Saturday, 21 December 2013

Five Ghosts: The haunting of Fabian Gray (TPB)

Fabian Gray is a thief and treasure hunter who is possessed by the ghosts of five literary characters, The Archer, The Samurai, The Wizard, The Detective, and The Vampire all who’s powers he uses to become a better thief and treasure hunter . We first meet Fabian as he is breaking in to a Nazi stronghold to find and to liberate a treasure for a well to do client, a client who it seems is willing to show her appreciation with more than money after Fabian delivers the item to her. The rest of the story takes you to London, Africa and Shangri-La as Fabian searches for a cure for his comatose sister, and quickly learns that the power he now wields comes with a high price one that could end his life. It seems the five sprits are now happy with their role in life or death and will destroy Fabian rather than stay as they are, to appease the ghosts our hero must pass five tests to get them to agree to work with him rather than against him. 

The mystery of how Fabian acquired his powers and what happened to his sister are told in flashbacks, while the reason he is haunted by literary characters is explained rather cleverly during his time in Shangri-La.Throw in a subplot involving Nazi’s and what looks like dodgy business men and you have the makings of a great story, at the end of the story you have a full understanding of Fabians powers and how he will handle them going forward. However, not all the plotlines are tied up which leaves things open for more adventures to come, which is fine by me as I intend to start picking up the book monthly from now on.

My understanding is that Five Ghosts was originally going to be a 5 issue story but has now been solicited as an ongoing monthly, and deservedly so in my opinion as writer Frank Barbiere has crafted a wonderful story with a great pulp feel all backed up with some very believable characters.The art of Chris Mooneyham is suitably moody with some great splash pages that only help to enhance the whole pulp feel of the book; he also has a wonderful eye for detail as seen on the very scary giant spiders. Lauren Affe's colours also help to enhance the pulp feel of the story, and the contribution she makes should not be overlooked

I picked up this trade after a recommendation from a friend on a podcast, and was then lucky enough to meet writer Frank Barbiere and Lauren Affe at the Thought Bubble comic convention last month. Frank and Lauren were a joy to meet their book was an absolute joy to read, I highly recommended it either in trade or single issues it is well worth seeking out

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Thought Bubble Comic Con 2013

Sunday 24th November my wife (Helen) and I braved the cold and ventured out to the Leeds comic con ThoughtBubble, we had decided to go on the Sunday as we hadn’t been on that day before it also fitted into our weekend plans so all was well. Unfortunately going on a Sunday it wasn’t the best decision we have ever made, and I will go into the reasons why at the end of this post.

Firstly let me say that Thought Bubble was once again a triumph the organisation was absolutely spot on, the volunteers who organise the lines, man the doors and hand out wrist bands and stuff were polite and very well informed at least the ones I meet were. Now I am sure there are other people doing lots of other important stuff that I haven’t mentioned and to you guys I apologise, but the fact that I didn’t see you means you were very good at your job. A job that I imagine is probably thankless and at times very frustrating and one I could never do, so to all the visible and not so visible but equally important people I thank you.

The day went very quickly a sign of enjoying ourselves and many things I planned to do we never got round too, however below is a brief synopsis of what we did manage to see and the people we meet.

Despite going straight to the table of  Fiona Staples the artist on the excellent Saga the queue for was very large and growing even at 10:30, none deterred by this I left Helen in the queue and headed off round the Hall to see what caught my eye. Around 20 minutes later I re-joined Helen who had moved around an inch (I kid you not), Helen decided she wanted to have a look around and promptly disappeared, by the time she returned my patience had run thin and we decided to skip the line to look at other things.

I got to meet up with Martin Gray, Martin writes the excellent blog Too Dangerous for a Girl and was instrumental in helping me set up my blog. When I was first thinking of blogging but had no idea on how to go about it, Martin gave me advice on how to go about producing a blog that hopefully people would want to read. We bumped into him and his friend Steve when we first checked in and agreed to meet later for coffee, it was a real pleasure to talk face to face with Martin after various conversations either through Facebook, email or blogs. Both Martin and Steve are the nicest people you could hope to meet and meeting them both made my weekend, hopefully we will meet up next year and if we do it will be my turn to buy the coffees.

                                                   Me, Helen, Martin and Steven

 I caught up and chatted with Steve Tanner of TimeBomb Comics mainly about the previous nights Doctor Who but also about his new comics, I picked up the graphic novel Squadron of the Screaming Damned and The Last ride of Henry Holden both of which I will be reviewing in a later post. Time Bomb have some very interesting and diverse comics and first caught my eye at Thought Bubble 2012, Steve is a great guy and the thing I love about his stall is that it has a friendly family feel to it. Steve's wife and daughter are always with him on the stall and are as friendly as he is, I recommend to anyone to check out the Time Bomb Comics website there is bound to be something that catches your interest.

I managed to talk briefly with John McCrea as he wondered around the hall, I first meet John at UKCAC in 96,and he always has time to talk to people even when he isn't sat at his table a true gent.

I managed to get Mark Buckingham to sign my issue of Doctor Who #1 then he drew a nice sketch of Matt's Doctor in my sketch book, as someone who cannot draw to save his life it always fascinates me how artists go about their work.
Mark Buckingham

Next to Mark was Jessica Martin who is probably better know for her acting, singing and dancing than her writing, Jessica was there promoting her one shot comic called IT Girl which is the story of Clara Bow. Clara was one of the  biggest starts in the early era of Hollywood but unfortunately is remembered by only a few people today, Jessica's also has a book coming out soon called Elsie Harris Picture Palace and a short story featuring that character was in this years Thought Bubble anthology. The IT Girl book was very fairly priced so I bought a copy as I have a love of all things connected with movies, Jessica was also kind enough to pose for a photo with me and Helen remarked that she looked every inch the film star she had written about, and added that her shoes were to die for (woman and their shoes).

London Horror Comics were in the Allied London Hall and I had a brief chat with writer John-Paul Kamath while picking up issue 5 of the book, LHC is an excellent anthology comic book of as you would expect horror story's, they are very well put together but not aimed at children which for me is how horror should be.

John-Paul Kamath London Horror Comics

Other highlights included buying a Anne Hathaway Catwoman statue that was spotted by Helen as we walked into the main hall, 2 rather nice prints one of Green Lantern and the other a black & white Batwoman and Poison Ivy from Patrick Walsh. I also picked up a very nice classic Christopher Lee Dracula print of a Dean Ormston, been a Sandman fan and all that spun out of that book I was aware of Dean's work on Lucifer. However, his classic monster paintings are new to me and they are just fantastic, I can see me getting a few more of these over time.

The last person I meet was writer of the comic book Five Ghosts Frank Barbiere this comic had been recommended on a podcast I listen too (Earth Station One), so when I saw that the writer of the book would be at TB I was determined to meet him. Frank was a genuinely nice guy and we chatted about his book and our impending trip to the states next year, I bought the trade of Five Ghosts which Frank and colourist Lauren Affe both signed, I will be checking out this on-going title in the coming months.

My one rant of the day is about a comic artist Rafael Albuquerque the artist on the excellent American Vampire, I had been looking forward to meeting Rafael as I am a big fan of the book and of the artwork in it. I was surprised that there was no one queuing for his table as I had presumed he would be a big draw, on approaching him I could see he was sketching so I waited until he stopped to hand over my hard back book and anthology comic of American Vampire. After he signed the books I asked him if he was doing sketches and was told no I'm only doing commissions, but I have prints and original art for sale if you want that. Given that the prints were Calvin & Hobbs and the original artwork while not total out of my budget were more than I could justify paying, I just thanked Rafael and took back my signed comics and left his table a little disappointed. It may be just me but I cannot understand why an artist would travel to a convention and not do any sketches for fans of their work, it also made me realise why his table had no queue.

 As I said at the start of the blog we decided to visit Thought Bubble on the Sunday rather than the Saturday and crowed wise it was a good decision, unfortunately it also meant that the buzz that is there on Saturdays was sadly lacking during the Sunday event. I believe this was due to the vastly reduced coz players on Sunday compared to what we have seen on the Saturday, for me coz players make a con so not having as many made Sunday a more sombre day. It was still a great day but personally we both prefer the hustle and bustle of the Saturday event, the decision to move to venues was also a good idea and just shows how the event is growing year on year, which can only be a good thing.

One final note we never did get to see Fiona Staples when we went back to join the line which was still rather large, we were told the line is now closed, never mind there is always next year.