Songs of Immigrants & Experience

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Earlier this year I reconnected with an old friend from the early Ninja Tune days, Shane Solanki, a writer and poet who was responsible for the original Ninja press releases and the lexicon inside the original Ninja Skinz packets. These freeform, punning, cut and paste definitions, profiles and prose helped define part of the aesthetic and thinking behind the label in the early years and gave voice to Coldcut and co.’s ideals. He’s currently constructing a hugely ambitious project involving a stage play, an album and a graphic novel based on a story he’s written called ‘Songs of Immigrants and Experience’.
I helped him visualize certain scenes for the play and put together a rough version of an extract from the novel to help present the complicated project to prospective publishers. Below you can see examples of the A4 handout at the last performance and shots from the show with some of the scenes as backdrops. For more info go to Lastmangoinparis.netSongsinsideSongsinsidedoveSongsinsidedetailSongsback

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2000AD – Prog 2000

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2000AD Prog (issue) 2000 lands today, that’s a lot of comics in nearly 40 years and only serves to strengthen what has become a British institution up there with The Eagle, The Beano, The Dandy and Viz in UK comic publishing.
Wrapped in one of three different covers, including a free poster and featuring many of the greats who made its name over 30 years ago returning for the party, it’s a perfect celebration of what makes it the galaxy’s greatest.

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They’re not afraid to poke fun at their misjudgements either and it’s not just a nostalgia-fest, new strip, Counterfeit Girl, by Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo holds its own with the rest.

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Raygun Comics in Richmond, London have a special 2000ad day this Saturday Oct 1st to celebrate Prog 2000, they’ll be giving away back issues and the winner of their Judge Dredd colouring competition will get a copy of Prog 1. Also they have a copy of Prog 2 still with unused stickers! Never seen those before, an eye-watering £350 though…
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Steve MacManus’ 2000AD memoir

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It’s a big year for 2000AD – in 4 weeks time they hit Prog 2000 – that’s issue 2000 to the uninitiated. Now in their 38th year, that’s a feat only rivaled by The Beano and The Dandy (to my knowledge). It’s already an institution but, given the comic’s title, it’s 2000th issue has always been a landmark in waiting. They’ve got multiple signings on October 1st all over the UK, a choice of three different covers and several high profile artists have returned for one-off stories. But that’s not all…

MacManusCoverLast week I dutifully lined up with the other Squaxx inside Orbital Comics to meet Steve MacManus, the editor who helmed the comic through it’s first golden age in the 80s and who has just published his memoir of his time as Tharg, The Mighty One, the alien editor of the comic since its inception in 1977. He genially signed my copy as well as one for Steve Cook, aka Robo-Cook, the designer in his charge at the time, who designed the logo they still use to this day and now resides in LA as head of book design for DC Comics. The book is out today, published by 2000AD/Rebellion and you can order it here – it promises to be a real warts and all collection too.

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There was a special significance for me too as, when I walked in, I recognised a selection of part of my collection of 2000ADs that I’d sold to the store this Spring, adorning the back wall of the shop in honour of the signing.

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Kenneth Rocafort on The Ultimates

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Most regular readers will know that I don’t really read many comics published by ‘the big two’, but I do make the odd exception, usually when an artist I like is on a book. The rebooted The Ultimates with Kenneth Rocafort on art and Brit writer Al Ewing is one such title. Rocafort has a unique style with a keen eye for detail that is unlike much of what comes out of your standard super hero monthlies these days. With Ewing pushing a more cosmic agenda so far, it’s given plenty of scope to open up the story to more fantastical imagery with Galactus appearing early on. The cover and spread here are from issue #9 which crosses over to be part of the Marvel Civil War II storyline in places.

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RIP Jack Davis

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Where do you begin with Jack Davis? I first saw his work in the UK versions of MAD magazine in the 80s but he had been producing countless numbers of comics, illustrations, record covers and film posters for decades before that. He was one of the original ‘usual gang of idiots’ from US MAD’s inception in the 50s, a regular on Tales From the Crypt, producing the cover for the later issues, as well as war comic Two-Fisted Tales and a ton of other EC Comics. He drew some of the best monsters including the classic Frankenstein which was made into a life-size cut out poster (see below).
He worked for a lot of the MAD-a-like humour titles too like, Sick, Cracked, Help and Panic as well as regular work with publications such as Time and TV Guide. He has a huge body of film posters to his name, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World being a particular classic, which in turn led to record sleeves for the soundtracks. From here he drew sleeves for music from rock to country to brass bands to soul, I have a particularly great Sesame Street album with Davis art all over it which I’ll post soon.
He was a legend of comic art, up there with Jack Kirby and Moebius, RIP

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Spider-Man Music 1967-69 (ALL Background Music)

This is SO awesome – all the background music by Ray Ellis from the first season plus some from seasons 2 and 3 of the late 60s Spider-man cartoon series. Check the tracks at 54:52 and 1:04:50 ! YouTube user 11db11 explained how he put it all together:

“I cut out every piece of music from all 3 seasons (that took like a month) – Then I grouped them together (multiple incidents of each song) – Then I built each song from the best parts of the multiple versions. – I had to EQ each individual clip to even the levels, bass, treble … – – I left the video alone so people could see where the clips came from.”

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Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth uncensored signing

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The Gosh Comics signing of the new Judge Dredd ‘The Cursed Earth uncensored’ book was smash hit on Saturday. When I arrived the queue snaked out of the shop, across the road and round the block and they’d just sold out of the graphic novel in question. A quick run to the nearby Orbital Comics revealed the same and Forbidden Planet too. No joy but I did manage to get a snap of the legends, Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland inside the shop before I departed – not a wasted journey at all.

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In case you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, the story in question was the first ever Judge Dredd ‘epic’ (ie. a multi-issue story that spanned over 20 issues) that ran in 2000AD back in 1978. Several episodes featured characters from the McDonalds, Burger King and Jolly Green Giant companies who swiftly slapped the comic with a legal warning that these properties were their copyright. Since the original issues, all reprints of the story have been missing these episodes but recent changes in the law meant that they can now be restored because they fall into the parody category and thus, don’t infringe on copyright as they once did.

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From what I’ve seen, the new hardback version is beautifully restored and features both character and career-defining artwork from McMahon and Bolland, the only artists on the strip, alongside writer Pat Mills. Co-incidentally, the first issue of the comic I ever picked up, as an impressionable eight year old, contained the first episode of the story and I was hooked. I even went so far as to commission Mike to recreate his cover for that prog (61) for me a few years back. The initial print run is now apparently sold out so good luck in tracking one down.

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Smut and Jeff comic kickstarter

Smut n Jeff promoThis is a new comic Kickstarter from Kody Camberlain (remember Punks – the comic that I raved about last year?) This time round Kody is writing rather than illustrating. It’ll be a 5 issue, 32 pgs per issue, series if it gets funded and I think many of a certain age will identify with the story’s angle, below:

“SMUT AND JEFF is not a porn story, it’s a story about scarcity. It’s an homage to the quest for those unattainable treasures of youth before the internet took hold of humanity. A time when search engines were librarians and encyclopedias. Beyond that, and unknown to many, there was a secret underground of information spoken softly in certain areas of the cafeteria and the movie theater parking lot. With enough information, a bold teenager might venture into an unknown neighborhood to purchase a hip hop album the stores wouldn’t dare carry. SMUT AND JEFF is a tribute to those noble quests of the 80s, and the adventurous youth that dared embark on the adventure.”

Read the 6 page preview and then maybe check out the different packages on the Kickstarter? You can get original art, meet the creators or even be drawn into the book

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Hunt Emerson advertising illustrations

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(Above) An advert for the Forever People comic shop in Bristol, taken from issue 4 of Street Comix (ArZak 1977) (Below) A pair of lesser-seen ads by Hunt from the back pages of Sounds, the Xmas one being from Oct 11th 1980. You can see how much more detailed his style was at the start of the decade.

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(Below) Emerson‘s Jester character on the warpath for a Knockabout comics carrier bag from the late ’80s. Hunt EmersonKnockaboutbag80s

Unseen Vaughn Bode story from 1968 unearthed

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Amazing! From Mark Bodé‘s Facebook page:

“Never before published Vaughn Bode story. Vaughn presented this to his college professor at Syracuse University as a gift. Its so great to see new stuff after 41 years like finding a new unrecorded song by Jimi Hendrix out of the blue. This has risen up for auction at Heritage Auctions May 13th and 14th by the family it was gifted to. Thanks to John P Rovnak for bringing it to my attention. I was able to save large files for future printing of the art. Enjoy!!!”

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2000AD Free Comic Book Day issue

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As is usual each May, in the same way as Record Store Day, we have Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) upon us soon – May 7th to be precise. 2000AD has its own issue again with a mixture of new and reprint material. Henry Flint, who has provided covers for the last 3 years, has a strip inside and it’s Mike Allred who graces this year’s issue. As far as I’m aware this is his first work for the comic and he pays more than a tip of the hat to Brian Bolland with his Dredd pose here. Trying to break into the American market the comic has commissioned another American artist, Eric Powell of ‘The Goon’ fame, to provide interior art too.

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1200 x 2000AD

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Here we have a large portion of my 2000AD collection, a comic I’ve read since I was 8 years old, fast approaching issue 2000 itself. It’s time for these issues to go to another place, to people who will read them rather than being tucked away in my studio as some of them have for decades now. I’ve kept the first 600 issues (another 3 boxes) for purely nostalgic reasons plus the last 18 months worth but these approx 1200 issues will be going to Orbital Comics next week to do with what they will. Just in time for Free Comic Book Day and only a few months short of the comic’s 2000th issue in September.

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The excellent documentary about the comic’s history – ‘Future Shock’ – was just shown on TV and is currently available to view online for the next month in the UK via Channel 4. I also found about 25 doubles of very early issues including no.20, issue 100 and more, they’ll be going with these too.

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Here’s a few scans of images that caught my eye as I went through them: Brendan McCarthy masquerading at ‘Loaf’, a couple of Dredds by the incomparible John Hicklenton (RIP) and some pages from a beautiful Ace Trucking Co. story. No one draws the cosmos quite like Massimo Belardinelli.

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Tharg’s Future Shocks

2000ADFS pg1Whilst recently going through many boxes of old 2000AD comics, before I send them off to a better home, I ran across this little Future Shock story in Prog 672 – Mar 31, 1990 – which did something a little different with the comic medium. Written by Paul Carstairs (not a name I’m familiar with) and drawn by old hand Massimo Belardinelli, it starts out as you would expect but quickly takes a new turn. All copyright is 2000AD/Rebellion
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