Monday, 30 August 2010



A to Z: M is for Metal Men

Sometimes there just isn't a decent opening paragraph to give these A to Z entries. They're usually a mildly related tangent up till I get to a point where I can bring up the comic being featured and segue into the full article. But really, what can I talk about that's related to Metal Men?

I could talk about how it's such an interesting concept in comics for a writer to lay out ideas for another creator to pick up and turn into a miniseries, as Grant Morrison does for Duncan Rouleau in this series, or perhaps how comics companies can use their collected editions as a chance to correct any lettering, colour or art errors found in the original product, as DC completely failed to do here. Heck, I could even go on about how that whilst too much text in a primarily visual medium can be a horrific thing, that in the right hands it can work splendidly, especially in science-based series like All-New Atom, Fantastic Four, or indeed this title.

But instead I'll just tell you that I love the Metal Men. Every single one of them. Copper most of all, if only because she's never really used enough, as the latecomer to the team, and I love an underdog. It's a series that started out as a the epitome of the utterly insane silver age of DC comics and when it returned in 2008 under the creative strength of Rouleau, continuing the momentum built up by their appearances in the weekly series 52. If you try to do something sensible with it you're going to fail. Which is why I really wanted to spotlight someone doing it right.

I wanted so much to talk about Duncan Rouleau's Metal Men... So I am. Let's begin, shall we?
If there's one thing I have to say it's that you simply MUST get this series in TPB/HC over single issues, for this cover alone. Not that it's the most amazing thing ever, more that the single issue covers, whilst well-themed and interesting, are kinda crappy in comparison

Metal Men is an 8 issue miniseries following the titular group of periodic substances (Tin, Mercury, Copper, Gold, Platinum, Iron and Lead) and their creator, Doctor Will Magnus as they face a veritable ton of their opponents, from Chemo to themselves (as the vicious Death Metal Men) in an adventure that spans from ancient Egypt, to Will Magnus' early days in robotics, and indeed into the present day madness. I won't say too much about what goes on (because that would, ya know, RUIN the plot beats), but rest assured that family and time travel are core components of the dense adventure.

And it IS dense. To say that this is full of text (as I alluded to earlier) is to give the writing a disservice. It's BLOODY TEXT HEAVY. I mean we're talking enough text that a single issue of the series takes about thrice the amount of time to read than the majority of comics out there (which when I think about the whole craze of decompressing comic issues to the point of distraction nowadays isn't really saying much). In a way it's a sign of the mental capacity of most characters involved, being scientists and super-robots and the like, but more than anything it feels like a throw back to DC's silver age when the Metal Men were at their best, in densely packed stories where information was thrown at you in sizeable chunks. Here though it's less the silver age tradition of a lot happening between panels than it making sure that a lot happens in EVERY. SINGLE. PANEL. It's almost to the point where the book would have benefited from an extra couple of issues to spread it out, but if you have the patience to deal with heavy text in a visual medium then you're in for a treat, because the writing is pitch perfect. Everyone has a voice of their own and it's never broken for the sake of exposition or something annoying like that. I mean when Platina speaks, she's THE Platina, the fawning, slightly slutty, shiny robot that loves Dr. Magnus more than anyone would be comfortable with. When Tin speaks he's an endearing nervous wreck with hidden strength at his core. It's just so right, through and through.
An example of how there can be a LOT of text on a single page (in this case really a single image and some headshots) without it becoming overwhelming. each bit of speech carries the charm of the relevant character, helping endear the writing style to the reader.

Changing subject slightly I feel there is something that I must inform you of: this DOES retcon the origins of the Metal Men, moreso the responsometers that give them life and soul. Again, I don't intend to spoil it too much but it connects the idea of alchemy in ancient Egypt and living monsters made of the elements of the earth as a starting point that through a strange meeting carries over to Magnus, who fully implements the idea.

Now, retcons are almost universally proven to be painful in execution and often anger fans but to me (and I can only speak for myself, obviously) the retcon here is well executed and if anything has a positive effect on the origin of the Metal Men. I mean before I just knew of their origin as wacky silver age creations where reason wasn't REALLY that important. Instead what we have here is a story that can be referenced and utilised to tell future stories, to give more strength to a group of characters that wouldn't really be capable of supporting a series without it.

Finally I wanna show you where DC have shown a complete lack of initiative, with an error in the issues that was never corrected for the trade. Observe these headings for Chapters 15... and Chapter 15... What?
An issue apart.... (EEEEEE TIN!)

.... with another chapter between them. Competent, yes?

It's a basic lettering error that could surely have just been fixed. I mean there's every chance that they didn't notice it, never got a letter about it or something like that, but it's a sign of an issue I've had with DC on even their greatest titles. Their proofing is just TERRIBLE. Here it's only this and... I think another couple of small cock-ups here or there, but then we have titles like the best-selling Batman & Robin, which has two issues in a row where the letterer thought Batwoman was Batman and Batman was Batwoman. That's pretty damn significant. It's distracting and really makes you feel like you're paying for a rushed, sub-par product. Which is a crying shame because when it comes to titles like this, which stand head and shoulders above so many other titles from Marvel or DC at present, it's just depressing.

Still, don't let that put you off. Metal Men is a great series that needs more attention, and if you give it a chance and the necessary time you won't regret it. You can find the hardcover pretty cheap if you look around various sellers, and even then the tpb is a pretty tidy price for 8 issues too. You can find both versions at Amazon (HC) (TPB) (UK HC) (UK TPB), though I'm sincere when I say get the Hardcover. It's awesome and the engraved picture under the sleeve is the cheeriest face you'll ever see on the front of a book.

So that's M. Next up is my favourite miniseries in recent history, and my second favourite of all time. That's right, it'll be N, which is NOMAD: GIRL WITHOUT A WORLD! Read More ..

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lazy Sundays: Sexy Darth Vader

.... I... I'm so sorry.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Friday List: 10 Manga Reduced To Offensively Stupid Negative Traits (Or Is This A Helluva Long Title Or What!)

A list you say?! You mean that I, Max Barnard, am writing shoddy 'comedic/entertaining' lists about things that are supposed to catch your interest? Yes? Oh. Okay. Well I guess if I absolutely HAVE to do these every friday then I may as well start now. What is it this time? A title THAT long? Christ on a bicycle!

Remember lists? You see them on pretty much every geek entertainment site and, if we're all honest, you should be absolutely bloody sick of them. So much that the next time you see a site start to produce them you should hunt down the writer and kill his fat British arse. So what better time for my fat British arse to start a weekly list feature?

Yes, it's time for another new feature for this first week of Comicflipper's resurrection, this time being a list of 10 morals you could gain from reading certain manga. If you're thick enough to misinterpret them COMPLETELY. So... A short list really, consisting of single sentences. Phoning it in? Yes, I am. Now bugger off...


1. Katekyo Hitman Reborn
"Katekyo Hitman Reborn teaches that it's perfectly acceptable to let your young child join the Mafia and carelessly throw grenades at other children! REMOVE THIS MONSTROSITY FROM OUR LIBRARIES!"

2. Yu-Gi-Oh
"This shows that cheating and stealing to win at card games is fine! It's the way to fame and glory! IT'S MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE!"

3. One Piece
"This 'book' teaches that it is COOL to be a pirate! Clearly our children will travel to Somalia and KILL ALL HE CHILDREN WITH UZIS!"

4. Beet The Vandel Buster
"This manga is sexist to an extreme. It shows that if you tell enough people that you're engaged to a girl her will will eventually collapse and she'll become a subservient member of the strong male's 'team'. It's horrifically sexist and I shall now complain about it whilst I write some exploitative Yaoi fan-fiction."

5. Detroit Metal City
"Children will clearly read this mature-rated work where a man sings about vicious incestual rape and murder. AND THEN THEY'LL COMMIT SUCH CRIMINAL ACTS! IT'S TRUE, SOMEONE TOLD ME IT WOULD HAPPEN!"

6. Death Note
"This horrific work encourages students to kill others under the pretense that you can get away with it as long as you get good grades!"

7. Shaman King
"The vaguely alluded to unprotected sex between an engaged couple, aged 15, who cohabitate the night before he goes off on a worldwide quest that will probably result in his death is such a morally null plot point that it can only poison the minds of children to become sexually active early. I mean you can see them do EVERYTHING!... What do you mean you CAN'T?"

8. Ultimate Muscle
"This teaches children who aspire to be professional wrestlers that pooing yourself is the key to any victory, especially in the company of your peers!"

9. Hot Gimmick
"Hot Gimmick teaches that abusive relationships are fine if you're a vapid, weak personality, as surely all women must be in this universe. I must be right, I read a few pages of it!"

10. OEL Manga
"This entire subset of manga shows that it isn't awful to be a westerner aping a decades old industry just because you watched some Dragon Ball Z when you were young and now desperately wish you were Japanese and you can yell completely mispronounced anime cliches at passers-by because THAT'S WHAT ANIME CHARACTERS DO, you pathetic, weeaboo cunt. I mean heck, you think this is drawing competently? I mean what's going on here with the shitty expressions and overacted motions and looking the wrong way because you can't draw this shit properly and are using manga tropes as a fucking excuse. Why don't you just crawl into the foetal position and cry yourself to death you HACKS!"

.... Okay, I may have been projecting my own opinion at the end there. Just a little.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Manga Focus: Ode To Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka

Manga Focus, the spiritual successor to my old Flip The Page columns at the obscure old website known as Live Action Anime, is my attempt to reconnect with the largest element in making me who I am today, manga and the manga community as a whole (though I hate it as much as I love it). Each week I'll highlight a title I feel deserves the attention, with the occasional look at what's coming out in any given month. Hopefully you'll gain something from it, or at least seek out the titles I give big ups to.

Considering he's the father of modern manga, you'd think that Osamu Tezuka would have his body of works given great exposure over here. Or heck, at least have the majority of the more notable titles in print stateside. And yet in my 6 years of being balls deep into the world of manga I have only seen around 4 of his titles in shops.

Now, I'm in the UK, so I'm admittedly crippled by my positioning in the world, but that's no excuse, as any amount of research would show that the only company to really have had enough guts to translate and print his material in english is Vertical Inc. (probably the manga company most willing to take risks in a market that's undeniably faltering) and they've still got a ways to go. Still, it's thanks to their support of Dr. Tezuka that I'm able to even read and review his work (well, alongside one series from Viz Media and another from Dark Horse, but I digress) so I can only be grateful, as without them I'd never have been able to read one of his more intriguing and absolutely bizarre works, Ode to Kirihito.

Ode to Kirihito is a book that draws upon high philosophy and Tezuka's own background as a medical doctor alongside the very concepts of good, evil, perception, morals and the human condition in an epic adventure through the harrowing and dark experiences of Kirihito, a doctor trying to deal with a peculiar new condition that is turning people into dog-like beasts. I'm not one to claim that something is "deep", because that sounds pretentious as all hell, but Ode to Kirihito is probably the deepest and darkest journey into the human psyche you will ever find on a comic shelf. And anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

So join me in this debut Manga Focus as I take a rather foggy magnifying glass to the genius of this, the greatest work of the greatest manga-ka in the history of ever. After the jump.


What Is It? (some early spoilers): Ode to Kirihito is a medical thriller that primarily follows Kirihito Osanai, a young doctor intent on investigating and curing a strange disease plaguing a small village in the mountains of the Tokushima Prefecture (that's Japan in case you don't know your geography) that deforms people into a strange dog-like form before their deaths. Intent to prove his superiors wrong in their opinions that the disease (Monmow) is a virus he travels to the village to spend some time there and investigate the cause. Suffice to say things don't go to plan as he's not allowed to leave the village, has to marry a local (despite being engaged to a woman back in the city) and contracts Monmow himself. From there escalating events cause him to discover the truth of the disease and to journey far and wide to get the truth out about Monmow.

A plot that goes alongside this follows Kirihito's colleague, Urabe, as he receives a nun from South Africa who appears to also have Monmow disease. However his findings don't meet the approval of his jaded superiors and his fragile mental state weakens, leading to him making some very unpleasant choices as he reaches and passes breaking point. The chilling moments all lead to some hard, honest choices for him though, choices that show that, despite the negative things he's had to do and the mental state he's in, proves how much the case matters and what lays within his very soul.

What's so great about it? (spoilers!): More than anything? The art. Osamu Tezuka's style isn't only completely inimitable, it's beautiful to a tee, no matter what work the man did over time it just clicked perfectly with what he was writing, proving his position as a master of the art form. Here is no exception, with their being a real emphasis on creating tension and emotion through the use of layouts and surreal imagery, not to mention the very unusual use of Christian imagery (not that Christian imagery is unusual, just that it's very unusual to see in a manga).

Layouts never get their fair share of praise in the realm of comics, yet they can be so crucial in controlling how you read a work and here the main use is to build tension, like in the image to the right of this bit of text, where our protagonist is chasing down a horrific murderous sort, with the view getting tighter with each panel, showing a more panicked criminal and a far crazier and angrier Kirihito. And then we get a wider view, showing that it's this tense and emotional when there's STILL SO MUCH GROUND BETWEEN THEM. If that doesn't even slightly affect you outside of the full context then you really don't appreciate the medium as much as you should (yeah I'm being pretentious saying that but hush I'm talking about the godfather of manga's work here!).

The surrealer elements featuring Urabe really maximise the use of layouts too, creating a sense of a shattered psyche with unconventional and fractured panel placements and images. A personal favourite moment for this is when Urabe sees that Dr. Tatsugaura, his mentor, is responsible for ruining him and his psyche gets closer to completely shattering. We get a sequence of unusually shaped panels with black shapes in white panels, Urabe putting his hands to his face, sweating, his mentor's face and such, all laid out so you don't even know where to look. Your eyes go all over the place trying to find which piece of the bigger picture to look at, creating a feeling akin to that going through Urabe of a fractured mind flitting all over the place, breaking down at this revelation. It's powerful, art-light and shows what can be done just by playing with how a page is laid out.

It occurs to me at this point that I've rambled on and repeated myself endlessly about some stuff but haven't really expanded on the whole "excellent writing and examination of the human condition" stuff I may have alluded to earlier (goodness, I don't remember, it feels so long ago). Well, the writing is excellent. The dialogue is believable. Whether it's coming from the formal atmosphere of the medical profession to the old-timey village, it READS like how someone in that situation would speak, which is something that can be easily overlooked by a lot of comics professionals nowadays.

The whole human condition stuff is something to behold. Whilst a lot of other works would be content to say that good men do good things and evil men do evil things, what we get here is the idea that above anything a good man can do horrendous things for the right reasons. Kirihito himself has to make some hard decisions in his journey through the hero's labyrinth and they haunt him more and more as time passes. But despite all this the reader knows that these decisions are necessary, or at the least would be regretted if they weren't made. Ya know, like decisions people have to make in real life!

Urabe is an extreme in this respect, in that whilst not being a truly good or evil person a lot of the time the reader still generally gets that somewhere in his warped mind he is a good individual. It's just that on the outside he makes some horrendous choices that would paint anyone explored with a fraction less depth as a horrific monster who deserves nothing but pain. Instead what we get is a sympathetic character who can go to extremes and be forgiven because circumstances and the strains he is under warp him into something he is not. The decisions he makes should never have to be made by anyone in a real world situation, but when they are made it is as a real human being rather than a two-dimensional caricature of a singular trait like so many other comic characters manage to be.

Is it worth buying?: In a word? Abso-bloody-lutely. At about £15/$25 for over 800 pages of Osamu Tezuka's greatest material it really isn't worth missing. I believe at present that it's now collected in two chaper paperbacks splitting the story in half, which is fine, but I really recommend tracking down the first edition in its HUGE glory, you won't regret it.

Ode to Kirihito is a once in a lifetime experience in the world of manga and is something that will surely never happen again. So grab it, cherish it and tell all your friends about it. Anything less would just be disrespectful.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Thought Balloons: Updates, Jubilee Script + Renee Montoya pg.1!

I know, right? Halftone is awesome! The new Thought Balloons banner we've got was done by frequent contributor Danial, and by gosh darn heck have I been waiting to use it here!

*ahem* So remember that awesome writing project thing called Thought Balloons I plugged some couple of posts ago? Well it's been a long time since then and I've got a lot more entries to plug the hell out of, as well as the start of my snazzy bonus content feature over here!

For those who are fresh to the concept, Thought Balloons is Ryan Lindsay's baby, where a group of us get together week on week and write about a chosen comics character as an exercise in script skill-building. It's awesome, constructive and COMPLETELY open to viewer participation. If you're interested in being a part of it and writing about this week's character (Jubilee of Generation X and the 90s X-Men cartoon fame) then head on over to the Why Jubilee? post and stick your own script in the dooblydoo *ahem* I mean the comments.

Here's the scripts I've done since that last post:

Doctor Doom - Latveria's Street Magician

Superman - Related

Blonde Phantom - The Best Dressed Detective (in which I hate on myself unnecessarily)

Aquaman - It's A Pun, You Sea (in which I use Welsh effectively)

The Penguin - Are Penguins Furry? (in which... just don't)

The Punisher - Blood Simple

Gamora - Dojo of the Deadliest Woman

Renee Montoya - Noir As Heck

Jubilee - Who I Am Hates Who I'll Be

And now for the bonus content I've been touting. The first is a re-release of my Renee Montoya script on here, which will be followed for 11 subsequent weeks with the rest of the story. Because I'm not lying when I say that THAT, my Gamora script and my Punisher script are some of my best works I've ever done. Why 12 weeks of Renee Montoya? Because the pages are scripted with the page size of Wednesday Comics in mind and I want to do something of that sorta length with my crazy Elseworlds-style tale of stuff that is indeed Noir As Heck.

Renee Montoya - Noir As Heck

Page One - 7 Panels

1-- Renee (in a tank top, trilby, cargo shorts and sizeable boots) is sitting at a desk in a very cliché P.I.'s office, with her booted feet up on the desk. I'm talking the works, old style wood panelling in a sparse, cheap, small room, with basic lamps in some corners, and blinds on the windows. If you need any reference check just about any classic hard-boiled detective film made more than... let's say... 30 years ago. I'm not kidding, it's always the same. Heck, I think the detective's office in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" had that typical look. Anyway, the desk (and subsequently Renee) is facing the door, which is slightly ajar as a long leg draped in the lower parts of a glittering red dress is making its way through the gap. If the connected foot fits into the shot we should see some ruby-red stilettos with a very long (but not ridiculous) pointed heel.

NARRATION/RENEE MONTOYA - I knew as soon as she entered my office that she was nothing but trouble. The kind of trouble that can never lead to anything good...

2-- The woman (who for the sake of scripting will be referred to as "Lady In Red"), a redhead with skin as white as ivory and made excessively tall and leggy by the aforementioned heels, has entered the office, leaning in a sultry pose against the doorframe, with one arm raised to her head, holding a wide-brimmed floppy red hat, with a large ribbon trailing off of it down her body. As for said body, it is covered by the previously alluded to long ruby-red sparkling dress, with a chest cut from the shoulders straight down to the navel. At that point there is another extravagant ribbon, that trails down to her heels. Her eyes are obscured by oval sunglasses with -what else- deep red lenses. Her lips are a bright red pout, alluring yet revealing nothing of her emotions. In the hand not leant against her head is a small (RED) handbag/purse dealio. A hell of a design job, but drop-dead gorgeous and *ahem* Noir As Heck.

NARRATION/RENEE MONTOYA - Not that trouble has ever stopped women like these being worth every second in front of your eyes.

3-- We're now looking at Renee's face, trilby raised, surprised and ever-so slightly slack-jawed expression on her face.


4-- Renee is now leaning back in her chair again, trilby covering her eyes as she tries to maintain a blank expression. This, however, doesn't distract from the facts that her cheeks are now quite red.


5-- We're now viewing Renee at her desk from the doorway, with the legs and arse of the Lady In Red in view as she struts sexily towards the desk.

SPEECH BUBBLE/LADY IN RED - Oh Ms. Detective, I've come to you with quite the dilemma, a real pulava, a what-to-do and a great big mess I need you for.

6-- Viewing the scene now from just over Renee's shoulder, the Lady In Red is now leaning over the desk towards Renee, back curved so that her rear is raised above the curve itself, thrusting her cleavage at Renee's face with no real subtlety, yet still maintaining a pose by pushing her breasts together with her arms, which themselves are pushed against the desk.

SPEECH BUBBLE/RENEE MONTOYA - Whuff. A problem, you're saying? Well I'm the right person for the job, toots. And it's Renee, by the way.

7-- A close-up of the Lady In Red's face, wherein she is perching her sunglasses on the edge of her nose, looking up through her carefully shaped eyebrows at Renee with -again, what else- red irises. She is now slyly grinning.

SPEECH BUBBLE/LADY IN RED - Oh wonderful, I'd hoped ever so much that you'd be just the person I was looking for. Let me tell you about what's causing such a stir in me, making me all a-twitter, all flustered and bothered...

NARRATION/RENEE MONTOYA - Some Dames are worth all the trouble in the world and this one... Well, she could cause three world's worth of trouble and I'd still be putty in her hands.

The second item is behind this jump, and is a SECOND Jubilee script focused more on the character at her best than the soapbox moaning about what she's become that I did for the Thought Balloons entry.


Jubilee - The First Fourth of July - Max Barnard

Page 1 - 7 Panels

1-- Jubilee is standing against a night sky, stretching and cracking her fingers in front of her. She's dimly illuminated by a light source somewhere in front of her (Chamber/Jono Starsmore), showing her in her classic yellow jacket grinning widely.

TEXT BOX/NARRATION - July 4th 1994

SPEECH BUBBLE/JUBILATION LEE - 'kay... You guys ready to be blown away?

2-- We've now pulled back to show the rest of the Generation X crew (Penance, Husk, Chamber, Synch, Skin, M) sitting in front of her (by a fair few metres? I mean you shouldn't be near fireworks when they're lit, yes?). All are sat legs crossed, though Penance has her hands to her face in fear and Husk has a fist raised in the air. The light source used earlier is now clearly Chamber's chest energy stuff, illuminating the students in what is essentially just an open field. Nothing else is visible.

SPEECH BUBBLE/M - Get on with it.


SPEECH BUBBLE/Chamber - ... You guys know I don't sodding care about the fourth of July, right? I mean it's celebrating you Yanks beating the UK and all that.

3-- Jubilee has raised her hands to the sky, ready to use her powers. Penance has lowered her hands and leant forwards expectantly and Husk has lowered her arm.

SPEECH BUBBLE/JUBILATION LEE - OKAY, OKAY! Prepare for spectacular awesomeness unlike any awesome you've ever been awesomed by before! Time to bring the FIREWORKS!

4-- Some meagre little lights spurt from Jubilee's fingers. Penance has jumped up, cowering and peeking through her fingers at Jubilee.

SFX/JUBILEE'S FINGERS - fzztleflit--

5-- Jubilee is now sad, shoulders slumped in defeat. Penance is dashing off panel. The other students are all laughing.



6-- On one side of the panel Synch has gotten up, with his arm round Jubilee's shoulder. Jubilee is looking at him with a faint smile on her face. On the other side of the panel the other students are either playing with sparklers (Skin, Husk, a VERY cautious Penance) or sitting down watching the others play (M, Chamber). The three sparkler users have "G" "-" and "X" from left to right. Because that's just how they roll.

SPEECH BUBBLE/SYNCH - Hey, don't worry about it. Just do it again next year when you've learnt to better use your powers.

SPEECH BUBBLE/JUBILATION LEE - ... Yeah. And every year I'll make it an even better show for everyone. Thanks for cheering me up Ev, you're a good buddy.

SPEECH BUBBLE/SYNCH - No problem. Things can only get better for us, I'm sure of it.

7-- Close-up of Synch and Jubilee, both looking at the reader suspiciously.



Sunday, 22 August 2010



A to Z: L is for Lost Girls (Or: Not Safe For Your Soul. Or Work)

Sometimes a man must admit that even he has limits as to what he'll do. For me it's that I simply cannot and will not post uncensored images from Lost Girls in this article. So I've employed a crippling amount of editing to ruin the original art of the comic and preserve my dignity a few more minutes. Apologies to those who desperately need some titties, you bloody wankers you.

It's a hard thing to see a classic tale of prose adapted into something wholly different. We usually see this with Hollywood film adaptations, such as that absolutely bloody awful Alice In Wonderland by Tim Burton painfulness. Or any Phillip K. Dick books save A Scanner Darkly (not that those were bad films, just not faithful). In comics we've seen this done to SOME success though, with titles like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from Marvel being a truly brilliant title that captures the charm of the original material and didn't stray very far from L. Frank Baum's writing.

So it came as some surprise to me when I learnt that Alan Moore took three beloved children's characters, put them in a comic and made them all have lots of sex.

... I mean that's just not good adaptation, surely?

But it is.

And I'll tell you why as we delve further into Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie!
Ah what a nice and innocent cover, yes? And with a a nice thematic nature to it!... Let's look at what's going on inside that mirror, shall we?


To give you the basic gist of what Lost Girls is about (at least on the surface), it follows three characters from popular literature (Alice Fairchild, Wendy from Peter Pan and Dorothy Gale) as they meet for the first time in an Austrian hotel ("Hotel Himmelgarten") and connect due to the fantastic natures of their pasts. And have sex. A lot. In pretty much any situation, from watching a theatre performance to a frantic orgy all throughout the hotel. Seriously, nothing stops the trio from giving in to their desires. Which in its own way is a beautiful expression of freedom, and in another an excuse to fill the book with Alan Moore's filthy, beardy perversions.

Of course more happens than just that. There's also a subplot involving Wendy's husband and Dorothy's new fella having a jolly good time together as well (which is significant enough to get an entire chapter dedicated to it), not to mention the mystery of hotel owner Monsieur Rougeur and his much beloved "White Book" of naughty, lurid sex stories. But really they're just some icing on the cake of what is really a story focused on our three main femmes.
Something I do love in this graphic novel is the tendency to use panel layouts to maximum effect. A particular instance of it is this, where the panel borders control the way you read the page, and separate the conversation going on between Dorothy and Alice with Wendy's arrival at the bottom. It's effective without intruding on the art.

But I digress from what I was trying to say earlier, in that this is a brilliant adaptation of the original material. Because it is. And it's so much more than that. But before I go further into all that other stuff I suppose I really should address the adaptation thing so I'm going to and this paragraph is a really awkward segue, isn't it?

The key to a good adaptation isn't necessarily to be faithful to the nth degree. We've seen this to be true of how awry most of Watchmen went (though it did substantially change the ending) in its attempt to be a perfect adaptation of the original work. No, in my opinion the way to make an adaptation work is to take the original material, but make it fit what you're attempting to achieve with your version. This works well in Lost Girls by twisting the classic stories of Through The Looking Glass, Wonderful Wizard Of Oz and Peter Pan into the sexual discovery of their characters, with what originally happened being reflected in the new versions of the tales (which quite brilliantly are told via use of artistically different tales shared amongst the trio).

An example of this I'll highlight for you all is the approach taken to Dorothy's encounter with "The Tin Man". In her retelling he is one of three farmhands she has sexual relations with, the last of the three to be specific. Where the parallel is drawn is in how he is referred to, as a heartless man who just pounded away like a machine, like clockwork, with no romance in him. However, towards the end of the story she dumped him and he got upset, showing he had a heart all along. It follows the original material in some ways whilst twisting it into the correct shape, and makes it work without ruining the tale... For me. I'm sure it angered any number of people who didn't want to see Dorothy wanking off a horse (oh yeah that happened. and it's weird). Or later in the story where she sleeps with her father.... What was my point again? Wow, it's not often that I kinda prove myself wrong with the minutiae before I've even succeeded in making my point. Still, I like to think I'm mostly right... In my mind.
A nice aspect to the flashback things is that each story will kinda be summarised in a single art piece that makes the connection to the literature even clearer. They're amazing pieces, though this one has been ruined through my standard need to preserve my dignity right after using the words "wanking off a horse".

Finally I want to talk about the way each chapter tends to differentiate itself from the others. Whilst one or two chapters may well just be standard sequential art, others will be framed by representations of such things as the seven deadly sins or the material from Rougeur's White Book, and the flashbacks all have their own panel style and artistic theme. For example whilst the tales of Alice Fairchild's past are framed in consistently sized ovals page on page, containing surreal and overwhelming images, Wendy's past is framed in a stained glass style with a 4 panel layout and flat colours throughout. These touches maintain an immediate atmosphere for each person's past, affecting expectations and page-space in ways that prompt the imagination to mentally add a tone to how they react to these controlled layouts. Also they all look VERY pretty and stylised, and isn't that what REALLY matters in the world of high-brow artsy comic erotica?

... You tell me. I don't really know much about this stuff.
I haven't had a chance to praise the realistic facial expressions, so just... I don't know, admire this poorly censored example of one of the brilliantly true-to-life faces to be found in the work. Also who the hell wears a penis costume?!

If there's one thing that solidifies my recommendation of this title, it's the fact that despite what it is it makes a GREAT coffee table book. I mean you put this down in front of mixed company and you're guaranteed to get a chance for a fancy conversation. Or you'll be considered a perverse freak. Either way, CONVERSATION! Which if you're a geek is something you're sorely lacking, as we all well know. So that's a

You can find Lost Girls in... Comic shops? Maybe? OR you can just order it off of (UK). You know you should. Just 'cause you can.

And that's L. What's M?... It's Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau. Less perverse, but still well worth talking about. I hope. Read More ..

I'm Sorry It Took Me So Long (To Come Around)

I'm back after all this time, and I'm ready to please my hundreds of readers with my fingers and occasionally my mouth!

.... What?

*ahem* I'm back. Properly. There's a schedule and everything. I should be posting 4 to 5 times a week with substantial content. I KNOW! Not just that, but A to Z will rocket to its conclusion week on week, starting with tomorrow's entry on Alan Moore's Lost Girls. Amazing, I know.

So strap yourself in, put your strap-on on and come with me into my own fairly normal psyche!

.... That's it. I haven't got anything else to put in this post... So here's a picture of an adorable Goat.
I should have used a sheep, then I could say "I'M BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-CK"... Shut up. Read More ..