Tales of Extraordinariness #5: Muffins is now out. It features a demonic minion of the infernal pit and an actual recipe for blueberry muffins, though it is possibly actually about comics.

As usual: available from me directly or maybe (maybe) from the Travelling Man Newcastle small press section (at some point) (maybe).



The latest Paper Jam Comics Collective anthology, Food ...And That is out. It's a running buffet of food-themed comics! I did a two-page story for it, called 'Tastes', about how our taste in food and life-experience changes (or not) over time. More details here.


Weak As I Am

Fan art / mini-review time!

I finally picked up a copy of Weak As I Am by Nigel 'Spleenal' Auchterlounie at the Sunderland Comic Con. I'd read the story when Nigel had first published an early version of it online and I'd been impressed - impressed enough to want to obtain a slightly beautified but mainly similar print version. Why? Because it's mint.

It's an indie superhero story. That is to say: IT IS A SUPERHERO STORY. It's not a spoof (though it's very funny), it's not just using superhero motifs in a more personal story (though it does have a grounded sense of humanity in its everyman main character who accidentally gains superpowers, plus it ditches all costumes, codenames and other such nonsense), it genuinely has a load of awesome super-powered stuff going on.

And the thing is: I usually do not think superhero stuff is awesome. I find that it's often tired, empty showboating, mired in continuity knots. Weak As I Am manages to keep all the potentially cool stuff (including varied powers, complex superhero-superhero and superhero-society dynamics), drop the baggage, and inject vitality, wit, and humanity, telling a story that clearly feels part of the superhero tradition whilst at the same time standing apart from it.
So I did a drawing of two characters from the book - Durmot and Gary, they are (literally) super friends. Durmot is made of stone and has a non-Newtonian field (maybe that's what that blue stuff is, not just poorly-rendered blue sky, ahem), and Gary has a variety of superpowers including super-strength and speed. There's a whole load of other super-powered characters, and even when they only have brief 'screentime' due to the blazing pace of the book, there's a definite sense of character and identity to all of them.

The art style (and central character) continue from the equally excellent Speenal, and, while there's still much of the same humour and ingenuity, in Weak As I Am the humour is occasionally dialled back to allow for some moments of genuine drama.

I think, as with all indie superhero comics, there's a risk that the 'indie' readers don't give it a go because it's superheroes, and the 'superhero' readers don't give it a go because it's indie. And that's a shame, because I genuinely think both groups (well, y'know, everyone really) would get a lot out of this.


Endangered and More Strange Stories

Daniel Clifford and Lee Robinson of Art Heroes have educated and enthused countless kids about comics over the last few years, running workshops at schools, libraries, and events. They rule.

Part of what makes them so effective as comics educators is the fact they're making great kids' comics themselves. Their first series, Halcyon and Tenderfoot, has recently been collected, and they've just published a brand new comic, Endangered and More Strange Stories, featuring three substantial standalone action-adventure tales in full colour. It is a smart piece of comic goodness, really polished, with clear attention to detail, and crucially, bursting with a tonne of fun ideas and fab Saturday-morning-cartoon-style art!

What's in the book? Time-travelling scientist heroes - CHECK! Derring-do wild west vigilantes - CHECK! Supernatural-mystery-solving kids - CHECK! Pigeon vicars - CHECK! What more do you need?!

I think my favourite section is Monster Book with its 'Byker Grove-meets-Scooby Do' vibes, but I couldn't resist trying to do a little doodle of The Outlaw outlining a new ingenious plan to his long-suffering sidekick for how they're going to foil local corruption.

No doubt it will involve  extreme danger.

Anyway, it's not clear whether Daniel and Lee will be tempted back to do more with any of these characters, but there's loads to enjoy in this issue for readers young and old.

Check out the Art Heroes website for more info about purchasing this fine comic or attending one of their workshops.