The Commons will be published later this year. He lives in London, and also at www.abandonedbuildings.blogspot.com.

Posted by John Robbins on Monday, March 7 2011 | Permalink
trs2 - 10 !

Ten years today since I first started putting together TRS2 as a newsheet. Pete Ashton launched the original TRS roughly three years before, and the news-sheet came to its present web-home around mid 2002. Happy Anniversary Stuff!

Posted by Andrew Luke on Wednesday, November 18 2009 | Permalink
Slow Science Fictions #23: Now Here's A Tale With A Happy Ending

The final issue – relatively uncomplicated but with trademark oddball-ness – goes something like this: When the number 409 Zone 4 bus from West Croydon breaks down, two tourist passengers – Afro-American businessman Samuel L Poitier and New York script-doctor Mick Weller – take off on a woodland footpath and inadvertently cross into 3World in 4Time through a Zone 4 gap on a Surrey flyover. Addingcombe Hill leads them to the hometown of English superheroes, the Cosmic Crusaders, where, to the disruptive objections of Nasim Elmaz, the wedding of two past members – his brother Hussain Elmaz and Rebecca Schwaffer – is taking place. Addingcombe gives Weller the Robert Johnsons, and with good reason: Poitier is falling for local girl Michelle Jolly in spite of an enchantment on the village which dictates that Addingcombe can live and breathe only for twenty-three Thursdays one year in ten, and none of the villagers will ever be allowed leave. The pair of tourists have got themselves stuck in a weird comic book tale they can't get out of; or in a Brigadoon without the music. (Yes, the Key to the Universe and its nine-notched entry to the Heavenly Spheres of Reality has got mashed up with fucking Brigadoon.)

As author-in-residence in his own fiction – and at a side angle to it, also – Michael J Weller often pitched his Slow Science Fictions as both a celebration of- and lament for- admirable failure as a consequence of a refusal of the artistic compromises necessary for commercial success. Similarly, this artistic disconnect managed to find voice via a lineage of ideas partly inherited from popular culture: superheroes, parallel realities, angels, secret agents, and the battle between Good and Evil. With a magnetic Duke Of Hell sending moral compasses haywire, further tensions were evidenced in mental files wiped clean by corporate medication, or altered to believe in a benign privatisation; and characters scripted to be idiots who break the text that bound them to stupidity. Free will in the context of societal/religious duties, personal power as opposed to resignation, the writer and the written, a peace of Heaven with Hell and other elusive harmonies – Slow Science Fictions articulated a spirit of yearning for ennobling resistance and for the choices that set us apart even as we are compelled to draw connections in an attempt to link ourselves to one another. Mad to think that this series was also an entertaining, funny, funny-peculiar read.

32 A5 pages, £3 inc p&p, available from Mike Weller, 3 Queen Adelaide Court, Queen Adelaide Road, Penge, London SE20 7DZ. Or e-mail: mikejweller(at)hotmail.com Site: http://www.homebakedbooks.co.uk/wellerverse.htm

Posted by John Robbins on Monday, October 5 2009 | Permalink
Gurkin Trifle by Jenny Linn-Cole

Septimus LePlage is on the run from debt collectors when he hits upon the idea of gainful employment as cartoon pirate Captain Yarmouth in a kid's cartoon feature. This offers him the means of disguise, coffers, and a reluctant attraction "to the devastatingly gorgeous and dangerous Captain Kat." Its not plain frame sailing though, as Linn-Cole employs menace for LePlage too, in new on-set skullduggery from a mysterious extortionist with his eye on the protagonist's coins.

Gurkin Trifle, I suspect, may be out of print, which would be sad. For here is an epic over 200 pages in 6 serialised volumes, introducing Linn-Cole's main comics cast. The follow-up one volume pieces - The Killer Frock of Doom, Gurkin Trifle Gets Steamy and Gun-Boat Diplomacy, focus on variant aspects of character that are established from this. Its one of the great gems of the photocopied comics boom, and the lack of a collection may also be that movement's loss.

Linn-Cole plays with the animated aspect for all its worth: somewhere between Morrisson on Animal Man and McCrea on Hitman. The story of the cartoon allows and justifies this perfectly. Character' reaction to cartoon-ability - shock and delight. By maneouvering her characters the author strips the dual labour processes of cartoon and comicbook, allowing for interest, chuckle, psuedoworry and marvel. For the processes are easily observable and never confusing. For example the suggestion early on that the extortionist may be Linn-Cole herself. I suppose by giving this my praise, I'm letting the cat out of the bag on this one. Linn-Cole supplies her own cat in the narrative. Visually, Gurkin Trifle contains a lot of 'strip gags' form, but also Eisner-like page layouts and some very laboured morphics of taverns and other buildings meticulously realised and animated.

This is really deserved of a Lulu collection or an agent proposing to Jenny it be put online. It may still be available as print on demand. Drop Jenny a line via her website, were you can check out a number of LePlage's further adventures and other great comics and animations shes worked on. The address is http://jennylinncole.myartsonline.com/ and if I haven't convinced you to click on that link you obviously shouldn't be here.

Posted by Andrew Luke on Saturday, October 3 2009 | Permalink
Slow Science Fictions #22: Kid Cartoons Parts I & II

This, the penultimate issue of the Slow Science Fictions prose series, comprises Michael J Weller's customary re-refractions of self-mythologising deprecations, of socio-political reality and popular culture, and of the ordered disorder that is his measured tangle of fictions within a fiction.

Within: the ninth Guardian of Life And Civilisation is chosen, he is the cartoon character Hanthala with the spirit of young Iranian student Neda Agha-Soltan (the correction of Hanthala Neda's stunted growth can be achieved only with a final solution of peace, security and prosperity for both mideast Jew and Arab). Else-where/time: in the Billy Crombie Chiselwood College Of Dreaming Theme Park children should be thrilled by commodified health and safety regulated fear, but not scared shitless. Built in Florida by EarthCo, this theme park utilises technologies engineered by computer gaming and platform inventor Alpha Zee; most notably the iMager, a device which plugs into the frontal lobe of the player/visitor to make the Wellerverse real for them. With said device attached, retired policeman Jim Pannifer of Social Reality Earthtime 2018 returns to the Nibs writing group of 1997 to be introduced to himself as a character in Mike Weller's reading of his sci-fi serial. Offers Pannifer (in 1997 for real and in 2018, theme-parked virtuality): 'I would have left me out.'

Defiant to the near-end, Michael J Weller's writing continues to evince an oddly personal richness and piquancy that must contend with an ingrained against-the-grain narrative structure that's not exactly hoi polloi-friendly, but which offers a playful elusiveness that is both mysterious and singular.

40 A5 pages, £3 inc p&p, available from Mike Weller, 3 Queen Adelaide Court, Queen Adelaide Road, Penge, London SE20 7DZ. Or e-mail: mikejweller(at)hotmail.com Site: http://www.homebakedbooks.co.uk/wellerverse.htm

Posted by John Robbins on Monday, September 28 2009 | Permalink
Little Terrors Book 2 by Jon Scrivens

Young people have been making their own comics for longer than I've been alive. The warm world of the copier to the heat of electrolite, the internet transmits the form of storytelling in very different ways. Despite being near over a decade apart, these are worth remembering. Reviewing Book 1 of Little Terrors, I didn't mention Scrivens was 18 years old when putting it together. My cultural review didnt offer advice on ways round these shortcomings. Nor did it inform Jon that as a young punk artist with a love of an animated style, he should pay any notice to this seventies throwback reviewer. I really shouldn't have too, because this commuter town apocalypse 'Little Terrors' improves like the leap between print and internet.

As many webcomics scenesters know, its clear that Jon is a great talent. A formidable talent. A style alike those better innovators from the American-Canadian underground in the last 20yrs. Achieved expressionism, background work demonstrates a succeeding playfulness too with robust thought. Truthfully, Jon Scrivens is ready to work with a major publisher. "Case fucking closed."

The Book 2 collection doesn't tell this tale quite so well. The print has botched alignment. On the page the narrative and characters look more serious and gruff. The steady toning achieved through even and accomplished colouring is absent. Reading the book, this wasnt a problem. As Ralph Kidson reminded me this week commenting on my own work, my pencils are a form of colouring. Colour with black and white reproduction has its own charm. Ten to twelve pages of Chapter Five of Terrors (near the front of the book) appear blacked out, but by tilting the book in light, subtle grades of grey and black patterns reveal. Its a very different story to the one told online, one I enjoyed spending time with, implying I check out the original/variation.

The collection is about 100 pages and reprints Chapters 5-6 of the webcomic. I found some character writing too hundrum and some scenes uninteresting. The narrative and setting jumps around frequently, ideal for curious newcomers and for when Scrivens brings out his fun-sharing conviction. In the mix, this is an engaging read, engaging being at the very essence of webcomics.

Little Terrors Book 2 is available from Jon Scrivens for around £8-£10. Its 100 pages, with a colour cover and good binding. If you've not invested in LT in some shape of form, I think you ought to.

Little Terrors Orders
Or paypal jon at plotholes.net or enquiries through jon.scrivens at gmail.com

Posted by Andrew Luke on Thursday, September 10 2009 | Permalink
Little Terrors Book 1 by Jon Scrivens

96 pages, Us Mainstream sized trade, Softcover

£8.00 (includes £2 UK Shipping) from http://littleterrorscomic.com/?page_id=211
Out of Print, Available stocks limited.

Collection of strips from March 2006 on, with new material

Little Terrors is the British reasonably well-known webcomic about a group of child mutants, zombies, vampires and monsters. Protected from the abhorrent deviance of the city-as-plague by virtue of their age as innocence, they team up to survive attacks by mad monks and crazy monster bears. This sounds like it could be fun, but I'm unhappy to report a lot of this collection of run just doesnt do it for me.

One page parts from a larger whole are the method of construction for many webcomics. This may work for some readers as I was reminded: storing up parts for a long read. However, for the beginner cartoonist as in this book (composed when Jon was about 19), theres a constant offputting disruption in flow. You can feel the coding in the gutters. In the first third, Many of the sequences seem contrived to shoehorn in the plot, the dialogue is quite awkward. The characters and scenario lack depth.

The web is the definitive challenge to punk's DIY brilliance. It contests it the claim by submission, opens the floodgates. Education and Journalism (and other sectors) are at risk from the untrained, the barely professional in with the salaried. Thats general observation and not meant to imply that Jon Scrivens' Little Terrors has been crafted without thought. The drawings appear to make decent use of CAD, panels are often clearly laid out, a good amount of background scenery. He also brings a panache to the crafting of odd and unusual characters, shaping like a wee Picasso. It remains however with webcomic conventions - a number of scenes even mirror 80s and 90s platform game backgrounds. The originals seem to have been coloured and then reprinted in black and white, which yes works okay.

The final 15 page chapter splits from the ongoing narrative to prologue and is easily my favourite. Theres closer evidence of Jon's storytelling prowess with sequenced dialogue and more of a visual straight forward playful mood. I'm hoping this is the way Little Terrors Book 2 goes. The book itself is 6x9 in. professionally packaged and the author is a quite likeable guy who may throw you in one of his postmodern free sketches. In addition he churns out newer improved material regularly and its worth following him on Twitter, for he s always trying new shit like Live Internet Drawing sessions!

Posted by Andrew Luke on Thursday, July 9 2009 | Permalink
Shadow of the Curriculum by Francesca Cassavetti

A6, 20 pages, approx. £1 plus 50p for postage. Ordering details through www.fabtoons.com

Also for sale at Free Festivals in the Greater London area.

Francesca Cassavetti is a cartoonist who has been working on comics and illustrations for decades.

My first impressions of this are that the very light paper used in the printing shows through the other side. However, its an A6, and so with cut sheets I would have expected some ruffles aound the edges, not the tidy collation job I see here.

Seeing through the see-through, Francesca's distraction is the relationship with her son and the academic/social debate, physical expressions rendered through considering. She makes it look very simple, though not so that she doesn't examine the political aspects of the booklet. Having recently finished a degree course I was drawn to this, not just its Babylon 5-esque title. Francesca takes on that annoying voice in my head, prompting me to crack on, yet also realising the need for self-care and play in proper place. This is a wee booklet any offspring can relate to. Its best suited though to the parent's market. Its a sadness we don't have good distribution channels delivering empathic comics for parents to parents in this country. I bought my copy, and I'm going to pass it on to one. You could do that.

Posted by Andrew Luke on Thursday, July 9 2009 | Permalink
Bloc by Oli Smith and Oliver Lambden

Bloc will probably be well noticed around festivals while stocks last.

Click here for more information on Bloc. You may wish to try Paypal of about £3.50 including your name and address to the email listed there

Smith and Lambden both raise their game for this 52-page wordless piece which has all the characteristics of a European master such as a protege of Jean Giraud Moebius. Yes, those guys.

Smith, as a comics storyteller, has dwelled on delicate poetical musings of the teenager, with a young adult's cynicism. With Bloc, a piece written several years ago, we get all that but much more. It pre-empts in characteristic his status as a recent physics graduate and author on Dr. Who with a nameless figure wandering and pondering the landscape, sharing a seemingly psychic or physical field relationship with a cumulus of floating bricks. Internal ponderings wrapped within a narrative of dynamic things happening Play, exploration, philosophy all rise in a narrative that reminds me of Grant Morrisson's silent issue of X-Men. Perhaps its better. Theres a sense of genuine wonder that is massively genuinely endearing, and theres also some horrible, horrible shock. Not bad for a visual instruction only script.

Oliver Lambden too has his roots in semi-autobiography, although perhaps more leaning to stock superhero monomyth. What he does with Bloc is every bit as inspiring as Kirby or Simonson at Marvel, grand epic like Chris Webster, proportion and European influence. For the artist, theres a definite coming-of-age of the craftsman, of the artist who cares. Structure, symmetry, density, a fixed concentration devoted to the moment, his pokerfaced pen resonating Its almost tangible. Every accolade that I heaped upon Smith above is Lambden's in kind. I do believe hes showing off! I'd be willing to get a coffee table to place this book on it. Theres probably nothing quite like it, and its one of the best UK comics this year. Buy it!

I already insisted a girl on the bus looked over my arm while reading this. Buy this!

Posted by Andrew Luke on Thursday, July 2 2009 | Permalink