HOT PRESS COLUMN: MY TV FORTNIGHT

7 08 2014

Here’s a reprint on a TV column I write every now and again for Hot Press.

MY TV FORTNIGHT

WITH EDWIN McFEE

Over the last decade the comic book industry has been well and truly booming. On the home-front, Irish creators such as Will Sliney, Nick Roche, Declan Shalvey and the veteran Garth Ennis have released some stellar work with Marvel, DC and more (the equivalent of a band signing with a major label and touring the globe, for the unenlightened), while internationally, the sub culture’s profile is now less Bruce Banner (misunderstood and maligned) and more Incredible Hulk (a pop culture powerhouse).

One of the reasons for the medium’s new-found popularity in the mainstream is due to the current trend of taking comic characters and story-lines and turning them into big budget movies and TV shows. They’re everywhere these days. In fact sometimes they’re as hard to avoid as Jamie Madrox himself (Google it….). As a life-long fan of the sub-culture, I’ll admit that sometimes I’m a bit bemused by it all, but if it gets more people turned on to the work of creators like Bryan Lee O’Malley, Peter David, Roman Dirge and many, many more then I’m all for it. Plus, it’s nice not being grilled by randoms on why I’ve got panels from comic books tattooed on my arms every single time I’m in a pub.

This fortnight, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and DC’s Arrow ended on the small screen and as you might have expected I made sure to tune in to wave them goodbye (not literally though, as that really would be a bit weird…). First up was the Avengers spin-off, which some wags have re-named Super-Models Of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to the cast’s glossy good looks. Loosely based on concepts and characters created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Jim Sterenko, it’s fair to say that the show, which was co-created by Buffy The Vampire Slayer supremo Joss Whedon, was a little like a short-sighted milkman (it didn’t always deliver) but its series finale finished things on a high.

Though it was a bit aimless and often boring during the first few episodes, thanks to events in the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which I won’t spoil, the programme picked up towards the end and it was cool seeing characters like Glenn Talbot, Deathlok and Man-Thing all get screen time (or at least get referenced in Manny’s case).

Arrow on the other hand, ended more with a whimper than a bang for me. Inspired by DC’s Green Arrow comic, the programme about a rich kid, bow-toting vigilante suffered greatly due to the presence of Manu Bennett, who plays Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. Packed with more ham and cheese than a Baldwin family picnic, Dickstroke -sorry, Deathstroke– sucked the life out of every scene he was in and by the time the show reached its climax I was happy for it all to be over. Add that to the copious bare-chested, cheeseball montages of lead beefcake Stephen Amell and series two of Arrow really should have been re-titled The Crime-Fighting Chippendales.

With more comic book-based TV shows such as Gotham, The Flash, Daredevil, iZOMBIE, Constantine and Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s romance/western/horror masterpiece Preacher all heading to the small screen soon, it’s an interesting time to be a fan of the sub culture. Whether they’ll be any good or not is another thing of course….

This fortnight at Castle McFee I’ve also been sampling Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful. Set in Victorian London in 1891, the series is an unashamedly schlocky watch, full of guts and gore. Admittedly, the most horrific thing about the programme is actually Billie Piper’s attempt at an Irish accent, but it’s still an entertaining enough show thanks to Timothy Dalton’s portrayal of monster-hunting Sir Malcolm Murray and fresh takes on Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. Though Penny Dreadful has only got started, I’m hoping this tale of demons and vampires will provide plenty to sink my teeth into over the weeks ahead. I’ll get me cloak….





New Thor Trailer

23 04 2013

Aaaaannnnnnnd the trailer’s keep on coming.Here’s the new one for Thor.





Free Comic Book Day Cometh

2 04 2013

Here’s a wee video from the legend that is Tom Jane promoting the impending Free Comic Book Day.





Walking Dead Artwork

11 06 2012

As few days ago I managed to get my hands on an original sketch by Charlie Adlard (artist of the Walking Dead comic, which is published by Image, if you didn’t already know…). Intended as a birthday present for my brother, I have to say I’m quite proud of my “zombie with a party hat and balloon” concept, so I thought I’d post it up here as I know a good few Dead Horse readers are into comics as well.How amazing is this???

Oh, I’ll also let you all into a secret. Our Martin owns every single issue of the Walking Dead (all first editions) and his collection is worth thousands. One day I plan to stealthily steal them all from his long boxes without him knowing and sell them on to fund my Eddie from Iron Maiden back tattoo.Don’t tell him that though, eh…..





Oh Looky Looky

13 06 2011

It’s my big brother’s birthday today.Look what I got him-

For the unenlightened-it’s Cyclonus and it’s drawn by Transformers artist Nick Roche.I think you’ll all agree it looks the business.Thanks to my pals Karen and Ron for helping make this happen.

I also got a Hulk sketch by Glenn Fabry for myself. In retrospect I probably should’ve got something Preacher-related, but fuck it. Hulk is strongest one there is after all.





Sunnyside Comics

17 09 2009

This morning I put the finishing touches to my comics pages for AU and took the opportunity to plug the very nice people who produce the Sunnyside Comics podcast. Here’s what I wrote for the October issue and you can find out more by clicking here www.sunnysidecomics.com

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Finally this month, we’d like to take this opportunity to plug the Belfast-based podcast Sunnyside Comics. Initially cooked up by Ron Abernethy (of Black Bear Saloon fame) Scott Ferguson and PJ Holden, the three amigos upload all of their output (basically them righting the wrongs of comic-dom from their comfy sofas) via www.sunnysidecomics.com. So if (heaven’s forbid) you don’t get enough comics info from your ol’ pals AU, then check it out.

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Spider-Woman: the Verdict!

4 09 2009

It’s now been 24 hours since I first saw the Spider-Woman motion comic. 24 hours since I watched a piece of story-telling that’s intended to revolutionise the medium I know and love forever. So what did I think, True Believers? Well, it was an extremely under-whelming experience altogether. Don’t get me wrong-Bendis’ writing and Maleev’s art are tpyically top notch, it’s just that the execution doesn’t do them justice.

My main problem (as always) is with the voices. Jessica, Spidey and Agent Brand just don’t sound the way they do in my head. Plus I spent those ten minutes wishing I could just hold the fucking comic in my hands rather than be spoon-fed the events via my lap-top. I guess it all boils down to this under-current in comics today where we “have to find ways to up-date the medium.” Well I think that’s balls quite frankly. What exactly is so wrong with picking a book up off a shelf and (shock horror) using my own hands to flip the pages. As an art-form and a piece of literature-comic books are pretty much perfect.

I think it all comes from this inherent feeling in most fanboys that they have to justify their love for 8 Ball, Captain America, the Walking Dead or whatever to the mainstream. By making “digital comics,” it gives the medium a kind of false elevation that helps the unenlightened get past their “comics are for children” mentality. Well I say fuck ’em. If they’re too ignorant to accept that stories about men who turn in green monsters when they get pissed off can’t have multiple layers of story-telling then that’s their loss. We don’t need the wankers anyway.

You see I’ve never felt the need to apologise for liking comic books. Yeah, the Daredevil story ‘Guardian Devil’ still gets me a little teary, the Rick Jones “bachelor party” in Incredible Hulk #417 is some of the wittiest writing I’ve ever read and the Ultimates is possibly my favourite book ever. If you’re the kind of person who turns their nose up at that, then I can guarantee you’re a bell-end. When I was growing up there was always someone trying to take the piss out of my interests-but it’s never bothered me too much. Hell, I’ve even got an Incredible Hulk tattoo as well as two Transformers on my arms, perhaps unwittingly sending a big two fingered salute to the snobs.

So yeah, Spider-Woman the motion comic then. Will I be viewing future episodes? Aye, I probably will. But do I think this will be the future of the oldest form of story-telling in the world? Not a chance. It’ll probably be adopted as a piece of genius by all those who clutched the Dark Knight film to their chests, begging the mainstream to see comics as “valid literature,” but this writer doesn’t think the medium needs to be changed in the first place. Besides, all the best art, music and literature was created by outsiders and as long as comic books are viewed with disdain by the clueless, then that is when they’re at their most vital.





And The Winners Are…

19 12 2008

Traditionally in the land of features journalism things start to wind down in the month of December. Record companies send you endless best of compilations, magazines and papers only ever want to post end of year polls and no-one really seems to give a toss. Don’t worry though, you’ll be glad to know the young McFee is still working his heiny off (is that how you spell heiny?) right up until Christmas Eve Eve because I’ve been lumdered with some horrible deadlines this year. So to make up for the lack of Dead Horse activity this week, here’s my top ten comics of the year that is currently published in this month’s AU.

And The Winners are…

 

As we wave a cheery goodbye to 2008, your trusty comics correspondent casts his eye back over the last 12 months and picks the top ten books of the year while also picking highlights from ‘09’s calendar because we’re dead clever like that. If you feel there’s anything missing from the list let us know via www.iheartau.com

 

 

Top Ten Comics of 2008

Captain America (Marvel)

 

Ever since writer Ed Brubaker took over the reigns penning Marvel’s Star Spangled Avenger (and soon to be film star in 2010) Steve Rogers has never had it so good. Well, apart from the fact that he was gunned down in public in issue 25 and is now as dead as Russell Brand’s career at the BBC. Still, with a new Cap in place courtesy of his former WW2 side-kick Bucky and an epic plot involving fake presidential candidates, unborn babies and a schizoid Red Skull, Bru ensures that even though it’s now 25 issues since we last saw Steve Rogers we’re still glued to this must-have book.

 

Hack/Slash (Devil’s Due)

Hack/Slash is an independent comic starring Cassie Hack and her best friend Vlad. They’re slasher slayers (try saying that one after a few Brandy Balls) and each issue they hunt down serial killers who refuse to die while wearing skimpy clothing and looking all hot and shit  (and that’s just Vlad we’re talking about). This year the ongoing series just got better and the characterisation, jokes and gross out moments are spot on every time. Add that to the fact that the recent Hack/Slash Annual featured former AU cover stars the Suicide Girls and you have a guilty, but great read.

 

Hulk (Marvel)

After the events of last year’s World War Hulk, Marvel bosses decided to give the title a reboot, start it off with a new number one and enlist Heroes’ producer Jeph Loeb as writer and Ed McGuinness as penciller. It could’ve sucked harder than an over-zealous porn star, but thankfully, with the introduction of the rather mental Red Hulk (whose identity is still a mystery) it has turned into one of the most successful books of the year.

 

The Walking Dead (Image)

Robert Kirkman’s zombie epic continued to shock readers in 2008 and after the gruesome events of the recent issue 50 it’s hard not to see why. By focusing on the people rather than the dead, Kirkman’s book is as compelling as it was when it was first launched in 2003.

 

Secret Invasion (Marvel)

Secret Invasion was THE event in this summer’s comics calendar and the ride isn’t over yet in this eight part mini-series. The story revolves around the shape-shifting Skrulls who have infiltrated Earth and intend to take it over and the Marvel heroes’ struggles to find out who to trust. From the reveal of Spider-Woman being the Skrull Queen to Ms Marvel getting shot by a returning Nick Fury this series has had us hooked.

 

Action Comics (DC)

It hasn’t been a good year for DC fans, but Geoff Johns’ and Gary Franks’ Action Comics is the pick of the publisher’s roster. The long running Superman title made the headlines a few weeks ago after they killed off Clark Kent’s Pa and this was just one of the many jaw dropping moments from the must read book.

 

 

Blue Monday (Oni Press)

Blue Monday is an independent mini-series about the life and loves of high school student and Britpop loving Bleu L. Finnegan. The black and white, manga influenced comic is all about teenage kicks and is a great purchase for those who enjoy comics with as little spandex as possible.

 

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)

When the mega-successful TV series ended with series seven, Buffy creator Joss Whedon decided that he would continue to tell stories about his characters on the printed page. Series Eight has been a huge success and hasn’t lost any of the invention and wit that fans loved originally and the sight of a skinless Warren is worth admission price alone.

 

 

Fantastic Four (Marvel)

When it was announced that the super-star team of former Ultimates writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch were to once again pool their talents for Marvel’s first family, I’m not ashamed to say I gave a little yelp of glee. After some first few issues that were rockier than the Thing’s under carriage, FF is now firing on full cylinders and shows no signs of slowing down.

 

 

The Boys (Dynamite)

Garth Ennis’ Marmite book about a black ops team who police super-heroes has been a great read this year. Pulling no punches, the title has already had hamsters living inside super-hero Blarney Cock’s nether regions, zombie teens, super-powered gay orgies and features more swear words than a night out with the Osbournes. Not for the faint hearted….