A Conversation with 2000AD‘s Rory McConville

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

2000AD page1-small

I’ve been reading 2000AD regularly for a few years now, and I noticed that more and more of the stories are being written by Rory McConville. First a Future Shock here and there, then a 3-part Tharg 3riller, and now multi-part Dredd stories. Since more than a few Black Gate readers are 2000AD fans, so I wanted to chat with Rory about his success and caught up with him online. Welcome to Black Gate, Rory!

Cheers, Derek. Thanks for having me!

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Goth Chick News: Everyone Needs an Exorsister

Thursday, August 30th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Exorsisters 1-small

When we were little, my cousin and I used to discuss our future career aspirations. Connie, who was a few years older, had what seemed like an unusual obsession with becoming a truck driver — unless you knew she was binge-watching BJ and the Bear courtesy of the cable channel Nick at Night, and was teen-aged crushing on Gregg Evigan. So, the whole truck-driver thing actually made sense.

Meanwhile, I was sneaking into the family room in the wee hours to watch old Universal Studios monster movies on the public access channel. While Connie dreamed hunky guys calling her some cute name over their rig’s CB radio, I either wanted to look for mummies in the desert or be a gypsy fortune-teller.

Connie thought I was strange.

Years later, she went on to be Miss Illinois before moving to NYC for a soap opera stint followed by a lucrative career on Broadway. I’m writing a weekly horror column under the bi-line “Goth Chick.” All this also makes sense when you think about it.

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Deadpool Writer Gerry Duggan Creates New Image Series: Analog

Saturday, August 18th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Analog Image 1-small

Many people know Gerry Duggan from his long run as the writer of Deadpool, or possibly as a TV writer on Attack of the Show. He’s recently paired with artist David O’Sullivan, colorist Mike Spicer and letterer Joe Sabino on Analog, a future noir action comedy Image comic set in a world where internet communications are not secure. The first trade is coming out soon, and a feature film adaptation is in the works at Lionsgate with the director of the John Wick trilogy, Chad Stahelski.

In the world they’ve created, computers and internet are no longer secure, so valuable corporate information must be carried by private couriers, who go armed and anonymous.

Jack McGuinness is one such courier, who has to fight his way through a lot of resistance to deliver his packages. His larger problem is that NSA’s surveillance function is also adapting to the analog world and he’s part of their answer. I managed to catch up with Gerry and David for an e-interview.

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Sadistic Vengeance and Grotesque Death — Still Only 20 Cents!

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(1) Adventure Comics 431-small

Just about anything goes in comics today; in terms of sex, violence, subject matter, and language, there aren’t many restraints remaining. That’s not a curmudgeonly complaint but rather a simple statement of fact, and whether the medium has become a free fire zone because of the general disappearance of boundaries in all areas of our culture, or simply because comic creators know that the overwhelming majority of their readers are adults doesn’t much matter. Whatever the cause, it’s easy to pinpoint when comics began to change (for better and worse) from what they were to what they are; the epicenter of that tectonic shift was the so-called Bronze Age, from 1970 to 1985, a period that began with a still-benign Batman polishing his giant penny and ended with Green Arrow’s kid sidekick, Speedy, shooting smack.

So many comic book barriers have come down since those far off days that it’s hard to remember when there were such barriers, and just as hard to remember the earthquake-like impact that resulted when one of those Comics Code Authority-enforced walls was breached. (One unintended but inevitable consequence of the eradication of limits is the loss of the ability to be shocked, or even to recall what being shocked felt like.)

One of the key temblors of that revolutionary Bronze Age era was DC’s Adventure Comics 431, January-February 1974. It featured a character we had learned not to expect too much from — the Spectre, who had last presided over his own title for ten issues from 1967 to 1969. The twelve cent Silver Age Spectre was a comic book of unsurpassed dullness, but those of us privileged to pluck Adventure 431 off the drug store spinner rack knew very quickly that this time our two dimes had bought us something really different.

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Mage: The Hero Denied 11

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage The Hero Denied 11-smallSo a lot of The Hero Denied seems to concern the dual identities that parents need to maintain, but which far too many don’t. And yeah, like so much of the series that’s gone before, we’re going to start by talking about fairies and magic, but we’ll soon find that we’re talking about our actual lives. If I seemed down on this third part of the Mage series early on, it’s because Kevin Matchstick seemed to be setting up a false choice between fatherhood or adventure. He didn’t have a job, didn’t seem to do a hell of a lot with his kids beyond picking them up from school, and basically spent a lot of his time wandering around aimlessly. His wife would nag about his going off on adventures when he should be attending parent-teacher conferences. His kids were little more than vulnerable targets for monsters whom he would eventually resent.

But with the kidnapping of Magda and Hugo, the dual identities of father and hero have finally come together. Kevin’s finally seeing that he’s raised a couple of amazing kids. We even get a glimmer this issue of the wonderful, horrible truth that most parents eventually realize: his children will one day be able to look out for themselves and won’t need him any longer. And rather than treating his wife like a damsel in distress, Kevin is confident that Magda will be able to take care of herself and their son. Basically, Kevin’s gone from seeing his family as targets to seeing them as allies. Powerful allies. His roles of hero and father aren’t meant to be a choice, but rather complement one another.

So this issue opens with Magda sending her purple flying cat familiar, Cleo, off into the vertigo chamber that lies outside their penthouse prison. The familiar is charged with finding an exit. While that’s going on, Magda shows Hugo all of the magic items that she’s managed to cobble together. The scene is very reminiscent of Q showing off gadgets to 007. There are exploding light bulbs, a hairdryer gun, invisibility hats, and spider-walking sneakers. I’m sure it’s significant that Magda paints lightning bolts on the sneakers, signaling that Hugo is taking on an aspect of his father.

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Mage: The Hero Denied 10

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 10So I might have sold Isis short last issue.

For those of you who are new to the Mage series … honestly, this is a terrible place to jump on. We’re two thirds of the way through the final volume of the trilogy. Stop reading and go pick up Mage: The Hero Discovered. You’ll be a better person for it.

Anyway, during my critique of last issue, I was a bit harsh towards Isis, Magda’s sister. Basically, Kevin informed her that Magda had been kidnapped and that he needed someone to watch his daughter, Miranda, while he went to rescue her. At the time, not only doesn’t Isis offer to help Kevin rescue her sister, but she can’t even be bothered to watch Miranda, meaning that she’d rather have her niece face off against a pack of demons than take time from her spell transcription work to babysit.

However, in issue #10, we see that Kevin has stopped leaving Miranda in the car while he goes adventuring. Instead, he’s bringing her along to help him suss out magical threats. Sure, he’s still the one doing the fighting, but Miranda is definitely helping out. So I’m wondering if Isis deliberately turned Miranda away, knowing that she would be able to help Kevin. As we’ve seen in past volumes, Kevin isn’t always that good at teamwork. I guess when you’re nigh-invulnerable, you might see other people as little more than targets that need protecting. And we’ve already seen how much Kevin is surprised by his daughter’s resourcefulness, so there’s probably an issue of him not believing that she could help him. So Kevin would never choose to take his daughter with him on an adventure, but if he had no choice …

This issue opens with Magda trying and failing to contact help from outside her penthouse prison. Meanwhile, Hugo is staring into a bottomless pit that lies beyond the door to that prison. We’ve actually seen this same setup in the Styx Casino way back in Hero Discovered. But unlike Kevin, Hugo has no fear of heights, so he spends a lot more time staring into the abyss, eventually noticing that there are vague creatures flittering around in it.

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Derek Reads Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing for the First Time

Saturday, August 4th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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In my continuing effort to cover many of the classic comic runs, this spring, after much reluctance, I went to my public library and took out the first few trades of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, published by DC comics in the early 1980s and marking the beginning of the British Invasion of comics (which I discussed in a previous post here).

I’ve talked about Alan Moore’s work a few times, like when I recently read Halo Jones for the first time, and when I mused about what a Watchmen-like look at the planetary romance genre might look like, in four parts I, II, III, IV.

I’ve also talked a bit about horror comics of the 1970s, when I looked at Marvel’s Son-of-Satan, and also this spring, I was reading Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula for the first time. I’m not going to blog about Tomb of Dracula, but Black Gate‘s William Patrick Maynard did a 13 part (!) series on it, starting here.

Part of my reluctance in starting Swamp Thing was partly because I was a superhero guy, and second of all, I wasn’t really sure what kind of story might be in the offering with a swamp monster. And once in a hotel in Cuba, with nothing else to do, and with nothing else on, I watched about 15 minutes of the Swamp Thing movie, which (a) didn’t impress me and (b) was based on pre-Moore material anyway.

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Newman: Monster-Killing Gnome Webcomic with 50% More BDSM

Saturday, July 21st, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Newman Josh Ulrich-small

I hadn’t been reading webcomics for a bit, so I went back to Webtoons.com and skimmed through their fantasy section. I had previously enjoyed (and blogged about them here) Elf and Warrior and Cyko-KO. This time, I ran across Newman and immediately loved it.

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Fantasia 2018, Day 3, Part 2: Boiled Angels: The Trial Of Mike Diana

Friday, July 20th, 2018 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Boiled AngelsAfter my first two films last Saturday, I left the large Hall Theatre to see a documentary in the 150-plus-seat De Sève Theatre across the street. The documentary was called Boiled Angels, and it presented the case of zinester and comics creator Mike Diana, whose transgressive work led to him being arrested and put on trial in Florida in the 1990s. I’d followed Diana’s plight at the time through reports in The Comics Journal, and was intrigued to learn more about it now. But if I personally was interested in the film as a look at comics history, I was surprised to find that much of the rest of the crowd was drawn by the chance to see new work by horror director Frank Henenlotter, creator of works like Bad Biology, Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, and Basket Case.

Boiled Angels is his third documentary, and boasts interviews with comics luminaries like Neil Gaiman, Steve Bissette (Taboo, Tyrant, art on Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run), Peter Kuper (The System, World War 3 Illustrated), and Peter Bagge (Hate). It’s narrated by Jello Biafra, and does a strong job in tracking down and interviewing people who were involved with Diana’s case nearly twenty-five years ago. We see and hear from Diana’s parents, from the prosecutors, from journalists, even from one of the women who protested Diana at the courtroom. They speak to an off-camera interviewer we don’t hear; we also see Diana himself, describing his background and life. Diana’s comics are dramatised by a live reading by the creator, the camera focussing on the panels as Diana reads out the dialogue. Other segments of the film, particularly early on, give background on things like the history of horror comics, underground comics, and early-90s zine culture. And there are clips of talk shows and news shows dealing with Diana’s case.

There’s not much debate over what actually happened to Diana. In the early 1990s, when he was in his early and mid 20s, he sold a few hundred copies of his obscure comics zine Boiled Angel through the mail. The content of the zine was brought to the attention of the Florida authorities (although there’s a minor dispute about how). Diana had written and drawn comics filled with horror, rape, mutilation, and various kinds of unpleasantness; seemingly as many kinds of unpleasantness as he could think of. For doing so, he was arrested, tried, and found guilty of obscenity. He was fined and put on probation. Drawing comics would potentially violate his probation and cause him to be thrown in jail. And he was subject to warrantless searches to ensure he was not in fact drawing. In other words: the legal authorities forbade an American artist from making art.

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Goth Chick News: Welcome to the World of Comic Book Gross-Outs…

Thursday, July 12th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Die! Die! Die!-smallThis week Image/Skybound Entertainment broke with new release tradition and dropped the first issue of an all-new series without preamble, by comics titans Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta, Oblivion Song), Scott M. Gimple (Punisher: Nightmare, writer and producer for The Walking Dead TV adaptation on AMC), and Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated, Nameless, Nixon’s Pals), with colors by Nathan Fairbairn who gets to use whichever one he wants as long as it’s red. The first issue of the series entitled DIE!DIE!DIE! went on sale Wednesday.

Kirkman himself made the rather gleeful announcement circulated Tuesday, which is rather last minute as these go, and entirely on purpose:

That’s right, in stores TOMORROW! We want to make going to a comic shop exciting again — a place for discovery! The internet has drained all surprise and anticipation from comics. Everyone hears about exciting new projects and then has to wait months or years for it to be in their hands… and half the time at the end of that buildup, the stories get spoiled in some lame attempt at getting wider media attention. So, surprise! Here’s a new monthly series. How cool is that?! This is literally the only way I can be like Beyoncé.

Gimple added:

I spend most of my time working in TV, the big Walking Dead programs keep me plenty busy, but I’ve had a burning passion for comics since I was nine. I used to go to panels to see Robert Kirkman talk. And now he’s writing quotes in a press release as me that I can read over and tweak!

Yes gentlemen – the euphoria is real and we feel it too.

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