Friday, 16 February 2018

THE BOOK OF THE GAME OF THE FILM - Jerry Ellis



When I was a lad I was one of those who revelled in the introduction of the home computer, soon upgrading my ZX81 for a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Naturally, I laughed at the poor fools who championed the Commodore 64, secretly worried that I had picked the wrong horse to bet on but determined to plough the furrow I had chosen. Among the ridiculous amount of games on those machines and many others were movie tie ins, and I fonly remember the likes of Robocop, Cobra and Batman amongst others. Author and general fountain of knowledge Jerry Ellis remembers them, too, but he remembers oh, so much more, and in his book he shares it with us.



The Book Of The Game Of The Film is, as you'd expect, a look at computer (not console) games based on films, but it's not that simple. Firstly, although the main glut of the book deals in film based games, it also has sections for TV, book and comic based games, so there's a bit more than expected. Secondly, and best, this isn't a dry look at the games concerned, wibbling on about graphics and technical issues, or even a reviews book. TBOFGOTF is, above all, fun to read. Yes! Fun!


Although the games themselves are detailed, naturally, we also get a decent slab of information on the film, book, programme or comic character it's based on, often containing genuinely interesting facts with which to bore your (soon to be ex) friends down the pub. Because of this book, I now know which dirty film was the highest grossing Canadian film for the twenty years before My Big Fat Greek Wedding came along, and I also know just why Bruce Lee told people to be 'Like water'. Do you know these things? Do you care? Well, I both know them and care, but I didn't know them (or care, really) before I got this book. If, liek me, you're a keen quizzer who loves old computer games you really are in f or a treat.



The books layout is nice and simple, with each game given exactly the same treatment and space - no favourites here! Although it's not in alphabetical order there is an index for quick referencing of your fondly remembered titles. It helped me realize that I was remembering correctly that Battle Of The Planets not only had zero to do with the cartoon but also offered a prize for the highest score. 300 pages thick with glossy pages and a slipcover, it's certainly well made, although the A5 size will mean some squinting for us oldies. Limited to 250 copies (at least initially) it can be your for under £30 including postage, and whilst I initially balked at the price I am very glad I took the plunge, and if you used to spend countless hours watching games load of a cassette you will be too.


Buy Direct From Golem Books



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

ACCIDENT MAN- Film Review


Back in the early 1990s a bunch of UK comic creators decided to have a go at doing their own comic so they could control the content and keep the profits. The comic was called Toxic and it was a good idea handled badly. One of the undisputed highlights was Accident Man, created by writers Pat Mills and Tony Skinner in tandem (visually brought to life by Martin Edmund and later Duke Mighten), and it introduced us to Mike Fallon, an assassin whose hits were made to look like accidents, hence the name. Full of violence and black humour, it was a cracking read while it lasted and it was obvious to all it would make a great film. Thing is, no one made it...

 


Enter Scott Adkins. Adkins is a veteran Uk actor and action movie star. Not just a pretty face and a lethal right foot, he is a professional actor who is also a very good martial artist. Coinicidentally, he has been wanting to make an Accident Man movie since reading it as a kid. Not known for his screenwriting, this is his first attempt (with another newbie writer Stu Small), after putting up his own money to secure the rights. Basically, it's a total passion project for Adkins, and passion is very important when making a movie, right?



First up, I have to say that I loved Accident Man through and through. The plot is taken from the comic itself, although embellished for filmic purposes, as are several characters. For those who get arsed off with film adaptations fucking with the source material this is a godsend. More Dredd then Judge Dredd, this would even bring a smile to Alan Moore's face (okay, that might be stretching it). Adkins himself is pretty spot on as Fallon, and would have been inspired casting even if he weren't otherwise involved. Elsewhere he ropes in stunt and fighting mates like Michael jai White, Ray Park and the impreesive Amy Johnston to bring some of Fallon's fellow hit persons to life. Also in the mix is Ray Stevenson as the owner of the assassins bar where they all congregate and get their jobs. (There's more to the character than this but I don't want to spoil anything). Throw in some recognisable, reliable British character actors and you have a surprisingly solid cast.


As far as action goes, it's all done brilliantly. All the players are experts at on screen (and off) ass kicking, so the level of expertise rivals some of Jackie Chan's movies. The direction eschews the usual Hollywood fast cutting bollocks for lengthier shots showcasing the moves involved and it makes quite a difference to the feel of the film. A nice touch is Fallon's voiceover that permeates the film, bringing some very nice humour to the proceedings and mirroring the narration in the comic exactly. The whole thing is very British, very violent and very amusing, with my favorite quote being "We speak the Queen's English in here, alright you C**T!". Yes, it's definitely not safe for work.



If you've not read the comic, it's well worth checking out. If you liked Deadpool you will love this as a more grass roots version (Adkins and Reynolds are quite similar looking, too). If you like guff like Rise Of The Foot Soldier and the like you'll love this for the cockney smack ups and superior plot/dialogue. If you just lik action movies with decent fights you'll love this. Most of all, if you ARE a fan of the comic you have no excuse, as this is one of the best comic to screen adaptaions yet. Set up nicely for a sequel, Accident Man doesn't slip up even once.

TRAILER


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

ANT WARS COMPLETE COLLECTION




Only a year younger than 2000AD itself, Ant Wars debuted in 1978 to an audience who were still very much entertained by the idea of giant insects causeing havoc and generally eating people to the melodious screams of "Aieeeee!" and the like. The question that has to be answered by this collection is whether people will still be entertained by this sort of guff, as giants ants are unlikely to have the same appeal for 50 year olds as they did 10 year olds.

Rebellion have been doing a sterling job of reprinting genuine clasics from the 70s, as my glowing reviews of Faceache, the Leopard From Lime St and others will attest. The choice of Ant Wars is, then, rather odd, as it would be hard to find many people who would read it today and stick the word 'classic 'anywhere near it's grasping mandibles.

 

Set in South America, it concerns giant mutant ants (caused by experimental chemicals, natch) that have to be stopped before they basically take over the world. Leading the fray are the usual square jawed nobhead and a native boy who likes to eat ants. Naturally the nobhead learns that the 'savage' is pretty handy really, and comes to respect him blah blah blah. The action crawls from location to location as our heroes barely excape with their skin intact until finally the ants are squashed.


Ant Wars is a traditional B movie of a strip, and to be honest it's hard to see any other way it could have been done at the time. It's a throwaway story that will likely be read, filed and forgotten. Gerry Finlay-Day knew how to stretch out a story and he does so with his usual flair here, ably abetted by some decent Spanish artists. As a slice of pulp history it's not all that bad, really, just not something that ever needed dragging out yet again (it's been reprinted in comic form a few times) to get the royal treatment of a graphic novel release.


Also included here is the 2005 Judge Dredd Megazine tale Zancudo, from Simon Spurrier and Cam Kennedy. The tale of two judges beset by more bloated South American insects failed to amuse me then and does even less now, as despite the talent involved it's a real yawn fest, even managing to make me miss the glorious pulp of the main story.

In conclusion, this collection should be approached with caution. The main story is very dated and overlong, whilst the back up fails to entertain in any way that really matters. Both have some good art. and giant insects are always fun for a while, but I hope Rebellion delve deeper into the real treasure of Britsh comics and leave stuff like this buried in the jungle.

Buy from the 2000AD shop





Thursday, 7 December 2017

PAT MILLS/KEVIN O'NEILL - "GOODNIGHT JOHN BOY"- Book Review



If you are an avid reader of this little blog (surely there's one) you may remember I reviewed Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill's debut novel earlier this year, and having thoroughly enjoyed it I was happy to see the sequel arriving so soon afterwards.

'Goodnight John Boy' sees anti hero Dave Maudling still toiling away at Fleetpit Publishing in mid 1970s Britain. As an editor, he is able to subvert his readers by putting in genuine ways to make lethal devices/poisons within the pages of daft boys own romp 'The Caning Commando', but whereas he intended for his hated readership to off themlselves he has discovered they are instead utilizing the methods against adults who most definitely deserve it. As he comes to terms with this, Dave is also still trying to find out who murdered his sainted mother, as well as attempting to indulge is rather unhealthy fur fetish and get it on with the lovely Joy.

It was a mad life in British comics of the 70's and the authors were there to experience it. As a result, this book continues the trend set in the previous one of mixing facts with fiction very satisfactorily. The two are best known for their work on 2000AD, and as such the latter part of the book involves Dave preparing to set up a new science fiction weekly called 'Space Quest'. Indeed, art imnitates life a lot when it comes to the comic stuff, and it brought a smile to my face when the subversive, violent "Aaargh!" is deemed to nasty for kids and scrapped, only to be brought back in a heavily sanitised form, just like Action in the 70s.

Storywise, I was certainly kept gripped. It's not an action fuelled romp, more a wander round the backstreets and mucky clubs. We see Dave finally discover his backbone and become more of a likable lad than before, and also there's plenty pertaining to the abuse of children by authority figures. Crikey! Despite this subject being rather near the knuckle it's refreshing to have authors not afraid to tell it like it is, although it's not horribly graphic or anything. Elsewhere, there's actually plenty of chuckles throughout, as it's peppered with memorable, slightly mad characters, not to mention more stories from The Caning Commando that had me giggling at their absurdity.

If you enjoyed 'Serial Killer' there's no doubt part two will be devoured with equal gusto, and like me you'll be waiting expectantly for the concluding volume. The quality hasn't dipped in the slightest, and it was no chore to rip through it in two sittings. Fans of British comics history will find more to enjoy than those not aware of how it all went down, but even newcomers will find a satisfying, amusing read. Think Tom Sharpe meets Robert Rankin in a dark alley and you're half way there. Kudos to Mills and O'Neill for keeping this going, so give them your support and give it a go.

https://www.millsverse.com/

Thursday, 16 November 2017

FACEACHE VOL 1: THE FIRST 100 SCRUNGES - BOOK REVIEW



Ken Reid is deservedly a bit of a legend in British kids comics of yesteryear. If you're of a certain age you will have come accross many of his creations as I did when I was a kid. There was Frankie Stein, Jonah, Roger The Dodger (Great dodge, eh readers!) and perhaps the most fondly remembered of all, Faceache.

First appearing in Jet in 1971, Faceache moved to Buster and stayed there until Reid died in 1987. Contained here are, as it says in the title, the first 100 single page strips, starting with Jet. For those who never had the chance to read it, Faceache is a boy who can manipulate his face and body into almost any shape, the more grotesque the better. Naturally he uses these talents to con people out of cash or sweets (often ending up a croppe) or in many cases he's just out for revenge on a miserable adult or a bully.  The 'scrunges' of the title come from the sound effect used when he contorts his features, and although it's a northern slang word for filth it fits perfectly and will stay with you for the rest of your life, probably because it's such fun to say. Scrunge. See!


What follows after the nice introductions (from Alan Moore and Reid's son Antony) are 100 very silly and very creative giggle fests. The joy of Reid's work was always his illustrative genius, and he had a way with detail that put him up on a par with Leo Baxendale as one of the most innovative creators of the times. The amount of fun on each page is breathtaking, as are the wonderful forms that Faceache takes every week. I'm amazed at how much I enjoy it over 40 years later, to be honest, and am convinced that even today's litte 'orrors would have a lot of fun with this. Given the choice of another crappy modern annual or a scrumptious, scrunge filled hardback copy of this (for only £14.99 readers!) I know what I'll be buying this year.



Official Shop Link

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

BRUCE DICKINSON – 'What Does This Button Do?' - BOOK REVIEW



One of the criteria for writing a good autobiography is that it helps if you have led an interesting life, and Paul Bruce Dickinson has certainly done that. Another is actually being able to write the bloody thing well enough to make it fun to read, and blow me if he hasn't gone and done that as well. 

The book landed in my lap with the satisfying thump of 350-odd pages, satisfyingly unintimidating yet beefy enough to get stuck into on a cold afternoon. Dickinson's mantra of 'No births, marriages or divorces' is interesting, and he never divulges any of that information about himself, or indeed anybody else, concentrating on much more interesting stuff. For 'more interesting stuff' read 'school, Iron Maiden, solo stuff, flying and cancer' – in that order. Existing fans will likely be well aware of these five stages in his life, but this doesn't make it any less interesting to finally get the truth about, for example, exactly what he did to his headmaster's beans that got him kicked out of public school.

Dickinson has always come across as a man happy to speak both his mind and the truth, and this comes across throughout the book, as does his continuing amazement at a life that has given him opportunities and obstacles that have all been grasped and embraced or despatched as appropriate. The early days of Maiden are given suitably in depth treatment, and as his career goes on he wisely scales back the Maiden stuff, such as in depth album introspection, and wanders off into other interests and experiences, most notable fencing, his solo career and, in the latter part of the book, flying. The last section concerns his battle with cancer, and it's brutally frank and often laugh out loud, as Dickinson spares no faecal detail. It's like watching highlights of a football match, in that I was cheering him on even though I knew what the result would be. 


'What Does This Button Do' is a quite a read, and of course the perfect Christmas present for any Iron Maiden fan. As with Bruce himself, though, there's so much more to it than Iron Maiden, and I can honestly say that he is a genuine role model and inspiration for his sheer determination to attack life with determination, honesty and a sense of humour. Short hair, no tattoos, no drugs (well, not these days), this is what rock and roll is all about!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

MISTY VOLUME 2 - Graphic Novel Review



After the relative delights of Misty Volume 1, it's nice too see further stories getting the same treatment, and as ever Rebellion publishing have been quite careful with their selections.This time they've concentrated on writer Malcom Shaw, who penned both of the serials contained here, and once again it's a nice treat for anyone who misses the comic.

Whilst Misty was ostensibly aimed at the fairer sex, it was still highly accessible to boys, a fact evidenced by the sheer amount that have since admitted to reading their sister's copy each week. It ran for an impressive (for the late 70s) 101 issues before being swallowed by Tammy, and because it never had any regular stories it's influence on the sister title was minimal. What it did have was plenty of dark, horror themed serials that have left a mark on many people's memories. As we all know, girls' comics could be very nasty, and Misty was almost a bit of relief from some of the sadistic stories of other titles, as rather than have cruelty for it's own sake the emphasis was on storytelling, and if a bit of nastiness was there too then go for it.


The first half of the book is taken up by a story that many readers have been clamouring for, "The Sentinels". The sentinels of the title are two identical high rise tower blocks (proper 70s stuff here), one of which is empty because, you know, strange things happen in it. Our heroine is Jan, and her family is made homeless. Desperate, they move into the deserted tower block and, well, strange things happen in it. Where the reader may have expected a spooky tale, the reality was far more bizarre, unexpected and creative. You see, it turned out that within the tower block there was a portal to an alternate Britain where the Nazis had won the war and still ruled over us, the bastards. Unsurprisingly, Jan goes through and get mixed up in all sorts of stuff, including meeting her own alternate world double, and the drama unfolds.



"The Sentinels" truly is a bizarre, dark and highly entertaining read. Mario Capaldi's art is decent and effective, whilst Shaw handles the script deftly, never allowing the reader to second guess the plot or give up due to any inherant silliness. It's the first time I have read it, and I'm not surprised that it's so often touted as one of Misty's best tales.



The second half of the book is taken up by "End Of The Line", a decidedly more bonkers story in every respect. Yes, more bonkers than a 1970s tower block with a portal to an alternative earth in it. In this one Ann is a young girl still mourning her father, who disappeared (presumed dead) whilst healping to construct an extension to the London Underground. He's alive, naturally, and Ann has to investigate and put herself in all sorts of danger before she uncovers the truth. Interestingly, the blurb to the story says she encounters a time portal, but this is actually not correct, as you will see when you read the story. I don't want to go into too much depth so as not to spoil the plot, but trust me when I say the reason for her father's disappearance is probably the last thing you would expect.



Whilst "End Of The Line" is again entertaining, the sheer insanity of the plot makes it by far the lesser story of the two. It doesn't help that John Richardsoin's art is not all that great, although it serves it's purpose. Unlike with The Sentinels, I found my mind wandering, and the convoluted plot means you'll be thinking "What?" to yourself more than once. No wonder the copywriter got confused!

Overall, Misty Volume 2 is well worth picking up. The quality of The Sentinels more than makes up for the average End Of The Line, and it's a delight to see stories like this reprinted with due care, if not neccessarily attention to detail.

Pre Order HERE