Comics Challenge Of 2011! Introduction and Reviews: Preacher #18 and #19

So folks, tis a new year and all that and what better way to start a new year than by making promises you shalll never keep! However that won’t be the story here. Basically the idea is to read 730 comics this year (or 2 comics a day). Shouldn’t be too hard for a rabid geek like me and I may end up reading more than that but I thought it’d be fun to do reviews for them too, so here we are!

Ideally I should have 730 reviews by the end of the year. However that’s not very practical given the time schedule, and I’m sure you don’t want a big review on some of the more boring,mediocre books. Hence I shall couple issues together and have a larger review for one of them, a “main review” of sorts. I’ll list them all and try to say something about all of them, but at the end of the day I don’t think you’ll fault me too much if I don’t write a large amount for Generic X-Men Title #147.

And a quick note for spoilers: I will try and keep them to a minimum especially on stories such as Preacher that are long-form stories with rich plots and arcs (a.k.a: stories you really don’t want spoiled if you’ve only started them or are halfway true). Or any story that has a complete hum-dinger of a twist or development in the middle that deserves to remain unspoiled. But at the end of the day, when it comes to finite stories it’s pretty hard to talk about stuff like character development when I can’t mention plots or situations the characters have found themselves in. Basically reader discretion is advised.  Nevertheless, to be thorough I shall put a spoiler warning on any review that may feature spoilery material.

Wow, that took too long…

Anyway, with the basics established, let’s get rockin’:

COMIC #1: PREACHER #18

Written by GARTH ENNIS/ Art by STEVE DILLON/ Published by VERTIGO/DC COMICS

Oh yes people! This is how to start the new year.

Anybody who knows me well will tell you I’m a massive fan of Preacher and its two rather talented creators, writer extraordanaire Garth Ennis and the supremely talented artist Steve Dillon. I love everything these guys do and you could call me an apologist

Preacher #18 is a perfect showcase of why I love both of these creators.

As a quick pitch, Preacher is the story of Reverend Jesse Custer, who after discovering God has abandoned his responsibilites on Heaven and Earth, decides to find him and hold him responsible for his creation. But really, you don’t need to know  any of this, as this issue is a pitstop between major story arcs, which while having a very small impact on the plot of the series itself, has a massive emotional resonance for Jesse.

The issue begins with Jesse in an airport bar and after a chance encounter with Billy “Spaceman” Baker an old army friend of his dead father,he’s told a story about their time serving in Vietnam. The comic then alternates between Billy telling Jesse the story and the story itself, a harrowing tale about vengeance set during the Vietnam war.

Garth Ennis was raised on British war and action comics as a kid as opposed to the American Super-Heroes that form the bread and butter of many writers’ childhoods. It’s why his works are often characterized by complete badass, stoic characters, harsh violence and a wickedly black sense of humour. It’s also why he has such an affection for war comics.

All of these traits are on show here. Ennis’ crafts a script that portrays the grimy conditions of Vietnam (latrine duty anybody?) and the harsh way of life soldiers had to undertake. The whole thing feels wonderfully accurate from a historical and personal point of view and warfare is a subject that Ennis’ has obviously well researched. However none of this would be worth a goddamn if we didn’t give a rat’s arse about the protagonists of the flashbacks. After all, all grim and grit does not a good story make.

Of course, one of Preacher’s greatest strengths was its ability to let you care for the characters and in the space of a single issue, Ennis has us caring for these grunts. Ennis’ is a master of building characters through a couple of  pages of dialogue alone (which being an Ennis comic, is razor sharp, with tons of wit to spare). In the space of 22 pages, we feel an incredible amount of emotion for these characters, and get to understand their losses and codes of honour. Motives for the characters actions become dark and harsh justice is the name of the game. Do we agree with their actions or object to them? There’s moral ambiguity aplenty and just like the characters themselves, Ennis doesn’t give a definitive answer

The flashbacks also contain Ennis’ beautifully black sense of humour, and whilst it takes a backseat compared to most issues of Preacher, there’s still a very sly, strong undercurrent of it in the issue, including an act of revenge on one of their men that is both disgusting, terrible and completely hilarious at the same time.

And this isn’t even mentioning the incredible art of Steve Dillon. Dillon is one of the masters of the industry, able to convey human emotion more vividly than most of his peers. He works his magic here, showing fury, annoyance, terror, happiness and doubt in a crisp clear manner. The expressions aren’t always subtle but they do their job every bit as well as the (brilliant) script. Dillon is also a master of drawing people with character. Everybody in this comic looks real and distinct. In the present day, Dillon does an amazing job of aging Billy, drawing just enough wrinkles and lines to show that his is an older, more weathered man than the youthful Private we see back in the ‘Nam flashbacks.

Kudos also needs to be given to colourist Matt Hollingsworth who does an even better than normal job in the Vietnam flashbacks, creating a subtly subdued colour palette that’s distinctively different from the present but not in a way that feels the need to smack you in the face. Hollingsworth employs the use of pale oranges and greens to highlight the humid, hot climate of Vietnam and it compliments Dillon’s art wonderfully.

All in all, Preacher #18 represents everything I love about comics, and indeed, stories themselves. There’s memorable characters, great visuals, excellent (black humour), awesome storytelling and touching character moments. I haven’t even mentioned half the things I love about this comic but these are the main ones and I don’t want to spoil anything for the readers

This is more than a great Preacher story. It’s a great war story period, that has very little to do with the main plot. So even if you have no urge in reading Preacher, I recommend hunting this issue down.

Chances are that unlike the military grunts in this issue, you won’t regret your decision.

COMIC #2: PREACHER #19

Written by GARTH ENNIS/ Art by STEVE DILLON/ Published by VERTIGO/DC COMICS

Looking back on this issue for reviewing, it becomes clear that action wise this is pretty much all set-up to establish many of the seeds that will be sown in the next arc. 14 out of the 22 pages of the issue are dedicated to conversations, most of which discuss what they are going to plan in future issues. Usually, readers would find an issue like this rather laborious and tedious to read.  However it’s a testament to the scripting skill of Garth Ennis that it’s only on closer inspection that we realize how much is set up. Ennis is simply a master of dialogue and it’s issues like this, where the dialogue essentially carries the comic in the absence of considerable action that makes you realize. It’s a complete blast to read.

With the amount of pages given to Jesse and his girlfriend Tulip, we realize that from a plot stand point these scenes aren’t absolutely necessary. However they add even more depth and detail to a relationship that already has a lot of dimension and further cements Preacher’s reputation of possessing characters that while perhaps not being incredibly complex ,are very well thought out and developed. The same could be said for some of the greatest characters in popular fiction.

That’s not to say that there’s no action to speak of. A failed autopsy on the immortal vampire Casssidy is a very satisfying (and violent) scene and gives Steve Dillon to stretch his artist muscles. Due to his excellent facial expressions Dillon ably delivers Talking Head issues, where most of the script just calls for dialogue between characters and his art remains a joy to look at. When Dillon isn’t illustrating somebody screaming while smacking someone with a wooden plank with a nail in it, he’s able to use some of his more subtle, nuanced expression work. However, it’s scenes like the autopsy, where Cassidy is tearing throats and snapping wrists where Dillon gets to shine, giving every grab, shove and snap real, bone-crunching weight.

Overall, this is a solid issue of Preacher. Especially after last issue’s flashbacks to Vietnam, this may seem a wee bit underwhelming but it performs its’ job of moving the plot along exceedingly well, due to Ennis’ great dialogue and Dillon’s uncanny knack for human expression.



Goodnight Summer.

During this Summer, I’ve gotten into the habit of staying up late at my dad’s so I can go out to smoke when he’s gone to bed. And it’s been pretty pleasurable. You can just go outside and sit on the grass, gaze into the stars and try and tackle that black mass of swirling thoughts in your head. Most of the time you fail. But that’s ok. You can just listen to your iPod and enjoy the warm breeze, disengage the brain and lie. Listen to a song called Stars while staring at the its namesake.

Well it’s the end of the Summer now. I’ve just slipped out for my last smoke of the season at my dads house. And I don’t get that feeling of contentment I’ve been getting these past months. It only took me a second to understand what it is that’s changed.

It’s that warm breeze. It’s not there anymore. And I’m cold. It makes it hard for me to just sit there. I keep getting goosebumps and shivering. I can’t stay still and gather my thoughts.

It makes me sad. Because it feels like the season itself has turned on me. It’s not there to reassure me anymore. It’s just there to give me a bitter chill. It’s deserted me, betrayed me. And I get lonely out there, just shuddering and wanting to finish my smoke. Meanwhile on the iPod, E sings about wanting Novacaine For The Soul. He’s followed by Black Francis wondering Where His Mind is. I always used to listen to these songs when I was out in the garden. They kept my mind clear. But they don’t work now. They feel empty and alien in the cold environment.

I remember once I was out smoking during a metor shower, hoping to see them in the sky. Dad was a bit under the weather and he woke up to get a lemsip. I panicked but I threw the smoke away in time, and when he saw me out at two in the morning, I told him I was trying to spot some meteors. He accepted the excuse and sat down. We shot the shit for an hour before going to bed. The morning air allowed it, keeping us warm till we went to bed.

But there’s no more allowances for us now. Summer’s given us all we can. It knows that we’ve had our three months, now it’s time to go back into the house. It’s time to find it unpleasant being outside in the night again. Nice knowing you, see you next year.

It’s about twenty past four now as I’m writing. I’m upstairs while everybody sleeps below. The wind is blowing and you can hear it from inside. It’s like a warning,”You better stay in”. The house creaks against the wind, almost in protest.

Everybody misses the Summer when it’s gone. But this is the first year I can immediately feel its abscence. And as I do, I just sit inside, trapped. All I can do now is just wait for that day when I can go outside for a smoke, and that warm breeze will embrace me again, like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. And then I’ll be glad.



A Sporting Epiphany From A Spanish Balcony

Tell me, where any of you watching the world cup semi-final between Spain and Germany?

I was actually in Spain for the match (I’ll be there for the Final as well). From what I saw, It was good match, plenty of action at both goals for a one nil result. Not that I could say that accurately though. You see I wasn’t actually watching much of the match. Hell I fucked off back to the house we’re staying in for the final 20 minutes. And you know what? I saw something even better.

Because you see, for the last twenty minutes I decided to sit on the balcony at the top of the house, light up a smoke or three (the rest of the family were still watching the match at the restaurant) and watch people from the nearby houses scream and shout at the TV in joy as their team came tantalisingly close to victory and eventually acquired it. And let me tell you it was quite a sight and sound to behold.

Now before I go any further I have to admit I never cared much for football. After I quit my local team at the age of 12 I decided I had no interest in it, always past up the chance to play or watch it and generally gave conversations about the sport a wide birth.

But let me tell you, after that night, I realised the error of my ways. There’s a reason they call it  The Beautiful Game after all…

You see, what I saw that night was rather wonderful, and kind of beautiful if you want to get all sentimental.

I realised that nothing really brings a bunch of people together then 22 to men kicking around a ball for 90 minutes. Every house or apartment I could see from that balcony had the game on their TV. Why bother go downstairs to watch the match when you could see it perfectly from an apartment window only metres away? I could see all those well tanned Spaniards play their stuff rather well and stick it to those stuck up Krauts (sorry but old grudges die hard).

But as you can probably tell already I wasn’t interested in some good football playing, as fine is it may have been. No, what really caught my attention was the collective fervour being displayed by every individual watching that match.

 And I MEAN collective. Everybody was united to watch that match. Petty squabbles with one another could be put aside until that bastard ref ended injury time and the match was won. It seemed like every one of the people watching the match were on the same wave-length. I could almost imagine a resurrected Adolf Hitler and a German rabbi clutching each other in a desperate embrace, hoping their team would pull the finger out and score an equalizing goal.

But unfortunately for those two, their prayers would go unanswered, as the Spanish team held strong and kept the Germans at bay. I don’t really know how well the Spanish did with that, I wasn’t really paying close attention to the match to be honest. I was paying closer attention to the overall mood of the place.

Frantic Spanish could be heard nearby, and everywhere there seemed to be a steady buzzing drone of chatter and cheering as the Spanish public clenched their collective arsecheeks waiting for that final whistle.

And when that whistle was blown and the match was won, screams of joy erupted from everywhere. It was inescapable.

Not that you’d want to escape it. It was fantastic. It was a real “Jump up and shout FUCK YEAH! Moment”. And this is coming from someone who wouldn’t know Messi from his arsehole. But that didn’t matter. Just being there at that moment, you felt part of something bigger then some pasty faced Irish kid sneaking a smoke on a balcony. You felt part of a bigger kind of jubilation. The same kind of joy that those silly Brits seemed to get when one of their Royal Family gets married. The same kind of joy the American gets out of their Fourth of July celebrations. Except ,even in an international match, football has a way to cross boundaries that those celebrations could only dream of. Because everybody likes to join in on a victory once in a while. And anybody who says differently is a goddamn liar. Or Dead inside. Maybe both.

To compliment the shouts of exuberation, people let off shoddy fireworks in their backyards. They were hardly state-of-the-art pyrotechnics but that was the point. This wasn’t a celebration organized by a committee or government or even people who could use fireworks without blowing their faces off. This was a people’s celebration. For people to express it whatever way they wanted.

And that’s what they did. Some people started screaming into megaphones doing football chants in rapid Espanol.  I could see people driving down the road the house was on, beeping their horns and shouting the good news. Preaching to the converted I thought, but let them have their fun. Even I was getting in on the act, shrieking and shouting and whooping and having a good time doing so. I still felt some of that adrenaline, some of that buzz as I went to bed a couple of hours later.

Now I may be repeating myself but screw it: The whole thing was fantastic. A great big fuck you to all the snobby pretentious types who thought that no value could be taken from a sport. Up until that night I could probably be considered one of them.

But at last I “Abro mi ojos” (that’s opened my eyes for all you who can’t read my broken Spanish). The real value from a sport isn’t to be taken from the way a particular player can weave his way through five players and score the winning goal (although there is definitely a certain poetry to that).

 It’s the way it can bring a wide variety of people together and yell in unison as their team triumphs (or be there to lick each other’s wounds if they lose, as I’m sure the Germans were doing that night).

And not to get to heavy or anything, but in a world where bombs are dropped on a day to day basis and people will stab each other for a stick of gum, I’m all for that.

Oh dear… Me and my die-hard cynism must be getting soft.

Ah well. Bring on the World Cup Final I say!



The Writer’s Block Challenge: Week #1

Wow. This is late…. I remember I came up with The Writer’s Block Challenge months ago. But it seems I’ve only gotten the time to start it now. Ah well, better late then never. At least that’s what my 27 year-old party-loving  slut of a cousin says. But then again I think she’s just talking about her period…

 Anyway, smutty relations aside, this is an explanation of the Writers Block Challenge. The Writer’s Block is a book that has “an idea, exercise, or photograph that will jump-start your imagination” on every page. Well I figured that I’d do a short story inspired by The Writer’s Block every week, just to keep me writing. So how do I start this task? Simple. Just randomly open the book and whatever page I land on I write a short story based on this.The only rule? Whatever I land on, I HAVE to write about. No re-do’s. No swapsies. No re-counts. Keeps it fresh that way. Anyway, enough explanation and more writing!

So eagerly awaiting my challenge, I opened up the Writer’s Block and what page did I land on?

WRITE ABOUT YOUR PARTNER’S FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE.

Right…. This may be a stretch…

 

 

James’ First Time.

It was a warm summer’s day as James crossed the street of his suburban estate over to his girlfriend’s house.  The air was sticky and sweat, creating an unpleasant atmosphere to walk through, and every breeze of cool air was a gift. Throughout the estate, echoed a silence, complete with the sounds of crickets and the steady hum of the freeway, which lay nearby.  James would almost have stopped to appreciate the silence, but his mind was fixed on other things.

In fact, walking across the black tarmac of the road, James didn’t even realize he was the only person on the street, despite it being around four on a Sunday afternoon. The rest of his neighbours simply couldn’t brave the oppressive heat, and cowered behind their well-ventilated homes.

James was a tall, lanky boy of around 15. He had short brown hair, and green eyes, that were brown in the middle. He was in reasonably good shape, being skinny and possessing a toned body. Not that he worked out, it just seemed he’d always been fit. He was always found wearing heavy jeans, even in boiling weather and usually wore a t-shirt with a reference to his favourite band, comic or movie. Today was no different, with James dressed in his quintessential jeans and a shirt that asked “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

He knew that he probably should have “dressed to impress” given the occasion, but the fact was that James knew it was not necessary. No impressing needed.  The most preparation he’d done was had a shower before going out and even then he’d only jumped under the shower jets for a minute or two.

You see, the honest truth was that Zoë (James’ girlfriend) was far more into him then he was into her. He liked her of course. Who wouldn’t like such a kind, caring and fortunately, good looking girl? She was short, pretty with black shoulder length hair and cool ear piercings on the top of her ears (when James was drunk he tended to add she had a “great rack” too).  For a girl, she had a decent music taste, although her love for Paramore was something to be tolerated rather than encouraged. She was also an open-minded kind of girl, and not an airhead fuckwit. But she also had a whiny, nagging streak and constantly looked for affection from him. She was always asking him if he loved her (he didn’t of course but he said he did) and telling him how much she loved him and how much she meant to him.

This lead into his other pet peeve with her:  she was an incredible drama queen and tended to blow things out of proportion. If James didn’t find her in the morning at school to say hi and give a good morning kiss, it didn’t mean that he was too tired or not bothered his arse to do it that day. It meant that he was “angry” or “not willing to put enough effort into the relationship”. The latter might even have been true if she didn’t expect him to find her every fucking day.

 James was getting very sick of her shit and started getting very cranky and irritable around her. He was even considering dumping her this weekend. Maybe she sensed this, because this Friday, while they had been doing their typical after school “make out” Zoë had asked if he wanted to go further than just making out and topping her.

Now James liked to consider himself a guy built on strong principles. He didn’t see himself as a typical teenager. He didn’t fall into trends. He didn’t give into peer pressure (his choice to do drink was entirely his own). But at the end of the day, he was still a horny 15 year old kid, and his growing dislike of Zoe wasn’t enough to stop him from getting some. So it was with little hesitation that he asked her how far she was willing to go.

“Give you a wank… Maybe head” she replied.

Beaming a Cheshire cat grin, he gave Zoë the most enthusiastic kiss he’d given her for the past month or so, grabbing her ass and topping her once more with gusto. Then they organized the time and day and it was set: James was getting head at 4:30 on Sunday.

It worked perfectly. Both their parents were going to be at the same BBQ that was a 30 minute drive away. Both of them were the youngest in the family which meant no annoying kids to babysit.  There would be complete privacy and no chance of an adventurous parent entering Zoë’s room mid-blowjob.  Risk could be kept to the bare minimum.

So that was why James was strolling across his suburb at four on a Sunday afternoon, in the boiling heat, when he could have been playing Call Of Duty.

Passing the identical semi-detached houses he stopped in front of Zoë’s. He really was quite excited and took a moment to take a few deep breaths to calm himself. Then he walked up to the front door and pressed the doorbell.

After a couple of moments he heard footsteps and then Zoë opened the door. She really did look quite sexy, wearing a short tight denim skirt, and a red, short-sleeved shirt. She was even smart enough not to cake on the makeup, only wearing red lipstick that made her smile even better.

She said “hi” in her cute, mousey voice, grabbed his hand and pulled him into the house.

If James hadn’t been thinking of other things, he would have taken the time to acknowledge how nice a house it was too. There were cool paintings and furniture and it was all kind of hip in the way a married couple in a mid-life crisis try to make their house look hip.

 But as he was being lead up the stairs he thought of none of these things and in no time at all they were in Zoë’s bedroom.

It had dark purple wallpaper, posters of bands James hadn’t even heard of (and fucking Paramore) and lots of shelves filled with CDs, books and other assorted shit. Opposite her bed was a drawing desk where Zoë could usually found doing a sketch of Edward or Jacob from those “Twilight” books James hated so much. However, today was a rare respite, and instead of some brainless Twilight hunk, Zoë was in the middle of doing a sketch of Noodle from Gorillas. There would usually be a bunch of teddy bears and other furry animals on the bed, but perhaps as an act of mercy, Zoë had tucked all these into her closet.

 Zoë led James over to the bed and gently pushed him onto it. Then she gave a sexy smile and unbuttoned the shirt she was wearing. She was wearing nothing and her tits were on full show. Despite having big tits, James noticed that she’d started getting pimples on them and truth be told, he couldn’t make out where the pimple ended and the nipple began.

James ignored the slightly unsavoury image of Zoë’s tits and gave a sly grin. Then he pulled down his trousers.

 Just as he was about to lie back on the bed, James noticed a blue plastic bowl on the bedside table and asked what it was.

“Oh that’s em… to spit into if it doesn’t taste good.” She seemed pretty embarrassed so he left it at that.

Then he lay on his back and she started.

Looking back on it, James couldn’t really pin-point the exact part that was wrong. It was more like a group of several contributing factors that made for an overall, very disappointing experience. For starters, she didn’t use her hands at all. They just lay either by her sides or feeling up James thigh. This meant that basically she couldn’t get a handle on it, it kept sliding from side to side and any attempt on her part to get some momentum going was well and truly fucked.

James also began thinking that Zoë had taken the name “Blowjob” a little too close to heart. It felt like she was just literally blowing on his dick. Nothing else was going on in her mouth and it looked and felt absolutely ridiculous.

She hated the taste too, and kept stopping every thirty seconds to spit in that stupid fucking bowl. This meant that any time he might have started getting the slightest bit of enjoyment out of the whole debacle; she stopped and spat in the bowl, all the while making childish “Yuck!” sounds.

Basically the whole thing was disastrous, from the way her teeth occasionally scratched against his dick, to the annoying gobbling sounds she made while doing it to the fucking posters she had of Taylor Lautner.

Oh yes, the fucking posters. To make matters worse, Zoë had decided to stick a poster of Taylor Lautner showing his abs on the ceiling of her bedroom. Now James had no problem with this.  Hell, he had a Jessica Alba poster over his bed. But the fact was it was hard to get in the mood for a blowjob if you had to stare at Taylor Lautner’s big guns and soon he found himself looking away from the ceiling and towards the homely poster of Hayley Williams out of Paramore. Her music might have been shit but she wasn’t hard on the eyes and soon James found himself staring away from Zoë and to his right, towards the poster.

Now all this seemed to do was get Zoë worried about why he was looking away and not making eye contact and all that shit. And all that seemed to do was make Zoë’s terrible blowjob even worse.

Eventually it came to the awful moment where James just had to tell her to stop. He felt too embarrassed to speak though, and her eyes were closed so he had to tap her on the head like a dog or something. By now James just found the whole thing amusing and started sniggering just as he found his voice:

“Babe, heh, maybe we should give this a rest, eh?”

Zoë, in typically dramatic form, looked devastated, as if he’d had just informed her he’d run over her pet cat. “Yeah…I- I guess” she replied, obviously crestfallen.

So James pulled up his pants, Zoë put her shirt back on and she spat into the bowl for the final time. Then she ran into the bathroom and brushed her teeth for at least five fucking minutes. After the merciless teeth scrub, they went downstairs to watch TV.

On the way downstairs, James immediately began telling her that it wasn’t that bad for a first time (it was) and that she’d get better (she probably wouldn’t), but Zoë still looked miserable and pretty inconsolable.

It just so happened that when they turned on the TV and flicked through the movie channels, the first thing on was The 40 Year Old Virgin. Being an incredibly funny film, it seemed to lighten Zoë’s shitty mood a little, and there wasn’t as much awkwardness between the two. They started cuddling and laughing together and it didn’t seem too bad.

That is, however, until the montage of Andy’s numerous sexual failures appeared.  One of the jokes involves Andy’s teenage self getting a blowjob off a girl with braces and the whole thing going very wrong. Well due to the wonderful mixture of the events of the last half hour, and Zoë’s own self-esteem issues, the scene’s subject matter (that is, shitty blowjobs) hit too close to home, and she ran out of the room crying.

For a moment, James just sat there, shocked. Then he just started laughing, at first a small giggle in his throat until it was a throaty chuckle that filled the room.

 The whole thing was ridiculous. Just ridiculous.

But then again, he guessed it seemed typical of teenage girls. Hell, he guessed it seemed typical of teenagers in general. They always seemed to put some kind of added weight and meaning onto the things that really didn’t have much meaning or weight in the first place, such as giving terrible head in your bedroom to a guy that doesn’t even like you that much. At least that’s what James thought. It was typical of Zoë too. Trust her to create typical high school drama…

After he finished laughing, he thought about finding Zoë. She was probably in her room crying. But the fact was that he just didn’t care for her hysterics. Or her whining. Or her desperate need for his affection

 So he just sat back on the couch, turned the volume up and watched Steve Carell trying to get some. All James could think was “Be careful what you fucking wish for.”



Corner Of Weirdness 1#

Hello dear readers! The Corner Of Weirdness is a regular series of blog posts I shall have where I basically get to ponder on something peculiar.  Here’s the first in what will hopefully be many…

Picture the scene… It’s two days till Christmas break. It’s a double spanish class. Nobody feels like doing work. The Spanish teacher decides to stick on a cartoon (because she’s nice like that). It’s called Kirikú Y la Bruja (Kirikou And The Sorceress). It’s made by the French.

In fairness, it was a pretty good movie. However the main character is nothing short of bizarre

Kirikou is a newborn baby in a South African village. However, unlike most kids his age, Kirikou can walk and talk. Even more surprising, Kirikou is able to run faster then The Flash (or at least one of his shittier sidekicks) and can effectively use a machete when necessary. At the end of the movie he then gets kissed by the sorceress and turned into an adult…

What makes this even more peculiar is that since this is South Africa, and because the director is French, Kirikou is completely naked for practically the whole movie.  Now I’m no prude and I understand that they wanted to realistically portray what people wear in an African village. But  do I really want to see an African kid’s penis? No…..

Did I mention the Director was French?
Did I mention the Director was French???

Until next time dear readers!

Jack…



The Writer’s Block Challenge

So recently, my Dad purchased a bookcalled “The Writer’s Block”. What this is is basically a book which has “an idea, exercise, or photograph that will jump start you imagination” on every page. It’s very cool book and I’d recommend it to any writer who lacks inspiration or drive (such as myself) or even for writers just looking for something fun to write.

Anyway, as all my friends know from my constant bitching, I’m a fairly undisiplined writer, and usually get distracted by the most trivial of things (see my first post as an example). So I’ve decided to set a challenge for myself: Every week I shall pick a page at random from the Writer’s Block and write a short story/comic/film based on the idea offered on the page. It’ll make for some, shall we say, “interesting” stories (read: Bat-shit insane stories), but hey, I like makin’ stuff up on the spot and a deadline is the only way I’m motivated enough to work.

Expect my first story soon.

Lotsa love

Jack Junior Jester O’Higgins (Or Triple J O’Higgins for short)



Fatal Attraction 2:The Comic Store Patron

It was a cold and wet Febuary’s day as a teenage youth, named Jack, entered the comic store. He possessed scraggly black hair, blotchy skin and one of those Russian Hats which he thought made him look “quirky” and “different”. Really, it just marked him as a nob.

After entering the store he made his way down to the comic section downstairs, giving scant notice to the action figures. He did, however, give notice to a nearby emo looking at some manga. He looked the girl up and down, cooly conceded that he would “tap that” and proceded on his merry way downstairs.

Once he reached the comics section, Jack stopped to marvel. This place was a shrine to comics,poor social skills and an overall lack of personal hygiene. Jack always stopped to admire this place, as he could relate to all three of those things. He then turned his gaze to the one euro bargain-bin and began to root. Soon, Jack had amassed a large collection of issues from the bargain bin (over 20 euros worth). However, Jack could not bear to spend €11.50 on that graphic novel that he really wanted. For you see, Jack had a terrible affliction. Jack was what society labelled, “a stingy cunt”.

After agonizing over which issues to buy and which issues not to buy for 10 minutes (stingy cunt, remember?), Jack waddled up to the counter with a giant stack of issues. This not only showcased his insaitable hunger for comics but his taste in lots of shit ones too. But alas reader, this is where our tale of obsession begins. For you see, the gentleman at the checkout counter on this fatefull was a very chatty individual and so a small chat about Jack’s comic tastes ensued. He complimented many of Jack’s choices including Nova and Fantastic Four (though thankfully Howard The Duck’s Crackers Christmas Special was largely ignored). Jack decided he liked this guy. He had a far better knowledge of comics then most of the fools he knew,he was pretty funny and he had awesome facial hair too. “Not that appearances mattered much” Jack thought. “It’s not like you have a gay crush on him” he reassured himself, in a manner not enitirely convincing.

Then, somehow, the conversation moved towards jobs at the comic shop. For Jack, no job would suit him better then at a comic shop. He could read every comic he wanted at lunch. He could talk to fellow geeks at the store. Hell, he’d finally have a legitimate reason for why he couldn’t get girls. Then he could hang out with this awesome dude working here and they could go for a beer and watch Indy 4 and marvel about how shit it was and-

As he was daydreaming, Jack payed for his comics (being a stingy bastard, he subconsciously let out a whimper as he handed over the money). Snapping out of his stupour he thanked the cashier. Then, to put it bluntly, ladies and gents, shit got awkward.

 For you see, with the transaction complete, there was an awkward lull in the conversation. With the line piling up behind him and with Jack possessing all the social skills of an autistic 5 year old, all Jack could do was stare into this cashier’s eyes. Stare with a look that fatally misjudged the balance between genuine gratitude and homoerotic admiration. Then, after coming to his senses, Jack muttered a goodbye, and left…

Now, every time Jack encounters this cashier at the counter, he seems agressive almost as if to scare Jack away. Once Jack asked him how much a V For Vendetta  Guy Falkes mask was. The cashier replied “10 euro!” which such ferocity that Jack had to resist the urge to cower.

Yes, dear reader, the situation still saddens Jack to this day.

He’ll never be able to tell the cashier how bad he thought Indy 4 was now….



Gremlins: “And That’s How I Found Out There Was No Santa Claus”

Do you have a warm fuzzy place in your heart for Christmas? Does the very smell of Christmas trees have you in festive cheer? Do you find it hard to sleep on Christmas Eve, for the excitment of the next day? If so, you may want to steer clear of this film…

However if you find the Christmas season over-sentimental gubbins and can’t stand another bad Tim Allen film, you may have just found your new favourite Christmas movie.

Gremlins, directed by Joe Dante and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, was released in 1984. It follows the story of a small-town kid called Billy as he recieves an adorable creature called a Mogwai for Christmas. But with this creature comes three vital rules: 1. Don’t get him in sunlight. That’ll kill him. 2. Don’t get him wet. It multiplies.  3 (and most important of all) Don’t ever feed him after midnight.  If you think those rules are ropey (So the Mogwai can’t drink anything?? And what constitutes midnight and what doesn’t?? Couldn’t 1 o’clock the next day still technically count as midnight?), they’re supposed to be. A throwback to the b-movies and the creature-features that Dante and writer Chris Columbus loved.

So inevitably, Billy accidently feeds them after midnight. And like the adorable creatures that turn into chaotic monsters, the film itself transforms itself from light seasonable fare into a black comedy of sorts. People are run over with tractors, strangled with christmas decorations and thrown through two storey windows, all for our amusement. And Jesus, is it amusing.  Gremlins are stabbed to death, eviscerated in food blenders and blown up in microwaves. After all, this film is one of the reasons the PG-13 rating was introduced.

However, it says something when the most shocking moment in the film comes from a simple monologue… Indeed when you are told by Kate that her dad broke his neck while climbing down the chimney as Santa Claus (“He was gonna surprise us!”), you don’t know whether to laugh or feel deeply disturbed. All the studio execs wanted to cut it out of the film and even Spielberg would have prefered it out, but alas it remains, and quite rightly so. Because that scene is, in essensce, what Gremlins is about. Combining the funny and the horrific. The naughty with nice.

That’s not to say the whole thing is a grim bloodbath. Quite the opposite. The Gremlins’ favourite film is Snow White, there’s a wondeful zany 80′s score by Jerry Goldsmith and Gizmo remains one of the cutest characters ever commited to film. However the film works best when a black comedy, and this is especially prevalent in the bar scene where the Gremlins get up to all kinds of “wacky mischief”. Frankly the scene is a mess, partly because the “wacky mischeif” isn’t funny but manly because it depicts the Gremlins as clownish idiots as opposed to the cackling killers we’ve watched for the past half hour or so. 

But alas that scene is a nitpick in a film that manages to get the balance between light and dark (mostly) right. It’s testament to Gremlins writing and originality, that 25 years on it’s still one of the most refreshing, funny and deliciously cruel Christmas films ever made. And yes it is a Christmas movie in my book. Because it does have views and opinions of the Holidays (though they may be slightly darker and sinister).

So what you think? Totally agree with me? Think Gremlins is a violent, cynical piece of crap? Leave a comment and spew your thoughts. Until next time, constant reader,

 Merry Christmas!

(P.S: Remember when Stripe had the chainsaw! Man that was fuckin’ awesome!)



First posts and Jiggling Boobs

Dear constant reader.

Hello and welcome.

I sit here with the task of writing my first blog post. While listening to Elbow. And texting a mate. And trying not to click on that jiggling boobs link.  Needless to say it’s kind of hard. But I shall persist, because I owe it to you, as the reader, and because I do love  listening to my own opinions.

So what should you expect in this blog of mine? Rants mostly… But hopefully among those rants there shall be some insightful pieces about Film, Books, Music, Comics and TV. Maybe a bit of my own comic scripts as well (you lucky dogs!).

I’d also like to give a thanks to Mark McGann for shifting my arse into gear with this blogging malarky. I’ve been promising to start this for a year or so, but it’s only since I saw his wonderful first post that I finally started. I can only hope to be his equal some day (The bastard!)

Anyway, that’s all for now. 

There’s a jiggling boob link just calling my name….

Lots of love,

Jack