San Futuro Chronicles

Comics, where shall I start this time ? Best news of the past couple of weeks (hmmm… TC “production delays” seem to have extended this to couple of months!) has been the final re-release of The Crow, meaning that you can get it reasonably cheaply, and that J. O’Barr gets to finish it off. The first two books reprinted the original four Caliber issues, and the third (a 64 page single issue entitled Death) will complete this tale of love stronger than death. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s your chance, if you have read it, then wait a few months and you’ll finally get the conclusion.

Continuing on the conclusion front, Hard Boiled issue three has arrived and is a suitably down-beat ending to a marvellous series: the art’s still stunning; the stories nicely dystopian; all in all it remains highly recommended. The Griffin has finished too, issue six tying up the loose ends in a pleasant easy style. Not all that much new about it I suppose, but it is very nicely done. And the final final issue here is issue 12 of Metropol, in which the good guys are finally gathered and an assortment of loose ends are left to pave the way for Metropol AD, coming in autumn… I guess you can also expect a collected Metropol around then.

Beyond this, all seems steady on the comics front… the most looked forward to titles for me at the moment are: Hellblazer; Sandman; Akira; Dark Horse Presents (particularly for Frank Miller’s Sin City, Matt Wager’s The Aerialist, and the Rick Veitch weirdness, but always enjoyable nonetheless); Yummy Fur; Shade; Cry For Dawn; and Legends Of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, LOTDK is now reaching the “buy it if the particular story-line is up to it” stage, early on it managed to always be worth a look, but the Destroyer cross-over series killed that run of. All in all, it’s oldies-but-goodies I guess. Akira has the lowest issue count of the above (if I use a spot of artistic licence and forget Yummy Fur which has never really a regular production), but with only about four or so of the 34 issues coming out last year, it’s still the titles of three or four years ago that are listed. Sad, innit ?

That’s pretty much it. It’s sad but true, I’m finding it tough to find new comics I like. There’s hope for Hard Looks (a new series of Andrew Vachss short stories that’s due out from Dark Horse but not yet spotted, even after TC production delays…), but we’ll have to wait and see. As things stand, this could be the last comics waffle for a while, either that or the old stuff gets dragged out for review yet again!

Lately I’ve topped up the back-catalogue with handy graphic-novel sized collections of titles such as V for Vendetta and Elektra Assassin. They’re much better for reading on buses/trains/tubes than handfuls of individual issues… plus, of course, it’s damn good stuff anyway.

It’s happened again… once I decide that nothing sooper is around, other bits start grabbing my attention. Recent manga sightings are Sanctuary and Crying Freeman vol. 4 both of which: come appropriately recommended; deal with modern day organized crime in Japan and have art by Ryoichi Ikegami. There are also graphic novel collections of Freeman volumes 1 & 2, which do a good job of setting the story and avoid those annoying month+ delays between issues. Another recent addition is A1 book 6 (the final one, and probably the cheapest at £2.95) which ties things up in the style A1 readers will have become accustomed to… i.e by announcing a final-final issue, to be known as A1-6B, The Zirk Low-Brow Woo-Woo Special. This will feature (& I quote!) B.E.M.s, Babes, Boobs ‘n’ Bombs, Bullets, Buttfucks ‘n’ Bastards… need I say more!

Serious mood-swing alert…

Just when I thought that comics were entering a seriously boring phase, our friendly Customs & Excise come along and decide they’re still too much for their half-assed definition of obscene. This is a 2.5 cans of Stella rant [later edited at 3.5 cans!], but is straight from a pissed off heart. A readers copies of Sandman 33 and Hellblazer 48 were seized by HM Customs as they contained (genuine quote!!) “…some scenes of violence and mutilation…”. Unlike (available at a video shop near you!) Silence Of The you-know-whats [I’m afraid to mention the full name in case I get branded a subversive and strip-searched every time I go through Customs from now on].

In fact, those particular issues weren’t even all that heavy really. Issue 48 of Hellblazer had some bastards getting their come-uppance for burning an old dear to death in 47, and Sandman 33 has (as it’s “mutilation” scene…) a demonic chap opening himself up to let some crows out… so they’re not very nice crows, but so what – that’s part of why Sandman prefers mature readers. Guess I’ve been completely corrupted by them. Somehow the gothic horror of Sandman & Hellblazer don’t seem any more horrific than the excesses of the press and all the other brown-tonguing lackeys. No wonder UK life seems such a pisser when you can’t even read mature material.

Intriguingly, I Want To Be Your Dog was judged as being worthy of “…reservations about the content”, but not obscene, and hence, theoretically, importable. This is not a mainstream title. This is a title from Eros comics, who had most of Butterscotch kept out of the country, and very few companies risking trying to bring anything else in. Maybe a further quote will help to show why the risks of importing “interesting ” titles are so panic-inducing for the importers…

“The package also contained a further two comics which, although not considered to be of themselves obscene, are still liable to forfeiture under the provisions of Section 14(1)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, having been mixed, packed or found with goods liable to forfeiture.”

So, basically, get one dodgy comic sent across with a couple of thousand X-Men issues, and risk losing the lot. Would you think it was worth the risk, or would you let yourself be suppressed ?

Okay, so the titles were allowed in eventually (apart from the obscene ones from DC, corrupt underground publishers that they are!) but still, the necessity of law suits to import comics that have been bought, by myself, from such establishment esteemed places as the Virgin megastore on Oxford Street [okay, so it’s a real comic-shop with a franchise there, but it still looks & feels like you’re shopping at Virgin] is genuinely ludicrous.

Please HMC & E, show some sense. Comics are not a medium for children. They are a medium, no better or worse than any other. Don’t take episodes from the middle of story-lines (both the above were the second issues of their respective tales) and damn the carrier as obscene. Although I realise that this is a huge amount to ask, think of more than just a line that you see, try and finds the context for any content. Even better, find a full life that makes you realize just how much good fiction there is that your narrow minds currently reject. Roll on 1993, and a Europe unified against petty bureaucracy… so we can hope.