I know, I know, late again, and we’re still in January. Still, I reckon you can still see an improvement, so I reckon I’m getting there.
I’ve been more than a little indecisive this week, which hasn’t helped my punctuality*. You might remember that last week I said that this week I wanted to have a look at some of the new projects that old friends of this column have been involved with, but then I looked up and saw that Spider-Man 4 had been cancelled. Apparently quite a lot of people are upset about this and I very nearly wrote a column to explain why they’re all wrong.
Then I read Ace’s column over at Burning Mind and realised that basically since I agreed with every word he wrote anything I tried to add to the debate would be mere duplication, and therefore utterly redundant. If you haven’t read it already though, you should go and have a quick look because he’s absolutely hit the nail on the head.
Come back quickly though, ‘cos I’ll miss you.
So, that put me back onto plan “A”. And it turns out – possibly as a result of my total failure to pay attention for the last year or so, there are a hell of a lot of things I want to point you in the direction of.
For a start, I’ve been very remiss in not mentioning Mongo Music Critic, the now not so new collaboration between Eagle Award Winning writer Andy Winter and Irish artist Tommy Kelly – perhaps best known for the excellent Road Crew.
Long term readers of this column will know that I’ve always rated Winter’s work. In a world so overly provided with one trick ponies, Winter provides the entire Spanish Riding School, leaping with apparent ease between the wry occultism of Devilchild through the darkly brutal espionage of Septic Isle, the anarchic nihilism of Tim Skinner and the horror of Shriek or Blood Psi. And of course there are the Superhero books as well, including Hero Killers, which won Winter that aforementioned Eagle Award.
Mongo Music Critic brings Winter back to satire, although this time his fire is trained on an area with which I am somewhat unfamiliar. Music isn’t something I listen to a lot of, and as a direct consequence of that I have read vanishingly small amounts of music criticism. I am unsure, therefore whether Mongo, Venusian Warlord and music critic is particularly harsh with regard to the whinging “oh everything is so much worse for me than for everyone else” school of angst ridden emo nonsense, but I can confirm that I agree with his ultimate verdict.
Mongo, Music, Mayhem! is a four page story available to download for FREE, and frankly you’d be foolish not to. Obviously as a four page strip this can’t have the depth of some of Winter’s other work, but nor is it supposed to. It’s a great, fast, funny comedy hit, and I commend it to you. Of course it’s been out for a while now, and many of you will already know just how right I am. But those of you yet to try it simply need to follow this link.
Another project I’ve been meaning to bring to your attention for a while now is Josh Wagner’s Deadwind Sea. You’ll remember Wagner as the mind behind the futuristic cowboy Fiction Clemens, who moseyed** into view just as I reached the end of my Firefly box set and was hungry for a bit of SciFi/Western action.
Deadwind Sea*** shows that like Winter, Wagner is a writer of great range. For a start, it isn’t even a comic****, it’s one of those “proper” books without a picture in sight, although Joiton, the artist on Fiction Clemens did paint the book cover.
The world of Deadwind Sea is the world of the past. Wagner weaves a fantasy before us in the form of an interlinked collection of myths. The backdrop is the Land of the Dead, the country beyond the setting sun, where expired spirits must tread their lonely paths.
We begin however, in Medieval Spain, where Sergio, a young shepherd is possessed of two things – a heart full of love and a genuine talent for messing up. In spite of that latter aptitude, to the consternation of his fellow villagers the former allows Sergio to capture the heart of the most beautiful girl in town. Lucky in love however, does not mean lucky in life for Sergio, and when his one true love dies unexpectedly our hero must undertake a quest to bring her home from the land of the dead.
Beginning,as I said, in 14th century Spain, Sergio passes through the cities of Rome and Byzantium before the setting sun leads him over the North Pole into the Land of the Dead. There, on the as yet untouched continent that one day men***** would come to know as “America”, the spirits are making preparations for the arrival of the living, and the beginning of a new chapter of history. Our hero finds himself drawn into a movement to liberate these new frontiers from stagnation, a drama that will take him at far far beyond the bounds of earth and everything anyone has ever known.
Wagner weaves an intricate filigree of a narrative, wrapping strand after strand of sub-plot around the narrative like ivy through an orchard. Funny, moving and inspirational this is an engaging, witty, intelligent read. You can see for yourself by pointing your browser at the Deadwind Sea website and download some sample chapters. If you have one of those new fangled Kindle gadgets you can even download the entire text for a remarkably tiny sum.
Personally, as you know, I prefer my books on paper, and if you want the real recommendation you should be aware that even though I am in possession of a .pdf review copy of the entire text, I’ll still be getting the paperback. This is definitely a book I’ll be coming back to again and again. I think you might want to, too.
Next time – almost certainly on Wednesday – I’ll be continuing to gaze longingly at future projects from people whose work I know I like. Hopefully (because I have some e-mailing still to do) this will include news of more Dead Queen Detectives, and perhaps a glimpse of a setting sun…
*Not that I’m making that an excuse…
**Yes, I’m sure that that’s a word, and I’m sure that’s how you spell it. Trust me, I teach English…
***And indeed Wagner’s other current project, Sky Pirates of Terra Nova, available from Image.
****Which means I wouldn’t normally talk about it here, but what the hell, it’s my column…
*****And presumably women…