I Hate Us
Sunday — May 8th, 2011

I Hate Us

Well, with the completion of the online publication of Liggers With Attitude, our long trek through the archive comes to an end. With issue 13 still selling well (for some ungodly reason – obviously Cryptozoology and angry spectral monkeys are a bigger draw than I previously anticipated), it seems a bit daft to stick it all on the internet just yet. Rest assured I am currently working on issues 14-17, all of which will make up HFTF Book 4, and will conclude the story once and for all – no unfinished business if I can help it! Keep checking back for updates, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do one off strips, dopey pictures and confused, ill thought out rants on a variety of subjects. And if you’re new, hello, have a trawl through the archive, as you’re sure to find something to amuse you in there. Even if it’s just the dodgy way I draw hands.


From The Bubble




An “artist’s” impression of how my table was supposed to look

Once again, Thought Bubble has been and gone, and the entire UK comics community is in a state of comedown. There’s not much to say about Leeds’ annual Comics and Sequential Art Festival, that I don’t say every year- that it’s a wonderfully welcoming and inclusive event, brilliantly organised, and it just gets bigger, better and more enjoyable every year. So where does that leave the traditional Thoughtbubble Report blog post? Well, I took a bunch of photos, and there were thousands of cosplayers about, so you don’t have to look at my stupid face.


Oh shit, who’s manning the table?


Slenderman in the house!


Thoughtbubble 2015 was a very wolf centric convention



Left: Takes me back to my Le Phono days Right: This woman is not fucking about.

Incidentally I saw this Hogwarts resident’s feathered pal fly directly into the face of… Uh… Two Face. Neither villain nor bird were injured, but it was like watching crossover fanfiction come to life before your very eyes.


Worth noting that both of these people stayed in character and didn’t utter a word


Hey, turns out Slendy has great taste. And so does this naiad

Well, she said she was a naiad. WHY WOULD SHE  LIE?


Death is in the eye of the Beholder


Guts, from Berserk (you sure as hell learn stuff about manga at these things), and a Harley Quinn

This was one of the many Harley Quinns in attendance. There are always a lot of Harley Quinns, but this year it was through the roof. I lost count at about 15, and that was mid morning on the first day!


As I brilliantly predicted, Star Wars is so hot right now


Everyone still loves Baby Groot. And Baymax loves Daredevil


Gandalf and Griff


More cosplayers. We’ve decided, next year we’re all cosplaying as Jareth from Labyrinth


Know what? They’re *all* Snow White

And finally…




Thought Bubble 2015

Thought Bubble is genuinely the world’s greatest comics convention, and not just because it’s the only one I regularly attend. As a gathering for all lovers of comics, art, and people dressed up in gigantic space marine costumes, it’s unparalleled, and it just gets bigger and better every year.

I guess Hope For The Future is temporarily on hiatus right now (final issue out next year, by the way), but I’ll be selling back issues and collected editions as normal, and I have a large selection of prints for sale, so, you know, you can get some of them proper cheap! (Plenty more examples here in La Galleria).

A selection of prints FOR YOUR EYES!

A selection of prints FOR YOUR EYES!

I’ll also be taking commissions to do unique original artwork, right there at the convention! Just like every single other exhibitor there! Why choose me over Mr Shit Hot DC and Marvel guy? Yes you guessed it, my stuff is PROPER DIRT CHEAP! So, come see me if you want a picture of Galactus punching Harry Potter in the face, while The Death Star blasts The Planet Of The Apes. Or maybe just a cartoony picture of you. Choose wisely, bro.

Here's some warm up sketches  - all this junk is available too. Yeah, I'll pretty much flog anything

Here’s some warm up sketches – all this junk is available too. Yeah, I’ll pretty much flog anything

Here’s some additional sketches, seriously, yo, I’ll draw anything. Well, y’know, within reason.

So, make haste, get your ass to beautiful historic Leeds this weekend. Specifically the Thought Bubble Marquee, Table 98, cos that’s where it’s at – and by it I mean me and my junk.


Speed, Noise and Cool Looking Shit

I had a bit of a surprise when I saw this article on Topless Robot. The slightly hipsterish sounding “Star Wars Holiday Special Life Day Celebration” included a shrine to the end of the Expanded Universe (because why not?), and there was, seemingly, my Jaxxon picture adorning a candle. In order to tell my wife about this I had to explain what the Holiday Special was, explain what The Expanded Universe was, (and how that particular universe had come to an end, even though it never actually existed), and explain that Han Solo once hung around with a six foot green humanoid gunslinging rabbit. When you talk about this sort of stuff to non nerds, it sounds really fucking goofy.

Even as a massive Star Wars obsessive I was never that bothered about the Expanded Universe. Well apart from The Marvel Comics. And The Clone Wars, obviously. And the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games were pretty dope. And the NPR radio drama. And Knights of The Old Republic. And X-Wing. And TIE Fighter. And West End Games’ Star Wars Role Playing Game. Actually, as an EU refusenik, I’m like one of those “vegetarians” who eat fish.

We pick the stuff we like and and happily disregard the rest. Well, some of us do. Some fans will wallow in everything. each individual fiction as “real” as the next, while others will be militant “movies only” fans (and often, “Original Trilogy only”, but let’s not go there).

The repository of all this gloriously sprawling hot mess of story/history/made up space nonsense is Wookieepedia, which chronicles everything from The Darker to Luke Skywalker’s Dog. No detail is too obscure or too stupid although not every fiction was deemed to have the same reality, however, and entries were segregated into levels of canon, a scale of importance from the movies at the top (G-Level, for George, obv) to forgotten ephemera like Yoda Stories at the bottom.

Ackbar - for no reason whatsoever

That’s changed now, of course. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced that they would be making more movies, they’ve had to take the necessary step of getting rid of the existing Expanded Universe. It makes sense, if you’re making films that you want to be huge, big budget mainstream successes, the last thing you want to be telling people before they walk into the cinema is that they need to read four million spin off novels in order to get caught up.

Much of the architecture of the Galaxy Far Far Away has persisted, of course. Names of planets, alien races and corporations that never appeared in the films, many created for West End Games’ RPG, have been happily used as a resource by writers on The Clone Wars, Rebels and the first novels and comics under the new regime. Even though Trioculus isn’t there any more, don’t look for him, Twi’leks are still called Twi’leks, even though nobody can decide on the correct pronunciation.

The Second Best Character From The Clone Wars

Many fans predictably lost their minds about the announcement*, and it’s easy to see why. In reading a novel you become much more invested in the characters, especially if those characters have been created specifically for those books. I checked out of the post Jedi books round about the time when Han and Leia’s kids were babies and were getting stolen as often as The Death Star plans**, but I understand those characters grew up and were given greater leeway and room for development than their seniors, who would be required to remain as close as possible to the way they appeared onscreen all those years ago.

The novels never did it for me, though. They didn’t capture the feel of the movies, which were always about speed, noise and cool looking shit (naturally I gravitated to video games and The Clone Wars). So, not being invested in those particular stories, I didn’t care too much that they were no longer canon (at any level).  The idea that some stories are more “real” than others, whilst they all remain fictional, is ridiculous, of course, but it’s brilliantly ridiculous.

As a child of the 70s, having grown up with the Marvel Comics series, I was used to the idea of stories being disregarded. When I saw The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, I may have genuinely wondered why Darth Vader and Luke never referenced the fact that they had already run into each other on the planet Monastery. I was dismayed that Kenner never produced action figures of Baron Tagge,  Dani or Valance. But it soon became apparent that these stories weren’t quite happening in the same universe. One of the greatest moments in that series is the two parter Resurrection of Evil/To Take The Tarkin. Luke and Leia are searching for a location for the new rebel base, while Lando and Chewie are looking for Boba Fett and the frozen Han Solo, and they are all recalled back to the fleet to deal with a new threat from the Empire – a newly constructed, sort of but not quite Death Star. The doomy mood of the story completely fits into the atmosphere of the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi, and it features a brilliant solution to the problem of Luke and Vader encountering each other without actually being able to come face to face.

However, this story can’t happen within continuity. Not because it contradicts anything in the films, but because, by taking away the novelty (such as it was) of resurrecting The Death Star, it muddies the clear, direct storyline we see in the trilogy. That also goes for Luke and Vader’s “showdown” prior to Empire, and the ridiculous back and forth of Han’s debt to Jabba The Hut(t). Ultimately the spin offs never affected the films*** and I can’t see that situation changing, although with the creation of the “Story Group” there may be fewer contradictions from now on.

Lucasfilm’s announcement also suggested they wanted to discourage the use of the term Expanded Universe. Everything going forward is either “Legends” (the  mountains of old stories in books, comics and games) or Canon, (the original films, and everything to be produced from now on, whether it be the new films, TV series and forthcoming spin offs).


Even though there were a few things that were rumoured to have had George Lucas glance in their direction (Shadows Of The Empire, The Force UnleashedCaravan of Courage etc), the Expanded Universe literally meant everything Star Wars that wasn’t the movies. So, essentially, everything that Lucas hadn’t had a direct hand in creating. That trend was bucked when The Clone Wars TV Series was created, and between 2008 and 2014, Lucas would drive story development and produce the whole thing. Clone Wars, while being a spin off, was generally considered to be canon rather than EU.

So, stop me if you can see where I’m going with this, going forward into an era where the creator of the Star Wars Saga is no longer involved in any stories, surely everything we’ll see from now on can be considered Expanded Universe. That includes Rebels, the new books and comics and, yes, The Force Awakens. I’m fine with that, really, as even when Lucas was talking about the notional episodes 7, 8 and 9, he was extremely vague and non committal. For the past decade or so, he’s been denying they were ever even on the cards so it’s clear his heart was never in it. He completed the story he set out to tell and now he’s left his universe to be expanded ad infinitum.



* Ziro The Hutt is canon but Grand Admiral Thrawn isn’t? Travesty! Actually Ziro is way better than Thrawn. He’s a giant purple slug with a ridiculous voice and mother issues, who pretended to be in love with a… well, whatever Sy Snootles is.
**This is an EU joke
*** Beyond a handful of names (Coruscant), background characters (Aayla Secura) and this awesome illustration

Reflected Sounds Of Underground Spirits

Terry Pratchett’s books were a big part of my childhood. Aside from being endlessly imaginative and entertaining, he had the knack of making his readership, mostly awkward fourteen year old boys, feel more intelligent than they actually were. Much like contemporaneous TV comedy like  Blackadder, Red Dwarf and (the newly repeated) Monty Python. It was a perfect storm for me, entrenched in Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks and D&D.

It was David Langford’s review of The Colour Of Magic in White Dwarf magazine that made me pick up that book in the first place. Even though the references to Fritz Leiber, Anne McCaffrey and HP Lovecraft went straight over my head, I was hooked by the adventures of failed wizard Rincewind and his tourist pal Twoflower. Pratchett’s world, and his audience increased exponentially over the years (the last one I read may have been 1994’s Soul Music “he looks a bit Elvish”). By all accounts the later books are far superior to the early ones I read, but there will always be a place in my heart for them.

The Colour Of Magic: Not available in Photoshop





Thought Bubble is the UK’s best comic event. However, last year, instead of attending, I sat in the shell of a house and felt sorry for myself. Moving house took up a lot of my year, and as a result I was unable to get anything together to sell. And also I couldn’t afford it. I’m sure you all had a brilliant time, bastards.


This year though, I will be there, along with the long awaited (by me) issue 15 of Hope For The Future. Yes, I put out comics about as regularly as Kate Bush treads the boards. And with a thousand times more theatricality! In this thrilling PENULTIMATE issue, the shit starts to go down! An implausible underground city is discovered and our gallant heroes face off against gun toting maniacs (pretty much), ninjas (kinda) and dragons (uh… ish). Also tons of plot gets explained, so all that crap that you thought was just random words thrown onto the page to fill up space in previous issues will all be laid out. You won’t want to miss this. Unless of course you haven’t read the comic previously, but if that’s the case you’re in luck, because I’ll be AGGRESSIVELY SELLING the previous two issues that set this one up.

Con Sketches1

In addition, I’ll have trade paperback style collections, prints, original art, and all the usual crap. In the past I’ve drawn multiple Harley Quinns, sexy zombies, and Darth Vader decapitating Justin Bieber, but you don’t need to pick something quite so highbrow. I’ll pretty much draw anything, and this year I’m bringing out the BIG GUNS – yes I have some grey markers! A sketch done on the day will be a STUPIDLY LOW PRICE of £4, and here are some AMAZING examples of past commissions.



If you want something more elaborate, perhaps something inspired by a browse through our pretentiously named Galleria, and you wish to commission your faithful artist before the event, get in touch. Your people can speak to my people and we’ll sort something out.

Also my brand new uber moderne innovation is paper bags. Yeah, paper bags, yo. That shit is tight! Everyone needs a bag for their junk and you can get a super fantastic Sketch Bag, like the ones pictured here, for one smokin’ hot English pound. OR if you’re feelin’ flush, how about you get your own choice of character or thing, specially commissioned for £3. It’s basically a convention sketch on brown paper, with handles, that you can put stuff in. IT’S THE FUTURE!





Back in the 80s, we had to rely on Newsagents for our comic book fix. At some point, our local shop decided to just stop stocking the Star Wars comic, without telling anyone about it, so that was it for me. A couple of years later, when the title was changed to tie in with the release of Return of the Jedi, the comics started appearing again, so for a long time there was a big gap in my readership of the series. As a result I learned the true identity of Shira Brie, before even finding out who she was, or had been, or had been pretending to be. Yes, the latest love interest for Luke Skywalker was an Imperial Agent, and ended up as an evil, Force wielding Vaderette.

Like most women in comics, Shira was sexy, but unlike many of them she was always fully dressed. Even though she didn’t make that many appearances, she always came across as a strong personality and it’s easy to see why Luke fell for her. I guess he was just beginning to realise that he had no chance with Leia, what with her preoccupied with finding the carbonite frozen Han Solo at the time.

Before Jedi came out I always thought the issue was finding Han, and that’s the way the comics played it too. I suppose the line about rendezvous-ing on Tatooine should have clued us all in to the fact that they knew exactly where he would be, but it certainly didn’t with me. Marvel on the other hand had three years worth of comics to fill, and only much later would retcon it with a throwaway line like “we went to Tatooine and Boba Fett hadn’t arrived yet so we decided to look on every other planet in the galaxy”.

So Shira got blown up (but not killed) and Luke went off to investigate her, only to learn that she was a special agent trained by Vader to infiltrate the Alliance. Flashback on Coruscant alert! In that regard (and in terms of appearance) she was a clear precursor to Mara Jade, although much less of a Mary Sue type (She’s a smuggler! She’s a spy! She’s a Jedi! She can kick everyone’s ass!).

Luke never had much luck with girls. Later in the series he would hook up with a cute, but unscience fictionally named Mary, who was not only inappropriately dressed for a revolutionary, but also got killed as they were on their way to have sex (that’s my interpretation of the plot anyway). Interestingly (and yes, I am fascinated by this below par issue), in a page that didn’t appear in the UK reprint, Luke muses that Mary reminds him of Leia. Yep, even after the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke still kinda wants to fuck his sister.



Lumiya’s first appearance was as a fairly uninspired “female Vader” design. She was incongruously the head of security on some ostensibly peaceful planet, although why anyone would have trusted someone in full black leather, dominatrix boots and mask of evil awesomeness, is on a par with hiring someone called “Wormtongue” to be your Royal Advisor. So Lumiya turns out to be evil (shocker) and buggers off, ready to fight another day.

Returning many issues later, in a shredded, messed up, and infinitely cooler version of her original look, she faces off against a post Jedi Luke Skywalker and proceeds to kick his ass seven ways to Sunday. Reading it back now, it’s a highpoint of the series. New artist Cynthia Martin pulled out all the stops, in a dynamic, wordless battle, and managed to convey everything through gesture and facial expression (pretty impressive seeing as Lumiya’s face was mostly covered up).

I didn’t feel that way at the time though. When this story appeared in the UK, the comic had reverted back to a weekly format, and the production was pretty shoddy. You might get as little as five pages of the main story at a time, so story seemed to go on for months. Also, there were many instances of the colour printing being misaligned, and on one memorable occasion, a page was printed back to front. Presumably the publisher just didn’t care at this point.

Marvel’s Star Wars comics were well and truly scuppered by the indecisiveness of Lucasfilm, not being allowed to progress the story in logical directions, and suffering from a big, Darth Vader shaped hole that was unlikely to ever be filled. Lumiya seemed like a promising character, though, mysterious and ruthless, but never got her due, as soon the series would be unceremoniously dumped. However, she was resurrected decades later, to appear in the modern Expanded Universe, so someone had been paying attention.


Rik Duel


Rik Duel was always a pale imitation of Han Solo, and I think he knew it. At least he got there years before Dash Rendar.



After backing You are the Hero on Kickstarter I felt compelled to write a review on Amazon. Unfortunately, I barely mentioned the actual book and just banged on about myself (as usual). But the book’s ace, so get it. And here’s the “review”:

YOU are the Hero

At some point during my childhood I watched a programme on ITV called The Book Tower. I didn’t read much, but the show seemed ever so slightly gothic and weird, and what’s more it was hosted by the likes of Tom Baker and Neil Innes, so you knew you were onto a good thing. One particular episode, which was hosted by the actor Alun Armstrong (you’d know him, he’s been in loads of things. Uh… like “Krull“), featured a kid reading a book in which he was required to sneak past a goblin in some pseudo medieval fantasy setting. This being early 80s telly, the goblin didn’t look terribly scary, just a bloke dressed up like one of Santa’s elves fallen on hard times, but I liked the idea, and the next day asked my Mum if she would be able to find the book for me. Books were cheap back then, so I didn’t have to wait for birthdays and Christmasses.

Unable to remember the name of the book, I described it as best I could “Something about a wizard, and it’s a different story every time you read it”, and my Mum returned home from work that evening with, yes, The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Turned out the book was actually a game, in which you fought monsters, hunted for gold and sneaked past goblins. The goblin in the book was significantly cooler looking, luckily enough.

Eventually, after hours of wandering lost in The Maze Of Zagor, and failing to find the correct combination of keys to open the Warlock’s enchanted treasure trove, I completed the game, but that wasn’t the end of the adventure. There were two more evocatively titled books available in the series, The Citadel of Chaos and The Forest of Doom. I was hooked.

Jonathan’s Green’s book is an exhaustive history and celebration of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook phenomenon, and is a nostalgic thrill for anyone who ever contemplated the difference between Swamp Orcs and Marsh Goblins, or cheated at a Test Your Luck roll. It features fascinating interviews with all the key players and crucially, is bursting at the seams with the wonderful artwork that the series generated, a reminder of how alluring and exciting the books were for kids in the 80s. YOU ARE THE HERO really brings home the differences between the FF books and their grown up, more established cousins. The art in Dungeons & Dragons, for instance, had a clean, coiffed, almost Renaissance Fayre quality. The FF books, by contrast showcased an odder, more British sensibility, dirtier, grungier and more anarchic.

This book makes me want to crank the soundtrack to Robin Of Sherwood (as much as you can “crank” any music by Clannad), put on my best green haired wig, and drift back to a simpler time. And maybe try to sneak past that goblin once again.


What’s Wrong With Being Saxony?

Being from Yorkshire (which automatically makes any band hilarious), having a singer called Biff Byford AND being straight ahead, meat and potatoes metal (purportedly the inspiration for a lot of Spinal Tap, fact fans) always made Saxon seem ridiculous. But I heard Denim and Leather recently and it’s absolutely ace.

The riff is – for want of a better word – sexy (I never thought I’d use the word sexy and Saxon in the same paragraph, unless it was to say “they aren’t”) – a damn sight sexier than anything else in NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal). Some bands just have a sexy quality about them. Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest don’t, whereas Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Black Crowes do. The Scorpions are the antithesis of sexy. I guess if you hung onto a groove, rather than just played really hard and fast (missus) you kept a bit of the roll in rock & roll. Even a lot of the hair metal bands, whose songs were 99.8% explicitly *about* sex, weren’t really that sexy. Saxon are of course, resolutely not sexy, but Denim & Leather kinda is.

Wheels of Steel!

Saxon, yesterday

But more interesting than the stripperiffic sound of that record, are the lyrics. It’s a heavy metal song *about* heavy metal fans, and for all people talk about “people’s bands” I’ve very rarely heard this sort of thing. Maiden had this grass roots live audience who always bought their picture discs and got them in the charts, but they never actually addressed the fans like this. “Did you listen to the radio every Friday night?” – he’s talking about Tommy Vance, and his long running Friday Night Rock Show on BBC Radio 1! And all that stuff about hanging out in record shops, reading the music papers (Sounds no doubt) and buying tickets. It seems a very egalitarian, working class, *humble* thing to do.

I’ve never really delved into their oeuvre, but they also have And The Bands Played On, which is about the first Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donnington. It could’ve been a less campy version of Eric Burden’s Monterey, but seems to also be addressing the audience. Even Strangers In The Night, which in another band’s hands could be “look how cool we are we’re rock stars and we’re on a plane” (for instance, all of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s songs seem to be about being in Lynyrd Skynyrd), seems to be saying “fucking Hell, you’ll never guess what happened to us, let us tell you about it so we’ll all sort of kinda be part of it”. Maybe I’m reaching a bit with that last one.