Monday, June 30, 2021

I'm not afraid to admit it: I read comics!

Recently I came across an Alan Moore quote that I have never heard before (which, believe me is rare!). I can't verify its authenticity, as I have only heard of it courtesy of artist PJ Holden, so it might not be 100% correct:

"Graphic Novels? That pompous phrase was thought up by some idiot in the marketing department of DC. I prefer to call them Big Expensive Comics."

This made me laugh my head off! It is classic Alan Moore, he is never afraid to call a spade a spade, which is part of the reason we love him so much. It's pretty much the way I lead my own life, and I have a lot of respect for that. Hearing this quote was quite a coincidence, as I had recently been thinking just how much I hate how the term 'Graphic Novel' is thrown around.

From a Marketing perspective I can sometimes see the point. For example, if a writer and artist release a 200 page illustrated non-prose story that has not been published in any sort of serialized format, then that can conceivably be called an Original Graphic Novel (OGN). Some good recent examples of this would be: God Save the Queen by Mike Carey, Nixon's Pals by Joe Casey, and The Facts In The Case Of The Departure Of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman. If however, you take 6 issues of Batman, and bind them into a book, that is not a graphic novel, it is a trade paper back, or a hardcover. This includes miniseries too, even Alan Moore's own Watchmen is not a graphic novel, even though I hear it called that all the damn time.

If only it had stopped at the graphic novel though. I was in a comic store a few weeks ago when a guy came in asking it they had the new Marvel graphics in stock, the shop owner looked confused momentarily, then directed the customer to the shelf where that week's comics were kept. He later told me that he has started to get that all the time, people who don't want to call them comics.

I am a big fan of Warren Ellis' work. Lately he has been putting out a lot of creator owned material though Avatar Press, who seem to be a very good, upcoming company. His new series No Hero started last week with a #0 issue. I was disappointed to see the series described on the cover as "A serialized graphic novel". Serialized graphic novel? So a miniseries? What is that about?

This has to stop. It is very simple, they are comics, don't be ashamed to admit you read them! I am a highly educated individual, who works as an analytical chemist in a big environmental testing laboratory; however, I regularly come to work in comic shirts, and sit in the lunch room reading comics all the time. Sometimes people ask what I am reading and I'll show them, and say that it is a comic, sometimes they will smirk, but you know what? Those people aren't worth your time. There is no shame in comics, nowadays most people don't even read anymore, they just lie on the couch and watch reality TV! The majority of people who do read are just picking up the latest no-name mystery or romance on the shelf at Walmart. So, be proud that you are reading such a versatile medium, that covers so many different subject areas, and often in new and refreshing ways.

This madness must stop now, before we start calling one-shots Graphic Novellas! Then I really will go mad :)

Actually, my wife has always called them big comics, as in "what big comic are you reading". Maybe she has more in common with Alan Moore that I thought...


Ennis and Wagner to bring Dredd to Dynamite. Recipe for awesomeness, or recipe for disaster?

I recently read over on Comic Book Resources that Dynamite Entertainment have obtained the rights to publish all-new Judge Dredd stories in the US. This new series will be written by Garth Ennis and Dredd co-creator John Wagner. For the full story, please click here.

Now, let me start by admitting to you that I am a complete Dredd-head. I was born in Yorkshire in 1979, so I grew up in a period when there were still rather a large amount of British comics being published. I started out as a child reading comics like The Beano, The Dandy, The Bezer, and Topper. I soon graduated from these to read more mature titles like The Eagle, 2000 A.D. Judge Dredd Megazine, Toxic, Revolver, and Crisis. I am now 29, and I am still reading 2000 A.D. after all those other titles have faded into memory. So, accept for about 6 years when I was a poor student, then a poor Canadian immigrant, I have been following the adventures of Judge Dredd, Stontium dog, Nemesis the Warlock, ABC Warriors and more for most of my life. I now live in Canada and still get my weekly progs, and the monthly megazine. That means I read five Dredd strips a month, so I should jump at the chance read more right? Right? .... well, yes and no.

There have been a few ill-conceived attempts to bring Judge Dredd to the states before. In the 1990s DC published two Dredd titles, that were very badly received, and just crashed and burned. There was also a movie version, which I won't even talk about here, because it hurts too much :)

Garth Ennis is one of the best loved and most well known writers working in comics today, he is also one of my personal favorite writers, having written so many fantastic, and diverse titles. John Wagner is the co-creator of Judge Dredd, and still writes Dredd strips to this day. In fact last year he wrote the epic Dredd: Origins tale, which was one of the best Dredd stories this decade. So, on the face of it this would look like a brilliant team to finally bring Dredd over the Ocean.

There are potential problems though. Garth Ennis has publicly stated many times, that Judge Dredd is his favourite comic character of all time. He has written several Dredd stories in 2000 A.D. but pretty much all of these stories have not been received well by fans. People say that he just can't get Dredd right, and Garth has admitted himself that he thinks that he is too close to the character, and the weight of his long history. I quite liked some of his Dredd strips, particularly his chapter in the saga of PJ Maybe, but I understand why people might complain about his version.

John Wagner has dipped his toe into the American comic market in the past. He and Alan Grant wrote the series Outcasts for DC, which lead to them getting a stint on Detective Comics. John Wagner found that he hated working for DC though, so he quickly went back to British comics, leaving Alan Grant to go on to a very long ran on Detective Comics.

My fear is that these factors could add up to cause this title to crash before it really gets off the ground. However, I remain hopefully optimistic. Perhaps working with a small publisher like Dynamite might work out better for Wagner, and perhaps being freed from the heavy continuity of Dredd's 30 year history will enable Garth Ennis to carve out his own variation of Dredd for an American audience.

Dynamite seem to be the right place to bring an idea like this too though, in past US versions, editors have imposed no killing rules on Dredd stories, and other such ridiculous ideas. But Dynamite publishes The Boys by Gath Ennis, so I doubt they will have a problem with Dredd teaching some creeps a lesson.

Thursday, June 26, 2021

I'm now a Canadian Resident / Landed Immigrant

Well, it seems that the most interesting thing that I have done all year happened last week, and I didn't blog about it. If you don't blog about it, then what's the point in doing anything :)

I thought I would lay out the whole residency thing, just so people know what a complete pain it all was:

So, as some of you may know, I am a British Citizen, but I moved to Canada nearly four years ago. I came out here because my girlfriend of six years had previously emigrated here on a family Residency application. Been a love-struck 25 year old, I couldn't stand staying in the UK without her. So, I went about planning a way to get to Canada myself. I figured out that it was nigh on impossible to get in on the skilled worker class, because it is so expensive, and you have to accumulate all these points etc. Though, I figured out that I could come over as a student. I already had a Biology Degree, so I enrolled on a two-year course in Applied Chemistry and Microbiology. I then went about selling all my stuff to pay for the flight and the extortionate international student fees. I even did the unthinkable and sold 2 of my guitars, my massive Marshall amp, and all my effects rig. Clearly I was very in love :)

The course went rather well. In fact, I managed to cut my tuition fees by asking them to wave the pre-requisite requirements, and I did both the first and second years of the course at once. Now, this would drive many people insane, as I was doing over 30 hours or classes and Labs every week, with another 30 hours plus of homework assignment. It turned out well for me though, as I graduated with an A+, and even received an Award for Excellency. I'm a smug git, I know!

Upon graduation, the government told me that if I could find a job within 3 months, I could have a two-year permit. I quickly managed to secure a position at Axys Anaytical Services as a GC/MS Chemist, and got sent the work permit. It was all going swimmingly. Three months later my girlfriend and I moved out of her parent's house and started renting our own place, then............ my company fell on hard times, and I was laid off, along with 30 other people. Now, this wouldn't normally be a problem, as I am pretty well educated, and have good work experience. I had several good interviews and was offered a couple of new positions. I talked to the government about my work permit, and they told me that once I had successfully obtained a position it would take 3 months to change the company on my work permit, until that point I couldn't actually start working. Obviously no companies would go for this, so I was doomed to perpetual unemployment. We were living on just my wife's wages, and our dwindling savings for seven months, then at Christmas I got a call out of the blue from my old boss asking if I wanted to come back to work. This was pretty lucky, as we were becoming rather desperate.

So, I started working again, and a couple of months later Chrissy and I got married, on an icy cold February 3rd in 2007. A couple of weeks later my wife and I started to fill out the forms so that she could sponsor me to become a resident of Canada. It took a while to fill out the paper work, and they wanted a huge amount of proof, such as the guest list to our wedding, photos of us together when we were dating etc. etc. and of course lots of money J Finally though we got it sent of to Citizenship and Immigration. Then we began the waiting game. After 3 months I received a letter to tell me that the government had received my application, but that it had not yet been opened, argh! About another 6 months later I was told that I had passed the initial requirements for residency, and that I now had to get a security check done with the UK government. The annoying thing was that they told me I wouldn't need one previously. Getting the paperwork from the Hampshire Police took a few months (unsurprisingly), but we finally got it together and sent it off. Again we waited. After a few months I noticed that my status on the immigration website said “Decision made”, ominous eh? I called them up, but they wouldn’t tell me what that meant! A few months later they sent me a letter, which told me to expect to get a letter, which would tell me to come to an interview. Seriously! So, a few weeks later, said letter came, and we went to the interview. The interview was very simple, they just wanted to confirm the details on our application, and of course to ask for another $500 to print my card.

So, end of story, I can now live here, and I once my card arrives I can leave the country. Our first trip will probably be to the UK to see friends and family at Christmas. How exotic!