Archive for the ‘random thoughts on film and stuff’ Category

Wow! There is bad and there is laughably bad. Geo-disaster falls headfirst into the latter with such velocity you can’t help but continue to watch to see how much more inept it could possibly become.

It shares the writer of sharknado series, so right out of the gate we would never expect a masrepiece of cinema but whereas Sharknado embraced its stupid idea, this tries to be entirely serious in a mission to show us a disaster that could threaten the entire world. The cover of the dvd features more action and intensity then the entire runtime of the movie. Its not that there’s nothing good about the film its just that none of the good/amusing is intentional.

The movie follows the Mason family as they aim to rebond with one another as theyve become more distant. Matthew and Rick have the whole distant father and son thing going on and decide thry should go camping. Johanna along with her daughters kaley and Cassie decide to leave them to it. During their time away a collision with dark matter causes a hole straight through the centre of the planet. (Yeah…throigh the whole planet) . This splits the family in half, thus setting up the smallest scale earth threatening disaster known to man.

The first Matthew and Rick know of the disaster is when they wake to find their tents casually sliding down an almost endless volcano hill-like thing which would, i imagine, lead them to their death. They dont both wake up straight away and they have a fair amount of time to climb out of the tetrible cgi tent. Once out they face a climb back up the slope, during which Matthew tells his son he would never let anything harm him, right before a large rock smashes Rick in the face. Its all as dramatic as that rock.

At the top they meet a band of military people (i’d call tgem survivors but there is little going on for them to survive). They have a littl arguement but them all become friends. It almost feels they are all going on a frand picnic.

While father and son are having such a tremendous time, mother and aighters face an equal threat, they are not very good at hiding. (Hiding from an earthquake-like event doesnt seem a great idea to be fair.)

During all of the chaos, a roof collapses on Johanna and her daughters. A large rock crashes onto her leg, pinning her to the ground. Underneath we expect the crushed remnants of what used to be her leg. Instead, when finally freed we have a tiny scratch and very little pain. Its great that Johanna can walk fine as she does a lot of jogging from one situation to another.

This jogging leads her and her daughters to a old man who seems adment on dropping a brick on a motorcyclists head, a tense moment where the hide in plain sight on a rooftop, a moment of peril as they hide from the disaster on another rooftop. I mean its hard not to be truly engrossed in all this peril.

Its all over as quickly and as shoddily as it all began. The disaster just fizzles out and everyone goes on with their lives lile little happened, except now dad and son love each other again!

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What happens when you mix the director of ‘Clueless’ with 2 of the stars of ‘American Pie’? The answer is a film that is not quite as good as either but is far better then a lot of the teen rom-coms that were released around the late 90’s / early 00’s.

It all revolves around Paul (played by Jason Biggs) and Dora (played by Mena Suvari). Paul has just moved to college and is the odd one out. He’s shy and awkward. Dora is more outgoing but is struggling financially, so is doing everything she has to to keep going. Their paths meet when Paul sits next to Dora in a lecture. She is the first person who is nice to him since moving o college. This moment sets off a series of events which ultimately lead to the usual deatination.

Although formulaic, the film does enough to make itself stand out. The acting on the whole is great even if Biggs is playing a similar character to his one in American Pie. Mena Suvari is on top form in a role that is surprisingly multilayered. The onscreen chemistry between the 2 leads is fantastic with some truly heart-tugging moments. It s hard not to feel that both were hired on the back of American Pie, but that doesnt detract from their performances here. The only characters whom I really didn’t get on with were the 3 roommates. They both felt unnecessary and 2d.

It’s a shame that the film has slipped into the jumble of similar films as it is one of the best. Most may only know about the film through the ideoto the Weezer song ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ which features footage from the film and I believe was written for the film. When it came out th film was pretty big and was well received but I’m guessing the fact it had no sequels meant it just vanished.

I really like this film and have since it was released. It stands in the upper tier of teen rom-coms only falling narrowly behind the very best of the pack. I urge anyone who likes this sort or film to check it out.

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WOW!
Rarely do I read a book completely blind of what it is about, but this had me intrigued by the title and the stark, striking cover. From the title I guess I expected something along the lines of ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ but what I got was unexpected.
What I got was a phenomenally deep and complex study of the intricacies of the human condition presented in an amazingly easy to read and follow story.  The writing flows so unbelievably smoothly that it’s easy to forget sometimes that the author ‘Luke Melia’ is exploring some truly deep emotions and some really powerful themes.
I won’t spoil the story for anyone as watching it unravel in front of your eyes is one of the many pleasures of the book. What I will say about the story though is that it is incredibly dark and at times pretty twisted.  It is definitely not a book for younger readers as it does feature violence, nudity, swearing and themes that could prove disturbing to some. But these points don’t hinder the story; they serve to help reveal the darkness that is inside the human mind. The things that a lot of people like to try and ignore and forget are there. Without such darkness the impact of the story may never have felt as fulfilling and as great as it did. Never did I feel that anything was particularly out of place or un-justified.
As a piece of fiction I find it pretty hard to fault. It moves at a brisk pace and keeps you reading until the very end. I read it all in one sitting and by the end I felt like I had been on an amazing journey.  Each of the characters are fully fledged out and all have reason for being there. Each has their own issues they are fighting and each helps drive the story forwards through some highly unexpected ground.  Every one of the inmates of the asylum feels different and each works to look at a different part of reason or emotion.
The art is equally as brilliant as each issue/chapter is by a different artist thus helping with the almost dreamlike state that the book creates. I will say that some of the art is stronger than others in my view but at the same time I loved all of it and thought that each reflected the situation that the chapters presented in a perfect way.  Each artist has their own interpretation of the characters while keeping the core of their looks recognisable. This really adds a punch to the book as we get to watch the characters evolve in front of our eyes.
So It’s pretty easy to see that I really enjoyed the book and I’m happy to say that I would easily read it again.
The book stayed with me long after reading and made me think about a lot of things about the human mind and conditions that some individuals go through. It had a power that I rarely experience when reading books, let alone graphic novels. I am still shocked at how amazing the book was and how I had never heard of it before.
All credit to the creative team for doing such an amazing job and a special credit to ‘Luke Melia’ who I believe could easily become the next best thing in comic writing.

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I knew nothing about this book before reading it other than hearing on the side that it was a good bit of fun. After having a hard time trying to find a copy, I finally stumbled upon a copy of the complete series in a beautiful hardback collection.  From looking at the cover I knew that this was going to be something different and fresh. But covers can mislead and some indie titles out there try too hard to seem like a AAA title that they fall flat. How did this pan out…
I can happily say that the comic is about as indie as you can get in the fact that the characters are a bizarre mishmash of humour and seriousness that works for the most part. The characters are genuinely engaging and the story constantly throws new curve balls which only a story about an experimental regime in which people with multiple-personality disorders use their skills to be assassins and the like.  This is where the title falls in with our main protagonist Duncan who happens to think he is also a ninja, a Viking and a cowboy. It is told in a clever way that means you always know which personality is talking either by using portraits of the character or by putting a little image on the speech bubble like a sword or a gun.  I found this worked really well and helped keep the whole thing running forward at a steady pace.
The book is split into two story arcs and each feels different and great. The first really is an introduction and I guess as close as you can get to an origin tale of each of the ‘Triplets’. It has a few plodding moments but on the whole was fun and constantly engaging. The second story is probably a stronger story in both a fun adventure and writing sense although it also isn’t without the odd stumble.   The hardback ‘deluxe’ edition also contains a short story epilogue which rounds everything off perfectly and really makes you think about the whole saga.  I wasn’t expecting a story like this to be as thought provoking as it turned out to be and I will happily read it again and again.
The art by ‘Riley Rossmo’ is phenomenal. I would go as far to say that it is one of the best looking comics / pieces of art that I have ever seen. It really is unlike most other things and works in a stunning way. The only artist that I could compare the work to is ‘Ashley Wood’ and that would only be for the carful use of colours and heavily scratchy looking artwork. The book isn’t black and white but then again it’s not full colour as one usually sees it. There is a carful use of light and dark that echoes the locations and the characters that inhabit the comic world.  You can literally turn to a random page and you will see something that stands out. It’s truly a beautiful piece of work that never gets stale and never looks anything less than steller.
Although I love this book I do have a couple of issues with it. Firstly sometimes it is hard to figure out which way the panels run; i.e. . Across the pages or the usual sticking to one page. I found I had to guess a couple of times because I just couldn’t work out where the next panel was. I found that when this happened it did take me out of the story. Some of the characters get confusing in terms of who their alter egos are but again it wasn’t too bad. The same can be said for some of the dialogue which at times tries far to hard and just gets confusing.  I commend them for some of the clever statements they are trying to make in the story but sometimes less is definitely more.
With that said I couldn’t get enough of ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ and could have happily read more (fighting through the odd confusing moment). This is a phenomenal book and a great piece of fiction that happily now sits up near the top of the best things I’ve ever read.  If you can find a copy and think you’d enjoy something a bit weird, a little funny and surprisingly thought-provoking you’d be hard pressed to find something better then Cowboy Ninja Viking

Do you remember the time when comics came out and were simply there to be bought and read? I do and it doesn’t feel that long ago (but that could be because when I was young I didn’t see the over the top lengths some people would go to get a single issue). Either way I kind of miss those days.
For me a comic is meant to be read. That’s the purpose of one being written and released , is it not? Well these days it seems the line between those buying to read and those buying for profit is very much leaning towards the latter. Now, I can’t say I don’t collect older titles and variant covers (I’ll get onto these soon) but most of the ones I buy, I buy because they either remind me of my youth or they fall into criteria’s that I collect.  I rarely buy comics to turn around for profit. If I do sell issues that is either because I no longer enjoy them or I desperately need money. But even then I would prefer to sell a comic for a low price to someone I know would get enjoyment out of it rather than someone who would just flip it again higher.
You could argue what is the ultimate point of collecting in the first place? That is a question that has always been in the forefront of my mind. I see people spending thousands on a single comic which is merely a few bits of stapled paper with artwork and story on. Doesn’t it seem silly? How many people actually read through their whole collections when they have hundreds of issues? And if you do have something worth thousands, would you risk reading it and decreasing its value?
The whole world of comic collecting has gone crazy and with the influx of comic book films it’s only gotten worse.  When these comics originally came out they were to read and for people to enjoy. It was a new means for telling a story and to get across new kinds of stories. But something changed and its become a large money sucking business with comics once costing mere cents and pence selling for hundreds, thousands and sometimes even millions .
WHY?
It is kind of disgusting in a way as the artists and the writers who actually did all the work, will never see any of the further proceeds of these comics. And at these prices do the comics themselves not lose all meaning? It just becomes a show of who has money and who can show off the most. I like buying old comics as I like the cover artwork for a lot of them (especially the old ‘Tales From The Crypt’ comics form the 50’s) The ones I that managed to get hold of, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed in a way that I never feel with comics these days. What would be the point of buying them and never reading them and just having them sit in a storage box? There is none.
This is why I see little point in the whole CGC grading of comics. I have personally had some things graded and I have no idea why. People seem to think ‘if they are in a sealed box then they must be better’, but in my view they really aren’t. it all comes back to the reason that a comic is made. You can’t read something that is sealed away can you? The other thing worth noting is the fact that the comic can still degrade while in the case so it kind of nullifies any point of having it done if preservation is all you care about. I personally try and buy comics ungraded, as this way I can flip through them and enjoy the time and effort that has been put into creating it.
This leads me onto the whole ‘variant cover’ scene. It just seems to be a thing created for collectors who want to collect them as collectors’ items. It’s kind of odd when you think about it as most of these issues are sold as such and most will be put into collections, but what is the point other than garnering to the completest in all of us? The internal comic is the exact same so why do these different covers vary in price so much? I like some of these covers as I dislike the normal one, but the same is true the other way round sometimes. By advertising the comics as variants it also encourages some people to buy all of ones they see to sell on for profit which again to me is no different from scalpers selling over-priced concert tickets. This leads to the people actually wanting to read them not being able to at a reasonable price.
Variants serve no real purpose. They really don’t unless you look at it from the perspective as the ones making them. It does allow more work for artists but I guess it all comes down to the fact that companies know they can sell them. Just look at Star Wars. The new comic had around 100 different variant covers when it was released. Is this not a little extreme?  Spider-Gwen is also gaining new covers each day it seems and all of them are rocketing up in price even before the comic is released. It’s worrying that this is the state of things now.
I did go through a phase where I wanted to collect for the possibility of issues being worth more in the future but then I realised how silly that was. And how against the fundamentals of why a comic is made it was.  I have got some comics that I am guilty of not reading due to me being worried about devaluing them and it does anger me, but at the same time I plan on having them frames up on a wall as I love the covers. I want to enjoy them as artwork (not quite how originally planned but at least I am still having the enjoyment of seeing them).
It’s a very awkward environment to be in as you see things that you really want but when you actually break it down and thin why, most of the time it can’t be justified.  I recently was in a comic forum where someone was selling 4 comics for £100 and someone said this was a good price. To me a good price would be the cover price to someone who would actually sit, read and enjoy the comics for what they are. This is when I start truly questioning what the point is… Especially when it hard to stroll into a comic shop to look at new releases when all of an issue has been bought to be scalped.  The most recent example of this is ‘Silk #1’ which sold out in many places almost instantly and then weirdly hundreds of issues appear on the internet at three times the price. For those who actually want to read the comic that just seems unfair.
It’s something that will hopefully change in the coming years. I hope that prices come crashing down and people realise the mistakes they’ve made spending for profiteering sake.  I will say again that I am not innocent to all this as I have bought comics to sell on in the past, but looking back I am disgusted partially in myself. You have to think hard about where you lie in the matter and if you know you can make a quick buck. Like everything, the industry and its followers are trying to make as much money as they can, not caring how much damage they do in the process.
I guess the basic point to my entire rant, is that I feel that many people have forgotten why comics are made and that is to be read and enjoyed.  Am I never going to sell on for profit again? I can’t promise I won’t when I know I could get more, but I know that if it’s to someone that I know will read it I would more than likely give it to them or let them have it for the price of postage.
My advice;
BUY, READ, PASS ON (for whatever you paid, or as a gift or simply for the price of postage), REPEAT!

urot

First things first. This is definitely not a title for children or anyone who’s squeamish. It features graphic violence and many very adult situations and themes.  As such some of the items I may touch on may talk about said

So…..

This is a little different in the fact that many have probably heard of this title (or the subsequent anime film) but have probably never read it. Some wouldn’t have read it on the basis that they can’t find a copy; others may be put off by the fairly adult nature of the subject matter. But it’s a lot deeper than you would expect.

The story isn’t explained much in the first volume but it does begin to build up to the events that happen in future volumes. The first volume works very much as an introduction piece to the main characters Tatsuo Nagumo, Akemi Itō and the demon Amano Jyaku. The former two are the more innocent parties of the story and are for all intents and purposes the heroes of this story. Amano on the other hand sits very much in the grey area of the spectrum. He does do good deeds but at the same time he commits an atrocious act right at the beginning of the story. But this is what I quite like about the craftsmanship of the story. Pretty much everyone has a dark side that really is quite deep. No one is perfect in it. The whole world created is quite grim and seedy. It’s unnerving and starts to get under your skin. It shows the underbelly that many try to ignore.  ‘Toshio Maeda’ is very open about what he wants to express throughout his writing and a fair chunk of it is to shock and make people take notice.

The art is magnificent while also being horrifying and disturbing the majority of the time. Everything has this grim layer to it that really helps emphasise the grittiness of the subject matter. The detail in the characters and the world is incredible (even the more questionable things still are amazingly well rendered.)  I will say though that at times there is so much going on in each panel that it can get confusing. Sometimes I found myself having to go back a few panels to realise what was going on. It’s not the end of the world but it does take you out of the story. It’s also worth noting that ‘Toshio Maeda’ also did the artwork for this book, which means that everything we see and read is his vision. There is no one else interoperating his ideas. It is just straight out of his fascinating mind and onto the paper.

Now…. Onto the copious amounts of sex and violence that fill the pages. Is it too graphic? Yes and no. The sex portrayed is never what one would call ‘erotic’. It is grim and most of the time, quite vile. It makes you feel on edge and that what you are seeing is some twisted voyeuristic fantasy of some outside party spying in on the characters. This works perfectly though as it helps create the atmosphere and the overall look of the piece. The violence is much the same in the fact that it is bloody and graphic, but at the same time is realistic and has almost ‘crime-scene photography’ feel to it. Maeda is clever in how much he shows and what he shows. It’s worth noting that the sex isn’t censored in the slightest and at times is highly graphic.

This brings us to the art or filth argument that has echoed through films and printed material for many years. Is there a true justification for all the sex? Yes! Unlike a lot of adult material, this actually has a deep story that the sex and violence is simply used as an aid to express.  Yes, it is also intended to shock, but is also intended to make people think and question what they are seeing. It also questions the reader into looking inside themselves and seeing the darkness that dwells within.  There is a reason why this and the film became so massive in Japan that they spawned sequels and spin-offs and it’s not simply because of the ‘adult images’ on view. It’s one of the few titles that sits on the delicate line between ‘Hentai’ or dark ‘manga’. For me it isn’t important what you judge it as. A story is simply what it is and should be enjoyed/read for what it is not under the label someone slips it beneath.

It is at no point a happy read and for this reason for me it instantly stands out from almost all ‘Western’ publications. It’s pretty much jet black in terms of the emotions it expresses. Its more lust over love; more death over life. It’s a fascinating journey through realms very rarely explored and one of the most realistically dark portrayals of the world I’ve seen in comic form (even if there are demons and such like within)

So would I recommend it?

It’s a toughie. For one it’s getting harder and harder to actually find a copy as it’s something that I doubt will be allowed in print again due to the graphic nature of it. It also focuses on subjects that many would like to ignore or pass off as ‘taboo’. It’s not ‘nice’ in the slightest and will not leave the reader with that happy sense of accomplishment they may get from reading some superhero story. It’s dark and dingy and makes you feel dirty afterwards. While reading you get sucked deeper into this dark pit and every time you try to escape you just get drawn further into the darkness.  It’s an amazing experience for people who know what they are getting into and for people who like to experience something almost entirely unlike anything else.

For me this is a true masterpiece of storytelling and is just so ‘different’. Toshio Maeda established his name with this series (as well as la blue girl) and is known for his twisted mind and the twisted imagery it pumps out. He is one of the greatest comic creators I have ever had the fortune of both reading his work and meeting him in person.

So I would recommend this, but only to those who can handle it and look past the sex and violence to see the deep story and intelligently written characters beneath.  It’s a deeply challenging and at times deeply repulsive journey, but one that is truly worth going on.

 

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Daredevil is one of those heroes that pretty much passed me by as I was growing up. He didn’t have the immediate draw of heroes like Spiderman and Wolverine – not much seemed to happen, and the stories didn’t feature as much in the way of sheer spectacle as the other comics around. I didn’t exactly avoid reading his comics, I just didn’t go out of my way to read them – I guess the appeal of a blind superhero whose main power is to see was just kinda lost on me.
Then, in 2003, the Daredevil movie was released, and I started to think he might not be quite as boring as I first thought. After watching and enjoying the film, I decided to pick up the book Daredevil: Guardian Devil, by Kevin Smith. The story felt familiar, but much darker than the likes of Spiderman and X-Men. I absolutely loved it.
The years passed, and I decided it was time to revisit the character and see what was happening. By that point Brian Michael Bendis had already started his classic Daredevil run, and it was fantastic. Everything worked, from the characters, to the art, to the story. The series that brought Marvel comics into the real world, and still one of the most realistic of their franchises, for me it was almost faultless, and called to mind the darker human conflicts that echo throughout comics like Batman.  It also helped that some of the art was by David Mack, one of the finest artists in comics, whose work is so beautifully haunting it lingers in the mind.
I was sad to see the end of Bendis’ run, even though Daredevil was being left in the capable hands of Ed Brubaker and later, Mark Waid. Although still consistently good, nothing ever quite matched the perfection that Bendis brought to the title, and I hoped he would come back. These hopes were answered in 2012.
Daredevil: End of Days is an eight part mini-series written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack. With art by Daredevil veteran Klaus Jansen, and ink by Bill Sienkiewicz, it’s the perfect combination of everything that’s made Daredevil great over the years.
So, let’s get the major spoiler-filled elephant out of the room right now. On page four of issue one, Daredevil is killed. Yep that’s right. Set in the near future, this book focuses on reporter Ben Ulrich’s (one of Daredevil’s true friends) investigation and report on who Daredevil was and why he was killed. It sets up the story fantastically well, and is incredibly brutal. In Ulrich, Bendis and Mack have created the perfect guide to lead us on a fascinating journey into the dark, gritty world these characters inhabit, and into the soul of ‘the man without fear’
Throughout the story we see cameos from countless other Marvel heroes, who all seem far more grounded then in their own books. The characterisation throughout is stunning, and ranks up there with the best of the best in fiction. This is especially evident in the fact that we find out far more about the depths of Daredevil’s character and mind then we’ve ever previously seen, despite the fact that he isn’t really in this book much in person. In a way, you could even compare the series to the phenomenal cinematic masterpiece that is Orsen Welles’ Citizen Kane, with both featuring a mystery set up by the dying protagonist, which leads the other characters on their journey through the world.
Such an amazing story deserves great art to back it up, and here you can’t fault it.  Each panel could be a painting in a gallery. It feels so fresh in its haunting beauty, yet so familiar. That said, the art may be an acquired taste, being much grittier in palette and a lot more scratchy in pen style than the everyday bright, bold Marvel art comic fans may be used to.
As you can probably tell, Daredevil: End of Days is my favourite Marvel comic, and I expect it will be for some time. It has a gripping story, great characters and faultless art, and it’s a 100% must-read for any fan of Daredevil. I’d even go as far to say it’s a must-read for anyone who likes a thinking-man’s story that isn’t all about action and massive set-pieces. For me, it’s the perfect end to the best interpretation of Daredevil there has ever been.

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Created by Federico Bertolucci  and Frederic Brremaud, the series ‘Love’ aims to tell emotional tales with no dialogue or narration. Instead they aim to convey the story and its raw emotional power through some carefully crafted artwork and a very simple (yet highly relatable) idea.

Each of the stories are standalone and do not require the reader to have read the previous book in the series ‘Der Tiger’. This one if you do not understand German is ‘The Fox’ and follows the journey of a fox during an extreme environmental event. To explain any more of the story would take away some of the power that the story has, so I will leave it there in terms of description. What I will say is that the book progresses at a fast rate and is constantly gripping. It may not be the longest of books, but I’d argue that it is of perfect length. Any longer and the story would have dragged a little. Any shorter and the stories development would be sacrificed.

Without text it is even more of a necessity than usual that the artwork is great. Luckily we are in luck as this is easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve read (if you can consider following pictures as reading that is). It could easily be looked at as an art book as each panel pops with stunning detail. The character designs are realistic and their faces convey true emotion without drawing the reader out with them talking to one another. The main character ‘the fox’ it beautifully realised and makes for the perfect guide through this story. With the book being as it is, the story never gets bogged down with un-necessary side characters or events happening in different places. This allows the artwork to shine even more as we are never wondering where we are or what’s happening.

I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Yes this book is in German (although an English translation should be hitting stores later this year) but it doesn’t really matter. The only text is a little section at the start and the title. The fact that the rest of the story is entirely visual allows for it to be universally understood.  It really is one of those cases where less is definitely more. The creators know exactly what they are doing and have realised that they are working in a very visual medium. They are accepting the whole ‘show don’t tell’ ideology that accompanies a lot of art and for this they should be truly commended.

This is truly unlike almost every other graphic novel I have ever read. There are other ‘textless’ stories that I have had the joy to experience but most take a slightly more jovial tone. Here we have a deceptively deep story that is lined with powerful emotion. The fact that the story is set around a fox does not affect the power in the slightest, it anything it enhances it.

Throughout this review I’ve wondered if the term ‘reading’ is appropriate for how you experience this book. Should it be viewing? This is one of the things I find utterly fascinating with books like this. You can argue that you read a piece of art as you are ultimately ‘reading’ into what the artist wants you to find. But at the same time you are viewing it as there is no text.

Be it reading, viewing or both, this is an amazing book and one that I feel everyone should give a chance. It’s different from so many different angles and for this many may feel hesitant to giving it a shot, but I urge everyone to do so. This is easily one of the most emotionally charged books I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Give it a try and see what you think.

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First printed in 1978, Misty was yet another creation from the comic great Pat Mills (who also co-created such pivotal comics such as ‘Action’ and ‘2000ad’), which tried to introduce something new and different to the world of ‘girls’ comics.
At the time the world of girls comics consisted of the rather formulaic adolescent tales of publications like ‘Tammy’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘Bunty’. All told pretty much the same stories that had been told for years previous. Most of which were about romance and adolescence (which apparently were the only things that girls wanted to read).  Then along came Mills with the idea of introducing an anthology comic which would treat girls more like adults and which would give them something different, something  edgier to read. That something was horror. Up until this point horror comics like those pumped out by E.C comics during the 1950’s, were aimed primarily at the male end of the reading spectrum. They provided those who read them with thrills and horrors that were both frightening and witty while generally trying to make some kind of moral point. Mills took this idea and just translated it to a more female audience, introducing more stories with females in the lead and providing situations that girls may relate more to.
Misty was born February 4th 1978 and would mark the first and arguably only time that horror comics were released, aimed directly at a female audience.  Each issue was to provide an anthology of horror from a wide variety of writers and artists with each story being standalone from the last.
Like an awful lot of British publications of the time, artwork was mainly commissioned out to artists in Europe, many of whom would never be truly be credited with their work. It’s kind of sad in a way that the art was just taken for granted. It wasn’t like today where most stories name the artists next to the writer. It was very rare to see an artist’s name in anything other than maybe a signature at the bottom of a front cover. As with lots of anthologies, the art does vary from story to story, issue to issue. This has always been evident in all forms of art and here is no exception. What really stood out for me was some of the covers which really did help create the atmosphere of what you could expect inside the pages of each issue.  This is especially true of the annuals which would generally feature beautiful paintings depicting the character of ‘Misty’. (there have been many rumours over the years of who this character was visually based on but to this day no one knows for certain.)
The stories themselves are a mixture of reasonably straight horror and comedic horror, and again highly varying in quality. Although some of the stories may not be great, a fair few were truly great such as ‘the sentinels’ which one could argue delves more into science fiction then horror.   On the whole though each issue felt fresh and different from all the other publications at the time.
Now, for a comic as different as this, it had a pretty good run with over 100 issues and numerous annuals being released before its inevitable cancellation in 1984.  It’s a great shame as although being quite niche, it provided that brightness in the wall of blandness when it comes to girls comics.
I must stress that I didn’t read them when they came out as I wasn’t even born. I am also a Male which may also tell you these stories aren’t limited to that of who it was aimed at.
The company that owns the rights to Misty, ‘Eggmont’ just don’t know what they are holding onto. For a time they also held the rights to 2000ad, which fortunately was sold and is as strong as ever. Misty on the other hand wasn’t as lucky. Many fans and even its creator Pat Mills has tried to get some of the stories re-released or a compilation released but to no avail.
It looks as though Misty is destined to remain one of the great comics that have faded for sight. It marked a great change in girl’s comics and for that it should be commended. It’s just a shame that we may never see this little gem released again as long as ‘Eggmont’ holds the rights.
So this Halloween, take a moment to think about Misty and if you’re lucky enough to still own any of the comics; turn out the light, burn up a candle and savour some of the horror that made Misty great.

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

Who am I? What am I? Where am I? Was everything before just a dream? Why?
These questions uttered by the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo in a semi psychic monologue within the opening moments of the film set a tone unlike that of most children’s films of the time. A tone that is pretty adult in thought and in questioning. A Pokemon questioning it’s own mortality is something not seen within the show as Mewtwo is the first to speak or at least express itself in the same language as humans. It’s quite a deep subject which is only emphasised when we see him floating in a laboratory like some test subject. He was created to be the strongest, but the big word here is ‘Created’, can he still have a normal mortality if he is genetically engineered and created in a test tube? With todays technology we can see how far it has come in genetics and how it is possible to birth life in a lab, but it wasn’t as known back when the film came out in 1998. We had had successes in the field with plants and the first cloned animal ‘Dolly the sheep’ but an entirely lab created organism that grows and questions its own being is something that was still quite new and worrying to many. Many authors over the years had tackled the subject of artificial life and the possibility of machines gaining sentient awareness but these ideas were not often put into the forefront of a kids film. Children may not notice the intricacies of such philosophical ideas but viewing the film as an adult I am impressed with the depth in which the writers go to with the subject. Questions such as who we are and why we are here have been some of the biggest mysteries of the universe and ones that philosophers and the like have searched for since mankind began, so presenting it in this fantastically conceived way at the younger audience is a remarkable feat and one that almost succeeds flawlessly.
Looking past the philosophical ideologies of the film, we are presented with a tale of power and the will to find ones place in this world. Pokemon trainers from around the world are summoned (including our heroes Ash, Misty and Brock) to a special tournament unknown to them, run by the power crazed and mentally complex Mewtwo as he tries to find out why he was created and if he is truly the strongest Pokemon in existence. Along the way our intrepid trio (quarto if we include fan favourite Pikachu) struggle to understand what they are to do and how they are to ultimately stop such a powerful being. The tournament style story is reminiscent of the seventies martial arts masterpiece ‘Enter the Dragon’ in which martial artists are summoned to an island to prove who is the strongest. Although different in style, the deep underlying tone is very similar which is impressive.
With such deep and powerful ideas its only natural for the makers of the movie to put in some comic relief in the form of the bumbling Team Rocket who in my opinion are one of the only flaws of the film. Seeing them failing in their task of stealing Pokemon detracts from the rich story and characters that are presented to us and especially from Mewtwo’s innermost ideals. I understand why team Rocket are here and I understand at it’s heart the film is aimed at children, but with such an adult premise I find them hard to like.
As the film progresses some of the ideas become much deeper and the way it handles death is remarkably powerful. Rarely in a children’s film have I found myself so emotionally involved with the characters where I truly worry about their wellbeing. It again could be the fact it is a children’s film and that I didn’t expect such deepness in such subject matters but it really did blow me away. The last children / family  film I remember that made me feel this way was 1991’s ‘My Girl’ which truly aimed to show children that death is as natural as life no matter how sad it may make us feel. The addition or the questioning of mortality is so well handled and so rich in content that the film raises itself above what one may imagine when going into it.
There is one big flaw within the final act which takes the film down a level for me and that is one which I entirely understand why it was done. For me it detracts slightly from the ideas pushed upon to audience up to that point and it becomes hard to warrant it from a story point of view. It is during this moment that the tone shifts to a slightly lighter tone. It’s not that this moment (which is obvious when you’ve seen the film) wrecks what we have seen before as it does initially feature one of the films most powerful moments, its just that if the creators had truly had the guts to go with it and stick with their decision it would have been near perfect.

pika
As a kid I remember seeing the film on the opening weekend (and collecting the limited edition Pokemon cards you were given with your ticket). I loved it then as a much grander representation of the characters that I had grown to love through the TV show and the games. As an adult I see the film in a different way. I still get that sense of joy of seeing the characters I enjoyed back then but I also see the depth and complexities hidden within the script. Its a remarkable film in how it handles some of the deepest questions in life and death while staying fun for children and fans of the franchise.
Pokemon the first movie is an absolute must see and it really holds up as well today as it did back then. The richness of the film is something that has been lost in all of the movies that have followed but this really stands heads and tails above its followers. It is a masterpiece of animation and is probably the best thing the Pokemon franchise has pumped out since the original games.
I have little more to say other than to give the film a chance and to open your mind to some of the films questions. You never know, you may walk away knowing a little more about yourself and your own mortality