The Brown Wedge

Jul 15

You Think We Make Dreams In This Town

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fadeout THE FADE OUT Vol 1 (Image Comics. Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips/Elizabeth Breitweiser)
SATELLITE SAM Vol 2: Satellite Sam And The Kinescope Snuff (Image Comics. Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin)

One of the nice things about the current rise of Image is the leeway it gives creators to do passion projects, in this case a pair of historical crime thrillers which stand or fall on how indulgently evocative they are of places long-established in other fictions. So The Fade Out is story set in the dream factory of 40s Hollywood, where fine movies are made by people of integrity who spend their time being nice to each other. ONLY JOKING! There’s a dead starlet pretty much on page one and after that it’s four issues of noir bingo, lovingly executed by the purring collaborative engine of Brubaker and Phillips.

Jul 15

Left Me Standing Like A Guilty Schoolboy

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Jackpot Cover “It’s passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the Election.” – Margaret Thatcher, 4 May 1979

“The biggest horror is that the whole world’s becoming suburban. I find it very worrying.” – Norman Mansbridge


The last thing on anyone at IPC’s mind, when they launched a comic, is that somebody might actually want to keep the thing. Comics were born on the production line, and landfill was their grave, and in that brief span between their urge was not to survive but to reproduce, to impel the reader to buy next week’s issue. So in May 1979 the second issue of Jackpot – “IT’S A WINNER” invited mutilation at front and end. On the cover, a free SQUIRT RING to lure buyers in, mounted with sellotape, which still sticks to my Ebayed copy, covering a gash in the paper like a badly sutured wound. On the back, a coupon to fill in, cut out and hand solemnly over to the newsagent: “PLEASE RESERVE A COPY OF JACKPOT FOR ME EVERY WEEK”.

It’s a loyalty game. There are only so many kids who want to buy comics, and most of those already do. A new title offers a raft of new stories, which may or may not wear better than the ones in the comic you already buy, whose formulae have begun to thin and fray. But with a squirt ring, too – who wouldn’t risk ten pence? Then once you’re snagged, the magazine urges you to the newsagent for next week. You don’t want to miss out.

So it is that the first comic you see in Jackpot No.2 is a three panel, silent strip, admirably clear, instructing you on the use and delight of your squirt ring. Panel 1: a girl shows off her ring to a passing boy. Panel 2: the boy leans in close to admire this fine piece of jewellery. Panel 3: SPLOOSH! A deluge – in the poor sap’s face. HAW HAW!

May 15

I Know How To Curse

The Brown Wedge22 comments • 2,352 views


1978: The Shooting Star

It’s the spider I remember. In The Shooting Star, boy reporter Tintin is investigating an apocalyptic threat, a star on a collision course with our world. He visits an observatory, hoping they can tell him what’s going on. They can: the world is doomed. He is led to the telescope and through it he sees a colossal spider, clinging to the star.

The beast is only on the telescope lens. And the world is not doomed. But I was entranced. By that, by the panic in the streets, by the race to reach a new island formed in the wake of the star’s passing, and by the grotesque exploding mushrooms our hero finds there. Tintin is the first comic I can remember reading, and The Shooting Star is my first memory of Tintin. In many ways, I wish it was almost any of his other adventures.

May 15

From Beyond

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secret wars cover NEW THRILL!

This is an origin story. Thirty years ago, give or take a day, I went to my local newsagent and I bought a new comic. The next day I asked the newsagent, Mr.Mann, he of the back room full of protein supplements and ‘marital advice’ partworks, to reserve it for me every fortnight. Two months later he was putting aside a second comic, 2000AD. Six months later I found a source for imported US Marvel comics, and I started ordering those. And so it grows.

The origin story is no different from any other comics fan’s. It begins when something radioactive bites you. Bought in a corner shop (but it could have been glimpsed in an attic, snipped up on Tumblr, passed on by an older sister, found in a doctor’s waiting room) – it sinks its teeth in. You’re changed. You borrow, and read, and buy. With great power comes financial irresponsibility. You walk away sometimes, you come back other times. And thirty years later, here you are.

Apr 15

Is Japan’s Bathhouse That Unusual?

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thermaeromae More comics reviews, this time focused on manga. Contains spoilers in places!

Thermae Romae I (Yen Press)

Surely the greatest time travel/bathhouse design manga ever written, Mari Yamakazi’s charming Thermae Romae has the pace and pleasures of a culture-clash sitcom: each episode, down-on-his-luck bath architect Lucius Modestus is confronted with a bathing-related problem in 2nd century AD Rome, finds himself whisked away to modern Japan, and returns home full of inspiration. Along the way he invents the Roman Empire’s first reptile house, water slide and loyalty marketing scheme.

Apr 15

What A Magical Young Lady You Are

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supreme blue rose SUPREME: BLUE ROSE (Image Comics)

The 1990s saw a rash of metafictional superhero comics by British writers – Grant Morrison’s Flex Mentallo and Animal Man, Alan Moore’s Promethea, and Moore’s original run on the Rob Liefeld character Supreme. Supreme: Blue Rose is Warren Ellis’ late contribution to the genre – the constant revisions and reboots of the modern superhero given a typically Ellis-ian science-fiction gloss. Themes from Ellis’ short-lived newuniversal project bubble up here too. For all the familiar – even mildly nostalgic – postmodernist and hard science trimmings, this is in places a very contemporary comic: protagonist Diana Dane is a former journalist turned freelancer, constantly having to ask herself what it means to live your best life in a disrupted, unstable world, even before those terms acquire more sinister meanings.

Feb 15

I Hope You Can Kill Me Before Graduation

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Assclass Graphic novel reviews, originally posted on


This first volume unfussily sets up the hit manga’s premise – an octopus being has destroyed the moon, then become a teacher of a remedial High School class: his pupils have a year to kill him before he destroys the Earth too. He’s teaching them to do it. There’s high concept, and then there’s Assassination Classroom. Mangaka Yuusei Matsui, sensibly enough, introduces the idea quickly and with a straight face, before getting down to showing us how the manga will actually work. It turns out Assassination Classroom is an affable, low-key kind of a comic. Koro Sensei – our tentacular antagonist – is a pretty likeable fellow, but then so are the kids trying to kill him. The introduction of Karma, a particularly devious student, ups the stakes, and tilts the volume towards being a psychological duel a la Death Note… but then he turns out to be a nice chap too. The problem, bizarrely, is that this manga about murder, teen emotion and the destruction of the Earth feels oddly low-stakes so far. It’s crisply done, though, and Matsui is obviously growing into his ideas, so worth a look to see how things develop. (3.5 stars)

Feb 15

Marvel Comics: A Character Guide

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Marvel Comics’ famed innovation in the 1960s was introducing characters who were “human” with “relatable flaws” as opposed to the super-icons of rivals DC. These relatable flaws gave each Marvel character a core storytelling drive which has sustained them for decades. In the spirit of Mark’s in-depth analysis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast, here is a look at the central premises of Marvel’s silver age heroes, which together span the entire range of human experience.

spider dick

: Everyone thinks I’m a dick.
The Hulk: I turn into a total dick.
Fantastic Four: My colleagues are such dicks.
X-Men: People say we were born dicks.
Iron Man: I am a dick, but I try not to be.
Thor: My old man is a dick (and as for my brother…)
Doctor Strange: I can’t do this dick job.
Captain America: Am I a dick?
The Avengers: Let’s be dicks together.
Daredevil: I can’t see dick.
Nick Fury: I can’t trust any of you dicks.
Silver Surfer: What is this thing called “dick”?

Jan 15

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! The Soulful And The Arcane

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We promised we wouldn’t write about the Freaky Trigger #1 comic of 2014 any more, but luckily a MUCH MORE AUTHENTIC AND REAL comic has come along for us to write about instead, thanks to this interview falling through a dimensional gateway from the evil alternate world of Earth-3. Caution – contains implied spoilers for The Wicked And The Divine #5-#7.

Few comics in recent years have attracted quite as much attention and praise as THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE, the groundbreaking Gods as classic rock fantasy by writer Kieran Giggin and artist Jimmy McLP. Only seven issues in, it’s already built up a strong following and – like its protagonists – looks set for an immovable place in the canon.

We caught up with Giggin and McLP after the Q Awards, to talk about THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE: the series so far, the gods, and how it’s been received.

Jan 15

The Freaky Trigger Comics Poll #10-#1

The Brown Wedge6 comments • 794 views

garp Breaker breaker, Trigger Digger buddies! You got the Big A, Ace Garp, the tucker trucker so tumshy they had to croak him twice, comin’ in atcha with the top ten of the Freaky Trigger comics poll, no bluberoni! You voked your votes and now you can eyeball the results, so crack your eggs and let’s bang in them goomballs and hammer down with the best comics of 2014! Ten-ten, good buddies!

Nice to have you with us, Ace, give our regards to Feek the Freak. And as you probably gathered, it’s the comics poll Top Ten.