Thursday, July 11, 2019

Film List 2019 Part 1 (The Wilderness Months)

  1. The cars that Ate Paris - My choice for an evening-in double-bill with 16 year old Daughter Number One (herinafter refered to as D#1)
  2. In Bruges - D#1's choice. She is a bit of a fan of Martin McDonagh. I loved it. True to my long-held belief that good movies affect the way you move and talk immediately after seeing them every other word we said for the rest of the night was "fecking this" and "fecking that"!
  3. Aliens -
  4. The Thing - D#1 and I continue knocking off scary movies from the 1001 Movies you Should Watch Before You Die list while the rest of the family are away.
  5. The Odd Couple - our nightly double bill becomes truncated when we both realise that we've enjoyed this so much we don't want to watch anything else.
  6. Monkey Business
  7. The Blood of Ghastly Horror
  8. 100 Years of Evil (2010) - low budget comedy about a Swedish academic convinced Adolf Hitler didn't commit suicide and had managed to escape to America where he invented Fast Food, Soap Opera, tried to reshape the figures on Mount Rushmore to show Richard Wagner and Napoleon, and was was behind the Joe McCarthy witch-hunt and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It almost works.
  9. Boccaccio 70 - 1962 Italian portmanteau movie with four sections, one of which was directed by Fellini between La Dolce Vita and I like Fellini.
  10. Thérèse Desqueyroux - French, slow, rather beautiful.
  11. Hotel Paradiso - Pretty fucking dreadful.
  12. Ocean's Thirteen - disappointing threequel. I really liked thie first two but this one was just unfocused and well, boring.
  13. Kissing Jessica Stein - Indy Gay/bi rom com with a Hollywood gloss. Genuinely funny and touching.
  14. How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer - rather dull Indy.
  15. Exit Through the Gift Shop - excellent! Very funny too.
  16. Election - a rewatch, and better than I remember.
  17. Atlantis - Amazingly dreadful British bash at a sword and sorcery flick with a cast of tens and the budget of an average village Christmas panto. Midbogglingly awful. So much so that - for the first time in ages - I had managed to find a film that apparently no one had ever watched before. At least if anyone had watched it no one had thought it worthwhile reviewing the thing on IMDb. So I did. This is, by any standard, a terrible film. technically shoddy in every respect from the set design: wrinkly sheets, plastered and painted with emulsion by the look of it standing in for 'rock' and 'cave walls', to painted cardboard boxes stacked to play the part of 'Stone Walls' and flesh crushing rollers made from carpet roll tubes. The music is endlessly the same three chords on a organ with a drum being beaten seemingly at random. The acting is amateur - with only a few of the cast trying to do anything other than get their words out without messing them up. A truly awful experience. The 'restored' version currently available on Amazon Prime contains 20 seconds where the screen goes blank for no obvious reason. The one star I did give it is for a weird little coda when (SPOILER) the high priest we have just seen vaporised in the distant past as Atlantis sinks beneath the sea, turns up in modern day London. It's so weirdly out of nowhere and nonsensical that it almost works.
  18. Visitors of the Night - tedious alien abduction TVM. During the watching of which I worked out another of my Inviolable Rules of Science Fiction Movies. Rule 8 (or possibly 9 I've lost count) All children abducted by aliens from their own home will have a rocking horse in their bedroom. And possibly some form of clockwork monkey.
  19. Conan the Barbarian - the Jason Momoa one. Jeso it was boring. Endless fight sequence after endless fight sequence with the music getting faster when we were supposed to find it exciting. Momoa is a lot cuter than Schwarzenegger, but if he hadn't been doing the "hey.... I know I'm a hunk!" eye-candy moody hooded-eyelid, as near straight into the camera look thing at every opportunity I doubt if I would have got to the end of it.
  20. Iron Man 2 - noisy stupid fun
  21. Doomsday - Ultra-violent post apocalyptic crap assembled from bits of other, better films.
  22. The 100 Year Old man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared - That was fun.
  23. Lost and Delirious - There's lots of love for this girl/girl romance/tragedy in the IMDb reviews - love which I want to share but just can't. It was all a bit too TV Movie for me. Beautifully shot in places with some really nice emotional acting, I would guess the three main actors got some good mileage out of their performances here in their showreels, but I'm afraid it just didn't work for me. I'm a real sucker for unrequited love stories. Romeo and Juliet makes me cry every time I see a production - and 'Rom and Jule' was heavily referenced and paralleled in this film but it just didn't connect. Part of the film's problem for me was that it was obviously based on a novel. Too much voice-over and speeches with language that sounded like they had come straight out of the book.
  24. Volver - I love Almadovar's movies I really do.
  25. Whisky - A very long 90 minutes."A delight... it would be a tough soul that didn't warm to this terrific little movie... It's wonderful stuff" says The Times on the back of the box. I must have a heart of flint then because I thought it was a plodding, repetitive, unimaginative bore.
  26. Blast From the Past - Funny.  Brendan Fraser doing what Brendan Fraser does best being big and cute and gormless.  The perfect manboy.
  27. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Just as Tom Baker is my Doctor Who, Basil Rathbone is my Sherlock Holmes even though the films were made 20 or so years before I was born.
  28. 101 Reykjavik -
  1. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time - Friday night popcorn with the kids.
  2. The Belles of St Trinians - which was a lot of fun. Though I did get slightly distracted by the utter hotness of one of the minor players and wondering where I had seen her before:


    A few minutes on IMDB and it turns out she's called Andree Melly and she was in Brides of Dracula (1960)


    which I haven't watched in years but is now on my Must See Again list.
  3. Lady of Burlesque - not as good as I remembered. though I was hampered by watching a bloody awful copy on the long defunct AG Plate label - a precursor, I believe, to the notoriously awful quasi-legal 23rd Century label. I wouldn't have bought it if I had known but the packaging of the disc had no indication that it was on the AG label. Only when the logo appeared on screen did my heart sink. I presume somewhere a pile of discs surfaced in a warehouse somewhere and been rebadged.
  4. John Carter - not as bad as people make out (and better on a second viewing) but I still wish they had not buggered about quite so much (and confusingly) with the original story.
  5. Escape from Tomorrow - strange little black and white film in which a man, on holiday at Disneyworld with his family, is fired from his job, has some kind of psychotic episode, and dies on the toilet. I'm not sure it entirely works - the first half feels very draggy and padded - but the fact that it exists at all is incredible. The film was shot guerilla style in Disneyworld (without permission from the Disney corporation) on video mode of domestic digital cameras with the sound recorded on iPhones.
  6. Jumanji (2017) - Much fun with the younger two of my kids.
  7. La Strada -
  8. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror - this and the Hound of the Baskervilles I watched the other day both in versions restored by UCLA and bloody lovely they were too. The Voice of Terror had some realy groovy noir lighting going on it.
  9. Ink (2009) - low budget overly-ambitious foray into Inception / Adjustment Bureau / Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind territory. A heartfelt labour of love with some great imagery but too long and laboured. A quick poke on IMDb and it turns out that I have seen the director's previous feature, The Frame, which I described on watching as; "A great idea played out far too slowly. Some ruthless editing (I guess this film could stand to lose 20 - 30 minutes without breaking sweat) and you'd have an interesting little mind-bender. As it is, it becomes a bit of a chore to watch." The same applies to Ink. The director Jamin Winans, needs to step back from the editing and let someone kill his babies and tighten up the show.
  10. Kung Fu Panda - I fell asleep about ten minutes in and then I woke up about ten minutes from the end. I don't think I missed much. I asked my daughter who was with me whether I should go back and try again. She said it was "no Penguins of Madagascar" so I guess I won't bother.
  11. Cherry, Harry & Raquel - one of Russ Meyer's lesser films. It might have been less of a lesser film if the lab hadn't irretrievably ruined half of the film while developing it but we'll never know.
  12. Elysium - I spent most of the film wondering what the hell had happened to Jodie Foster's voice. I've now seen two of Blomkamp's films. This and District 9. I didn't like either of them.
  13. Bloodrayne - Ewe Boll bollocks.
  14. Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! - Jeeso that was fun! I now have shitload of films I'd never heard of added to my my Must See List.
  15. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! - Almadova
  16. The Relic - Alien in a museum.
  17. Outlander - Beowulf with aliens.
  18. Underworld - It's Sophia Myles a go-go on the JunkMonkey moviebox this week. She was in Outlander (and the best thing in it) which I watched last night. And Underworld, I realised as I watched the end credits, provides me with the shortest route I've yet come across for me in the Game of Warwick Davis. The Game of Warwick Davis is a game that my daughters and I play in which we connect all that is Geek by circuitous routes to the the wonderful Mr D. It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but with Warwick Davis in the middle and a tacit understanding that the starting point for any chain is SF / Geeky / Comic related. Warwick Davis is singularly well connected for this kind of nerdy dominoes game in that he is one of the few actors who has been in The Star Wars franchise,Harry Potter, Doctor Who, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is the Nexus of Geek. Anyway, the route between me and Mr D: I worked as an assistant editor on a film called Wild Side - the first (released) cut of which was edited by Martin Hunter - who edited Underworld - Sophia Myles was in Underworld and the The Girl in the Fireplace episode of Doctor Who - Doctor Who - Warwick Davis. It keeps us amused.
  19. Argo - oh! For a change that was impressively as good as I was lead to believe by the review.
Fillums Abandoned in February:
  1. Tarnation - arty wank
  2. Scream of the Banshee - I gave up when a character did one of those bullshit plot corralling lines:"We've got to keep this thing under wraps till we can figure out what's going on." For NO REASON other than to keep the cast numbers down and keep the plot moving forward. No reason at all.
  1. The Addams Family
  2. Mystery Men - one of my go to movies when I just want to flop. Shared with Number 2 daughter.
  3. Evilspeak - one of those 'horror' film you only thought existed on VHS but someone thought it worthwhile releasing it on DVD. (I suspect only because it was one of the Video Nasties prosecuted for obscenity by the DPP.) . Hard to see what the fuss was about - especially as the DVD I saw is obviously a cut version.
  4. The Flame and the Arrow - Burt Lancaster - for whom I have a lot of time - at his athletic swashbuckling best. It's years since I have seen this and I didn't realise it was directed by Jacques Tourneur most famous I guess for his work with Val Lewton at RKO on low budget atmospheric classics Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. The directorial style here is pretty mundane apart from one wonderful moment that could have come from one of the earlier chillers when the hero and villain fight in a darkened room. The villain trapped by fear in the only patch of illumination as the hero prowls the darkness taunting him. Great stuff.
  5. Addams Family Values -
  6. Zatoich at the Blood Fest -
  7. A Prairie Home Companion - Robert Altman's last film and a wonderful sweet elegiac movie. I loved it.
  8. Planet of the Vampires - I finally get Number One Daughter to watch it with me - her verdict? "That was pretty groovy." Which it is.
  9. Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls - pretty shoddy 'documentary' about female Hong Kong action actresses. I guess if you were a connoisseur of the genre this might act as greatest hits collection (ho! ho! did you see what I did there?). For the rest of us it was all a bit relentlessly repetitive. Endless fight sequences - sometimes from really battered prints - with no indication which film, when it was made, or other context at all - intercut with badly-framed, low res interviews with the star in question. (One interview, obviously shot in a noisy bar or restaurant and probably on the director's phone, was spectacularly inaudible. I had no idea what the poor woman was saying over the background hubbub of other patrons. I could tell she was speaking English but that was it.) The inclusion of a clip of a naked woman beating the chopsocky crap out of a bunch of ninjas was a highlight. Naked Kung Fu. Another 25 pence not quite wasted from my local charity shop's '4 DVDs for a Pound' shelf.
  10. De Palma
  11. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau
  12. I think I Do - amiable low budget LGBTQ rom com.
  13. Franklyn - Another British Dud from the days when Lottery Funding and great costume and production design couldn't quite get movies over the hump of the script just... not... being... quite... good... enough.
  14. Sobrevivire - Spanish soap opera.
  15. Cannibal: the Musical
  1. Hollow Man 2 - which was, surprisingly enough, a hell of a lot better than I was expecting.
  2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
  3. Plunkett & MacCleane -
  4. The Ladykillers
  5. The Martian - which I thought was pretty damn terrific. But then I am a sucker for movies in which smart people solve problems.
  6. Warrior Queen (1987) - Pretty dreadful cheapo Italian swords and tits movie.
  7. Valarian
  8. Peggy Sue Got Married
  9. Pina - I know nothing about contemporary dance and understand less but WOW!
  10. AD Project (2006) - Someone, somewhere wondered what an 1970s Italian UFO film ( I found myself reminded of the bloody awful Occhi dalle stelle (1978) more than once) directed by David Lynch would look like - if he only had about 150 euros to spend on the whole show. There are a few nice edits and interesting shots but they are far outweighed by the number of failed attempts at nice edits and interesting shots. Very little in this movie is shot straight. Everything is funky angles and ultra-bold, in your face framing. The main trouble is that all the funky shots add up to very little. There's an impressive bit of steady cam at one point that starts at the bottom of a liftshaft/staircase. As the lift starts to ascend we steadycam up the stairs, around the shaft, and arrive at the first floor just as the lift arrives and a girl gets into it. (This must have taken more than a few takes to get the timing right.) This shot is followed by a cut to inside the lift - as the girl descends alone to where we started from - and that's it. There's no-one down there. It's not a POV. Doesn't advance the story, or do anything much other than impress. It's just a 'wouldn't it be great if...? shot. There's a lot of that in this film. In the end all the mysterious revisiting the events that may have happened, or may be about to happen, or are happening right now, looping time stuff just becomes hopelessly confused and pointless till, in the end, everyone just stands still in the middle of a field and big lights descend from the sky and everyone looks at them till the film is over. Leaving us none the wiser about anyone's motives for anything.
  11. Dazed and Confused - which I had seen before and liked better the last time I think. What a bunch of abusive, self-satified, middle-class wankers.
  12. The History of Time Travel (2014) - smart (but not unflawed) mocumentary about the fictional history of the US wartime time travel program which suddenly has a jarring WTF? moment in the middle of it. Just as you are starting to think you've missed something (like a reel of the movie) it becomes obvious that the 'reality' of the events being discussed by the various talking heads are, in fact, being altered by the uses to which the time travel device was put. The version of history they were talking about a few screen minutes ago no longer exists as far as they're concerned. I LIKED it.
  13. The Beast With a Million Eyes (1955) - low budget McCarthy era alien-invasion cheapo that had an alien mind taking over birds and other animals and attacking humans some 8 years before Alfred Hitcock's The Birds. Some clunking dialogue, histrionic acting, long VERY static shots of not a lot happening, and the implication that God helps out in the end - but there were moments of cheapo inventiveness.
  14. Sky Blue - Korean anime for me an uneasy mix of live action footage 3D and 2D animation which spent more time in beauty shots than it did in plot before ending in a big dumb lightshow that happyendinged everything.
  15. All About Eve -
  16. La Cité des enfants perdus -
Abandoned in April:

Les amants réguliers (Regular Lovers) after about an hour, after a particularly tedious set of shots in which we watched the back of some characters standing about in grainy black and white while something happened somewhere else - presumably wherever the characters we were staring at were staring - I switched on the on-screen display to discover I had only been watching for some 20 minutes... and the film was 3 hours long. Three hours of staring at grainy French people staring at things I wasn't allowed to see? f**k that.


  1. Ashes of Time Redux - ooooh I liked that. I liked that a lot.
  2. Dolls - rewatch of a strange, slow, rather beautiful film.
  3. All About my Mother (Todos sobre mi madre) _ I introduce D#1 to Almadova - she gets it!
  4. Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods (2014) - Number One Son is a bit of a Asterix fan and this is a genuinely funny movie. The best adaptation of an Asterix book. The 3D animation catches the original flavour of the books and some of the gags are perfectly timed - funny even when you know what's going to happen.
  5. The Happiest Days of your Life - One of the greatest 'Sunday Afternoon Movies' ever. Watched in the company of two of my kids (the 10 and 17 year old ones).
  6. Hitchcock - The book was better though this had its moments
  7. Coherence - a rewatch with #1D.
  1. Malena - I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It was almost like a caricature of an Italian Coming of Age movie. A short story stretched out far beyond the length the material could support. Monica Bellucci was ravishing as usual but didn't have to do much apart from look good, get naked, and be abused. I hope she was paid a lot. The music was wonderful but Enio Morricone can do no wrong in my book even when it sounds like he's (deliberately) channelling Nino Rota's wastepaper basket.
  2. La Jetée - D#1 wants to watch a movie and lights upon 12 Monkeys on the shelves. I make her watch the original first. She LIKES it.
  3. 12 Monkeys
  4. So, I Married an Ax Murderer - Which turned out to be even less funny than I remembered. Not very funny at all apart from a wee subplot with Alan Arkin which was basically one gag.
  5. Zelig - I laughed a couple of times.
  6. Hercules - Dwayne Johnson and Rufus Sewell in one movie! I may have to go lie down for a bit.
  7. West Side Story - for the first time. Loved it.
  8. Les Parapluises de Cherbourge - *****
  9. The Avengers - not the Bish! Bash! Kapow! superhero one, but the benighted update of the iconic 60s TV series. And it's as awful a misfire as I remember it. No idea why. There are some really nice elements in there and some nice understated touches (Mother's handbrake turn wheelchair entrance for a climatic showdown being one, and the oddly touchy-feely relationship between him and his assistant being another) but the witty repartee just wasn't witty and the odd quirkiness of the original just wasn't there. (Giant Teddy Bears excepted.) it was just flat where it should have been fizzy. Didn't work
  10. Brainstorm - Not the 1983 Douglass Trumbull one, or the 2002 Jeremy Northam one (aka Cypher) but the not at all bad low budget SF film which was called Listening when released in the States. Not bad but a little overlong in the setup.
  11. Almost Human - Another low budget (4 speaking parts and the only other two people in shot may well have not been aware they were being filmed) SF film that went slightly off the rails for me when I saw through the artifice at the 30 minute mark and spent the next 60 minutes spotting the obvious 'clues' . But not bad.
  12. Passengers - I liked it once I had got past my teeth-grinding at the the usual, "Why is everywhere on this ENORMOUS space ship fully pressurised and kept at an ambient living temperature - when there is not going to be used for 150 odd years?!" It would have been a much better film if the leads had been gender reversed and played by Steve Buscemi and Kathy Bates. But then, as Daughter #1 pointed out, most Hollywood films would be better if the leads' genders were reversed and played by Steve Buscemi and Kathy Bates.
  13. The 5th Wave - The first half of which is pretty good but, somehow, by the end I felt I was watching a pilot episode for a TV series that never got made. Pity.
  14. Circuitry Man - with Daughter #1.
  15. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - the 2013 Ben Stiller one. Which I liked... but.... and Kirsten Wiig was wonderful.
  16. Cloud Atlas - I remember liking the book though very little about it other than its interesting nested structure and a couple of "wait that doesn't work" moments that stuck in my head. One involving the nailing shut of a door and the other concerning the geography of Hull a city where I used to live. The film is interesting but didn't capture me. I also got a bit thrown out of the picture when I recognised a couple of the locations (local to me now) and the back alleys of inner-city Glasgow that were doubling for American inner-city alleys (as they often do). Interesting though.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I have just spent the last two days resisting buying this:

A French comic from the 1980s featuring underwater Kung Fu on Shark Attack action!  I mean how brilliant IS that on a scale of zero to 25?  About a 23 I reckon.

Sadly the interior art looks less than stellar

so I won't be buying "Steel Punch".  But it is nice to know (in some way I'm not sure I can define) that, while franco-belge comics are frequently things of utter beauty and the best comic art in the world, there were still people churning out badly drawn crap like this.

EDIT: Looking at it again I suspect the artist here is Italian.  There's something about the sloppy style that just says fumetti.  

Sunday, June 16, 2019

I have spent most of my Getting Some Art Done Time playing in bits of Photoshop I have known about for a while but never really explored - seriously it's a maze. I have pay out string to find my way back to my desk sometimes.

I have this idea that I want to make my next comic - paper one - look like a real comic. Printing technology is getting too good. I like the texture of old fibrous absorbent wood pulp paper and the sloppy soaked-in inks they used up until the 80s? 90s?

These days comics are printed so well, on such good quality paper, that people can use gradations of colour and detail unheard of 30 years ago. If you want imperfections you have to build them in. You can't rely on rattling old printing presses shaking something loose or overworked underskilled careless printers to randomly do it for you.

Comics look too slick these days.


So I've been messing around channels and coming up with groovy new ways to make my art look messy(er). The big break was finding a button that splits a flattened CMYK image into editable greyscale images each one corresponding to a different channel... I can see your eyes glazing over but this is seriously exciting stuff for me. That and finding the option in Illustrator (that I could have done with knowing about ages ago) that lets me preserve transparency when autotracing imported PSDs.... Trust me. It's been a good night.

Friday, June 14, 2019

New Comic.

Is on it's way to the printer!  (To be utterly accurate it's at the printers waiting to be printed.)

Now the hard bit. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Brute # 2

When I'm not drawing comics I'm often reading comics.  All sorts of comics.  Superhero comics, French cowboy comics, long confessional autobiographical self-indulgent waffle comics.  Sometimes I really slum it and dig out the box in which I hoard my Atlas Seaboard collection:

Previous dips into my box of Bloody Awful Atlas Seaboard comics can be found here:

and where were we?  Issue 2 of The Brute:

Previously, a thawed-out superhuman prehistoric pre-human (The Brute) has thrown several people to their grisly deaths (and possibly eaten a couple) and is fleeing captivity - redheaded, pipe-smoking police chief Frazier has sworn to kill him on sight (sometimes, he keeps changing his mind).

The Brute's only 'friend' is ace anthropologist Dr Ann Turner. At the end of the previous issue the Brute has stowed away in the undercarriage of light aeroplane Songbird 5HI7... and now, somehow, is on the plane's roof....

A page later the Brute throws the other guy out. "He had no way of knowing," says our narrator, "that these flyers meant him no harm... that their plane but a machine, not a fearsome pteranodon!"

How the hell the Brute would know what a pteranodon was is an interesting point as he was shown battling mammoths in the last issue.  Either the Brute has wandering around in defiance of evolutionary theory since the late Cretaceous when dinosaurs roamed the earth or the author is an ignoramus and/or a Young Earther.

Needless to say, a plane without anyone flying it, and half a ton of pre-human ape-beast sitting on the cowling, is bound to....

Within two panels a pair of shadowy mysterious figures are at the crash site.

As luck would have it, the Brute has landed smack in the middle of an Ed Wood Re-enactment Society get-together.  The two shadowy figures turn out to be Dr Speer and his hunchback assistant Eric.

"Examine the wreckage carefully! We must salvage every electronic part that might possibly be of use in our work!", says Dr Speer.  "The engine for example!"    (er... ok...)

Doctor Look--!  I can stick my finger right up my nostril!

Weird salvage is soon forgotten, however, when the two discover the Brute lying within the wreckage.  "It appears that he is still alive! Ha! Ha! Ha!" -- "After some minor surgery he will fit in perfectly with my plan for vengeance!"

Who is this mysterious Dr Speer? and vengeance upon whom?  Good questions.  Luckily the not so good doctor spends the next three pages telling us exactly why, what, and whom in a long, rambling, Ed Woodesquian monologue.  This monologue is delivered to the faithful Eric (who must have heard it all a thousand times before) who manages to squeeze in a couple of  "I know"s in at the corners of  panels in the hope the crazed old loon will take the hint and shut up.

Basically, Dr Loon has been; "persecuted by the scientific establishment" for trying to create a race of amphibious 'REPTILE MEN' which would allow the human race to survive the coming nuclear annihilation. He has had his "Licence to experiment" taken away by "jealous scientists" after his experiments to convert "Bums, derelicts, hobos," and other "men of no value" into the Creature From the Black Lagoon ended up with them all dying.  "We must stop him!", you can almost hear these other scientist cry. "If he continues on at this rate there won't be any helpless dregs of society left for OUR deranged experimental programs!"

So, deep in the woods Dr Demento has perfected his technique and needs new victims.  He will implant a 'mind control electrode' (I think they stock them in Radio Shack) into the Brute and use him to kidnap members of 'the academy' so he can convert them into REPTILE MEN! Mwahahaha!  By the way we have now segued from Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster land to Ted V Mikels' Astro Zombies land.

"Meanwhile, several hundred miles away..." Hunky Police Chief Frazier has had another extraordinary flip flop about the Brute and no longer wants to shoot him dead on sight (which is what he wanted to do for a lot of last month's episode before changing his mind several times - mainly because he fancies the tits off  blonde anthropologist Dr Turner - who is determined to save the Brute from being shot dead on sight).  This man is the Boris Johnson of comic book police chiefs.  "Yes! Yes! Anything! Just let me in your knickers!"

The chief tells Dr Turner that he's had radio reports about a 'monster' on a missing plane and, though he can show her 'map coordinates' of where the pain has crashed, he's not bothering to go up and take a look until morning and if she can get there first maybe she can save the Brute from being "riddled with police bullets!" - What kind of fucking cop IS he?  "I have a crashed air-craft, two missing possibly dead civilians, and yeah whatever... I'll go up in the morning.  While you are there if you see a couple of dead aviators lying about just shove them in body bags and send them to the Civil Aviation authority will you?  And if you could do a full crash investigation while you're at it...? 


To test if 'the mind control' he has implanted in the Brute's brain worked and "see if my brilliant operation has been successful" (Will it still be a 'brilliant operation' if it doesn't?)  Speer gets the Brute to smash that standard piece of lab equipment, a huge isometric cinder block balanced on two 1960s TV stands.  There was one in our school chemistry lab.  We never dared ask what it was for - but there were rumours.

Needless to say the cinder block gets smashed. "Yes! Brilliant operation! I win! I win!". And then, to doubly check, Speer gets the Brute to smash poor Eric against a wall because the good doctor is fed up with him.  "You have outlived your usefulness" (to the plot).  That and the poor, misunderstood  Brute hasn't pointlessly murdered anyone for seven pages.

Somewhere else:

Dr Frederic Bertham's current line of research involves pointing small cannon at his forehead for some reason - possibly in an attempt to cure his horribly dislocated right shoulder.

Dr Bertham is hijacked on his way home from work by the Brute, carried to Speer's remote lab,
and operated on.  Mwahaha!

Another somewhere else:

Quite how 'Nuclear Physicist Dominic Beckman' is preparing for bed in this panel is a open to conjecture but, after smoking a cigarette, while pondering the 'news announcement' of Dr Bertham's mysterious disappearance, the Brute hijacks him from his own bed, carries him to Speer's remote lab,
where he is operated on.  Mwahaha!

And, somewhere else again: 

"This is Dr Legrand... " 

That ellipsis after the doctor's name represent the author's attempt to come up with third kind of scientist, " Molecular Biologist... Nuclear Physicist... and... and... oh crap! there has to be another kind of comic book scientist... erm... erm... whatever... I'll come back to this..."

Whatever kind of scientist Legrand (or later, 'Le Grand') is I hope it isn't in the field of electronics - unless this is THE Dr Legrand.  Inventor of that phone where you talk into the earpiece.

And that poor cop.  "Wha--?" indeed. As if throwing custard on the bugger was going to stop him.

Needless to say:  Dr Legrand... Brute... Hijack... operate... Mwahaha!


Dr Ann Turner has arrived at the crash site - which means that ALL of that Scientist ... Brute... Hijack... Operate... Mwahaha!  stuff happened in ONE NIGHT. Wow!  That's some going even for a homicidal Neanderthal and a crazed scientist named after Hitler's architect.  A crazed scientist who now gets to deliver one of the greatest lines in comic book history:

"I'm going to give Dr Le Grand the face of a platypus."

Sheer poetry.

The knock on the door is, as you would expect, Dr Turner who is looking for--

Oh, there he is...

Dr Speer, is delighted that find that scientists are now delivering themselves to his front door without having to send the Brute out to fetch them. (Tesco's have been doing this for years in our area.)   He immediately hatches a wizard wheeze.

 Nice of the mad bastard to take his hand away from her mouth long enough for her to have a quick "=gasp=" there.

Instructed to strap the girl to 'that other operating table', the Brute rebels!

(Forget Bride of the Monster and Astrozombies, we're in King Kong and Ann Darrow territory here.)

So, with all the pieces finally in place (apart from the police chief who isn't due to saunter up to the woods some time in the morning and who is, probably, at this very same moment, actively ignoring three drive-by shooting and a bank robbery in progress), and with only 3 pages to go to wrap this up - we can finally get on with the Brute vs Lizard Men action promised on the front cover.

The anticipation....

The Lizard Men are released!  At LAST!  Prehistoric Cave Brute faces the 'MONSTROUS PERIL' as he is  ATTACKED by AMPHIBIOUS REPTILE MEN!  The titanic battle twixt mammal and ex- mammal fish/beast/lizard things is HERE!

...and that's it.

"The pathetic reptile men are no match for the prehistoric ferocity of the beast man..."
Two panels.


Well, Doctor Speer, obviously, who gets hurled into the Mk IV Acme Machine Most Likely to Explode standing in the corner of the lab'.

 "The Rancid oder of searing flesh"? I would guess the author is either: slipping in some vegetarian polemic there, or he has never been to a BBQ. And if it's purely a human flesh thing, I can tell you from personal experience - I once gave myself a really nasty burn with a blowtorch - that cooking human flesh smells delicious.  Just like roasting pork.  It was a very strange moment.  I was in extreme pain and simultaneously very hungry.

And 'oder'?  The Oder is a river in Poland.

So Ann flees.  Lab goes boom!  Ann is sad that the Brute is dead.  Ann goes home.  Brute emerges from the wreckage to continue his next Littlest Hobo adventure; "Not knowing WHERE to turn who he can TRUST... truly... ALONE!"

And I think that's enough of that.  I'll put the box of Atlas comics away for another few months.  Even my addled brain can't take much of this.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

I really find it hard to understand how I gave up drawing for so long.  For years I just didn't draw.  The occasional doodle, sketch-maps, or rough diagram but not real DRAWING.  Now I find I really can't stop.  I really do love to draw. Here's some rampaging nuns I just threw onto the page at daughter number 2's suggestion for something to fill an awkward space in the new comic's back pages. (It relates to one of the stories in the book.)

It's not the greatest drawing in the world.  I will be the first to admit that.  But it flew off the end of my pencil in minutes and was coloured just as quickly.  I think I might JUST be starting to get a handle on this cartooning lark

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Stupendous Stories

Oh this is a good omen.

After spending a couple of hours hand-crafting, from the finest, high quality pixels that money can buy, the cover for my next book. Then lovingly, tenderly, folding them into a superb, bespoke PDF format with just a zest of hyperbole to tingle the eyebuds - I actually go look on - the largest Comic Book Database in the known universe - to see if anyone has ever made a book called Stupendous Stories before. 

They haven't.

They have now.


(The regular reader of this blog - a wonderful construction that sounds like I am addressing each member of a large group individually, when I really know for a fact there is only one of you - the regular reader of this blog will have noticed that this cover looks nothing at all like the cover I was drawing "for my next comic" a few posts ago.  That's because this comic isn't that comic. The editorial staff of Gosh Wow comics (Merriol) decided that we were doing an all superhero comic this time instead of the mixed bag anthology Derek I was planning, or the all-SF Tales of the Unaccepted I haven't got enough material for.  So we've started a new title just for the superhero nonsense.  One of these days I'll get round to working on the second Geeks book.  I have a story plotted out - mostly - and pages of dialogue written and thumnailed.... One of these days. )

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Art has been cancelled.

Art has been cancelled because my computer has stopped talking to my scanner - or vice versa.  Which is a BIT of a bugger as it's the only way I can get the pages and pages of comic strip I have drawn into the wider world of Photoshop, Sketchbook, and the other post- paper and pencil software I use to do the lettering and colouring (and fixing my more awful drawing disasters) and thence to the web and eager eyeballs all over the world.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, I suspect this only a temporary aberration - probably caused by me fucking with things that should not be fucked with - though I don't remember thinking "I wonder if this is entirely safe?" recently...

Ah well.  I just wish it hadn't happened in the middle of a seven page strip.  6 pages so far pencilled only 5 scanned.


Friday, May 17, 2019

I'm taking a wee break from the 7 page superhero strip I'm currently working on to start  on the cover for the next paper comic:  We have a con or two coming up and I need to have something new to point at as people walk past the stall not buying stuff.  That and I needed a break from endlessly (it seems) drawing the same two guys and trying to make them look interesting as they deliver their lines (sequential art is HARD! Especially when you're foolish enough to write a script in which the entire cast is the same character from multiple alternate universes.  I'm never doing THAT again.) So, this evening, after finishing pencilling the day's page (six panels including one total cop out "I'll add the interdimensional portal thingy in Photoshop later" panel) I had fun throwing my space-babe heroine into the clutches of something with a LOT of tentacles.

This isn't totally gratuitous - there is a gag coming.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

One of the great ways old SF movies (I'm talking about the 1950s and 60s here) used start was  to have our intrepid scientist/adventurers hold a press conference.  This was a great way  to get a shedload of info-dumping done thus getting the audience up to speed before the fun and games dodging meteor showers, getting attacked by giant rubber spiders, and trying not to kill the annoyingly stupid comic relief got going.   During the press conference  the scriptwriters could straight out answer the questions in the audience's mind (e.g.. "WTF is going on?") by having the questions posed for them by men with press passes tucked into their hatbands.   Concepts like multi-stage rockets, zero gravity, and the need to get to the moon before the 'Commies' could be explained in excruciating detail without sounding TOO much like a lecture.  These press conferences would often end with a Lady Reporter asking the Woman Scientist on the expedition for the 'Feminine Angle'.   (Sadly not ONE single Woman Scientist - and they always were single - answered '27 point seven degrees' which is a very feminine angle.  "None of your Right angled macho square stuff for me!").

 I digress.

 I have noticed that I have tendency to do something similar in my strips.  I find I often draw someone telling a crowd of people a whole pile of stuff that helps set up the joke.  A leader rallying his troops, a town crier making an announcement, a politician hectoring an audience.   In the strip I'm working on now I have a mass meeting of superheroes from across multiple dimensions - the trouble is jotting down 'crowd of faces' in my sketchbook as I'm writing the strip and doing a few loopy circles is easy....

When it come to DRAWING the bloody thing properly...

I seriously hate myself at the moment (well, the part of me that has to do the art hates the bit that writes the stuff) which is why I probably shouldn't work with writers.

My current work in progress has 106 faces IN THE FIRST PANEL!  All of which are attached to bodies and clothes and all of which will need colouring.... I am really going to have to give myself a stern talking too.  While I'm at it I'll give all the other bits of myself that do silly things a good talking to as well.  I'll hire a hall.

Hmm... I may get a strip out of this....

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Comic Strip Writing 102

Argh! Looking through my recent  Arthur story on line I noticed two HUGE typos - since corrected - HOW DOES this happen?

Meanwhile I'm working on a superhero yakfest which runs to 7 pages but... and this is a BIG 'but' for me... (And yes, I can hear my kids snikkering - "he said 'big butt' snarf! snarf!") ...I'm getting organised. I'm doing the layout and lettering first. The thumbnail/script in my sketchbook looks like a workable layout* instead of my usual mess of tiny panels with too much text crammed into them Sometimes sideways and onto the next page, often with little arrows and asterisks telling me where to go next.

Usually this means that as I draw the strip out, the art has to expand to make room for the words and I will often find what was one page of doodle in the sketchbook turns into 3 or more pages of strip.
Sometimes X and a half pages which is kind of annoying because then I'll have to go back and write MORE stuff to get to the bottom of a page.

This time though I'm pretty sure I can stick to my plan - which will be a first. So do the lettering, Print out the pages. Draw in round the word bubbles. What can go wrong...?

[Watch this space.]

* I think I had just read Tim Pilcher and Dave Gibbons' rather excellent book How Comics Work and had obviously learned something.

Monday, May 06, 2019


Daughter #1 and I went on the AUOB  Indy March in Glasgow on Saturday.  The first time I have ever felt able to march / walk / protest (whatever) while carrying the national flag. I have loathed nationalism and the parochial mindsets that go with 'National Pride' and the symbology of banners all my life.  The only flags I have felt any identification with have been wide, all-inclusive ones.  The Pride Rainbow...  The EU flag... symbols of hope over adversity -  but these are interesting times.

So I carried a flag and walked in the sunshine and chanted a bit and blethered with people. For a while D#1 and I walked beside a bunch of middle-aged gay women carrying Rainbow, EU, and Scottish flags.  I felt more comfortable with them.

At the end of two hours we reached the rally at Glasgow Green and D#1 and I split off to go and get a coffee at Mono.  (I'm so out of condition I needed  a sit down.)  We had coffee, D#1 bought a couple of CDs and a DVD, we chatted a while, and when we came out  the march was still arriving at the rally.  There were a LOT of people.

I felt like I had been part of something.

I don't know who took this photo,
 or where it's from
 but isn't it GREAT?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Part 2 of the "Every film I watched, attempted to watch, or fell asleep in the middle of" for 2018.

  1. Five Fingers -
  2. Monty Python's meaning of Life
  3. Fortress - well that was as awful as I remembered it being. Holy crap! They made a sequel!
  4. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon - which, having not watched it for many years and then obviously not on a colour television ( yes- that long!), I was surprised to find wasn't in Black and White.
  5. The Scarlet Claw Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
  6. Storm - Swedish SF/Fantasy/Existential Angst/Couldn't Make Its Mind Up movie that started off well but just lost me somewhere as it all turned out to be a lot less interesting than it was trying to be.
  7. Star Trek Nemesis - I guess this must have been one of the more interesting Star Trek films because I only fell asleep once while watching it.
  8. Lost Future - In the distant future tribal survivors of a plague fight for survival and a cure - watchable despite some seriously holey plot. Impressive set design work though.
  9. The Tomorrow Man - not bad low-budget (near zero SFX ) time travel story in which a wanted criminal goes back in time to kidnap himself from his abusive father in order to take him into the future to give him a better childhood.
  10. In Time - nice idea (time is literally currency - everyone gets born with 25 years of life but can buy gamble trade for more time to extend their lives) and it's an idea interestingly played with - but there are plot holes you could drive several buses through (side by side some of them) and enough 'gosh! wasn't THAT lucky?' moments for several films, but it looks good. Very stylish. There was enough going on that wasn't totally stupid to keep me watching .
  11. Valley of the Bees (1967) - I don't know a lot about Czech cinema but so far I have been pretty well impressed by everything I have seen.
  12. Ocean's Twelve - That was silly. A bit soggy at the end but a fun ride.
  13. Return of the Pink Panther - I introduce my younger kids to Inspector Cluseau. We all giggled like loons. Great fun.
  14. Iron Sky - it had its moments.
  15. Narcoplis - low budget British SF which thought it was cleverer than it was. Anyone who had read any Philip K Dick or read ANY time travel SF could have told you what was going to happen for the rest of the film from about 5 minutes in. The rest of the world could have told you from about 10 minutes in. The film has a prologue set twenty years before the action of the main film. A title card "Twenty years earlier" separates the two. Our cop hero finds the unidentifiable body of a man of about 29 years old - and then goes to see his nine year old son and gives him a copy of H G Wells' The Time Machine as a present. (Three Very Dramatic Chords please)... blah blah blah...
  16. The Mask - (with Number One Son). Never seen it before. I thought it was crap.
  17. It's a Wonderful Life - with Number 2 Daughter.
  18. Alien - with Number 1 Daughter.
  19. Forbidden Planet - with daughter #2
  20. Razorback - Giant mutant pig terrorizes a bit of the Australian outback as seen through the filter of an MTV video director who went on to make the hilariously awful Highlander.
  21. Dracula 3: Legacy A film I own only because it has Rutger Hauer in in it - a few years ago I dared myself to watch every film he has ever made. Boy has he been in some s**t. I have no idea why I dared myself to do this stupid thing but I did and I shall. Dracula 3: Legacy was very s**t. One of those films where Hauer was obviously on set for two or three days at most (all his scenes took place in one set) and had a huge vampire lesbian orgy in it (on a different set) which was even less interesting than the usual lackluster "Do we have to...?" movie lesbian vampire stuff that turns up in Jean Rollin's movies of the 70s. I really must get round to watching some of his good films.
  22. My Bloody Valentine (1981) Canadian slasher film on a DVD, which my teenage daughter tells me, has been shorn of all the "Good Gory Bits". From her descriptions of what was cut I don't think I missed much.

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Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

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