Did the Thought Bubble burst?

This is one of those conventions on the calendar that everyone seems to eagerly anticipate.  As a festival it sits in a reasonably unique niche, somehow managing to attract the big names and bring in the arty types too.  Small press, the trinket stalls, Olly Moss, cosplay, dealers, artists, writers…it seems to manage to hit a little bit of everything.  It has always been quite well planned and executed and had a professional ring to it but with the edgy feel of being organised by artists (unlike, say, the MCM Expos that are more corporate in nature and feel).  It also seems to be a favourite of the creators themselves, a last minute get-together before the Christmas lull starts and the New Year kicks in.

Kev Walker

This year saw some slight changes to the last two but the core remained the same.  There were people queuing from some crazy times in the morning to meet Olly Moss and pick up some of his prints.  There were also those massively anticipating meeting Sean Murphy, David Aja, Rafael Alberquerque, Ramon Perez and Fiona Staples.  Indeed, the sketch hounds were once again out in force filling up the artists commission lists often before the show had even opened.  Dealers were shifting and stalls were selling merchandise, floppies and trades.  The main hall was incredibly busy, a bustling tour-de-force of the curious and the queuing alike.  In some respects though it was too busy.  The Armouries Hall was really quite sparsely populated in comparison.  And the Allied London?  We’ll come back to that one.  The organisers had put all the star names in one place at the back of the main room and in the corner of the New Dock Hall.  The queues for people like Aja and Staples were massive and were blocking aisles all over the place.  It got to the point on Saturday that you simply could not get near the top of the hall at certain times.  While it’s good to see these events still busy, they didn’t use the three halls to any advantage and merely followed the same format as previous years.  They really need to leave more space around the big names in future, it was tight last year and they don’t seem to have changed it particularly for this year.  The queues were slightly better managed overall than last year but still impacted on the limited space.  These are just niggles though really, to meet people the likes of Murphy was amazing and fair play to the organisers for getting someone of his stature in the industry to come over to the UK.

david baldeon punisher small

David Baldeon

By far the biggest gripe though was the Allied London Hall.  The hall was added due to the sheer demand for additional tables and it really did feel like it was ‘added’ rather than forming part of the show.  The room was dark, unfinished, freezing cold, half-carpeted and misting up with concrete dust from the un-sealed floors.  It was full of small press, indy artists, dealers and the crafty types along with Olly Moss and Jock at the back end of the room. Having such a draw as Moss and Jock should have been great, creating the footfall you would like to help promote your self-published comics, but the door was opened at the back of the room meaning that no-one really came walking through the hall after all, they went in and out from a different entrance.  From a small press perspective it was poor and more than one person wrapped up after day one and left, not to return on the Sunday at all.  Most others in the hall reported slow sales, particularly in comparison to previous shows.  This was a shame as they seemed to add other bits really well, like the bar and lounge for example, but the Allied London bit felt like it was put in place to generate additional income and accommodate all the extra people wanting tables rather than be part of the actual show.

Overall the show was much the same as previous years (although I did miss the chirpy Irishman in the queue this time).  Those in the big hall seemed to do really well and were very complimentary of the show and there was lots on offer for visitors.  The big names were solid and almost all came through for people.  The atmosphere at the show is always good and although it’s now grown quite big, there is still a feel of the smaller, more personal con about the whole event.

If this review sounds negative, it isn’t really meant to be, I did have a great weekend again and always seem to do so in Leeds. I would just perhaps question them adding the additional hall again next year as it wasn’t really ready to receive the event and it didn’t seem particularly in keeping with the rest of the venues.  Apart from that, it was very much a case of, ‘as you were’.



Please keep in mind that this is not a graphic novel; it is a comic, and should be approached as such.

Rummaging through the comics on display at A place in space, like a kid in a sweet shop, undecided with all the villainous covers laid out before me, there was Darkseid, – as portrayed by artists Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair- lasers shooting from his eyes, rebounding around the page in 3d, visually it was more appealing than most, and with a bad guy of Darkseids stature, surely the story had to match his size, right? Well, please read on before coming to your own conclusions…

Now there is one thing these comics all have in common, and as it’s the only real thing that I can pick fault with as well, i’d like to address it now before I go any further; they are all just too damn short, considering they are representing some of the biggest and baddest in the world of super heroes, they are not getting nearly enough pages to make the impact they are worthy of; in fact, each story barely scratches the surface. So before you go to read these comics with grandiose expectations about the next best plot since the court of owls, think again! Instead, you can expect a lighthearted read, with a fun story for sure, which has been specially designed to give a more personal take on the best heroes worst enemies, and that my friends, is as far as it goes.

darkseid #1

If you are a gamer, you need only think of ‘God of War’ to entertain your curiosity, Darkseid even sounds like Kratos, as he bellows in his cold, bold and inconsiderate way, he also happens to be one miserable grouch of a god too! There is no doubt that Darkseid is the biggest bully around. We get a glimpse of his life as human, Uxas before he brutally attacks the gods themselves, giving us a very brief look at his origin story and how he becomes the all powerful being we all love to hate.

Art by Paulo Siqveira and Netho Diaz, is awe inspiring; a real pleasure to look at. The obvious finishing touches from colourist HI-FI, make the already wonderful art-work come to life in a godly fashion; the SFX and lettering are epic too, in the way they’ve been designed by Dezi Sienty. Writer Greg Pak has produced a fresh take on the big, bad DC bully, there is no doubt that it is well scripted, considering being restricted to only a single issue to work with. It’s definitely worth a read, if only once, and the 3d cover is a nice touch, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one.

Remember, approach this as a light-hearted read, and a single issue comic, and you should avoid any disappointment.

By Dylan Butcher :D.

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INFINITY: PART THREE OF SIX                           “KINGDOMS FALL”

As the righteous emerge from the looming darkness, cast by the destroyers monstrous shadow…

The forces of good are beginning to regain control of the universe after the hardships they had to face, in the what seemed to be hopeless attempts they made to warn off the Black Order in part two of INFINITY. There is a sequence of panels, where Starbrand shows us yet again just what he is capable of; this powerfully symbolic moment in which we find ourselves raising a fist in comradeship to show whos side we are on, is followed by a discreet panel with a bold statement, which reads, “this is where the heavens turned”. There is not one Marvel super hero who isn’t rigorously fighting for everything they believe in at this stage of the game, Thanos has truly forced the hand of the virtuous to breaking point, and you can definitely expect an almighty bitch slap in return, in this explosive issue!

infinity #3

Jonathan Hickman has marked the halfway point with a fierce determination, to show us why this is one of the biggest events in Marvel comics, now; and possibly even in the history of the shiniest comic-book publisher around. Hickman has applied his ability to write an epic tale, and used part three as a platform to dot the i’s and get the ball rolling in the right direction. As the righteous emerge from the looming darkness, cast by the destroyers monstrous shadow; artists, Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver continue to make the art work jump off the page in the space opera that is INFINITY; you can expect plenty of bright lights and explosions, earth trembling SFX, and expert timing, as the comic ties together in this pivotal chapter. Thanos speaks with the voice of a Greek god, who is laying down the law of the ages before all those beneath him. Just what will the outcome be? Who knows, but what is certain is that this comic series will only get bigger and better as we get closer to the finale; part three has made that very clear…

By Dylan Butcher. :D

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INFINITY: PART TWO OF SIX                                    “FALL”

The star fleets are in flight and the marvel heroes are out in full force; as the intergalactic threat that is Thanos is out for blood and gore by the bucket and gorge-full!

INFINITY stays true to the form of its powerful predecessor -part one in the saga- by following the same chapter based lay-out. Ultimately, there is so much going on, the comic needs this break down of parts to avoid any confusion; and basically ensure that the whole thing runs smoothly.

The grip that Thanos has got around the worlds at stake is becoming tighter by the page, Dr Strange has fallen prey to the Ebony Maw, Atlantis has been over-thrown and I quote; “Earth fell quickly to the Black Order of Thanos”. Corvus Glaive has strolled into Black Bolts kingdom, and as he sits, seething on his throne, he is given a decision to make by the lord of the rings inspired servant of death, one of which he nor his wife Medusa or the Inhumans are willing to entertain; but we soon learn that there is a lot more to the destroyers unspeakable tactics than he is letting on, as part four of this issue is titled, is it all just “A convenient lie”?

Jonathon Hickman has continued to write this plot to the highest quality, and even though it all revolves around the almighty villain himself, Hickman has brought forth a Star Wars sense of perspective, as we mostly see the heroes, strategically planning their attacks in order to defeat the already reigning dark side. Of course you will get to see some space opera style battling involving the Avengers along the way, but this steadily paced issue is mostly a build up towards much bigger things, that being said it is also an all important edition in itself; bringing a clear air of anxiety and an undiluted fear of the unknown, nothing is certain, and the universes mightiest must fight harder than ever to overcome such an impenetrable force.

infinity #2

Art-work this sublime should be in the National gallery. The colours/ink by Justin Ponsor are bright and explosive where they need to be creating the right mood for each scene brilliantly; and the joint effort from acclaimed comic artists, Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver offer up some of the best character work, not just in Marvel comics but in illustrations from around the globe in general. The cover work, by Adam Kubert and Laura Martin; is explanatory of the comics contents, and each comic in this series has a single colour to represent itself on the surface; this is a creative way to define INFINITY as the unique comic event that it is, and I hope you all enjoy this sci-fi spectacle as much as I do.

By Dylan Butcher. :D

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Uncanny #1

“Season of hungry ghosts, part one”

Published by Dynamite; Uncanny is supernatural meets film-noir, in a tale of a cynical man who has the power to read people like a book with a single touch of the flesh. But even with this extraordinary ability Weaver does not always make the right decisions as he confuses his capabilities with cockiness, as this very revealing first issue clearly interprets with an explosive fluidity. Weaver slips up from the word go and is faced with a two hundred thousand dollar debt and the powerful people who want to collect it as a result. In other words, Weaver is fucked!

Aaron Campbells perspective is so precise that you will feel proud to be a part of his vision, as he takes you on an adrenaline fuelled journey of suspense and uncertainty alongside writer Andy Diggle, who has proven once again that he can captivate his readers with ease with a style that keeps you constantly guessing and in turn demanding more. There is an undeniable sense of realism throughout that makes the story all the more believable which works perfectly with the plot of course; and the narrative and art put together create a world in which we can only wait to see more of as the series progresses. The use of colour appropriately matches Weavers mood from page to page, and the timing of each ever-changing scene is almost rhythmic, from the calm to the storm and then back again. The SFX help to add depth to the frequent action sequences.

uncanny #1

Even with all of its blood pumping adrenaline, Uncanny doesn’t fail to remain a cloak of secrecy and will have you asking questions like, just who is the mysterious girl on the motorbike? Who does she work for? And what trouble is Weaver going to get himself into next? Only Diggle and Campbell have the answers, and we’re itching to find out!

By Dylan Butcher. :D

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Created by: Pendleton Ward          Written by: Ryan North            Illustrated by: Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb           Letters by: Steve Wands

“What time is it?? AD-VENTURE TIME!” … My wife bought this book for our twin daughters as they have fallen in love with the cartoon, so much so they won’t watch anything else. She invested in the hard-back edition because this is their first ever graphic-novel, all very exciting right?! Anyway, in giving up on my futile efforts to get them watching Spiderman after school, I decided to join them and their new best friends, Finn and Jake instead!

Thanks to Cartoon Network and Titan comics you can now enjoy the insanely-brilliant cartoon with the cult-following in all of its illustrated excellence; whilst making it a fundamental -‘mental’ being the key word- instalment to your kids growing book collection, or of course, your own! But if you are always trying to find new and interesting ‘hidden-gems’ to read with the kids, then this is one of them…

adventure time

There is some lovely art for all to enjoy, this includes an exclusive SDCC issue-one cover and alternative full-page pieces of art for various other issues in the collection too. Needless to say you are getting more for your money than the usual graphic-novel as it is packed full of extras. Even Finn and Jake have been embossed on the hard-back edition; and all the effort that’s been put into the look and feel of the book itself matches that of its contents. Pendleton Ward has created a crazy cartoon which has accumulated mass-appeal, and the comic is just as brilliant! The story is the adventure it claims to be and it is heavily doused with randomness and humour that we can all relate to. Expect to see lots of bright and alluring colours, highly amusing illustrations with all the usual characters; and lettering and SFX that are so well designed its as though the characters have come to life and jumped off the page to tell you the story! All of Adventure Times very talented creators have utilised their power to express their vision in the form of a comic in every way imaginable. The whole momentum of the story, panels, art, everything, is ingenious in its design and will hold your children’s attention as you relish in this some-what  different reading experience together.

Volume two is out already and we will be collecting this highly entertaining and beautiful collection, and embarking on the biggest adventure that the land of Ooo’s unforgettable residents have been on so far… Comic-books!

By Dylan Butcher. :D


                              DREDD 3D – MOVIE REVIEW:

Directed by Pete Travis.             Written and produced by Alex Garland.

In a place far, far away from the world of major comic book publishers, who are constantly comparing the size of their “assets”, there is a place where only the brave dare to descend, a place full of sleaze, riddled with crime, and plagued with the worst breeds of drug-dealers and thugs… That place is Mega City One.

In a very dark and dreary future, there is beauty in the midst of the harsh reality and that beauty rests solely in the production of this movie, because DREDD has planted the seed that will soon grow into the future of film itself. Prepare to witness the result of the most effective uses of a 3D camera, and the stuff that makes high def, blu-ray and 3D worth your time and money.

The Ma-Ma gang has got complete control over the tower-block of Peach-trees, using it as a base for the production and dealings of “slo-mo”, a new drug on the market that does exactly what it says on the bag. The violent gang leader is known as Ma-Ma (Lena Heady, 300 and Game of thrones). Judge Dredd(Karl Urban, Lord of the rings and star-trek) and Judge Anderson(Olivia Thirlby, Juno and united 93)  who is a mutant (mind reader, to be exact) hoping to be recruited, is under Dredd’s supervision for the day. They are in the block in search of the Ma-Ma gang following a triple homicide. Ma-Ma locks down the whole block with the judges inside, with a clear message to all residents that she will not re-open the shutters until they are both dead. The judges are bombarded by armed gang-bangers and are being hunted like wild animals,  they have to literally fight for their lives if they want to make it out of Peach-trees. Warning! Expect an ultra-violent, relentlessly fast-paced killing spree throughout!

dredd 3d

The slow-mo moments are an original and extremely-effective way to show off the movies special effects, HD and 3D capabilities. But this isn’t the only way they have showed off their 3D privileges, expect lots and lots of bullets, projectiles, stun grenades, explosions and executions. He is more than just a law-man, he IS the law and this version has achieved so much more than the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone did. DREDD is a credit to the 2000AD comics from Wagner and Ezquerra, and it deserves a-lot of recognition, not just from its cult - following but from the rest of the world too…

We are set up nicely for a sequel; let’s just hope it happens in order to take Dredd to the next level… Judge Death would make a fascinating and horrific movie villain, who we would remember for centuries to come! But we will just have to see if Dredd has a future in film, or if it has simply shaped the future of film as a result of this stunning production.

Follow the link below to sign the petition for there to be a sequel, because if we make enough noise it might just happen, so jump on it people, and enjoy the movie…

Judge Dredd sequel petition!

By Dylan Butcher. :D