Fistful of Quarters . . .

Caught 'King of Kong' for the first time, and quickly realised it was a battle of good and evil of biblical proportsions; Steve Weibe offering the saintly family man contrast to the super villainly of Billy Mitchell. The battleground of choice was (of course) Donkey Kong, but a special shout out to Billy Mitchell disciple Brian Kuh, who came across with more than a hint of Wormtongue (of LOTR fame). The documentary, as all do, edited and massaged to enhance the story, but there would have to be a revelation to prevent Billy Mitchell from painting himself as a complete arse who deserved some come uppance, and that was purely based on the what he said - factor in his bizarre hair, faux-patriotism, and general hot-sauce related demeanor, and he became the embodiment of conniving evil. Justice is served.


BoOoOoOoOoM bAp!



. . . because every memory is a re-creation, and not a playback.




Ostensibly about teenagers in suburbia in the 70s and an outbreak of an STD which results in physical mutation/deformation - referred to only as 'the bug' - it mainly explores isolation and stigmatisation. Although it was engrossing, and visually it's fairly challenging, the conclusion left me feeling that the conceit was just too heavy handed. If it's intended as an allegory for AIDS, then reducing it to a physical embodiment to explore the fear and stigma is a little clumsy and  unnecessary.

Usual themes appear, parents and authorities are peripheral, drugs, sex and relationships are focus, and the vacuum of high school (in itself a very American exploration). Heavy inks, detailed frames, and some playful use of the structure of teen horror schlok (perhaps even an updated gothic feel?), it is really in its abstract moments that the book hints at its wider insights. Interesting, but too close to the American psyche to translate fully . . .   


Aidy's Girl is a Computer

Compilation of the year? Album of the year? . . . and 'Aidy's Girl is a Computer' for tune of the year?

Bottomless Belly Button

The story is framed by one week in the Loony family as their elderly parents announce they are getting divorced after 40 years of marriage, and all three generations of the family come together. The divorce itself, and the reasons for it, are not the focus. Instead it’s the children’s reactions to it, which are used as a starting point to explore three essentially very different lives and dissect the family unit through a multi-perspective format. An anthropological study in a narrative.  The family home is also used as a central point in memory and ethereal experience of the mundane and personal history; the power of the graphic novel perhaps lies in its handling of the minute details of experience, the significance in the small – whole pages given to sequences of the seemingly banal.

Dash Shaw’s drawing is at first something of an acquired taste, at first too rough and incomplete to grab your attention, the disparate approaches to the children for example, and the human form, but in the end it feels like an accomplished handling of the subject, as intricately linked to the books as any other part of it, and as much for character purposes as an unintentional idiosyncrasy.

The book plays with the form to some extend; frames are sometimes given an entire page to allow for an experience or atmospheric significance rather just pure narration. Formal devices (diagrams, cut throughs, viewing found objects in a first person perspective) are used to add to the nuance, the discovery. In the language of the graphic novel, the themes of a film or novel can be explored without the need for a dramatic confrontation, strict focused narrative , or forced dialogue that can in other mediums become a crutch to fall or a necessary device to satisfy the audience Perhaps it’s a testament that scenes of masturbation do not descend into farce or absurdity, instead adding strange realism and conveying where a character is instantly.

Issues of self perception are handled in an incredibly inventive way (which I would ruin if I explained here), and at over 700 pages the slow burning story which is given space to breathe, but every panel is made to count. The greatest praise for a graphic novel in this circumstance is that it has made a story that would be too slow moving and insignificant to be filmed, and without enough dramatic content fill prose beyond a novella, utterly compelling.


Louis Riel

Chester Brown's artful biography of Louis Riel and account of the Metis Rebellion is equal parts historical novel, and eulogy on colonialism, injustice, and heritage. Sparsely but finely drawn, well paced, researched and executed. No heavy handed narration despite the amendments and compression of the story, and a subject about which I knew absolutely nothing prior to reading it. Too many issues are included to discuss here, needless to say its illuminating and definitely well worth reading.


Grouper at St Giles in the Fields Church

Fennesz got cut short and Natural Snow Buildings were impressive, but the real contemplative moment was Grouper; poetic/beautiful reverb-drenched dirge to loose yourself in, St Giles and the dancing light added to the ethereal atmosphere . . .

Ay Ay Ay and Saureschuduze

From Bodenstandig 2000 to Matias Aguayo via Bjork


'I'm off to see the toon at sports-direct.com@StJames'ParkStadium' barely makes semantic sense. Bloody hope this doesn't set a precedent, can't be arsed with stadiums appropriating the '@' sign, or saying things like 'I'm going to Liverpool v Bolton at Carlsberg@Anfield' because it definite doesn't work/make sense.

Where did the 'stadium' come from as well?



How did I miss this? Wonky genius . . .


Orlok Vs Drac

Orlok never ran home like a pussy . . .


Mug Life

kudos to (B)ill Freeman for this



The BQE is surprisingly good, especially when things could have been primed for a Sufjan backlash. Definitely wears its influences on its sleeve, but meets my mental pre-conception of New York perfectly (i.e. frantic, romanticised, almost absurdly optimistic, beauty in the seemingly unprepossessing). Asthmatic Kitty say there's Gerswin, Wagner, Terry Riley, and Charles Ives in there, which I can certainly hear, but I'm not sure where they get the Autechre from . . . perfect to instill some similar hopefulness in winter journeys in the occasionally oppressive big smoke as well.

Somehow brings Style Wars into my head (the records cover helps) maybe its the optimism or just the NY transport authorities . . .




St James' Heresy

With Newcastle Broon off to Yorkshire (the traitorous bastards!) and Northern Rock now on a Stalinist 5 year plan by the state or some shit, there is surely only one real contender for the naming rights to St James' Park (that saint Mike Ashley has so generously offered up). . . Greggs the Bakers.

That's right, pride of the north; everyone loves a good pastie, sausage roll or stotty (especially since cheese savoury is a concept that doesn't seem to exist down south). There's hope yet . . .