Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mumblings about funny-books and other stuff.

During New Year's, when it was time to tell yourself the usual lies about how this year was going to be different, amongst the usual stuff about becoming a sexual tyrannosaurus fearsome enough to lure the cast of Predator out of the closet, and saintly enough to make thousands of virgins commit suicide in my honour, there was a surprisingly strong idea about trying to write more. Sharp writing skills are always useful, but it's hard to be any good at it if you never use them.

This year was going to change that.

Obviously, it has worked out brilliantly so far.

But the year's not over yet, and while I warm up the engines and try to prepare myself for the prospect of updating once (maybe even twice!) a week, here's a few links to some lovely sequential art.

Anders Loves Maria is a cute and often quite funny webcomic romance starring two people in need of a couple of good slaps, and going through the archives will be a very enjoyable way a couple of hours. The creator, Rene Engström is Swedish-Canadian and has the casual Northern European attitude towards shagging and showing rude bits to the audience, so if that sorts of thing offends you, make sure to fire up the outrage machinery before you get started with the first one that's located here.

The Great Love Swami has a new comic coming out via Avatar, which will be yours for free and deliverd in five page instalments, if memory serves. the time to launch is this:

And speaking of Ellis, one of my Christmas gifts was the first volume of Fell, collecting the first eight issues of this seminal series, and I'm still having trouble getting over just how bloody good it is.

The premise is simple: Richard Fell pissed off the wrong people, and as punishment he's been sent from Over The Bridge to Snowtown, where he's one of three and a half detective working on the homocide detail in the worst sinkhole imaginable. Each issue is a self-contained story, with a handful of regular characters and a new grisly crime, inspired by real world circumstances.

There's a hint of Ellis usual speculative fiction in there, since Snowtown is a feral city, a place where the government has simply lost its grip completely, but mostly the stories are straight detective yarns, albeit ones given a surreal spin thanks to Ben Templesmith's scratchy art and the mythical quality of the place - we never get any real names, just Snowtown, and anywhere else is Over The Bridge, making the place seem utterly lost and isolated. The inhabitants have even taken to marking every building with the Snowtown tag, as a protective magic. And there's a wordless, increasingly menacing nun in a Nixon mask constantly lurking in the background.

Fell's is also quite unusual for one of Ellis' protagonists in that he's not a terrible bastard redeemed by a few laudable, strongly held ideals, but a genuinely kind, caring man. The stories stories where that aspect really shines through tends to be my favourites, like when he has to deal with a suicide bomber in a pawn shop, an interrogation with a suspect that goes horribly wrong, and the format breaking closer that concludes with him looking out over his new home proclaiming "None of you are nothing to me", which is about as good a coda as could be imagined to the first volume.

First issue for free here. Go read. There's really no excuse not to.

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