May 2017 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for May.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

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April 2017 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for April.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

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March 2017 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends
C - Mar - The Devil's Paintbox
B - Mar - The Djinn fall in Love
NF - Mar - Sound System
B - Mar - The Erstwhile
B - Mar - Wild Chamber

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for March.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

Read the rest of this entry »

The 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival!

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival

We’re here at the Mega-City Block-esque Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith, lately arrived and soaking up the setting of the 40th Anniversary festival of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic 2000 AD!

There’s been some build up mind: do check out our February 2017 Book Highlights which includes the celebratory THE GALAXY’S GREATEST, a creator selected collection of the greatest one-off short stories, and ex-Tharg David Bishop’s THRILL POWER OVERLOAD, the forty year history of 2000 AD. On a similar note, from not so long back, there’s also ‘golden era’ Tharg Steve MacManus’s autobiography THE MIGHTY ONE from September 2016 – details here (scroll about halfway down to The Fact Behind the Fiction section). Oh and the creator of 2000 AD itself, first Tharg and writer of numerous flagship characters Pat Mills has just released with frequent collaborator Kevin O’Neill his darkly comedic crime satire about a comic editor SERIAL KILLER – and we’ve got a preview with title info and more here!

Right, back to the #2000ADFest (twitter link) itself. Looking forward to some cracking panels later and catching up with various folk but will be sharing a few things as we go – scroll down for more…

Splundig vur Thrigg people!

 

Opening Shots…

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (1) 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (2)
Entrance guarded by a Genetic Infantryman (Rogue Trooper to the uninitiated) and a bloke with a lanyard. Strangely synchronised in their security sweeping… 😉

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Immediately drawn to this corner: the stall of the Dog House, makers of the unofficial but officially Zarjaz films of Judge Minty and now Strontium Dog! So looking forward to the screening of that later…

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (3) 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (5)
2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (4)

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Dredd film props: freeze creep – don’t ruin your photo!

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (7) 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (6)

 

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (9) The main area: more artists and writers of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic than you can shake a Lawgiver or axe at!

 

The 4th Generation Panel

Great little session with comparatively newer additions to regular 2000 AD contributors in the Tir Na nOg room (Slaine reference). Hosted by CBR’s Steve Morris, there’s artists Tom Foster (Storm Warning, various Future Shocks), Eoin Coveney (The Alienist, also various shorts), Dani (Fiends of the Eastern Front) and writer Alec Worley.

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Festival (10) Steve’s first checking in on their first experiences as readers of 2000 AD. Alec was a rather late starter but was blown away (as were we all) by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley’s SLAINE: THE HORNED GOD. For Tom it was through those random issues bought by family members while he was ill as a kid. Dani very much came straight in as a creator, developing a love and knowledge of the comic since then, while Eoin started with Prog 2 after there was such a buzz about the first Prog at school the week previous.

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Of course (whatever the comic’s alien editor Tharg may or may not approve of) few people have been regular readers and not drifted away from the comic at some point. But what drew them back?

For Owen it was the ultraviolence, the art and the humour. He remembers Pat Mills being interviewed emphasising that kids are smart and that you can’t fool them. It reinforced to him that 2000 AD is a quality product with insightful thinking behind it.

For Alec in part it was that it got referenced in Spaced: that alone said to him that, yes, 2000 AD certainly was cool.

As to how to get into the comic as a creator, well they’ve all got their own quite unique stories. Eoin was an early starter but admits not giving his first outing on a John Wagner script the attention it deserved, having understandably if falsely built his self-image as a creator after getting a gig with Moebius. It’s been more recently that he’s finally got in properly as a regular contributor.

Alec notes seeing an interview with ex-editor Andy Diggle in which he says how everyone asks how to get into comics / 2000 AD – no one asks how to get better at what they do. Focusing on the latter is more likely to actually achieve the former. It’s something of having a zen-like mental attitude as Alec puts it. Both he and Eoin emphasise the importance of properly taking on feedback from rejections, and that they both ultimately got in from developing a whole campaign of submissions.

Dani had been working on her own comics and was essentially talent-spotted at a convention where she had a stall. Tom on the other hand submitted work to a competition at Thought Bubble, coming second two years running then, when the prize was actually being given a script to illustrate, coming first in its third year. He’s yet to work for one of the American publishers but feels he’ll be far better placed to work in the more expansive scheme of their strips having honed his craft in the more compressed approach of 2000 AD than the other way round. On a similar note Alec praises the scripting of Gordon Rennie and Rob Williams for being ‘so on point’ and ‘muscular writing’.

And right now? Tom’s got his first Dredd story coming up and something in a few weeks on ‘From the Drawing Boards’ on YouTube. Alec has a US one-shot of the Dredd movie version of Judge Anderson. Owen is working on the next series of The Alienist while Dani is working on her own comics with a Dirk Gently filler coming for IDW and something that can’t be mentioned for 2000 AD’s special issue for Free Comic Book Day.

Cheers all – smashing panel!

 

More to come…

 

 

 

A Chat with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC Part 3: On Self Image, Depression, and the Good Coming from the Bad (and Michael Jackson?!!!)

DMC - In Forbidden Planet

Part 3 of my interview with Darryl McDaniels. If you haven’t already you can read Part 1 here or Part 2 here.

When I was first planning a series of casual interviews with creators I had a mind – in keeping with the thought behind this website – to covering something of the fantastical, of the musical and of the ethical-slash-charitable. In Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC I could hardly have a better person to sit down with on all scores. We’d talked music of course and his comic’s enterprise, but I was aware also of his charitable work and was keen to find out more.

A bit of context first though, and partly we’ve already covered this in Darryl’s early love of superhero comics. Much of the rest is perhaps best explained by Darryl’s autobiography which he’s promoting while over: Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, his memoir from the 80’s to the present day.

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Preview: SERIAL KILLER by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill!

B - Jan 17 - Serial Killer

Best known for their subversive, leftfield SFF comics, frequent partners writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O’Neill had more recently been working on a satirical crime prose series ‘Read Em and Weep’. Various formats / media possibilities had been investigated before they decided to release the stories as prose electronically and in a limited print run book form under Pat’s own publishing imprint.

The first – Serial Killer – has been available since January but will launch officially at the 2000 AD 40th Anniversary event on Saturday 11th February 2017, the comic being Pat’s creation and the vehicle for his and Kevin’s fantastical comic creations. As part of the 40th Anniversary Pat and Kevin will (at time of writing) also be signing print books this evening at Gosh! Comics who will be the main bricks-and-mortar stockists in the UK.

Full title information and ‘Buy’ and other links can be found at the bottom of this page – but first we’re very pleased and proud to present a preview of SERIAL KILLER ITSELF. Read on and weep – or enjoy either way!

 

 

PART ONE: OCTOBER 1975

‘Who’s that Bumpy Man, sir?’

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Stoke Basing Star August 16th 2016.

 

BODY IN BASEMENT IDENTIFIED

 

Two weeks ago, homeowner and builder John Trigger was horrified to discover a dead body while he was renovating his house. As theStarreported last week, Trigger, 54, knocked down a basement wall revealing a small secret room behind it. Under its York stone floor were the remains of a woman who, police have confirmed, was strangled with a fur boa found lying beside her.

It’s thought to be Mrs Jean Maudling, 32, who lived in Stoke Basing and was reported missing in 1957. Police have appealed to her daughter, Annie, 71, and son, David, 67, to get in touch with them.

The location and identity of the previous owner of Trigger’s property has not yet been disclosed as police enquiries are still continuing.

There was one further discovery for Trigger. Stuffed in the wall he demolished, along with old newspapers, he found a 1957 British comic The Fourpenny One which he described as ‘very rare, in mint condition’.

‘My eyes lit up when I saw it,’ Trigger, told the Star.‘I just know it has to be worth a great deal of money, but I have no idea just how much. After all, you hear about old copies of Superman and Spiderman selling for thousands and thousands of pounds, so I really believe I’ve found treasure hidden in the wall.

‘I’ve put it up on eBay. Bit of a slow start so far, but now the word’s out there, I’m just waiting for those serious bids from collectors to come rolling in. I’m sure there’ll be an improvement on 10p.’

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

It was 1957 and eight-year old Dave Maudling was hoping for the best, even though he feared the worst. When he looked back on those formative Saturdays of his childhood, he didn’t recall them through a warm, nostalgic haze of sepia-coloured photography with a reassuring brass band playing. Neither did he remember them with endless rain spattering down on humble, gloomy, endless terraced streets as violins bitterly lamented life in the 1950s.

No, all he could ever remember was a white void, empty of meaning and of sound, with the newsagent’s shop floating menacingly in the centre of it.

Enticing him to enter. Demanding he entered.

Its window was crowded with magazines, jars and boxes of sweets, made-in-Hong Kong toys and home-made slogans all competing to catch his eye: “Authorised agent for biro pens and refills … Take home a family brick – delicious Neapolitan ice cream … Stop here for men’s magazines, biggest selection in East London. On sale to adults only.” He lingered for a moment, taking them all in, delaying the evil moment of entering the shop, but knowing he must; knowing, deep down, it really was best to get it over with.

Then he took a deep breath and went inside.

The doorbell jingled, betraying the boy’s presence, as he descended one step down into Hell. Hell took the form of a dingy, cramped, damp-smelling, dimly lit room; actually a living room converted into a shop.

He looked up in wonder at all the adult magazines attached to bulldog clips, suspended by strings from the ceiling, away from children’s eyes: Two-Pennorth, Thruppeny Bits, Wink!, Members Only, Birthday Suit and Casino for the Man About Town. Then, on the shelves below: Stately Piles, Kith and Kin, Forces Sweetheart, Slippers and Shawl, Pram and Oven, Sabrina, Tranny, and Twinset. All of the magazines had their own distinctive smells which combined with the confectionery and the damp to give the shop its unique, fusty, and not entirely unpleasant signature aroma.

He scanned the lowest comic shelf, looking past the bright, enticing logos of Basher, Scarper, Blimey!, Bazooka, Pinafore, Radio-Active, Goggle Box, Spunky and Homework, for the comic he was really after. The only comic that would do. The comic his playground peers insisted he must have if he wanted to be part of their in-crowd. Not to possess it would mean being cast out from the inner circle of five-stone players, flick-carders and marble shooters.

And then he saw it. Or rather he didn’t. There was a blank spacewhere his beloved comic should be.

His face dropped.

The silence in the shop was suddenly broken by a harsh voice that Dave recognised all too well. The voice of Mr Cooper the newsagent. ‘You stupid cow!’

A female voice cried out in pain.

The newsagent continued, ‘I’ve got a customer. I’ll deal with you later. I’ll come back and black the other one. You see if I don’t.’

There was a rustling sound from a beaded curtain that hid the back room from the shop and a man wearing a short brown jacket stepped through it.

He looked sourly down over the counter towards the boy with his severe short back and sides and lop-sided fringe, his face and feet barely projecting out of the raincoat he was still growing into, his woollen gloves dangling down from the cuffs by pieces of elastic.

Dave stared back up at him with Bambi-like eyes and a gap-toothed, nervous smile, silently appealing for mercy, not realising that this only whetted Mr Cooper’s appetite.

‘Ah, young Dave. What can I interest you in, young man?’

Dave couldn’t find the words to reply. He was paralysed with fear. To deaden his fear, he read the words on a box of Sherlock’s Liquorice Pipes. Silently repeating them over and over to himself. ‘He chews Sherlock’s. We choose Sherlock’s. Everyone chooses Sherlock’s pipes. They’re elementary. He chews Sherlock’s. We choose Sherlock’s…’

‘Caps for your cap gun? New spud gun? Ten Park Drive for your mum? Twenty Kensitas for your dad? Copy of Slapper for your sister?’ interrupted the newsagent, nodding in the direction of the magazines.

Slapper was Mr Cooper’s nickname for the glossy Sabrina magazine, aimed at girls who dreamt of becoming movie stars, and was a typical example of his rapier wit. He liked to comment on the publications his regulars purchased, and particularly enjoyed humiliating those brave enough to buy Birthday Suit, “The magazine for serious naturists”, and the only available photographic source of full-frontal, female nudity. He liked to warn purchasers of Birthday Suit they’d go blind or grow hair on the palms of their hands. He loved seeing them cringe with embarrassment.

But, out of all his customers, the one he enjoyed humiliating the most was young Dave.

Dave stopped his liquorice mantra and looked desperately again along the line of comics. Hoping against hope.

‘It’s not there.’ Mr Cooper produced a copy of The Fourpenny One from under the counter and held it between his heavily nicotine-stained fingers.

Dave felt a pang at the sight of his special comic with its bold red and yellow logo and that familiar huge fist smashing out through the ‘O’ in the ‘One’. It was all-action, it was fun, it mocked teachers, parents, park-keepers and other figures of authority, it was full of catch-phrases to be endlessly repeated in the playground.

‘I’ve kept it back for you special, see?’

Dave’s eyes lit up. He had no choice. He was under his comic’s spell. Summoning all his courage, he approached the counter, quietly repeating to himself, ‘He chews Sherlock’s. We choose Sherlock’s…’

‘It’s a free gift issue. You know what the free gift is?’ The newsagent enquired, looking knowingly at Dave who nodded apprehensively as he leaned forward to take his comic.

His tormentor slyly moved it just out of reach.

‘You know the routine,’ he smirked. He slid a ring off his finger in readiness and prepared his fist, clenching it in anticipation. Then, as Dave still said nothing, punched it impatiently into the palm of his other hand.

‘I’m waiting.’

For a moment, Dave was distracted by the lurid covers of the sweat mags for men on a spinner rack with endless battles between man and beast and titles like Man’s Man, Hard Man and Man Size. It was an image on the cover of Man Size that had caught his eye. A sadistic Nazi smiled as a crocodile was about to bite a tied-up, scantily-clad glamour girl, while a heroic American soldier fought his way to her rescue.

‘Step away from the spinner. I’ve told you before.’

Dave obeyed. But it had given him new courage. He knew what he had to do now. Like that square-jawed G.I. on the cover, like all the other Real Men snarling out at him from the spinner, facing overwhelming odds, facing certain death, showing him how to behave: he, too, must be a Hard Man, a Man’s Man.

‘Now come along, Davey. What is it you want?’

The boy’s resolve faltered again. He tried to say the words, but they just wouldn’t come.

‘A … F … F … F … F…’

‘What’s that …? “Fur … Fur …?” We don’t sell fur-furs here.’

Then, finally, he had the courage to say it.

‘Please, sir, I’d like a Fourpenny One.’

With a sadistic leer, the newsagent slammed his fist into Dave’s face.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

‘Aaagh!’

It was 1975 and Dave was sitting at his desk, struggling to eat a gobstopper.

He gingerly felt his face. ‘This is breaking my jaw. If it wasn’t free, I wouldn’t bother.’

Greg, his assistant editor, looked up from proof-reading some artwork pages and sneered.

Dave removed the gobstopper and returned the sneer. ‘I see you disapprove of my breakfast. But I haven’t had to pay for my breakfasts since 1973. The cost to my health has been heavy; but it’s a price I’m prepared to pay: nothing.’

He reached into a large box of assorted free sweets given away with comics since the 1950s.

‘So let’s see what else there is in the bilious buffet.’

He extracted a packet of sweet cigarettes with an illustration of a cruel-looking teacher in mortar board and gown on the front. A medal hung from his mortar board and a cigarette from his mouth as he wielded his cane.

Dave read the brand-name. ‘Caning Commando Sweet Cigarettes.’

There was a further caption on the side. ‘For Tomorrow’s Smokers’.

‘Did you know these are worse for you than the real thing, Greg?’

Greg didn’t bother to reply. ‘I approve of that,’ Dave added.

He rummaged further. ‘Black jacks… Flying saucers… Aniseed balls. Once you’ve sucked off the outer layer, they make lethal mothballs … Yo Ho Ho liquorice chewing tobacco… Kojak lolly. “Who hates you, readers?” I do. And I always will… Edible false teeth…’

Greg lit a Black Russian Sobranie cigarette and shook his head disdainfully, continuing to ignore Dave. The cigarette completed his Man in Black image, with his black hair, black polo neck, black cords and blue and black, patent leather platform shoes. Dave disapproved, but at least it was preferable to Greg’s other look: Billy Liar, complete with flying jacket and boots.

‘Bit queer,’ Dave commented on the Black Russian cigarette.

‘No.’ replied Greg. ‘I smoke them to annoy you.’

‘You succeeded. Now. Whatever you do, Greg, don’t lose this box,’ Dave continued. ‘You wouldn’t like to see me when I’m not on my fizzy pop.’ He found a blue papeer cylinder with a liquorice straw. ‘Ah! The choky sherbet given away with Gulp! It lasted just three months. Let’s drown our sorrows in sherbet.’ He sucked up the sherbet enthusiastically through the liquorice straw. ‘Mmm … the sweet nectar of failure.’

As promised on the label, he started choking, scattering sherbet down his Marks and Spencer white safari suit. As he dusted himself down, Greg finally smiled. ‘It’s those bloody things you’re smoking,’ scowled Dave and opened the window wide, letting the chilly Autumn air fill the office.

It was the suit Greg had recommended after Dave realised he needed to improve his image if he was to find himself a girlfriend, which he reluctantly thought he should. After all, he had been single for a long time. Forever. And he was an editor, even if it was only editor of The Spanker comic.

Greg had told him he’d look like Roger Moore’s James Bond in a safari suit.

‘You’ll look so cool. You’ll be the Editor With The Golden Pun,’ he assured Dave.

‘You really think so?’

‘Definitely. Especially with your Hai Karate aftershave.’

‘There’s an instruction booklet of karate self-defence moves with it, to help me fend off lustful women driven crazy by the scent. I haven’t been attacked so far.’

‘You will be in a safari suit. Trust me.’

And Dave had fallen for it. It was necessary to be slim and trim to wear a safari suit; Dave was neither, and Greg knew that, which is why he suggested it. The suit looked terrible on Dave, just as Greg hoped it would. Dave’s old fashioned, old man’s haircut didn’t help.

This gave Greg enormous pleasure and made the experience of being his assistant tolerable.

Dave was unaware of just how unflattering it was. Cost was his first priority. The safari suit wasn’t expensive and that’s what mattered. Not least because he was saving up for something far more important.

It is said that we fight our inner demons or surrender to them. Dave had hung out a white flag to his a long time ago. After his traumatic childhood, he liked to boast that he was possessed by more demons than the Gadarene swine.

These traumas were no minor ‘character-building’ misfortunes. There was his mother’s mysterious disappearance, Mr Cooper’s ‘games’ every Saturday morning, his father’s breakdowns, and more.

It was his demons who had built his character so that he had becomethe newsagent.

Or as near as possible, as the editor of The Spanker.

The Spanker had absorbed The Fourpenny One, the comic of Dave’s dreams and nightmares, some years before. Its name was still visible on the comic’s masthead in small type:

THE SPANKER and The Fourpenny One.

There were other similarities between Dave and Mr Cooper. Both were involved in publishing: one at the beginning, the other at the end of the process. Cooper’s hatred of his customers mirrored Dave’s hatred of his readers. Cooper’s sarcasm inspired Dave’s sarcasm. Dave played secret games on his readers that surpassed even Cooper’s games. History was repeating itself. All that was missing was the newsagent’s brown jacket and the nicotine-stained fingers. Dave preferred a liquorice pipe.

Fortified by the knowledge that he was the embodiment of Mr Cooper, the purveyor to kids of all things cheap and usually rather nasty, Dave turned to Greg. ‘Today’s literary challenge. Did you come up with a new name for our great free gift?’

Dave held up a piece of red plastic that crudely resembled a delta-winged aircraft. ‘This example of finest Hong Kong plastic.’

Greg consulted his notes as Dave prepared to fly the plane with an elastic band.

‘Super Stuka?’

Dave scowled. ‘Loada crapper,’ he responded. It was typical of Greg, he thought, to suggest a Nazi plane. Greg was obsessed with all things German.

‘Bionic Bomber?’

By way of response, Dave fired the plane directly at Greg. It flew across the large, high-ceilinged Edwardian room, Greg ducked and it crashed into the frosted-glass partition wall that separated them from the Spanker art department. ‘Watch it! You could take someone’s eye out with that thing,’ Greg protested.

‘Good,’ said Dave. He smiled evilly as he picked up the futuristic aircraft. ‘We’ll call it The Super Nuker: The Red Terror from the skies.’

Greg looked appalled. ‘What? You’ll be giving kids nightmares about nuclear annihilation.’

‘I live in hope. Although I personally look forward to nuclear annihilation. No, really. I do.

Sadly, The Spanker would survive it. I’m sorry to say it will survive a nuclear winter.’ Dave considered his comic’s future. ‘Although we might have to chisel it out on a rock. There’ll be two-headed readers queuing up for it. We’ll be able to sell the little bastards two copies at once.’

Greg sighed, ‘Why can’t we have decent free gifts like Angus, Angus and Angus’s comics? The Whirly Bee. Or The Thunder Cracker. I loved those as a kid. They were great.’

‘You didn’t rate our last free gift? A conker with detailed instructions and free string?’

Dave fired the Super Nuker at Greg again. It flew past him, through the open window, and landed on the flat roof extension outside.

Dave scowled and continued. ‘Our readers don’t deserve a free gift that actually gives them pleasure. It has to be shite. I did suggest they give away real shite. I would have been happy to have made a donation.’

He went to the window and climbed out.

‘There must be something more interesting we can give them?’ pondered Greg.

Dave looked back at him. ‘There is. Something they’ll find useful all their lives. A free P45. I’d like to sack the lot. They’ll get no reference from me.’

Dave made his way out along the roof.

Fleetpit Publications, who published The Spanker,were housed in an imposing six-storey former Edwardian hotel on Farringdon Street just off Fleet Street. Many of Britain’s popular culture magazines were produced here. Women’s magazines like Darling, Twinset, Mumsy for Today’s Young Mums and Heroine Chic. Teenage girls magazines. Comics. Specialist magazines from Stately Piles to Advanced Caravanning. Sexy magazines like Casino for the Man about Town. Household names. The publications that had once filled Mr Cooper’s shop.

The wind blew the Super Nuker further along the roof and Dave followed it. The Spankeroffice was located on the third floor at the back of Fleetpit House, looking down on an inner courtyard. Across the void, he could see the offices of the teenage magazines: My Gang with tartan scarves and feather boas hanging up in the window; Hot Pants with a poster of Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors; Get It On! with a dreamy image of Gilbert O’Sullivan.

He glanced up to the sixth floor attic rooms. They were used mainly for storage and were unoccupied, except for Dave, who had been furtively living there for some months in the turreted tower at the very top of the building. He was content to see there was no sign of activity, so his secret was still safe.

He continued his rooftop stroll. He felt no sense of embarrassment at being out there, staring into everyone’s offices. Nothing ever fazed him, he was used to spying on people and to getting away with eccentric behaviour.

Nothing except…

From an office on the second floor below, he heard a long, whinnying, bleating laugh, instantly depressing, like the whine of a soul in eternal torment, and he trembled.

There it was again. It was hideous. Like the endless, monotonous drone of a buzz saw. It made him felt sick to the pit of his stomach and he had to steady himself against the wall and take deep breaths.

The hellish sound came from the editor of Laarf!, the most unfunny comic ever created. It filled Dave with dread, because, whenever he screwed up on the The Spanker, which was often, he was threatened with a six-month sentence on Laarf!

Sweating and shuddering at the thought, he carried on. He headed past Pinafore, edited by the tweedy, forty-something Bridget Paris. It was a rather dated, ‘nice’ comic, the kind parents and teachers approved of. A cigarette dangling from her mouth, she seemed utterly bored by the comic proofs she was checking and was oblivious to him passing by her window and leering in at her. He always felt there was something familiar about Bridget. He was sure he had seen somewhere before, but just couldn’t work out where.

Beyond Pinafore was the top-selling, not-so-nice Shandy, edited by Glaswegian Joy Glass. The Super Nuker had now completed its bombing run and landed outside her window. Picking it up, he casually glanced into her office.

Joy was in her underwear, trying on clothes. Her light-fingered friend Sofia, who worked at the legendary Biba’s,had ‘liberated’ some stock in August, just before Dorothy Perkins pulled the plug on the ailing store. Joy had bought three outfits from her at bargain prices: A gingham shirt and matching waistcoat and skirt. A pink, satin-weave, cotton trouser-suit. Cotton dungarees with a yellow and black Art Deco pattern, reminiscent of the Biba logo.

Unaware she was being watched, the striking twenty-four-year old tried on the pink trouser-suit. It fitted her perfectly. She imagined herself in a Nova fashion spread – the famous women’s magazine that had more male than female readers. That would show Daddy. She knew her Australian father wrote for Nova sometimes – alongside Graham Greene, Lynda Lee-Potter and Christopher Booker – giving readers his legendary, eye-witness accounts of wars in far-flung corners of the globe. She imagined the awed expression on his handsome, tanned, chiselled face as he saw his daughter staring out from its pages as he sipped his Pimms in the Long Bar inRaffles Hotel, Singapore. She had made it on her own.

Then she recalled Nova had just folded. Like Biba.

And all the time she dressed and undressed, Dave watched through the window, open-mouthed, slack-jawed, unable to avert his eyes from the object of his desire. His loins were stirred as never before. Joy was so intent on trying on her bargain-price purchases, she was unaware that she was giving Dave a long and intimate private floorshow. She pouted and posed in a mirror, imagining the effect on Greg, her current boyfriend, who seemed to have lost interest in her recently.

‘This should light your fire,’ she teased her lover in the mirror, her man in black, who was actually better looking than the Cadbury’s Milk Tray man in black. Greg could swing across the rooftops for her, anytime. She imagined him landing cat-like on the roof, deftly opening the window and entering her bedroom, and … Lost in her fantasy, she stepped out of her dungarees and turned seductively towards the window, running her fingers through his luxuriant, stylish black mane, murmuring, ‘Take me now.’

And there, indeed, on the other side of the glass, was a man staring in at her. Dave.

Her expression quickly changed to shock and fury and it was no-good Dave lamely pointing to his Super Nuker to explain why he was spying on her. His glazed expression and open, drooling mouth told her otherwise. In vain he covered his eyes, pretending he couldn’t see her in her underwear.

Then he shook his head, miming the words ‘No. No. You’ve got it wrong. It’s not you I’m interested in! No! Not you!’ and desperately pointed to something else in her office. The real focus of his lust. But she shook her fist, angrily pulled down the blind, and in a moment it was lost from view.

His fantasy was hanging from a coat hook within. Sexy, slinky, grey and white, with a generous, warm, soft, inviting collar. It was everything he had always wanted. Everything he had ever desired.

Joy’s vintage Arctic fox fur.

 

You can read the more – the first seven chapters – on request via Pat’s Millsverse website here, and you can buy the electronic book on a number of platforms here or the limited run print book by contacting Gosh! Comics.

Check out also our casual interview with Pat at 2016’s London Book Fair, A Coffee with Pat Mills on Carabas here!

 

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The 1970s.

A dangerous time for kids. An even more dangerous time for the adults who wrong them.

Meet comic book editor Dave Maudling, the world’s laziest and most cowardly serial killer. Actually, he’s never killed anyone himself – yet.

Dave has been putting lethal information into his stories, hoping they will result in an early demise for his readers. But something unexpected and wonderful happens: the kids instead use the homicidal details that Dave provides to target their oppressors: abusive adults who believe they are above the law.

Meet Jean, Dave’s femme fatale mother.

She’s glamorous.

She’s dangerous.

She’s dead.

And she wants him to solve her murder.

It’s a lot of pressure to be under for a liquorice-pipe-chewing, failure-embracing man-child with a strange obsession with fur. Being blackmailed by a monster from his own childhood doesn’t help, either.

But curiously, despite casting himself as Villain in his life story, Dave is actually becoming something of a Hero.

Dave works round the corner from Fleet Street, at Fleetpit Publications, publishers of Britain’s most popular magazines. Working with him is girls’ comic editor Joy, a beautiful but foul-mouthed Glaswegian who doesn’t take any crap and is heroically pursuing her ambition to subvert the world of comics publishing. And fantasist Greg, Dave’s assistant editor, who likes to dress as his movie hero of the day and is only sleeping with Joy because he thinks her famous dad will help him get his novel published.

From Pat Mills, creator of 2000AD, featuring Judge Dredd, and Kevin O’Neill, award-winning artist-creator of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, comes a story of revenge for a lost childhood, of flawed and eccentric characters, strange passions and arrested development.

If you enjoy savagely funny novels such as Catch-22, The Life And Loves Of A She Devil and High Fidelity, you’ll love Serial Killer!

Serial Killer is the first book in a series of four novels about Dave Maudling and contains serious cliffhangers!

B - Jan 17 - Serial Killer

 

 

 

Gig Review: BILL BOTTING AND THE TWO DRINK MINIMUMS, EXPERT ALTERATIONS and THE JUST JOANS @ The Lexington Kings Cross – 06/01/2017

Just Joans 1 Mark K’s been busy of late but he clearly felt he had to give a proper shout to some cracking bands after their Winter Sprinter gig at the Lexington. Check it and them all out below…

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Tonight marks the final Winter Sprinter to be promoted by the Fortuna Pop label, this being the case because founder Sean Price has called time on the label after “20,200 releases, a mountain of debt, and very little sleep.” As a result the evening has a bit of a valedictory feel, with all of the acts performing thanking Sean Price for his efforts.

Luckily this feeling doesn’t extend to the music, and certainly not to that of Bill Botting and the Two Drink Minimums. Bill was the bass player for the already lamented (they only played their farewell gig in December) ‘Allo Darlin’, but that’s where the similarities between the two bands end. Read the rest of this entry »

A Chat with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC Part 2: On DMC the Comic, Commercialism and Creator Responsibility

DMC #1 Part 2 of this interview with Darryl McDaniels. If you haven’t already you can read Part 1 here; link to Part 3 at the end of this page.
So DMC the comic.
What I knew already was that it’s set in an alternate 1985, the difference being that superheroes and supervillains are real and, in the tradition of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, seem to be rough analogues of those Marvel / DC characters you know and love. The difference to those universes is that while the villains are actually villainous, more than a few of the ‘good guys’ are pretty shady as well. Enter alternate Darryl McDaniels, teacher and stand-up superhero on the street.
So how did it come about? Well it’s kind of refreshing to hear, genuine comic fan as he was and is, that it really hadn’t been Darryl’s intention.

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February 2017 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends
B - Feb 17 - Norse Mythology
B - Feb 17 - Anno Dracula 1899
N - Feb 17 - Thrill Power Overload updated
B - Feb 17 - A Conjuring of Light
G - Feb 17 - Haddon Hall

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for February.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

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A Chat with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC Part 1: On the many meanings of DMC, Hip Hop, and the appeal of Marvel Comics…

Darryl McDaniels by shoutoutny (Instagram) At about the time I launched this site Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC was making his entrance into the world of comics and, given the idea for Carabas was to cover music and comics along with other aspects of alternative culture, I kept a special eye out for what was happening with Darryl’s DMC. In November Darryl was over promoting his memoir Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide along with his comic work and I dropped by to his signing at Forbidden Planet. The next afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting him for a casual interview at The Grosvenor, on his comic, his music, depression, his charitable work and much more besides. DMC #1

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Here’s that very interview in three parts.

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Protected: FUTURE SHOCK: 40 YEARS OF 2000 A.D. – Cartoon Museum Exhibition, 25th January – 23 April 2017

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Preview & Review: SCOTLAND YARDIE by Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels!

cg-jan-scotland-yardie Plenty of sites review books and graphic novels. When I created Carabas I wanted to do something wider, using a few decades of industry experience to intuit upcoming best reads and preview them as recommends. I was waiting for something a little special before writing my first personal review.
On just seeing the title ‘Scotland Yardie’ coming from veteran indie graphic novel publisher Knockabout I was grinning my backside off, then again perusing the summary. Carabas is much inspired by Deadline, a 90s counterculture music and comics magazine: discovering Scotland Yardie debuted in Bobby Samuel’s contemporaneous Skank magazine, I was sure, for numerous reasons, I’d found that particular title I was after.
Now just published, here are some preview pages courtesy of Knockabout and the creators, preceded by my first personal review as to why you should be parting with your retail or personal budget and grabbing yourself a stash of Scotland Yardie… As ever, enjoy!

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January 2017 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends
b-jan-17-lord-of-the-darkwood
N - Feb 17 - Pressionism
n-jan-17-studying-hammer-horror
cg-jan-scotland-yardie

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Happy New Year everyone!

If there was one thing 2016 was good for it was the publishing; but 2017 doesn’t miss a beat in supplying the same so here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for it’s first month. We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release & Preview: Fighting Fantasy’s Freeway Fighter comes to Titan Comics!

ca-freeway-fighter-original We just had to shout about this the moment the news came in – especially as we’ve got interior art to share! Well we loved the old Fighting Fantasy Books back in the day, and of course are entirely pleased that Wizard / Icon Books returned them to print. But a story with original creator, the legendary Ian Livingstone from the fab Titan Comics? Stop everything, hold onto your Mad Max, hit the nox and get shouting! Full press release, preview pages and Youtube video below… ca-freeway-fighter-wizard-books

 

From Titan Comics:

 

TITAN COMICS TAKES FREEWAY FIGHTER OUT FOR A SPIN TO CELEBRATE 35 YEARS OF FIGHTING FANTASY!

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Extraordinary London Books in 2016!

Extraordinary London Books Jan-Jun 16 Just what is it about London? The number of people? A history so rich it becomes a mythos also? That it’s the capital? Well all of the above and more – including the fact they say ‘write what you know’ and there’s more than a few writing types in the Big Smoke.
Somewhere between highlights and exhaustive compilation, here’s our compilation of extraordinary London titles: fantastical and speculative, the cultural, subcultural and political, historical and mythological, steampunk and urban fantasy, the mercurial and the liminal… Title copy is the publishers; just click the hyperlink in the month field to see what we had to say on the title and other (non-London) titles published that month.
Here’s to the Big City – Enjoy!

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Progressive and Socially-Minded Books publishing Jul-Dec 2016!

Social & Progressive Jan-Jun 16 So Carabas is here to champion ‘all the good stuff’: imaginative, fantastical and cult fiction and film, alternative music, comics and graphic novels across genres, worthy non-fiction of and around the same – especially those books which provide an insight into the social concerns of today. This page is for readers and retailers to discover great titles that challenge perspectives and raise awareness they may wish to buy or stock and sell.

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We believe in supporting bricks-and-mortar and you’ll find book links to a preferred chain (rather than a certain global online retailer) on other pages but all links here go to the title on Hive. Hive supports independent bookshops by enabling customers to order online with some great offers to match more corporate suppliers and nominate their local independent to receive a cut of the sale value or pick it up from them.

CP - Hive So please find our round-up of socially minded and progressive non-fiction, and fiction in prose and graphic novel form, from July to December 2016 below (Jan-Jun 2016 titles can be found here). If you’re a customer please support independents (especially if they’ve been good enough to tweet / RT us) by purchasing direct from them or choosing them on Hive – we get a small percentage of the latter which will help pay site costs and keep us going. Carabas - Logo

Cheers for reading and hope you enjoy!

Tim B

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