Monday, 27 October 2008

"That Old Chestnut, Again."


The media rolled out the age-old excuse for the ills of the world again recently—namely violent comics/music/film/any entertainment of any sort—in the recent murder case of English Student, Meredith Kercher, in Italy.

The prosecution in the case highlighted the fact that one of the suspects, Raffaele Sollecito, read violent manga (namely Blood: The Last Vampire), implying that he got the idea to kill from a comic.

The Sky News website ran an article that teniously tried to link manga with murder rather unconvincingly, but did give anime/manga/Japanese culture expert Helen McCarthy good room for a rebuttal. However, there was not enough room to print her whole email, discounting the Press' insinuation that the majority of people are weak, feeble-minded sociopaths waiting for the media to tell them how to kill someone. I've reprinted the the statement below, with Helen's permission, as I think it is one of the most concise, erudite, and convincing counter-arguments to the press' continual insistance that violent media breeds a violent society:

"Oh my, this old chestnut again! Ever since David Steel went into a tizzy and The Indepedent did a sensational (and inaccurate) rant in the '90s, Japanese animation and comics have had to carry a mythology that has more to do with us than with Japan.

The argument always hinges on the same issue: finding excuses for our own innate violence and lack of self-control so we don't have to face up to the fact that all human beings, ourselves and our children included, are capable of terrible things.

I can't accept the excuse that "He/she was a nice American/Italian/English kid before finding this sick (insert preferred red herring.)" Do computer games incite violence? Does rap music, or James Bond? They're more prevalent in Western culture than manga. I expect that the suspects also had in their possession other books, possibly some computer games, certainly different kinds of music. Most of the European and American stuff would be things the prosecutor's - and jury's - own children might have in their possession, so it's important to find something that marks out this person as different. The Japanese still carry a heavy load of iconography from World War II in European and American minds, so they're an easy target.
Yes, manga - by which I mean Japanese comics - definitely have negative associations in the UK, starting in the early 1990s when there was quite a bit of negative press around Japanese animation, then erroneously labelled 'manga' by association with the label that issued many of the early British releases, Manga Video. Strangely enough, at that time and since there was widespread knowledge in Italy of Japanese comics, many of which were translated into Italian and available alongside local comics. So one wonders whether previous Italian murder trials have made the link with manga, and if not, why not, since they've been available there for years. (Maybe the particular title found in the suspect's possession was in English, or French, or one of the many other languages into which manga are often translated.)

Of course, this could be due to the fact that Japan is still widely perceived as an alien culture. That's a very backward-looking view and also carries disturbing racist overtones, but it's there, so it needs to be acknowledged.
Am I concerned that violence and rape in manga could inspire a susceptible individual? No. I know that imagery can inspire thoughts of how it would feel to do x or y, but that doesn't mean imagery compels people to go out and do x or y. If I thought in that way, then given the amount of casual violence and sexual crime in the average British early evening soap opera or drama, I'd be too scared to venture outside my own door. Some manga are violent and sexist. So are some films, TV shows and computer games, and these are more likely to be my role models since they all show people of my own race, and sometimes my own gender and age group, getting their kicks from violence. None of this takes away my own responsibility for my actions, however much I might protest that "
Grand Theft Auto made me do it."

If a murder is linked with manga, fans will probably react the same way they have when this has happened in the past. Some won't see what it has to do with them, some will be very distressed, and some will come under social and parental pressure to reconsider their choice of reading so as to conform with the group idea of what 'normal people' do and don't do. Most, I imagine, will feel very sorry for the victim, because most people - regardless of how they dress or what they read - are basically sympathetic human beings.
Very few distributors order in manga from Japan because very few people in the West read Japanese. Most distributors order from one of the network of companies that publishes this material in English. Some even publish manga-inspired comics by Europeans, Americans and other Asians.

Now, there's a thought - maybe the 'manga comic' in the suspect's possession was actually a Western-authored title in manga style. If that's so, the suspect may have been inspired to murder by what non-Japanese think manga should be.

My own thoughts? Some people kill other people. Blaming other cultures and their artforms won't help us find out why it happens or stop it happening again.

- Helen McCarthy"



If it was truly the case—that media causes violent behaviour—then thousands of children would have been beating each other over the head with frying pans after watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Recent evidence has actually proved to the contrary with a report—Does Cartoon Violence Beget Aggressive Behaviour in Real Life? An Opposing View—being published by Professor Alison Schwartz stating that "The current belief is that violence depicted in television programmes, particularly cartoons, has a negative impact on young children's behaviour. We found that not to be true... Most pre-schoolers recognise cartoon programmes as make-believe and understand these characters inhabit fictional worlds." This is a universal truth acknowledged by everyone except for extreme right-wingers, Fredric Wertham and attention-grabbing politicians.



"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 9 October 2008

The World's Greatest Graphic Novel Panel report

Not only is Frank Miller happy to stomp all over other people’s creative genius (see The Spirit movie) he’s also “Bat Shit Crazy”—at least according to comic writer and self-publicist extraordinaire, Tony Lee. That was his opening gambit when he valiantly stepped in at the last moment to argue the case for Batman: Year One as the World’s Greatest Graphic Novel on the panel at the Birmingham International Comic Show on Saturday 3 October. Tony—along with Lee "Budgie" Barnett— not only argued their chosen books, but also filled-in for Andy (Hellblazer) Diggle, who was kidnapped by Simon (beer monster) Bisley and forced to drink until 7am, thus sabotaging his appearance.


Tony was joined by Dez (Warrior/Comics International) Skinn, Budgie, Roger (Fred the Clown) Langridge, Alex Summersby, Peter (2000 AD) Doherty and myself hosting the panel. The whole event went down a storm (better than I could have hoped for) with everyone giving great 1-minute long arguments for their chosen favourite titles. The full breakdown was thus:


Dez Skinn
V for Vendetta
Marvelman Book One

Lee “Budgie” Barnett
From Hell
Watchmen
  Dark Knight Returns

Cerebus: High Society
Bone

Alex Summersby
Alice in Sunderland
Akira

Peter Doherty
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
The Fank Book

Tony Lee
Laika
Maus
Batman: Year One

Tim Pilcher
The Tale of One Bad Rat
Epileptic

The shake-up made for a bit of schizo-confusion when Budgie ended up having to arguing against himself with Dark Knight Returns vs. From Hell! Unsurprisingly, Watchmen won—with Budgie’s succinct “It’s Alan Moore, It’s Dave Gibbons. It’s Watchmen.” But there were some surprises along the way, including Akira making it to the #2 spot, thanks to the persuasive power of Alex Summersby.


The panel had an impressive 100-120 people attending and all of them got to vote for their favourite titles or whoever had the best argument. We had fantastic lighting effects and a digital voting system that gave the percentage scores, which ramped up the tension as the votes got tighter and tighter. Budgie wrote a great piece here about it. The Birmingham Mail reported on it as well.

The panel seemed to be one of the highlights of the show for many, and was such a success that plans are already afoot for a similar debate panel for next year’s BICS with Tony Lee, Budgie and myself. Watch this space…

BTW-If anyone has any pics or video of the event please let me know and I’ll post them up here. Cheers!

(apologies for the god-awful layout of this entry! Still battling with the blog!)

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

The Spirit Movie


Well, having just watched all three trailers here it's official, Frank Miller has skull-fucked Will Eisner's corpse. "I'm gonna kill you all kinds of dead." What does that mean? It's not even English! It has no sentence structure! He might as well have written "Face. Bash. You. Up. Now. Hurt." or some crap! 

Poor Will must be spinning underground faster than my turbo washing machine. What gets me more than anything is that Miller has Sin City, why did he even have to touch The Spirit? Next time I see Miller I'll give him a piece of my mind. 

Maybe THAT's why he had a bodyguard at San Diego last year. He knows what's coming when he's managed to alienate the entire comic book community!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

And The Winner is....

Well, the results from The World's Greatest Graphic Novel survey are in and the results aren't that surprising. The Top Ten consisted of:

1. Watchmen
2.Cerebus: Church & State
3. V for Vendetta
4. Palestine
5. Epileptic
6. Sin City
7. Bone
8. A Contract With God
9. Preacher: Book One
10. From Hell

Surprisingly Maus and The Dark Knight Returns weren't there.

Runners up included:
Domu
Northwest Passage,
Laika,
Paul goes Fishing,
Castle Waiting,
Paul has a summer job,
The Fixer,
Salmon Doubts,
Gemma Bovery,
Hewligans Haircut,
and Akira (all 6 volumes of it)

A full report on the panel discussion which happened at the Birmingham International Comic Show last weekend, charied by yours truly and featuring Tony Lee, Lee Budgie Banett, Dez Skinn and a host of others all "bigging up" their favorite graphic novels. will follow shortly. Will you agree with them? 

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Ecstasy on the Radio

Did a brief spot on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show today, discussing the potential downgrading of Ecstasy from a Class A drug to a Class B. I was up against Tory MP, Nigel Evans, who is very anti-drugs, but pro-pubs and alcohol. Still trying to work out the hypocrisy of that.

It was the typical media handling, with very little time for any serious debate and a whole load of snappy soundbites from both sides. Still, hopefully it'll sell a few more copies of E, The Incredibly Strange History of Ecstasy (he says, very cynically). I also managed to set the record straight on the death of Leah Betts, but couldn't comment of the death of Lorna Spinks.

Rather annoyingly they stopped the debate before I could ask some really juicy questions, and typically finished on the MP without further warning, which was unfair. But that's broadcast media for you.

You can hear the debate again here (for another week only by clicking on the Thursday button): http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/vine/ 

It's 1:09:00 into the show.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Books for Sale!


Well, I haven't talked about drugs for a while so just as a quick reminder that I have a limited supply of my previous books, 
Spliffs 2: Further Adventures in Cannabis Culture and Spliffs 3: The Last Word in Cannabis Culture? for sale. Spliffs 2 is now out of print so this is a rare chance to grab a piece of stoner history! 

The books are £5.50 each

or £10 for the pair

(including postage and packing in the UK – Check with me for international deliveries). 

That’s a massive 44% off the RRP! Plus, I’ll sign each book with any personal inscription you like. Makes a great gift for the stoner in your life!
I’ll accept payment by PayPal or Cheque from the UK (please allow 10-14 days for delivery). For further details please email me at: tim.pilcher@ntlworld.com.


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 24 July 2008

COMICS FRIENDS REUNITED!



I've just been invited to an exciting event...

"Fiona Jerome and Hass Yusuf are joining forces to bring you Comics Friends Reunited! This will hopefully be an annual event where old friends from the wonderful world of comics can meet up.

Since the UK Comic Art Convention (UKCAC) ended ten years ago, there's been no regular outlet for creators or fans in London to meet up. UKCAC was the major event of the year that brought everyone together. With the recent deaths of a few good friends we've realised how many people we haven’t seen for years and met people in sad circumstances that we’d like to see more of. So we're hoping to remedy all that by hosting an annual, all day get-together in the centre of London.

Think of it as UKCAC without the bother of going to events, where you can eat, drink and chat all day long!

Details:

Day: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th 2008

Venue: THE PHOENIX PUB, 14 PALACE STREET, VICTORIA, LONDON SW1E 5JA

Time: Noon till 11.00pm

The Phoenix is a few minutes from Victoria Station.

We've booked the upstairs function room for exclusive use all day. We'll meet there throughout the afternoon. By early evening we'll take over the whole ground floor as well. If the weather's nice, there's also use of the garden. There's also plenty of space out front to mingle and have a fag.

Food will be available all day. Full Menu from 12.00pm-4.00pm and 7.00pm-10.00pm, with a limited menu of bar snacks between 4.00pm-7.00pm. There are good veggie options and decent gastropub standards as well as tapas style bar snacks. Don't be put off by reviews you read online, as the pub was recently completely revamped, and now has a decent range of beers and a good wine list as well as a bright and comfy interior.

We know it's a hassle for non-Londoners to attend but we've chosen this venue because it is so easy to get to. Make a weekend of it, bring the family and do some Christmas shopping!

If you think you can make it, please let us know. We might prepare some name badges - so we all know who we are.

Please feel free to let anyone else you know that you think might enjoy it, who isn't on this list (please see below), just ask them to drop us a quick line to 'register' so we've got an idea of numbers. We’ve lost touch with so many people over the years and we would love to see you all there! Remember - none of us are getting any younger! Renew those friendships!

Hass & Fiona"

Sounds great! All the "old guard" of British fandom reuniting once more. I'm old enough to remember and to have attended every UKCAC and a couple of GLASCACs as well and they were always great fun. In fact BICS has a similar vibe these days. I think this could be a really fun day. People who've been invited, (but might not necessarily come) include an amazingly diverse bunch of people from UKCAC organizers, professional creators, small press stars, comics journalists and leading lights of fandom such as:

Nigel Fletcher
Martin Hand
Andrew Littlefield
Martin Skidmore
Garry Leach
John McCrea
Andy Chiu
Richard Barker
Paul Hudson
Steve Marchant
Tim Selig
Rob Rudderham
Will Morgan
Mart Gray
Roger Gibson
Tony Lee
Peter Rubinstein
Mike Lake
Guy Lawley
Ed Hillyer
Woodrow Phoenix
David Lloyd
Nick Abadzis
Matt Brooker
Pete Ashton
Theo Clarke
Stuart Green
Gavin Burrows
Tim Bateman
John Innes
Jonathan Clements
Frank Plowright
Lee Brimicombe-Wood
Jenni Scott
Damian Cugley
Jeremy Dennis
Paul Johnson
Dave Gibbons
Frank Motler
Steve Holland
Peter Normanton
Paul Schoeder
Paul Gravett
Fiona Clements
Peter Duncan
Frank Wynne
Steve White
David Roach
Win Wiacek
Mark Farmer

I'll be there, hope you will be too! For the younger generation of comic fans, come and met your forefathers and learn some history!! ;-)
"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History reviews



The book has been getting some great (if limited) press lately with TheFetishistas.com website saying "British author Tim Pilcher knows a thing or three about comics... the quality of this latest offering was never really in any doubt... Pilcher’s book does not disappoint. In 192 pages spanning from the prehistory of erotic art to the candid sexuality of 1960s/70s counterculture comix, we find much indeed to please the pervy sensibility... Of course one should not judge this book just by its visuals, fabulous though they are. Pilcher’s extremely readable copy puts artists and sub-genres into context with a confidence borne of depth of knowledge. This is enthusiast writing at its tightest and best, and your reward for reading the words that run around the pictures will be to discover all kinds of fascinating stuff you never knew about your favourite artists... His treatment of the broad subject is exemplary and only because this book is not totally devoted to fetish/BDSM have I docked a point off the maximum rating. 4/5" Which is nice! You can read the full review here.

Comic artist, Watchmen colourist, and all round general perv,
John Higgins called it: "...well written, well researched and well considered fun read with a lightness of touch that had a really neat educational tone." He also said a few other things I can't repeat here.

Others have said:
"...More than just a visual history, the book reads like a labor of love; images from pre-Depression nudie comics to modern-day Mexican sensacionales are presented along with insightful essays that make the book perfectly suitable for a coffee-table centerpiece..."—
Complex Magazine: The Original Buyer's Guide for Men

"Tim Pilcher's titillating new title, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History certainly covers the territory. Beginning with the salacious mosaics of antiquity—oh, those naughty Ancient Romans—and Japanese Shunga woodblocks, it travels through Hogarth's London and the ostensibly repressed Victorian era to the Tijuana Bibles of the 1930s, the rise of men's magazines following World War II and the underground "comix" era of the '70s."—
Kempt

"Author Tim Pilcher 'with Gene Kannenberg, Jr.' delivers an academically heavy text in this chronological look at erotic art from antiquity to the counterculture comix of the 1960s. (Yes, there is text, a lot of it. There's also a foreword by comix star Aline Kominsky-Crumb.) But, no doubt about it, the pictures carry the day. Sexy? Yes. Erotic? Yes. Pruient? Well, yes. And your point? We're all adults here, and this reading material is a delight. It's art, I tell ya, it's art!"—Martin Zimmerman, SignOnSanDiego.com (Union Tribune online newspaper)

PS - The image above is a painting by the amazing John (Alexander Coutts) Willie, the writer, artist, editor , publisher and creator of the original Bizarre magazine and creator of Sweet Gwendoline.


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 21 July 2008

Watchmen Movie



Well, our first glimpse at the
movie is finally out on the web and the buzz is generally positive. On first watching the trailer, I was surprised at how downbeat the whole vibe was. A bit too much slow-mo camera work, but that was necessary to take in the panel reconstructions, which like Sin City are precise panel-for-panel recreations (which may or may not be a good thing). The music didn’t inspire me initially, not being a fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, but the mood grew on me with subsequent viewings.

It’s funny that when I first read Watchmen 21 years ago (Oy, I feel old) I always visualised it much brighter than the movie is, but with hindsight the story should have a dark, bleak atmosphere, as the nuclear clock ticks towards midnight. It’s funny I can clearly remember picking up #11 in the Virgin Megastore comics section—on one of my comic buying trips to London—and being left on tenterhooks for a whole month. I was paranoid I was going to miss #12 as they were flying off the shelves. Overall the film is looking pretty positive, but it could still turn crap in the end. Let’s hope not. Alan Moore will have nothing to do with it, which is fair enough, and Dave Gibbons is happy with it, and that’s good enough for me.

I’m a bit pissed off at DC Comics/Entertainment Weekly/iTunes who are offering the “animated” version of the first issue, narrated,
free. If you live in America. What are we? Chopped liver? I really resent this shit about exclusives only being available in the US. We live in a global market, but obviously Warner Bros. haven't realised this yet. Yeesh! Sort it out people, really. I’m sure it’s crap, but I’d to at least have the chance to make my own mind up about it.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

World's Greatest Graphic Novel


Mad about Maus? Wild about Watchmen? Very excited about V for Vendtta? Then get voting!

To celebrate the release of 500 Essential Graphic Novels (US version here) I'm chairing a panel at the next Birmingham International Comic Show on Saturday 4th October (or Sunday 5th October), where you—the audience—get to pick what is the all-time greatest graphic novel ever! Through a series of voting systems, classic comics will fight it out in a mano y mano battle to see who is the top dog, the big cheese, the numero uno!

But in order to kick things off we need a nominated list of at least 16 key titles to start with. And that's where you come in! On the right is a poll with 20 titles for you to vote on. However, this is not the definitive list and if your favourite isn't here, simply make a comment below and we'll mark that as a vote for that title. Voting closes on Friday 19th September. Ballot stuffing and vote rigging is actively encouraged, so tell all your friends and don't forget to come along to see which title wins!

I contributed a few reviews to 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and despite the lack of an author credit, it is well worth picking up. Even if you think you are well versed in sequential art I guarantee you'll find 2-3 gems you haven't read in there. Plus, me old mate Gene Kannenberg Jr. wrote some good stuff in there, along with a host of very good reviewers such as Fiona Jerome, Nigel Fletcher, Tim Seelig and Chris Rice.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Signing and talk on Saturday 5th July


On Saturday 5th July, I'll be signing various books (Essential Guide to World Comics, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, etc) as part of the 'Words and Pictures' event at Methvens Bookshop, 22-26 South Street, Worthing, East Sussex, BN11 3AA. I'll also be giving a brief talk on Indian Comics. Other guests include my old comic artist mates John Higgins and Glenn Fabry, as well as David and Ronda Armitage, "the husband and wife team behind the famous Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch," apparently.

Pop by between
11am and 3pm and say "hi" if you are in the Worthing area, here's a map. There's also a Facebook event site here.



"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Monday, 23 June 2008

Listed in The Sunday Times Top 40 under 40

"THEY are the young guns tuned in to the accelerating pace of change in the media landscape - the trendspotters and entrepreneurs who stand to reap the biggest rewards over the next digital decade..."

And who should be listed there, but...

"Tim Pilcher, 38
Finance director, Clarion Events Dealmaker Tim Pilcher joined Clarion Events from Ernst & Young after advising on its buy-out in 1999. Since then Clarion has been sold twice more. The latest deal valued it at £120m. Pilcher aims to boost earnings from £11m to £50m in four years."

Nope, this isn't me, but I still want to know why the hell it isn't! We're practically the same age, for God's sake! Still, at least I can drag our name through the mud! ;-)

Tim - If you're out there, how about boosting my earnings?!





 "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Friday, 20 June 2008

I'd like to thank the academy...


I just heard that Erotic Comics Vol 1 is going to a second printing, so a huge thank you to everyone who's bought a copy! And to those of you who haven't got one yet, don't panic, there's more on the way!

Steve Holland at Bear Alley wrote a great review: "a fascinating journey into a sub-culture of comics that we've not seen much of in Britain. From the statuesque 'Miss Geewhiz', who leaves much to the imagination, to the bizarre sexual exploits of a gay Jimmy Cagney, there's going to be something in here for all tastes." Cheers, Steve!

There's going to be a review in July/August's Men Only magazine, but other than that there's not been much press out there, so the fact that it's sold so well through word of mouth is fantastic. Now, if there are any editors or reviewers from the press reading this who would like to review the book just drop me a line. Everyone else - it would be great if you could post a review on Amazon, please! Spread the word!

(BTW- The image above is by Rene Giffey and appears in Volume 1)

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Comic Art Now Confusion


For all of you who may have come across various websites - like Tower.com - stating that I wrote/edited Comic Art Now, just to set the record straight: I was going to do it (by commissioning myself - the ultimate nepotism!) but the Erotic Comics project came up first and knowing what high moralistic standards Dez Skinn has when it comes to sex and swearing, and that he wouldn't sully himself with erotic comics, I bit the bullet and gave him Comic Art Now, which he did a top job on.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

A sledgehammer to crack a walnut



Well, the government are at it again, imposing unenforceable, draconian laws in order to be “seen” to be doing some good. However, it’s not terrorists or immigrants who are being targeted this time, but rather that other 21st century bogeyman, paedophiles. In an article on
BBC.co.uk Justice Minister Maria Eagle (literally a legal eagle!) has announced that the government intends to update the already unworkable The Obscene Publications Act by outlawing drawings of child abuse. This would mean anyone who drew a picture of child abuse (in whatever context) and showed it to another person, both could then be prosecuted. Now, most right thinking people have no problem making photographs of child abuse illegal and the whole concept angers, appalls and saddens me, but this plan to outlaw what people can create out of their own minds and with their own hands – with no external contact with children whatsoever – is setting a very dangerous precedent. This is the thin end of the wedge that potentially could see the government outlawing any creative act that they don’t like.


Restaurant critic, AA Gill brilliantly, and bizarrely, managed to squeeze in an attack on this proposal in a restaurant review in the
Sunday Times on 8 June 2008:

“The government, or someone close to the government, has announced it is going to make paedophile artwork illegal, with a possible three-year prison sentence, so if you do a drawing that a social worker, copper or one of the few consultant paediatricians who haven’t been struck off thinks is a bit underage, then they can bang you up and ruin your life. I imagine that, as we speak, the crack kiddie-fiddle squad is visiting the Chapman brothers, putting a coat over their heads for their conception of life-sized, genitalia-faced prepubescents in sneakers.

“The law against paedophile photographs is there to protect the children who are being abused in them. It is not some sort of moral censorship of images. This is ridiculous, craven, bread-and-circuses, lowest-impulse, least-effort, crowd-pleasing legislation. Why stop at pictures? Why not the words that make pictures? Arrest anybody reading Nabokov. Raid the RSC for performing Romeo and Juliet in front of schoolchildren: she’s only 13. And, by the way, Madame Butterfly is 15. This is a law that does nothing to protect children, just demeans and infantilises a society that ought to behave like sophisticated and moral grown-ups. If you’re going to start eradicating stuff, wouldn’t a really civilised society begin with any paeodophobic images, the real, careless, out-in-the-open cruelty to children? Get rid of photos of starving African bairns, the street kids of South America and our own neglected and terrified youths in bus shelters? Difficult to know where to start with paedophobia.”

I
couldn’t have put it better.

This is another classic example of the British Labour Government trying to control the thoughts and minds of the general populace using the fear factor. Of course, anyone who stands up against this Bill change is going to instantly be labeled a
paedophile protector, in the same way that anyone who resists ID cards and 42 day detentions without charge are labeled “soft on terrorists.”

Apparently Ms Eagle stated, that the Bill proposal is "not about criminalising art or pornographic cartoons more generally, but about targeting obscene, and often very realistic, images of child sexual abuse which have no place in our society." This, I feel, is a bald-faced lie, from a government we have seen lie repeatedly to its constituents constantly and blatantly. They are slowly chipping away at civil liberties, in the hope that they general public will gladly give their freedoms away to “protect” their children.

How this effects comics was pointed out by Rich Johnston on his excellent
Lying in the Gutters column where he noted that anyone who had read Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s excellent Lost Girls, could, under the new proposals, be potentially be prosecuted for having bought or read “child pornography.” I recommend that everyone highlight to their MP how poorly drafted this Bill Addendum is, and how it threatens freedom of expression to the very core.

In general there have been some very worrying changes in sex laws that have been proposed recently and I’ll be addressing these in later posts.


"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

More EC: Vol 1 cover roughs

I love these cover variations that Garry came up with for the cover. As you can see, originally the bra and panties were missing. The original idea was to put these on an acete overlay cover, or better still, with heat-sensitive ink which disappears when rubbed. Sadly both options were prevented by budget constraints, so we just did the basic design (see below).








Erotic Comics Volume 1 Original Cover Sketches



These were inital cover roughs done by Garry Leach, but were rejected for obvious reasons! I actually liked the S.E.X for the back cover blurb on the black and white design, but we didn't go with it in the end.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Kingdom of the Crystal Dull

Saw the latest Indiana Jones film today and it's been bothering me about what was wrong with it, until just now.

Sure, it has all the great one-liners and in-jokes you'd expect, and Harrison Ford still manages to pull off the character believably, but the whole thing seemed flat and lacked heart. Ray Winston was wasted and slept through his role as Indy's old wartime buddy (lots of allusions to the great work the bull-whip welding hero did for OSS). Cate Blanchett was also given a lifeless script co-written by George Lucas, who after the Star Wars debacle has become the anti-Tarantino for sharp dialogue. The Russians didn't really cut it as bad guys, in the way the Nazis did, and the whole affair was lack-luster.

But none of these niggles bothered me as much as the computer special effects. I never thought I'd say this, but I really think it's time Hollywood threw out 90% of the CGI work and got back to physical SFX. The reason the first two Indiana Jones films worked was that they were incredibly visceral. You really felt you were visiting strange and exotic lands, whereas the fourth "outing" barely feels like they left the green screen studio. The stunt fight sequences were also what made the films, yet now, you practically yawn at them, knowing full-well that the "actors" are just pixels flaying around.

I really wanted to enjoy this film, and I did, to a certain extent (not as much as my kids) - but it was predictable, soulless and lacked the energy of the earlier ones (with the notable exception of the third, where the rot had already set in).

Am I cynical and jaded, or are Spielberg and Lucas just becoming lazy and coasting on past glories, rather than pushing themselves? Sadly, it seems as if the Hollywood giants like the aforementioned, Coppola, and others, have just gotten soft and fat in LA LA Land. They need to get back into the real jungle for a real adventure, rather than conjuring it up on a Mac.

Well enough about sex...Here's the drugs...


My other book that's just out in the shops now (and selling fast - thanks everyone!) is
E: The Incredibly Strange History of Ecstasy. I wasn't wow-ed with the title, but it's still better than the working one we had, E: The Happy Pill! Hmmm.
The book packs in a hell of a lot of information in such as small space and I think I'm safe in saying it's the most heavily illustrated book on Ecstasy on the shelves right now. A lot on snobby music jurnos will probably look down on it (and yes, Mr Simon Reynolds, I'm talking to you!) because of the paucity of dance music history, but if they read the cover it's about the drug, not the music, otherwise it would've been called Rave: The Incredibly Strange HIstory of Dance Music (or even better Rave: The Happy Dance)!
So, if you liked my earlier books, the Cannabis Cookboook and Spliffs 2 & 3, you'll probably get some fun- and serious facts- out of this. I'll post some excerpts soon, along with some material that didn't make the book.
Enjoy.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1)

Here's the covers for my latest book, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1):

This is the UK cover, which is by a very obscure Argentine artist from the 1930s called George Fossey or Cerre Fussey or something like that (his signature is impossible to read). It came from an old Argentine men's magazine which he did several illustrations. I've been searching everywhere online for more information on this guy, because I love his work, but can't find anything. Can anyone out there help?

You can buy the UK version here


This is the US edition's cover by my good mate Garry Leach, who really went to town on this. It's a homage to the work of Bill Ward, yet manages to keep Garry's distinctive style. I may post his rejected designs for this, with his permission, at  later date. Very racy stuff! You can buy this edition here.






Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

Well, here I go, dipping my toe into the wonderful world of random ramblings, about 5 years after everyone else has done it. I guess I should "set out my stall", as it were, and explain the point of this blog. Essentially, the title explains what subjects I'll be covering, but I will be also looking at civil liberties, human rights (particularly in the UK and US), films, books and mass media/pop culture and its response to all the aforementioned. 

I'm aiming to be as topical and up to date as possible, with insightful commentary and looking for a good debate if anyone's up for it.

I have written extensively on all the subjects mentioned and have strong opinions on all, which I will force upon you like some belligerent drunk on the late night bus home. Let's be friends, and fight the iniquities of governments... You and me against the world, pal!

But first... A quick plug for my new book....