Beyond the realms of superheroes and supervillains, comics contain many interesting corners. Providing more adult entertainment, sex often plays a role (although, it must be admitted, it also plays a role in some of the less mature “for mature readers” titles)… and a very pleasant one at that.Personally, I find two things can make sex in comics particularly interesting to me: the at and the characters involved.
Art-wise, the (Continental) Europeans seem to win hands down – the British & the Americans are seemingly too set in the D.C./Marvel/D.C. Thompson school(s) of comic-art to allow truly beautiful pen & ink work (like that of Milo Manara or Guido Crepax) into their titles, then again, maybe it’s the content that we & the Americans find difficult to cope with… look in any comic shop (or even any newsagent) and you’ll find plenty of violent/funny comic titles there, but the nearest you’ll find to sex & comics is the odd strip in a top-shelf mag.
In fact, in general the chance of the British readers out there finding many of the titles reviewed below (even in specialist comic shops) are minimal.
Yes… last year wasn’t just a year for clampdowns on videos, the comics shops got hit too. Comics were seized in police raids on places like Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham & Fantasy Inn in London – and this was on top of shipments of comics being seized by H.M. Customs. Unfortunately, seizure by H.M.C.6, E. has a nasty side-effect – if one “obscene” comic is spotted in a shipment, the whole shipment gets seized and no retailer wants to end up lumbered with 200 copies of last months “X-Men” six-months++ down the line when they finally release them back to the importers… hence the importers got scared and all the extremely-pleasant-but-vaguely-dodgy titles disappeared from the shelves. Another worrying fact is that Customs seem to catch the “liberal” titles but allow bigoted crap out freely. How come comics in sealed bags on the top-shelf in a shop are judged as being “freely available to minors” – it’s embarrassing enough reaching for the top-shelf at 24, never mind the added problem of “What-if-they-don’t-believe-I’m-old-enough-to-buy-it”. Anyway, enough idle waffle on the desperate state of our “liberal”, “democratic” country and back to the idle waffle on Sex & Comics…
Character-wise, I probably find Anglo-American comics better – whether this has to do with cultural background I dunno. Best of the lot for characters are Love & Rockets (where sex features regularly, but is definitely not the staple content) and Omaha the Cat Dancer (where sex occurs every half dozen pages or so, and the characters are all cute animals with reasonably human bodies).
As far as I’ve seen, the main Serpieri stuff about is Morbus Gravis – a fun tale set in your average post-holocaust world with a plague turning folks into mutants. Asa sucker for “the world’s going down the drain & look where it might end” plots, that’s great by me, but the main attraction of this particular tale is it’s star – Druuna. Druuna is beautiful continental (i.e. French/Spanish style European) nymphette in an ugly run-down world. I like Morbus Gravis a lot, but wish that the remaining parts of Druuna’s tale would appear over here in an understandable form. Morbus Gravis I is out as a Catalan Communications paper-back; book two is available as a French hardback book or in the Spring 1988 issue of Heavy Metal; book three is meant to be out on the continent, but no sign yet in the UK. However, a French hardback Serpieri sketchbook entitled OBSESSION –
A is recherche de Druuna was published last November and was in Forbidden Planet (London) for 4.95. Its full of gorgeous (if a mite sexist) pictures of Druuna and this is currently making the wait for book III bearable. The only other Serpieri I’ve seen was in the Summer 1988 Heavy Metal: a pen & ink tale of weirdness in the Wild West; another Druuna tale also featured in that issue, by Sicomoro it shows what happened to Druuna after Morbus Gravis… no sex in either of those bits though.
As far as I’ve seen, Crepax’s specialty is pen & ink work which is incredibly detailed (taken to the individual pubic hair level!!). His women are very much the “Vogue model” type (tall, thin, not overly well endowed up-top), and are most definitely sexually liberated… In 1965 in the Italian comic “Linus”, Crepax started one of the first erotic series in comics – Valentina. Unfortunately, there isn’t much sign at all of this work being available in this country beyond the Fall 1988 issue of Heavy Metal (which features a Valentina Rediscovered tale giving no Valentina 23 years on).
Similarly, the Crepax adaptations of erotic literature (such as tales by De Sade & “The Story Of O” seem to be basically unavailable to the British reader. In fact, all that I’ve seen around is Emmanuelle 1 (published in New York on the Eurotica imprint, after being turned down by some 30 other US printers!!) which gives us an adaptation of the original Emmanuelle book (or at least the first part of it). In here, we have sex on planes, shower scenes, female masturbation, assorted sexual positions, tennis matches followed by sweaty lesbian lust, weirdly symbolic pictures of Emmanuelle entwined with snakes & other wildlife and assorted piccies of Concorde looking particularly thrusting.
As I mentioned above, Manara’s art is beautiful. His stories are generally fairly laid back affairs, bits of action to keep the scene changing, but the main purpose of the tale is purely to tie in the artwork. Most of the available stuff is in Catalan paperbacks – but here & there, copies of Butterscotch in “proper” comic format have been spotted (published by Eros comics).
The “available” Manara that I’ve spotted is:
This is most definitely a sex comic. A scientist invents a cream that allows him to become invisible… unfortunately it leaves a tell-tale smell of butterscotch in the air. Our heroine, “Honey”, finds his in the room of Beatrice D’Altavilla, a prima ballerina and a complete bitch. Not being able to have his clothes invisible, “Butterscotch” is nude & Honey soon gets his “sitting up & barking” (accidentally of course). Scenes follow of Honey trying to convince Bea of Butterscotch’s existence… culminating in the marvellous sight of the invisible man getting a blow-job. And there ends the first of the comic-books.
The Adventures of Guiseppe Bergman (Dies Irae, Great Adventure, Perchance to Dream)
Three books based around “Guiseppe Bergman”, and his employment by H.P. (supposedly inspired by Hugo Pratt) as a “hero”. G.B. then gets to spend the three books wandering around doing his damnedest to be a hero and ending up in (very) unlikely situations. Not too much sex in here, but very nice when present.
Trip to Tulum
Based on a film idea by Federico Fellini, and therefore pretty weird. Trip is being serialised in the back of the Butterscotch comics, but is also available in a separate Catalan paperback and an Italian hardback – the paperback version includes an assortment of waffle by F.F., plus some other strips & piccies by M.M. Weird people, nude swimming & battling witches. It’s odd. Enjoyable. But Odd.
Honey (the heroine of Butterscotch) is working with a camera-crew on a voyeuristic version of Candid Camera (which was actually the original Italian title for this book)… So, in here we have: backstage at a beauty contest; sadomasochism in the suburbs; public reaction to green three-breasted alien women; and a wacko priest attempting to exorcise a “witch”… somehow nudity creeps into all this lot and Manara’s art is every bit as marvellous as ever. Sex-wise, I guess only the S&M sequence counts, but so what.
There are three other books of Manara’s work that I’ve seen out (Shorts, Click!, and The Ape) but unfortunately I’ve yet to get them… Of the three I believe Shorts & Click! contain a plentiful supply of nudity, and regular doses of sex, and I think The Ape is basically sex free… mebbe I’ll get to read them before next time, and I’ll let you know then.
Here we have the cute-animal sex. What can be said… it’s an everyday tale of humans with animal-heads’n’tails. Omaha, the heroine, is an “exotic dancer” (i.e. stripper) and Chuck is the nearest thing we have to a hero. He’s heir to a fortune, and falls for Omaha. Cue mayhem as the system tries to ruin their romance. It’s a fairly “open” relationship… threesomes etc. are fairly natural in this (if cute-animal sex can ever be “natural”). Then there’re Omaha’s friends & their relationships. Yeah, a loada screwing but I still find the characters (& the story) interesting too. Sex-wise there’s probably something for everyone: straight male/female cute-animal sex; male/Male homosexual cute-animal sex… etc. There are three collections of Omaha out, plus the actual comic books. This is definitely one of the more generally available items (give or take the issues that Customs got their grubby paws on).
I’ll mention this on its own, as it has featured a fair amount of work by the folks mentioned above. It’s included… Druuna (Serpieri), Valentina (Crepax), stories by Manara, and plenty of other fantasy tales (in the best possible meaning of fantasy). Heavy Metal began life as the American counterpart to the French Metal Hurlant: – a showcase comic for European strips. These days Metal Hurlant has passed on, but Heavy Metal survives. The covers are always stunning (postcards of some of the Olivia covers are available) and the majority of the content is usually worth a read (some of the content is certainly not my cup of tea, but there’s usually sufficient content to make it worth a couple of quid). General format these days appears to be one large strip (about 40 pages or so) plus an assortment of smaller ones. (As examples of the longer strips, consider Serpieri’s Morbus Gravis II & Mills & Bisley’s Slaine & The Horned God I. Like I said… usually worth a look. P.S. It’s bimonthly!!
Hmmm… bad news here. It’s the old ten lines to the end of page 4 problem. Time for a very quick list or two here then…
The mask was identical to the face Martin wore beneath.
“They’re meant to be uglier than your own mug, Martin. No point otherwise – especially at a Hallowe’en party.” I said this with a tongue in my cheek, as he knew I knew his face was nothing to write home about. And it would probably scare strangers shitless, particularly those of the gatecrasher variety…
“OK, OK, joke’s over. You’ll be laughing the other side of you face before the evening’s over.”
If I didn’t know Martin better, I would have suspected something sinister in that loosely veiled threat. I could even have believed he wasn’t joking.
We were not exactly gatecrashers ourselves. but it was a bit like a friend of a friend of a friend thrice removed who was holding the party in King’s Langley, if you know what I mean. We’d heard at least the rumour that all and sundry were invited. So, here we were, climbing off the M25 in Martin’s 2CV. Neither of us had been North of Watford before and we were eager to discover whether there was life up there…as the saying goes. We knew there would be, but that didn’t stop us chortling on the joke as the rubber band inside Martin’s jalopy finally unwound, bringing us to a halt in the car park of the Rose and Crown, where many of the guests would be tanking up in readiness for the long night ahead.
I turned to Martin and kidded him about all the badges he was wearing on his Albanian Flapjacket. I think he must have belonged to every club and society going including both the Foxhunters and the Anti-Blood Sports Associations. Whether it was just another of his silly jokes or he genuinely didn’t know his own mind, even now, after all the events have finally finished unfolding, I remain unsure.
It’s the story of my life, I know, but to cut a long story short, we’ll go straight to the party which turned out to be a pretty drab affair. Even the strobe lighting in the room dedicated to disco dancing was about as limp wristed as my next door neighbour’s dead mother. Martin and I carried out a few desultory jigs together, but the hotel foyer muzak was not exactly conducive to a real shake-out. On top of this, there were next to no birds. Even Alfred Hitchcok’s film had Tippi Hedren going for it. Unless there was a room upstairs where they had all congregated packed like kids in a Sardines game to escape Martin’s ugly mask, every guest at that shindig wore trousers and hugely dated floral ties. Not one badge between them, to gauge the fellow feeling, if any. Furthermore, not even obne backslapping howdyado from a hale and hearty host, eager to make his guests feel at home. But thinking about it, I could have felt at home anywhere, given an amorous nature.
Eventually, Martin gave me the nod. Back down the M25, to see if we could catch up on a bit of real nightlife in more familiar territory. We felt like fish out of water, or at least I did. Martin, well, he was just Martin, as inscrutable as ever. We walked off the dance floor and thus out of the limelight of the torch that the DJ was flashing upon us from his plinth.
Suddenly we were accosted by a bright young spark who called himself Aretha Franklin.
“That’s a funny name for someone who looks as if he’s just walked out of one of Hitler’s gas chambers.”
“Hark who’s talking. With a face like that…” – Aretha pointed at Martin’s mask – “I bet your face wouldn’t win a beauty competition against my bum.”
I look quizzically at Aretha’s backside, but could find no clue as to why he had made such an outrageous statement.
Martin evidently decided this was it. He was standing no nonsense from the likes of this Northern upstart and he immediately made a hefty kick at Aretha’s backside.
“That’ll change the odds somewhat – I hear judges don’t like bruises on the merchandise.”
Or that’s what Martin’d probably have said, given half the chance. For, in the event, his leg was left stuck up at right angles, the foot sunk to it’s ankle in Aretha’s buttocks. The trouser seat had disappeared with the merest ripping noise, leaving the weltering cheeks literally to munch up Martin’s calf. I tried to steady my friend, as he hopped precariously on his free leg.
As the others watched this amazing fandango in which the three of us were participating, I noticed the arrival of the Bad Crowd. Every shindig’s got them, even down South. But this lot were the worst I’d ever seen. Plug Uglies to the bone. Undergrunts to the letter. Martin’s mush was not even in the same league. The fact that made them seem particularly horrendous was the female gender they wielded. Fresh from girl talk, no doubt, in that Ladies Room I’d imagined earlier, they were waving red-stained panties as if this were some preliminary to a mating dance. If I’d ever fancied a bird, now was the time to stamp homosexual authority on my proclivities…
To come clean, it was a good job that Martin’s really only my alter ego and his leg, if I can put it this way, my metaphor for manly pride. Aretha (whose real name turned out to be Digory Smalls) wasn’t all that bad looking, despite my earlier misgivings…and the Bad Crows eventually skulked off churlishly, presumably crestfallen, hopefully back to the Ladies Room where they belonged together.
Next year is 1992, when Britain, despite Mrs.T’s best efforts, will become more closely linked to the rest of the European community. Trade barriers will be lowered, frontier restrictions will be eased and we can will hopefully see more cross-cultural pollination, ideally in the form of large packs of French schoolgirls roaming the streets.
But there’s a down side to pay: it’s not all sexy game shows and a glimpse of the cost was provided by the 5th annual Diamond Awards, broadcast in the early hours of Sunday, February 17th on ITV. This four-hour spectacular, recorded in Antwerp in front of an audience of 18,000 hysterical Belgians, celebrates the genre of Europop by giving awards to the artists whose records sold the most the previous year and giving the artists a free plug. In theory, it sounds ok; after all a lot of my favourite acts are from the continent – Front 242, Claudia Brucken, Laibach, Yello – so it looked promising.
I missed the first few minutes: I’d got bored about 30 seconds into the edition of ‘After Dark’ I was watching, as is normal (only they could take a topic like ‘Addicted to Sex?’ and make it duller than ditch-water) and went to brush my teeth. Coming out of the bathroom, I heard the strains of “I Think We’re Alone Now” coming from downstairs so returned to the living room to see one moderately ugly female miming badly to the song. Now, to one who remembers Tiffany as a kinda cute teenager, unspoiled by success and who even had the guts to sing live on ‘Top of the Pops’, this was a shock. Dyed hair, and it looked as if her plastic surgeon had bought a job-lot of all the bits Cher’s got rid of over the past ten years.
The format of the show became clear: the act sang their ‘greatest hit’, got their award and then sang their current single. There were a few exceptions to this rule: Kylie Minogue (above) got to do three songs, as did a group I’ve never heard of called London Beat. On the other hand, Timmy Mallett (the presenter of the show raved about “his talent, his humour, his creativity” – surely some mistake here?) was restricted to one song: whether this was on the grounds of taste or because at the time this show was recorded Bombalurina had only recorded one is not known.
Perhaps surprisingly, this was actually something of a pity. Whatever one can say about the music, he was accompanied by two of the prettier backing singers that appeared in the course of the programme, which ensured that the entire song was viewed with deep interest, rather than being fast forwarded as soon as it was clear a) the music was crap and b) there were no cutey-pies to be seen. This happened to a majority of the acts: Kylie lasted about half a minute, though this at least 29.5 seconds of this was due to the black PVC dress she was wearing. Jason Donovan was remote-controlled out before he could even appear on the stage and Jimmy Sommerville lasted about as long, though some sick puppy at ITV chose the advert break which immediately followed Jimmy to insert the only National Aids Helpline public information films of the night…
There was definitely something of an air of history about the proceedings, with a large number of the acts “has-beens” as far as this country is concerned: apart from Tiffany, Duran Duran fall into this category, as does Holly Johnson but most spectacular of the wrinklies was Helen Schapiro: “Walking Back to Happiness” was apparently a big hit in Europe in 1990, a mere 30 years after it hit the British charts. Even the new acts didn’t seem to have very much originality, with Irish band Something Else sounding more like Supertramp without the squeaky vocals.
Trust The Human League (above) to come up with something bizarre. Bonus points go to both their bimbos, Suzanne Sulley for looking highly droolworthy + stealing Kylie Minogue’s thunder by wearing PVC a good two hours before the girl from Oz, and Joanne Catherall for bravely performing despite a broken arm, subtly concealed inside a silver lam‚ sling which was easily mistakeable for a particular flashy shirt-collar. Other highlights, though for non-musical reasons, included Technotronic, who at least attempted to sing rather than mime (at least I hope so because if their records sound as bad, we’re in worse trouble than I thought) and Roch Voisine, a Canadian who managed to get the crowd waving from side to side holding lighters in the air: despite this, the Incinerated Belgian Quotient remained low.
Over the entire four hours of it, there were three new acts I might like to see more of: Twenty 4 Seven (harmless, catchy Eurodisco), Beverley Craven (a cross between Kate Bush and Judie Tzuke) and Joelle Ursull – she was France’s entry in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest and came second, but her songs had an infectious, carnival rhythm to them. Of course, being a former Miss Guadaloupe is of no relevance at all. At the other end, Totto Cotunno, the 1990 winner was also there with “Insieme 1992” – as you may remember, the contest this year was dominated by lots of songs about the unification of Europe with “Nineteen ninety, Europe unite-ee” lyrics. And in the “whatever-happened-to” section, there was David Hasselhoff. Yes, that one – David “Knight Rider” Hasselhoff, whose single “Crazy for You” sold three million copies in Germany. He sings every bit as good as he acted…
All of this, coupled with presenter Desiree Nosbusch’s tendency to speak a language that was like English, except with no sense of idiom, meant that by the end of the four hours I was ready to bomb the Channel Tunnel and stage a military coup to pull us out of Europe and prevent Britain’s musical identity from being submerged beneath a tidal wave of Europap.
Then I saw ‘The Hitman and Her’. and now, as far as I’m concerned, the sooner we unite the better.
A brief precis of the idea behind this programme might be useful, for those people who have better things to do at 04:10 on a Sunday morning. Take a nightclub, any nightclub – Mr. Smith’s in Warrington will do. Fill it with people by the simple method of sending out free tickets to anyone you can think of (even I was sent ten once – I did like the idea of going along to sabotage the event, but unfortunately it was in Brechin [on the coast between Dundee and Aberdeen, in case you were wondering] and I was in London). Now, when you have somewhere like that full of the sort of Darrens and Sharons who frequent such places, the sensible thing to do would be to lock all the doors and pop a couple of incendiaries through the window. Not ITV. They play records and make an hour-long programme consisting of shots of people dancing – it’s like Top of the Pops with the groups removed. There’s also a section where they haul people out of the audience and ask them where they bought their clothes.
It’s all so happy and cheerful and everyone’s enjoying themselves, although the combined IQ of those present is probably exceeded by your average digital watch. But even if you’re not worried about the exploitation of the educationally subnormal, Michaella Strachan and Pete Waterman who present it (respectively, her and the Hitman) will succeed in sending the most extrovert optimist out for a sick-bag. While I’m quite prepared to admit that Ms.Strachan is cute and Mr.Waterman knows something about record production, I’m at a bit of a loss to see why this should per se make them any good as commentators at a cattle-market. It’s probably part of the trend towards making presenters so inept that even the most tedious guest appears a master of wit and charm next to them.
This reached it’s ultimate extreme in ‘The Word’, fronted by Amammary de Cadanet (though I can’t comment on her abilities since I’ve been unable to concentrate on what she says for more than five seconds without being distracted by a cleavage in which you could conceal several battalions of the Republican Guard) and Terry Christian, who has been described as “the unthinking woman’s crumpet” on the reasonable grounds that he is about as coherent as most things you find in a baker’s window and could thus be replaced by a chocolate eclair with no detrimental effect on the program.
After about 50 minutes or so of forced jollity relieved only by certain cameramen tending to zoom down blouses or up skirts in a manner reminscent of a Russ Meyer movie, I gave up. On the balance of that evening’s viewing, although there are certain continental commodities I am not looking forward to receiving, I still reckon European union is a good thing. But can we please send Timmy Mallett on a very long, extremely slow European tour, and swap Michaella Strachan for Desiree Nosbusch first?
Help! I’m trapped in a snow-bound suburb of London, with a rapidly diminishing supply of Guinness and no crisps at all. Which is why I’ve lashed myself to the typewriter, in readiness to review this quarter’s pile of ‘zines, before using them to build a warming bonfire… Well, this was true when I started writing the piece, it’s not quite accurate any longer: April 7th! This long time gap means a lot to get through, as a good number of ‘zines have put out two issues – where this is true, there’s a slash between the numbers.
From a long time back we have Anti Clock Wise 9 (12 A4, 40p), probably the first politizine to be mentioned here. Flag-burning in the States, anti-Fascist action, football hooliganism: a pretty mixed bag as you can tell, generally anarchic in tone. Needless to say, I disagreed with a lot of it! Subterrene 3/4/5 (26,30,30 A4, 50p) is one of the most frequent ‘zines I get; given this, the rough-hewn feel is to be expected, and in fact nicely fits most of the films reviewed – no ‘Bambi’ pieces here! No doubting Anthony’s commitment to the genre, who else but a fan would list, and time, the differences between the 126- and 140-minute versions of ‘Dawn of the Dead’? Dementia 13 No. 5/6 (52 A4 for 1.75 – lots of calorific value there!) is a fiction ‘zine; I don’t read much genre stuff, but most of this was interesting and challenging – perhaps a little too difficult occasionally, though I’m not really qualified to tell since the last book I bought was ‘The Railway Children’ (I’m not kidding!).
Even thicker is Factsheet Five 40/41 (136/104 A4ish, $7 inc p&p), and the price reflects this and postage costs – if you’re in no hurry you can get a surface mail version for $4. Alternatively, get in touch with me, as Tower Records here in London stock it and I’ll happily buy copies for you if I can; it’ll be about £2 or so. Anyway, it’s a monumental listing of every ‘zine, comic and tape the editor gets sent (and that’s a lot – 1000+ I’d guess), from porno comics to earnest, political theory magazines all with capsule reviews. An awesome amount of work goes into this, and it shows. The same is true of Little Shop of Horrors 10/11 (double issue, 172 A4, £6.95) – with my usual chauvinism, I think most ‘zines I trade with are getting the better side of the deal, but this is quite the opposite and at the moment I feel very guilty about trading for it. It’s not a ‘zine about Hammer, it’s a book with more information about the company than anything else I’ve ever read. Fortunately (for my guilt complex) it’s irregularly published (No.9 appeared in 1986), but it’ll take me about five more years to read it all!
Slipping out into left field, away from the horror scene, we find Mektek 4 (60 A5, 1.50), a glossy little number, mainly about Battle Suit Warfare (seems to be part wargame, part role-playing). I found those bits incomprehensible (but intriguing), and took refuge in the other sections: manga and anime reviews and a handy review of the Panasonic NVL 28B, a video capable of playing unconverted NTSC format videos. Also in the same area (at least, in the box marked “Miscellaneous”) is Green Goblin 15 (48 A5 including the subzine, 50p). Mostly SF-ish though like TC, the editor is willing to write about what he damn well pleases – everything from music to books to computers – which makes for a pleasant ambience since the areas of interest are similar to mine, even if the specifics aren’t.
Arglebargle 23 (36 A5, 70p) is in the same vein, though with slightly less chat and more postal games instead: I was impressed with the rules for one called ‘International Terrorism’, which I’ll probably try to take part in. I’ll let you know how I get on! Sliding gently back towards the horror genre, on the way we see Rattler’s Tale 10/11 (40 A5, 1.00?), a green horror ‘zine? Odd combination, you might think – it’s a mix of ecology, the paranormal and short horror/mystery fiction, favouring bite-size chunks rather than hefty articles. Again, while I might disagree with much of it, I still find it interesting stuff.
Most essential US ‘zine comes from Tim Paxton, who has produced that rare beast, a ‘zine likely to be of lasting use. Naked!Screaming!Terror! 4/5 (double issue, 48 A5, $4 + p&p) contains reviews and ratings of about 150 Oriental horror/action movies, from ‘A Better Tomorrow’ to ‘Zu Warriors’ plus some truly bizarre stuff in between. A definite must-have for anyone interested in the genre. He also publishes Monster 45-49 (variable, normally 8 A5, $1?) which reviews only monster movies, though his definition is wide enough to take in more than Godzilla and Frankenstein. Scareaphanalia 96-99 (8 A5,$1) heads smoothly on towards its century with more literate, intelligent reviews of films that won’t arrive here for ages yet (though oddly ‘Warlock’ is only just out in the States – the death of New World Pictures strikes again!). The new Stephen King adaption, ‘Misery’, gets the front cover this time.
ETC Vol.2 No.1 (I think: the inside says “welcome to the first issue” so you pays your $3 [+ p&p] and takes your 32 A5 pages) is devoted to European Trash Cinema: Fulci, d’Amato, Almodovar, etc. And while I might quibble about the subject matter (though I admire the effort in a Joe d’Amato filmography, the point eludes me!), the writing is lucid, there’s a good range of contributors and it’s very professionally done. Gore Gazette 103 (9 A4, $2) celebrates ten years in business by devoting room to the delightful tale of how the Rev.Rick Sullivan got to meet Pres.George Bush, which just about nails the claims-to-fame game played in the letter column here on occasion. Oh, and some film reviews too, naturally. To finish off the foreign ‘zines section, we have Black 5 (according to the cover it’s #7, in any case, it’s 20 A4, $6/four issues). Mikael reckons I’m “possessed by” Nastassja Kinski: does he mean “obsessed by”, or does he know something…? Lots of reviews, music, comics and an interesting bit about a trip to Denmark, all written in English, or a close relation thereof!
Strange Adventures 23-27 (20-24 A4, 90p-£1) continues to publish issues at a rapid rate. Guess there’s nothing else to do on the Isle of Wight! If it happens in the fantasy genre, there’s a good chance it’ll be reviewed in this ‘zine, which retains it’s friendly atmosphere. From Beyond 2 (28 A4, 50p) is a new one on me, with a striking cover of Leatherface. An all review ‘zine, be interesting to see whether it’ll find a niche to live in and what personality it’ll develop: such things take time. Personality is something Headcheese and Chainsaws 6 (20 A5, 70p+SAE) certainly possesses in abundance. Also, a Peter Atkins interview, an article on telling the difference between original tapes and copies, reviews of films, book, comics and a bizarre Christmassy comic strip. “Bah, humbug” seems to be the message. Creeping Unknown 16 (36 A5, 95p) virtually avoids mentioning the subject of Xmas altogether preferring, understandably, to concentrate on film & festival reviews, a major (and informative) piece on ‘Revenge of Billy the Kid’ and four pages of weirdness from Lino, who seems to be under the impression that I have a thing about ‘Gwendoline’. Well, only when it’s Winona Ryder’s night off… 17 is also out, but has yet to be unpacked so I can’t give details, but it was certainly as good as ever.
TC9’s most essential UK zine is Anime UK 3/4 (24 A4, £6/6 issues, no samples): at last someone is providing news, reviews and information for us fans of Japanese animation, and is doing a good job of it too. It looks pretty good, too, especially #4. Own-up time: the Midnight in Hell reviewed in TC8 was issue 4, not 5. This was brought home by the real arrival of issue 5 (20 A4, œ1), including an interview with Nick Park – with neat timing, it arrived in my hands the day Mr.Park was awarded his Oscar for best animation! Nora K 3 (44 A5, œ1.50) has arrived; that’s no misprint as the title’s changed from Norma K. The subject matter is the same: Traci Lords, both her recent mainstream pictures and the other ones, which of course I know nothing about – Steve makes even them sound interesting. A labour of lust?
And finally, Samhain. Last time out, I slagged them off something rotten so a sense of fairness forces me to admit that their latest issues are an awful lot better (for some strange reason, I wasn’t sent a freebie copy as normal!) . Rather than writing about films that have been done to death in the mainstream press (like ‘Flatliners’), this issue concentrates on movies that you won’t read much about in Q/Empire/Sky. The result is much more interesting, and it does suggest that the preceding issue was an aberration (I stand by my review – it didn’t get any better on rereading) rather than a change in direction.