The Sandman Universe: Review of the First Volumes…

When Karen Berger was building DC’s mature readers imprint that would become Vertigo, amongst the first titles – and surely the flagship – was Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Gaiman contributed other works including the stunning Books of Magic limited series which similarly played with and within the magical realms of the DC universe and of world mythology. Hitting its 30th anniversary – and with a Netflix series in development – Vertigo have brought back The Sandman as a ‘Universe’ curated by Neil, with four books and teams establishing the line: The Dreaming, Lucifer, The Books of Magic, and House of Whispers.


The first collections are now available – each beginning with the collaborative Sandman special written between Gaiman and the series’ writers – but what are they like?
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I Hate Fairyland by Skottie Young: Preview!

CG - Im - Apr - I Hate Fairyland Filled with such things as Giggle Giants, zombie fauns (wait for the pun to hit) and fabulous renditions of trees, moons and stars with faces, and with consistent overdubbed foul-mouthedness, Skottie Young’s I HATE FAIRYLAND is, as Neil Gaiman put it “A candy-coloured and vicious delight” for all ages (“and always dangerously funny” Neil adds).
It hit the stands in April but that’s no reason for us not to shout out about it now we’ve read: here’s our preview of the Image collection to whet your appetite!


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Vertigo Graphic Novels – Publishing Jul-Dec 15! *** Updated ***

CPP - Vertigo Logo
Here’s a look at the Graphic Novels Vertigo have coming for you over the period July to December 2015! For conciseness reissues & deluxes etc are listed at the bottom. We’ll be bringing you our particular recommends of all publishers together shortly by month of publication.
Note: Publication dates were correct at time of first writing but are liable to change

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Miracleman by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham: Preview!

Miracleman 1 Main How Miracleman came to land at Marvel is a story unto itself (a little on that here) but it’s a big deal, no less the material finally seeing the light of day from Messr’s Gaiman, Buckingham and D’Israeli. And #1 of Miracleman: The Golden Age is, of time of writing, about to be published!
Read on for the press release from Marvel and see below our preview of the opening sequence and more including variant cover art; we might add that variant covers are something we normally leave for the specialist sites but, again, this is just something a bit special…

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Titan Books – Publishing Jul-Dec 15!

CPP - Titan Square Here’s an (edited) look at what Titan Books have coming for you over the period July to December 2015! We’ll be bringing you our particular recommends of all publishers together by month of publication. Note: Publication dates are liable to change and some jackets are still to come…
*** Publisher Page – link / profile ***
*** See Other Publishers Jul-Dec 15 ***

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July 2015 Carabas New Book Recommends

Carabas - New Book Recommends CB - Or - Jul - Tracer CBP - Jun - Three Moments of an Explosion CB - AR - Jul - Time Salvager Haig Nov - Foxglove Summer


Having just worked through the next 6 months of fantastical output we’re finding it as hard as ever to restrain our top picks; just so much great stuff! But there really is something about July this year where we’ve straightforwardly had to say ‘whatever – all this must go in’… And these aren’t even the end of the story – check out the individual Publisher articles for their July to December output as they come: plenty more on those as well!

It’s just a great month of books.

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Creator Profile: Mike Carey

558px-10.10.10MikeCareyByLuigiNovi1 – Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Mike Carey’s Goodreads page
On Wikipedia
On Comic Book DB (Database)
(Photo by Luigi Novi)


CBP Clarke Award - The Girl with all the Gifts Many will now know Mike – or M.R. – Carey from the recent and massive success of the award-nominated The Girl with all the Gifts, already to become a film adapted by the author himself and starring Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine. But he’s been around a lot longer than this, authoring fantastical prose and comics in the horror / dark fantasy genres for decades… CGP - PC - Lucifer V1

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March 2015 Carabas New Book Recommends

Carabas - New Book Recommends CBP - The Boy who lost Fairyland 9780575134430 CBP Mar - The Dying of the Light CBP - Sword of the North CBP - unwrapped-sky-978144725236801


Another month of amazing books coming up (days away as of time of writing) with a mix of debuts and eagerly awaited follow-ups and conclusions whether as first edition hardbacks and trades, ‘new in paperback’, or straight into mass market PB. This is our shortlist of the great titles coming and, as ever, our pick of the month is a tough call; but similarly something we just thought deserved a good shout out about. This time it’s neither London set or authored, but a writer getting touted by such names as a certain Mr G.R.R. Martin, and of the steampunk genre to boot.

But it’s another incredible month of the fantastical and speculative, so read on and see what delights await in March!

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February 2015 Carabas New Book Recommends

Carabas - New Book Recommends CBP - Iron Ghost CBP - The Death House Feb - isbn9781444794526-detail CBP - Trigger Warning 9780575083462

(Condensed intro – read in full HERE)

It’s a real A-List zone in February – hard to get down to something approaching a concise shortlist of recommended titles, and selecting a Book of the Month is more or less impossible…

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Titan Books – Publishing Jan-Jun 15!

CPP - Titan Square Here’s an (edited) look at what Titan Books have coming for you over the period January to June 2015! We’ll be bringing you our particular recommends of all publishers together by month of publication. Note: Publication dates are liable to change and some jackets are still to come…
*** Publisher Page – link / profile ***
*** See Other Publishers Jan-Jun 15 ***

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October 2014 Carabas’ New Book Recommends

As Christmas approaches publishers roll out their big (plasma / rail / laser / insert choice of fantasy equivalent) guns and, like September we’re spoiled for choice! Big names, big books and big ideas: all really top titles for the season so, to make sure you don’t miss out on anything, you’ll have to read through to discover our personal TOP PICK.

But go forth with the Christmas spirit and buy for a friend – then read and keep it for yourself! Humbug to the lot of you!

😉 – Tim Read the rest of this entry »

The Sleeper and the Spindle – Oct 14 Recommend

For more books published in October 2014 click here for our full recommends for this month.

Title Author ISBN Fmt RRP Pub. Series Vol.
Oct - The Sleeper & the Spindle The Sleeper and the Spindle Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell 9781408859643 HB 10.99 Bloomsbury N/A N/A
A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.
Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.


The Greatest Creations of Fantastical Fiction Part 2

(In which we look at warrior bears, the most secret of secret bases, a wizard that makes Gandalf look like a lightweight, an anthropomorphized aspect of nightmare, and quite possibly the most awesome adversaries of all time…)

If you haven’t already you can read Part 1 here.


Panserbjorn – Armoured Bears

Type: Race * From: His Dark Materials * Creator: Philip Pullman

The notion of armoured bears is probably enough to warrant inclusion in its own right, but what Philip Pullman does with his creation ensures they’re in without question.

So you’ve created an alternate world which you can populate with exciting creations. No holds barred. Anything goes as long as it’s cool. Anthropomorphised animals were hardly new of course: the Ninja Turtles were well established in the public consciousness by then, and talking animals of varying degrees of humanization are a staple of stories for younger children. But it had never been done like this.

This was a fantastical world that was inherently linked to our own, an alternate reality where physical evolution took non-hominid species on their own journey to consciousness (evolution and consciousness being essential themes of the series), bipedal locomotion, and manual dexterity. Anyway, thematic rationale in place, Pullman goes to town on it. Panserbjorn

Bears – warrior bears. Sounds good. Bears have claws and teeth and are damn strong – but these guys ought to have something more. Okay so they have their own craft expertise, that of metalwork. So let’s give them armour.

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Comics Round-up: The Big Two, now and October…

Comics are big business and, since the acquisitions of Marvel and DC by Disney and Warner Bros if not before, we’ve been deluged with story events and other strategies to get us to part with our hard-earned cash. Sure, many of us have experienced ‘event fatigue’ but that hasn’t stopped the majority buying, so that’s what the Big Two are continuing to do. And characters are brands and both are doing all the brand-building and product diversification they can, especially now with major film properties and their sequels coming out (there are now no less than 7 Avengers titles, and that’s not counting the series of their solo characters).

So where are we at the moment and what’s coming later, circa October 2014?

Marvel Now Right now Jason Aaron’s Original Sin, Marvel’s current event, is in full swing. This is a choice of writer and story that actually avoids the feelings of malaise of endless events by virtue of quirkiness. It’s a cosmic murder mystery, the deceased being the alien Watcher, best known for breaking his oath of non-interference with the coming of the world-devouring Galactus. But the Watcher’s secrets have psychically leaked into the minds of heroes, stirring animosity in their ranks.

Oh and while the Punisher and Doctor Strange (of all combinations) are trying to work out whodunit, others are running around with the dead Watcher’s eyes for whatever power they might bequeath!

It’s also Marvel’s 75th Anniversary (well from its origins as Timely anyway, so we can expect another one in twenty-odd years) so there are various specials and posters coming through to celebrate, including one-shot imaginings of what their key characters might be like on their 100th (on the latter score the recent Kingpin-Venom Spider-Man issue was inspired!)

Marvel 75th Anniversary Spider-Man 100th Anniversary

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The Greatest Creations of Fantastical Fiction Part 1

(In which we talk of Gentlemen, Mandalorian combat fashion, Otherworldly maternal figures, far-future deities, and the young lady you get to meet at the end…)

The tinterwebs are full of Top 10’s, 20’s, and more of spaceships, weapons, monsters, and guys good and bad – this isn’t one of those – and it’s not ‘as voted for’ either. Neither is this best film, book, TV series.

This is about those individual things that make you stand up and go: ‘What the…’, ‘No way,’ and ‘Hell yes!’ all at the same time; that leap out from page or screen, that could have made another book or film all the greater were it to have debuted in there instead.

It’s like refined imagination and, for the aspiring creator, bottled inspiration where the inherent genius blasts aside the erstwhile jealousy that you didn’t come up with the idea yourself. Instead you can stare at it in wonder with everyone else (and perhaps try and work out what makes it tick and whether there’s any way of back-engineering the damn thing).

So here it is, in posts of five and in no particular order: the obvious and the famous with the overlooked and tucked away, conveyances spatial and dimensional, offences exotic and inevitable, heroes, villains, and in abundance (perhaps tellingly) antiheroes, and beasties, McGuffins, and all the rest.

Agree or disagree – and as much as I’ve tried to maintain an objective mindset opinion plays a part (totally correct opinion of course!) – but feel free to send thoughts on these and the omissions you perceive as we run through.

Here’s to the sublime: to the mind-blowing, the gob-smacking and the jaw-dropping (and sometimes the pants-wetting) – to The Greatest Creations in Fantastical Fiction.


The Gentlemen

Type: Antagonist * From: Buffy The Vampire Slayer * Creator: Joss Whedon

After Buffy had hit the big time, with particular acclaim quite rightly been paid to the dialogue, Joss Whedon did what the greats do: write an episode empty of speech. What emerged was one of the greatest episodes of any series – Hush – and one of the greatest supernatural antagonists of all time.

The Gentlemen There’s no one thing that makes these ghoulish fae creatures so gorgeously freakish: it’s an ensemble grotesquery. The hairless, bone-taut, paste-white skin is just the beginning. Their teeth, though with metallic glints, are essentially human – it’s that rictus grin that does it. That combined with eyes that are almost obscene are terrifying enough, forming a permanent expression of sickening glee at their intent which is nothing less than butchery; they’re going to cut out your heart.

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An Introduction to Carabas: Not Geek – Just Awesome

The late 80’s (Basically 1988):

The legend that was and that became, Alan Moore, creates Watchmen. The legend that became Neil Gaiman launches The Sandman. With Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Animal Man, and Shade, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer alongside, DC shake the comic-reading world with their ground-breaking mature readers line which became the Vertigo imprint in the early 90’s.

Vertigo - Montage Peter David was redefining what could be achieved in mainstream comics while British post-punk counterculture magazine Deadline launched bringing – amongst others – Hewlett and Martin’s anarchic drug-fueled stream-of-consciousness Tank Girl strip to the game. Tank Girl

Much beloved and sadly missed writer Iain (M) Banks had Consider Phlebas – the first of his mind-blowing Culture series – under his belt along with Read the rest of this entry »