Jamie Feed

Growing Up On The Ice: Tillie Walden's Spinning

SpinningTillie Walden (A City Inside, The End of Summer) says of her new autobiographical novel, Spinning - covering her teenage years as a figure skater - that "it ended up not being about ice skating at all".

Instead Spinning ends up being one of those rare books that's not particularly about anything, but potentially about almost everything. This quality means that what you get out of this book really does depend on what you bring to it.  In writing about it, therefore, you may end up revealing more about your own preoccupations than you'd really like to.  With that in mind, let’s delve into just what I thought Spinning was all about.

The graphic novel, published by SelfMadeHero, written and drawn by Walden, covers the years of Walden’s life between 12 and 17, the prime teenage years, and so sits firmly into the ‘coming-of-age’ genre. While it is mainly set on or around ice rinks, its first movement features the 12 year old Walden discovering her family is moving from New Jersey to Austin. This unexpected and life-altering change is, I believe, characteristic of much of a child's life. So often children face massive, inexplicable upheavals and go through their lives without control or consent. Coming-of-age stories can be seen as a move from the lack of control a child has, subject to the whims of parents, teachers and (as we see) ice-skating coaches. 

Continue reading "Growing Up On The Ice: Tillie Walden's Spinning" »


Hamish Steel's Pantheon - 'Because gods are people too…'

Pantheon

…terrible, terrible people.

The great civilizations of the past are most often portrayed with a great deal of dignity and respect, be they the martial-and-marble Romans, the philosopher Greeks, or the austere, death-obsessed Egyptians.  As well as being terribly inaccurate, this approach is highly reductive, preventing us from seeing these as cultures made up of real people; every bit as varied and three-dimensional as we are today.

Continue reading "Hamish Steel's Pantheon - 'Because gods are people too…'" »


Velvet: Sex, spies and stereotype

Velvet-comic

I recently saw a trailer for the upcoming film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, a 2014 film based on a comic by Mark Millar and frequent collaborator, Bryan Hitch. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman recaptured the over-the-top violence of their earlier collaboration Kick-Ass but was playing in the sandbox of a Bond-style spy-action-thriller.

In fact, the film was essentially a Bond spoof and, while it sought to make a point about class prejudice (although what that was I’m not exactly sure), their approach to women was much more in the vein of having their cake and eating it too. The female characters in Kingsman: The Secret Service are almost entirely sidelined, silent or uncomfortably sexualized. While womanizing has been a part of the Bond-style spy movie since its inception, is it a necessary part?

Well, if you want a spy thriller every bit as Bond as Bond (or Kingsman) but without the uncomfortable sexism, I’d highly recommend Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Velvet (colours by Elizabeth Breitweiser, letters by Chris Eliopoulos).

Continue reading "Velvet: Sex, spies and stereotype" »


Finding Balance in Opposites in Asterios Polyp

Figure012

We live in a world today which seems, or is made to seem, more divided than ever. Asterios Polyp is a book about division, but it turns that which divides us into positives, finding balance in opposition and progress in compromise. David Mazzucchelli, best known as the artist for the seminal Batman: Year One, is sole creator on this book and, while he doesn’t deal in geopolitical division or the problems of race or wealth that plague the world currently, the lessons that can be learnt from the deeply human philosophy in Asterios Polyp are ones that we all need to be reminded of.

Continue reading "Finding Balance in Opposites in Asterios Polyp" »


Getting Familiar With Zombies - Afterlife With Archie

Afterlife2
There are certain genres with which audiences are so familiar that it seems impossible to create something really new. It’s rare to find a romance, for instance, that doesn’t follow the familiar pattern of boy-meets-girl, boy and girl get together, something comes between boy and girl before a final reconciliation.

Teen movies ending in the big game or big dance has become so formulaic that teen movie parodies are now almost a bigger genre than the original source. Classic monster horror, bound by such narrow constraints, is a genre in which things grow increasingly stale. This is perhaps particularly true of zombies whose specific conventions prevent much experimentation; 28 Days Later and World War Z may have been refreshingly new, but they also bent convention so far as to be dismissed by purists. How then, does one take two stale genres in this case zombies and teen-romance (look how that worked out!) and create something with impact and excitement?

Well, to everyone’s surprise, the answer came from Archie Comics.

Continue reading "Getting Familiar With Zombies - Afterlife With Archie" »


Ramón K. Pérez: a man of many styles

Wow

It’s not unusual for a comic book artist’s style to develop or progress as their career continues. It’s a bit rarer for an artist to totally change their style or technique over time or between projects, although many artists do experiment. It’s rarer still for an artist to use two totally different styles or techniques at the same time, in the same book and even on the same page... but one who does is top comic artist and cartoonist: Ramón K. Pérez.

Continue reading "Ramón K. Pérez: a man of many styles" »


From tiny acorns... the growth of Giant Days

Giant Days

Most media artifacts come to the public fully formed, the creative process long since edited away or consigned to the rubbish bin. With comic books that process has typically been more open to the public. For starters, when following a long-running series over a number of years, you can see how characters and concepts grow and change in time. If the series has the same creative team you may also see how an artist’s style or a writer’s craft develops as they gain experience.

Continue reading "From tiny acorns... the growth of Giant Days" »


2000AD: Why is Judge Dredd so damn good anyway?

Dredd

As 2000 AD reaches its landmark 2,000th issue, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at the weekly anthology’s greatest creation: Judge Joe Dredd.

First appearing in 1977 in the second prog of 2000 AD, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Dredd is a hard-line law enforcer in the dystopic future, dispensing justice in the enormous Mega-City One. The character has gone on to star in pretty much every subsequent issue of 2000 AD, spawned numerous spin-offs and two feature length films. So, 1,999 issues since he first appeared, just why is Judge Dredd so appealing?

Continue reading "2000AD: Why is Judge Dredd so damn good anyway?" »


Box Brown's Tetris: The Games People Play

Tetris-for-blog_coverPublished by SelfMadeHero in October, Tetris: The Games People Play, is Box Brown's follow-up to his biography of wrestling and Hollywood legend, Andre the Giant. In his new graphic novel, Brown marries a philosophical view of humanity’s relationship to games with the true story of the rise in popularity and subsequent legal wrangling of the '80s sensation Tetris. Although artistically snappy and warm, the creator only pulls off this marriage with debatable success. Regardless, the story of Tetris is full of humour, warmth and surprise, even if it falls slightly short of the book's loftier aims.

I confess, I’m not much of a gamer; I’ve never spent hours curing patients in Theme Hospital or worked my thumbs to the bone for that perfect combo on Street Fighter, heck, I’ve never even had a phone with Snake on it. So when I heard about a graphic novel about the creation of Tetris, I wasn’t particularly excited. Tetris? That annoying game from the 80s with the stupid blocks that never go where they’re supposed to? Why would I want to read about that?

Continue reading "Box Brown's Tetris: The Games People Play" »


Hate by Peter Bagge, or, Buddy Bradley is You and Me

101_blogfes20ins01

If the recent and successful relaunch of Archie Comics is any indication, it appears that the age of youthful cynicism is dead. While punk had a rebellious spirit, it was the grunge movement that solidified the apathetic and bleak outlook of the 90s MTV Generation X-ers, which might have faded before now had it not been swept up in the chain of catastrophes in the noughties. Optimism had no place in the world of 9/11, the War on Terror, natural disasters, climate change and financial crises instead fatalism and malaise carried on the grunge spirit of the previous decade.

Continue reading "Hate by Peter Bagge, or, Buddy Bradley is You and Me" »