The New Obsolescents badges

TNO badges 1
I’ve just made some badges to go with The New Obsolescents album I made with Robin The Fog and Chris Weaver aka Howlround. These aren’t being sold, they’re just giveaways so if you see us please ask for one. There will be a very nice enamel badge on sale when the repress of the album arrives in a month or two though – both available through the Castles In Space Bandcamp no doubt although I’m hoping some of the albums get into shops this time round.
TNO badges x6TNO badges 2 TNO badges 3

Mixcloud Select 49: Openmind mix 21/05/1995 + 23/06/1995

MS49 Openmind mix 21:01:1995 + 23:06:1995

If there’s one mix that I’ve dug up so far that encapsulates the moment and excitement of the Ninja Tune label finally coming into its own and starting to release what are now considered classics of the era then it’s this mix. From early 1995 this Solid Steel set showcases track after track from the label that bring the memories flooding back, lots of these would have been played from white labels and I would have been designing the artwork for them at the same time, playing our first gigs and tours around the UK and Europe. There was also the work on the DJ Food ‘A Recipe For Disaster’ album and Coldcut’s Journeys By DJ mix (more of that next week), the first Ninja Cuts compilation and, later on, the first Stealth nights at the Blue Note.

1995 was a vintage year, I’d quit my day job at a book shop on Oxford St, was still working some weekends in the record shop Ambient Soho on Berwick St. in between gigs away with Coldcut, PC and The Herbaliser and was designing whatever Ninja Tune could throw at me. Solid Steel shows were usually pre-recorded Friday evenings at KISS FM on the Holloway Road or in Coldcut’s newly constructed Ahead of our Time studio in Clink St. This mix was the former and you can hear Matt on the mic at one point saying ‘Ninja Tune blowing up in ’95’ as there was a sense of excitement and direction at the label with lots of new signings and singles from The Herbs, Funki Porcini, London Funk Allstars, Up, Bustle & Out, Neotropic and Food of course.

Coupled with the label’s new visual identity, lexicon (see the Ninja Skinz inside notes) and the sense of purpose around the groups all working on debut albums, it made for a friendly but competitive environment. A small trickle of press interest had happened following Mo Wax’s emergence as the forerunner of the trip hop sound plus new labels like Wall of Sound and Skint were starting. The mix kicks off with a truncated beginning unfortunately as we’re into the latter half of The Herbaliser’s original version of ‘Repetitive Loop’ before plunging into the Autechre mix of DJ Food’s ‘Sexy Bits’ (basically the samples at the end of the Jazz Brakes albums).

The electronic side of things was also in fine form with three mixes from Autechre in this set alone, Disjecta (Seefeel’s Mark Clifford) and more than I can’t identify from ailing memory or Shazam, if anyone can fill in the gaps please let me know. I’m surprised to hear a snatch of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ at the end here as I didn’t think I bought a copy until later than this but it was probably from a compilation from around this time.

I have three dates for mixes on this tape and it’s likely that this mix is actually two sets from different dates, as the other side of the tape is definitely one set. At around the 14 minute mark, after the Beastie Boys, there was definitely an advert break because I remember it. After this, the mix may well be from another session, possibly at the AOOT studio. The dates I have are 13/05/1995 + 21/01/95 + 23/06/1995 but my good friend, Solid Steel collector and historian Anton Kibeshev tells me that I’ve mistakenly labelled one part and it should be 21/05/95. I’m going to peg the first half of this mix as 21/05/95, then 23/06/1995 as the second. Next week – for the 50th upload – will be 13/05/1995 which is where the JDJ mix comes in…

Track list:
The Herbaliser – Repetitive Loop
DJ Food – Sexy Bits (Ae9V mix)
Heights of Abraham – 700 Channels
DJ Vadim – Live From Paris
Beastie Boys – Something’s Got To Give (live)
The Herbaliser – Scratchy Noise
Simon Harris – 95 bpm breakbeat
Akasha – Mescalin
Up, Bustle & Out – Revolutionary Woman of the Windmill (La Bandolera Del Molino)
Depth Charge – Five Deadly Venoms
Unknown – unknown
Scorn – Falling (Autechre FR 13 mix)
Disjecta – Vistic
Autechre – VLetr mx
Unknown – unknown
Terry Riley – In C

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Mini CDs #10: Boards of Canada – Sometime In The Future

BoC CD closedBack in the 00’s, when I had a bit more time on my hands, I would make physical editions of some of my more conceptual mixes for Solid Steel. I wanted to do something really special for the release of ‘Geogaddi’, BoC’s second album, being a big fan of the group. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding this record and I was given a copy of the album by Warp just before the release. I rushed through it in a weekend to make the deadline for the radio show so that this could be transmitted on Solid Steel the week it was released. As a thank you I made 10 copies in a fold out hexagon sleeve (based on the Andromeda Strain soundtrack packaging), each with a different sticker inside and a 3″ CD containing the mix. I sent four to Mike & Marcus, two to Warp and kept four for myself.

BoC insideBoC inside 2

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The KLF – Solid State Logic 2

The third upload by The KLF / JAMs / Timelords debuted on March 23rd with Solid State Logic 2 – extended 12″ mixes, B sides, obscurities and also a new ‘trailer’ for Jarvis Joins The JAMs – the version of Justified & Ancient that was performed during the festivities in Liverpool a few years back. An added bonus was also the ‘Rites of Mu’ film in stunning quality which didn’t initially seem to be part of SSL2 but appeared as well.

KLF SSL2

KLF posters 2

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Mixcloud Select 48: DJ Food – Warp 100 mix 05/07/1998

MS48 Warp DAT

During the summer of 1998 Warp Records put out their 100th release, a compilation of new tracks from all artists entitled ‘We Are Reasonable People’, which also celebrated their 9th anniversary. I put together a mix of all the tracks on Solid Steel although don’t be expecting a Blech pt.3 as this definitely isn’t as involved as that. I think I had to do it as the vinyl sides let me over the 3 discs, pairing up tracks from different sides plus a copy of the 4 track promo 12”. (I may have had double copies actually listening to the N.O.W. section)

As it says on the DAT cover, it’s pretty pedestrian in the way it’s put together although (my mix that is, not the contents). There’s a very odd mix of the Mark Bell track out of Jimi Tenor – how to get a banging techno tune into a slow lounge number? Put it on 45 so it’s double time, mix together then turn down to 33. Sometimes you’re better off leaving a gap but I was young and determined to find a way to mix EVERYTHING together. If you just want to listen to the comp without too much interference then this is one way to do it. Just look at that line up! All tracks were exclusive to this comp at the time and several still aren’t available anywhere else.MS48 Warp Box

Part 1
Plaid – Ilasas
Squarepusher / AFX – Freeman Hardy & Willis
Red Snapper – 4 Dead Monks
Broadcast – Hammer Without A Master
Plone – Plaything
Nightmares On Wax – Fishtail Parker
Part 2
Boards Of Canada – Orange Romeda
Jimi Tenor – Wear My Bikini
Mark Bell – A Salute To Those People Who Say Fuck You
Mira Calx – Umchunga Locks
Two Lone Swordsman – Circulation
Autechre – Stop Look Listen

 

Mini CDs #9: Tear For Fears – Woman in Chains

TFF wic front
As with last week’s post, I don’t own this either so have had to collect images of it from the web but it’s another great example of the kind of things major label budgets could come up with when a big chart band were involved. Although not as hardy as last week’s Tears For Fears single, this version of ‘Woman in Chains’ is more complex with a four panel fold out that holds the 3″ CD inside. As you can see, the design is quite flimsy and the prongs of the sun’s rays are a little battered. I’d imagine finding one of these in mint condition is near impossible after 30+ years, how would you safely stack that in your collection?. Design was by Stylorouge.

TFF wic left TFF wic rightTFF wic bottomTFF wic back

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King Gizzard Fuzz Club Bootleg series

KGLW Asheville
Like many others last year King Gizzard raided their tape archives and pumped out live sets via their Bandcamp page to fill the void of cancelled gigs. Of course these were digital only releases and they later offered the recordings to anyone who wanted to press them up on the condition that they sent them a portion of the stock to sell. Fuzz Club have stepped up and taken eight shows plus a demos set and a teenage pre-Gizzard collection and made some of the best looking releases I’ve seen in a while. Grab these quick if you want them, they’re selling out fast, some independent shops have them on pre-order like Norman Records, and Resident Music. King Gizzard have form on this, giving away their ‘Polygondwanaland’ album to everyone to do their own versions in 2017, there are nearly 300 versions on Discogs as I write.
KGLW Auckland KGLW Brussels KGLW London KGLW Paris KGLW Rats Live KGLW TeensKGLW Demos 1 KingGizzardDemo_24

The New Obsolescents LP repress

TNO comp 4
It was a surprise to see The New Obsolescents‘ album sell out in 25 minutes a few weeks back when it went up for pre-order and it’s been even more heartening to see people posting photos online once they received them. Inevitably though there’s a small downside in the people who missed out and the buyers who immediately put copies on Discogs for anywhere between £130 to £300. You can’t stop people doing this but Castles In Space are very good at tracking who these buyers are and striking them from any future sales from the label.
The good news for those who missed out is that a repress is on the way although it won’t be a foil version like the first run because those stocks are now depleted. It’s taken a while to source something that could measure up to the Dufex covers and I’ve gone a different route. The good news is that the new sleeve will be back and front rather than just a panel that I have to stick by hand on 300 copies! Prints tests were done in the last week from various samples and now stocks are being readied, vinyl pressed (in a different colourway too) and the 2nd edition will be with us as soon as the pressing plant can press it up. There may also be a number of badges to accompany it too. Here I’ve collected the various photos posted online and at the bottom is a sneak peek of the repress tests results.

TNO comp 3 TNO comp 2 TNO comp 1 TNO Comp 5 TNO comp 7 TNO comp 8 TNO comp 9 TNO comp 6TNO 2nd Ed test

Mixcloud Select 47: Hip Hop ABCs/ TV is the new religion 01/04/2002

MS47 disc Going back almost 19 years to April Fool’s Day 2002 and a thing titled ‘Hip Hop ABC / TV is the new religion’ this week although the date on the CD and tracklist here is most likely when it was recorded rather than transmitted. Opening with DJ Shadow’s excellent ‘Mashin’ On The Motorway’ (with edited swearing for the radio) from ‘The Private Press’ LP, an album that suffered from far too many comparisons to ‘Endtroducing’ at the time despite being amazing. Given that the album came out in June 2002, it’s early to be playing this track but I do remember versions leaked online around this time.

There’s a lot of Sesame Street spoken word throughout this mix as I was in the middle of a big Children’s Television Workshop collecting phase, compiling material for the later ‘D Is For Dig’ mix – I have to say the segue from Grover into KRS-1 is quite inspired. The first half of this mix is heavy on current hip hop of the time erring towards the independent side of things with both UK and US talent featured. I always wondered if Black Twang were hoping for some kind of football TV syndication with ‘Kik Off’ but maybe not with those lyrics. How good is that Zeb Roc Ski track featuring Blade? Big Two Hundred was an alias of Andrew Meecham aka The Emperor Machine, Bizarre Inc. Chicken Lips and more who made one album for DC Recordings, very much in the Liquid Liquid post punk style.

MS47 PRS

Halfway we switch to a mixture of funky rock and religious spoken word from Jonny Trunk & Martin Green’s excellent ‘Resurrection’ compilation, a record that sparked an interest in religious records that I’m still exploring today. The end breakdown of Mountain’s ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ was of course the theme to LWT’s ‘Weekend World’ news programme during the 70s and 80s and brings us into the TV themes, covers and library cues section with a heavy bias on old BBC shows. The secret of library music had been out since the late 90s and many labels were reissuing fantastic comps of all the big hitters, there was a nostalgia for our 70s youth being stirred up that would eventually manifest itself into the hauntology genre with labels like Trunk helping fuel the fire.

Another thing fanning those flames were sections of the mash up community fusing old TV themes to new pop acappellas for laughs, hence the ‘Dad n Bass’ extract featured here which I must have found on the web somewhere. This scene was just starting to get into gear and I always thought the best mash ups were the ones that made you laugh at the ridiculousness of their pairing. This one is just that, if anyone knows who did it then please let me know. The daddies, Coldcut, close the show with an example from the late 80s of just this, showing they were, as ever, ahead of their time. This recording seems to be from a Capital Radio broadcast with Mick Brown and the mix was later featured on the July ’88 DMC mix album which was the only place you could find it until the Cold-Cut-Outs compilation.

DJ Shadow – Mashin’ On The Motorway
Kela – Crop Circles
Antipop Consortium – Tuff Gong
Cannibal Ox – The F Word (RJD2 remix)
KRS-1 – Get Yourself Up
Edan – Mic Manipulator
Blak Twang – Kik Off
Sir Beans OBE – How Would You Put This
Zeb Roc Ski feat Blade – On The Run (Junk’s UK remix)
Big Two Hundred – Replaceable Head
unknown – The Sun Worshippers Speak
Roger Limb – Alien in the Family
Ted Taylor Organisation – He Who Would Valiant Be
Neil Merryweather – Eight Miles High
Mountain – Nuntucket Sleighride
Ronnie Hazelhurst – The Two Ronnies Theme
Heavy Action – Superstars
Martin Cook & Richard Denton – Tomorrow’s World
Dudley Simpson – The Tomorrow People
unknown – Dad ‘n’ Bass
Coldcut – Off To Work

Mini CDs #8: Tear For Fears – Sowing The Seeds of Love

TFF ssol front
I have to confess, I don’t own this release and have pinched photos from the web but it’s a classic case of successful 80s pop band with mega hyped comeback single (an excellent one too) being squeezed into a format of the day to brilliant effect. ‘Sowing The Seeds of Love’ saw Tears For Fears making a long overdue return with a huge nod to The Beatles and late 60s flower power and what better vessel to stow a 3″ CD in than a sunflower? No doubt causing all manner of headaches for the OCD fan as they place it on the shelf with their other TFF releases, this is a beautiful example of lateral thinking design, the only let down being the lacklustre on body disc design once inside the thing.

TFF ssol insideTFF ssol discTFF ssol back

Mixcloud Select 45: Strictly Solid Steel Pt.2 19/10/97

MS46 tapeHere’s the second of two parts from late 1997. I don’t think I’ve heard this since it was broadcast, pretty sure this is taped from the radio broadcast as it has that lovely KISS FM compression across it and part of an ad at the end. This was my second set from the first hour of the show with PC providing the second hour.

A Reminiscent Drive made some lovely ambient / classical records on F Comm, more Plaid, Stereolab from career high ‘Dots & Loops’, oh how spoilt were we back then. No idea why I thought MC Shan would work after them but it just about does, crazy to think there’s now a documentary about this song. Wonderful Quincy Jones from his ‘Guala Matari’ LP into a way more funky, out there Hot Butter album cut than I remember, must dig that out again, it’s not all about ‘Popcorn’. Ending with Billy Cobham and ‘Storm’, part of a 4 section ‘sound portrait’ called ’Spanish Moss’ from ‘Crosswinds’, one of his increasingly electronic 70s LPs.

Track list:
A Reminiscent Drive – Footprints
Plaid – Rakimou
Stereolab – Refractions in the Plastic Pulse
MC Shan – The Bridge
Quincy Jones – Hummin’
Hot Butter – Space Walk
Billy Cobham – Storm

Under The Covers 001: Sleevenote interview

Openmind selectionI did a very enjoyable interview with Tom Vek from Sleevenote about design for music past and present with an emphasis on my work for Ninja Tune and how things have changed in the digital age. It’s the first in what will be a series of interviews with designers and features an example of how the Sleevenote site is digitising LP artwork for the streaming generation to preserve the art of the sleeve in the age of the thumbnail.

Read the interview here and have a look at Sleevenote too, you can browse cover art and play tracks by clicking the interactive sleeves which are linked to Spotify and Apple Music, work on desktop or mobile.

Sleevenote page

Mini CDs #7: XTC – Oranges & Lemons

XTC front
This beautifully unique object is possibly the first example of a full album presented across three mini CDs, housed in a fragile cigarette-sized box. Sporting a Yellow Submarine-esque flip up cover, the discs are stacked as you see them below in tiered slots but the box is easy to crush or tear – as you can see here. I always found it odd that they did this album after two Dukes of the Stratosphear LPs but maybe they had dipped their toes in the psychedelic waters enough to put it out as XTC by this time.XTC inside
XTC 3 CDs 2 XTC back

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Food For Thought – 10 Food related records

Foodstuffs x 9

I was asked to make a list of food-related records for something back in 2009, I forget what, again, all archived on a CDR I recently found, here again just for the hell of it.

The Dragons – Food For My Soul (Ninja Tune)
This has to be top of my list because of the title, the message and the association with The Dragons that blossomed with it. If it wasn’t for licensing this track for the ‘Now, Listen Again’ mix CD then their unreleased ‘B.F.I.’ LP wouldn’t have come to light.

Dragons BFI0-10cc-life

10cc – Life Is A Minestrone (Mercury)
Until Godley & Creme left 10cc could do little wrong when it came to singles and this is one of the classics. Honourable mention should go to the duo’s later ‘Snack Attack’ from the ‘Ismism’ LP which has to be one of the greats.

Gong CamembertCookie M & TGS

Gong – Camembert Electrique (Virgin)
Maybe not their best album but great nevertheless, as well as the title it contains the track ‘Wet Cheese Delerium’.

Cookie Monster & The Girls – C Is For Cookie / If I Knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked A Cake (Sesame Workshop/Ninja Tune)
Cookie Monster tracks are rarely about anything but food, the former was released in disco mix form by NInja, backed with my re-edit of the classic ‘Pinball Number Count’.

Pepe Deluxe - Spare Time machine00BeachBoys-TheCompleteSmileArtwork

Pepé Deluxe – Apple Thief / Salami Fever (Catskills)
Can’t decide between the two of these. ‘Apple Thief’ is from my album of 2007 – ‘Spare Time Machine’ – and is pure psyche pop beauty. ‘Salami Fever’ has been a staple of my DJ sets for many a year and is a collision of rock guitars, scratches and distorted vocoder that I never tire of.

The Beach Boys – Vegetables (Capitol)
From the Smile / Smiley Smile sessions, featuring Paul McCartney on carrot (!) Has to be on the list just to get Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys on there.

Paul's BoutiqueHot Butter Popcorn

Beastie Boys – Egg Man (Capitol)
Only a tenuous link with Food but Paul’s Boutique is one of my favourite records and mixing the themes from ‘Psycho’ with ‘Jaws’ just wouldn’t happen legally on a record any more. Also for the epic ‘B-Boy Bouillabaisse’ and they mention the next record too.

Hot Butter – Popcorn (Musicor Records)
Two food stuffs for the price of one, this evergreen novelty hit has been covered by quite a few including Aphex Twin and has to be on here to represent the Moog.

Frank Zappa – Lumpy Gravy (Bizarre)
The entire album – one of my favourite Zappa albums from his early days with the Mothers, pure madness on vinyl.

Lumpy_Gravyyou_are_what_you_eat_1

Various – You Are What You Eat OST (Columbia)
This is the soundtrack to a little known film which is full of all sorts of gems although only the title is about food. My favourite track is ‘Freakout’ by the Electric Flag and John Simon, a 10 minute jam of unparalleled insanity – you know when people describe things as ‘psychedelic’ and then you listen to them and it just sounds like some badly recorded garage band? – this track actually warrants using the P word.

 

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Mixcloud Select 45: Strictly Solid Steel Pt.1 19/10/97

MS45 tape
*The date on the post is correct going by other sources, the date on the tape above is wrong, no idea why.

A shorter mix this week after last week’s hour+ special. Here’s the first of two parts from late 1997. I don’t think I’ve heard this since it was broadcast, pretty sure this is taped from the radio broadcast as it has that lovely KISS FM compression across it and part of an ad was at the end. This was my first set from the first hour of the show with PC providing the second hour.

Kicking off with Skylab, the great Mat Ducasse / Major Force West collaboration from a clear 7” on Eye Q Records – I loved everything Mat did with his Skylab project and told him so when we met later in life. He said he was inspired by listening to Solid Steel so the circle was complete, everything is getting a reissue now so no excuse if you missed it first time round. The #1 LP and ‘Oh! Skylab’ EP are essential and this track comes from the #2 LP era https://skylab.bandcamp.com/

Brandi Ifgray made the ‘Le Mutant’ LP on Puu, an offshoot of Finnish label Sahko Recordings, home of Jimi Tenor, Metri, Pansonic and more. The next three tracks I barely remember but Plaid’s ‘Not For Threes’ LP was obviously new around this time. I always felt Laika could have gone the same way as Broadcast as this is from a pretty experimental 12” with Cabbage Boy (Si Begg) and Luke Vibert among the featured remixers.

Juryman (Ian Simmonds) and Spacer (Luke Gordon) were always excellent both recording together or apart and this comes from the one collaborative LP they made. That V/Vm track? I think it may have been from the Skam Records ‘0161′ compilation? New Flesh on Big Dada, early on when Part 2 still rapped and they hadn’t dropped the ‘4 Old’ from their name, really bold UK hip hop, full of ideas.

Part 2 next week!

Track list:
Skylab – Bite This!
Brandi Ifgray – Bumble Bee
Plaid – Extork
Laika – Shut Off/Curl Up (Cabbage Boy remix)
Juryman vs Spacer – Personnel Wanted
V/Vm – Asymetric
New Flesh 4 Old – Electronic Bombardment

Resonance FM fundraiser 2021

TNO StarburstIt’s that time of year again for the Resonance FM fundraiser, this independent radio station relies on donations to keep the lights on and having just had to relocate after what seems like years of waiting, they need it more than ever. They’re not doing the usual eBay auctions this year so Robin the Fog has taken it upon himself to put three special records up there with a little help from the Castles in Space label.
I’d like to bring your attention to a ‘Starburst’ edition of our The New Obsolescents LP, officially released today but totally sold out, this one was held back for just this occasion. Bid on this here

If you want to hear what it sounds like and maybe buy a digital copy then head to Bandcamp

HWLRD cover

Also a secret 31st edition of Robin’s last Bandcamp Friday Howlround lathe cut 7″ EP ‘Rec & Ruin’ – again, made specially. Go here to bid
HWLRND labelHWLRND back

Also available is a full package of CiS goodies in the form of Field Lines Cartographer‘s recent ‘Leaving In Storms’ 7″ test pressing with all the trimmings. Bids away!  All proceeds go towards Resonance FM

OriginalPhoto-632998857.178352

And if you have these already or they’re just not your bag but you want to help the station out then you can donate here  https://resonancefm.com/donate

 

Mini CDs #6: The The – Gravitate To Me

Gravitate frontThe post-Mind Bomb’ single, again released on multiple formats including 7″, cassette, two 12″s and another 12″ box set with photos, postcard and stencil, it also came as a 3″ CD in downscaled fold out card sleeve with pocket for the disc. It’s horribly fragile, isn’t easy to keep in good shape 30 years on and hasn’t any exclusive material. I’m not sure whether the German stamp on the inner cover is the previous owner’s or a shop address.

Gravitate openGravitate insideGravitate back

The 90s comics bubble bursts

Speakeasy cover

I recently ran across this issue of Speakeasy from 1991 – a once monthly UK publication, part-comics news and interviews, part-comic shorts – and wondered if this was the peak of the late 80s / early 90s independent comic boom? Looking at the people featured in that issue alone it’s an embarrassment of riches: Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Brian Bolland, Daniel Clowes and Simon Bisley just on the cover alone. Any two or three of those would have seen me picking up the issue and the Bisley cover has him at the height of his painterly powers.

Speakeasy Biz

Bisley had done Slaine: The Horned God and was in the middle of the Batman/Judge Dredd crossover Judgement on Gotham and Morrison had just finished Doom Patrol and was handing over his Drivel column to Warren Ellis. Clowes was some issues into his Eightball run and McKean was doing Sandman covers and publishing Cages, his 12 issue square format reimagining of what comics could be. Bolland had long gone over to the US to do The Killing Joke and front cover work for numerous lines but that’s not all. Also featured are interviews with Harvey Pekar on his American Splendor collection and words and pictures from Shaky Kane. That’s a pretty great collection of talent.

Speakeasy Bolland

Top news stories are the Infinity Gauntlet saga in the Marvel universe, a Batman vs Predator team up with Dark Horse rolling out the first of their licensed Aliens, Predator and Terminator comics. Kevin Eastman’s recently-founded Tundra is still spilling out titles, early attempts to sell Manga to the West in the shape of Otomo’s Akira are reviewed and Pete Bagge is getting into his stride with Hate. Mike McMahon‘s The Last American was also mentioned and the now-classic America story had run in the Judge Dredd Megazine. So many books and stories that would go on to become classics.

Speakeasy InfinitySpeakeasy Clowes

On the shelves there was much from the Brits to pry the money out of a fanboy’s grubby hand but the ever-present 2000AD was looking a bit outdated in its teenage years and about to slip into a creative quagmire for much of the 90s. In competition there was the aforementioned Judge Dredd Megazine, Deadline in full flow with Tank Girl et al, Crisis was wobbling through some content troubles and Toxic had just been launched in the anarchic spirit of ’77 by some of 2000AD’s originators. Viz was at the height of its popularity, selling over a million copies an issue and anthologies like A1 and the Marvel UK reprint title, Strip were around too. And this is before your forked out for any of the American imports…

Speakeasy Morrison

The first cracks had begun to show with the cancellation of hugely hyped Revolver the previous year after only 7 issues and with the next issue of Speakeasy the magazine was about to evolve into a full comic of its own under the name of Blast! As great as this was it would also only last 7 issues (with Speakeasy as an insert for just 5) before being cancelled and, as with Revolver the year before, it seemed that this was the last big attempt to launch a new title into an already oversaturated marketplace. One high profile failure was bad but two in the space of a year seemed to ring the alarm bells that maybe buyers couldn’t sustain this much content. Incidentally, 2000AD would also try to launch another comic (twice) in 1992 – Earthside 8 which had then morphed into Alternity – neither of which made it past the mock up stage to the shop shelves.

Speakeasy Pekar

By the end of the year both Toxic and Crisis had also folded with Deadline ending a few years later in 1995 after blazing its way through the comics boom and hitching itself to the Britpop movement, even helping birth a Hollywood film of their lead character, Tank Girl. They had a good run and over in the US things faired a bit better with Dark Horse and Image building into hugely successful publishing houses and DC’s Vertigo imprint starting in 1993 and operating for 27 years. The biggest casualty at the time was probably Kevin Eastman’s Tundra operation, set up as a creator-owned imprint with the profits from his and Peter Laird‘s Ninja Turtles, it closed in 1993, never making a profit and costing Eastman a reputed $14 million.

Speakeasy Shaky

The house of Tharg ultimately survived everyone, 2000AD is into its 44th year, struggled through its adolescence and has been in a second golden age for nearly 20 years now after a threadbare 90s patch. The Megazine mutated through several different formats and weathered their own Hollywood flop in the shape of the Judge Dredd film starring Stallone before finding their feet and are still on top form 30 years later.

Speakeasy Blast

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