John Wordsworth on "How the Zombie Ate the Cowboy"

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People have been predicting the comeback of the Western for years.

There have been some notable hits on both the big and small screen: Django Unchained, HBO's Deadwood, and the True Grit remake, among others. While the pulp Western novel is buried in a dusty hilltop cemetery in Wyoming, there have been some excellent more literary takes on the genre, including Philipp Meyer's The Son and, going further back, Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove series. You also can't ignore the impact of the massively popular game Red Dead Redemption. But somehow this trickle of new Westerns has never become anything more than that.

My theory is that, in fact, the Western is back ... but as the Zombie genre. (ZomGen? Zomre?)

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When Red Sonja met her match(ish)

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Look, it's a comic with a Robert E Howard fantasy character in it - surely the perfect storm of Pornokitsch interests. Red Sonja #10 is the specific issue that the One Comic team decided to check out, at Jared's suggestion, and an interesting read it turned out to be.

To everyone's surprise, despite some of the covers and the character's reputation, this isn't the exploitative boobs'n'swordplay production it could have been. How did it achieve that? Listen and find out.

You'll also hear Bex's take on the best and worst examples of comics' treatment of mental illness - the 'crazy' is strong in this medium after all. 


Weirdness Rodeo

Helen Mirren narrating Shel Silverstein's 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' for the World Cup.

How do you raise your children to appreciate video games? (via Kotaku)

We are the first generation of parents who grew up playing video games, which makes us the first moms and dads to possess the wisdom to guide our children through the world of PlayStation, Steam, Nintendo, and the like rather than the desire to merely abandon them to it. We are tasked with figuring this out for ourselves. It’s our job—our responsibility—to establish some traditions.

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Friday Five: 5 Contemporary Comic Book Classics

CopperheadAs Jon noted in an earlier post, the One Comic crew really enjoyed taking the piss out of the ludicrous Comixology blurb for Alan Moore's Providence #1. A very good comic, definitely. "A breathtaking masterpiece of sequential art"? That's a very tall order.

(Here's our review, by the way. Our verdict? "Dunno.")

That said, what contemporary comics are masterpieces? Classics in the making? Or just 'important'? Or, to phrase it more accurately, "Today is Friday and I really need a post, so here are five comics I've liked recently."

So let's get to it...

Copperhead (Jay Faerber / Scott Godlewski)

Summary: SPACE WEIRD WESTERN PUNK NOIR. A sheriff with a mysterious past rocks up to the backwater world that's her new home. What should be a quiet rural (SPACE-rural) posting immediately heats up with theft, murder and alien-monster attacks.

Why it might be a masterpiece of sequential art: SPACE WEIRD WESTERN PUNK NOIR. A tidy little mystery, well-integrated SF elements, excellent Western inflection, and the sort of rebellious punk atmosphere that comes from casually revisionist themes and badass art. 

Why it might not be a masterpiece of sequential art: SPACE WEIRD WESTERN PUNK NOIR. It is, you know, what it is. Firmly encamped in genre traditions, and happily bouncing around inside the boundaries of (multiple) genres.

Breathtakingness: A light gasp of elation.

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Stark Reviews: Dead Man (1995)

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Stark says: Don't let the sun burn a hole in your ass, William Blake.

Dead Man is Jim Jarmusch’s contribution to the Acid Western genre; something I’ll be fixing my beady eye on in future reviews. The Acid Western was a product of the sixties; by and large, it takes the best of the Spaghetti Westerns – the vistas, the journeys, the lone individual and the uneasy alliances – and mashes them up with existentialism, surrealism and, in the case of Dead Man, black comedy. Imagine if Leone made All the Pretty Horses in the style of Blazing Saddles, and you’d be… not that close, but oh well. 

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Weirdness Rodeo

Peter Blake - Through the Looking Glass
Your round-up of oddness. This time: pictures, websites, the importance of brands, submissions info and all the fun stuff Pornokitsch people are doing not-here.

#PicturesMeanBusiness and #WebsitesMeanAwards

An update on the #PicturesMeanBusiness from Sarah McIntyre, who met with Nielsen to understand how artists' data is (or isn't) captured:

If our economic value can't be assessed, we'll be forgotten by business people and written off as not contributing anything to the economy. Not even The Bookseller credited illustrators in sales charts until March of this year. You could see that Julia Donaldson was ruling the picture book sales charts, but you had no idea how The Gruffalo's illustrator Axel Scheffler's books were doing. In fact, if you entered his names into the Nielsen sales charts, he came out as quite a low moneymaker, since only the books he's written himself were calculated.

Sarah's explanation of the convoluted metadata of publishing - and its weird legacy systems - is the best I've read so far. Worth checking out.

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Friday Five: 5 Terrific Techy Ladies in Sci-Fi

Brave New GirlsThis week's guest is Mary Fan, co-editor of the brand new Brave New Girls. The anthology collects science fiction stories featuring "brainy young women who use their smarts to save the day". That is to say: it not only brings readers a whole pack of awesome role models, but they're also clever stories featuring brains over brawn.

All proceeds from Brave New Girls are being donated to a scholarship fund set up by the Society of Women Engineers, so buy with confidence - you're not just reading about bright futures, you're helping make them. With no further ado, we'll hand over to Mary...

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It’s no secret that there aren’t a lot of women in science and tech, both in the real world and in fiction. Which is a shame, really. There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem around this issue—are techy women not depicted in sci-fi because they’re rare in real life, or are they rare in real life because girls don’t see themselves depicted in those roles and therefore don’t pursue those careers? The fact is, pop culture is a powerful influencer, especially on girls and teenagers. And the scary thing is, your career is dictated by decisions you make as an impressionable kid (think about it… the college major you pick at age 19 determines whether or not you’ll become a research scientist).

While there are plenty of ladies in sci-fi, they’re usually not put in the science and tech-based roles. The scientists, hackers, engineers, etc. are usually guys. But every so often, you’ll stumble upon a character that makes you go, “Yes! More of her, please!” Here are five brainy sci-fi ladies who use their smarts to save the day:

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One Complicated Comic

Silver Surfer 11

Silver Surfer #11 is an oversized issue with a unique format used to tell a complex and challenging story. The One Comic team took a look at it (hint from Jared: don't view it on an electronic device - it doesn't work) and then rounded things off with a look at a range of great and not-so-great replacement superheroes.


Non-Fiction: "On Spies Through the Ages" by Hamil Grant

Capturing the Trojan Spy Dolon © The Trustees of the British Museum

In the course of a work entitled Strategems, Frontinus, a military writer in the time of Vespasian, records how Cornelius Lelius, having been sent by Scipio Africanus in the capacity of envoy to Syphax, King of Numidia, but in reality for the purposes of espionage, took with him several officers of high rank in the Roman army, all disguised.

A general in the camp of Syphax, recognising one of these companions, Manlius, as having studied with him at Corinth, and well knowing him to be an officer in the Roman army, began to put awkward questions. Thereupon Lelius fell upon Manlius and thrashed him, declaring the fellow to be a pushful valet and nothing better. On the same occasion, the envoy allowed a high-spirited and richly caparisoned horse to escape from his suite in order to be given the opportunity of going through the camp to recover it.

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Immodest Proposals for the David Gemmell Legend Awards

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I'm reading and reviewing all ten finalists for the David Gemmell Legend Awards. You can follow along here.  And don't forget to vote.

I'm taking a brief break at the halfway point to stop talking about the books and talk about the Awards themselves. Please join in below.

There are two definitions of modest - "humble" and "small" - and generally when someone has a "modest proposal" they actually mean neither. So let's not beat around the bush here: this is about big changes, proposed arrogantly. 

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