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The Missing Piece

Whether it’s because I’m a snob or a slob- not wanting to wrestle with a seemingly impenetrable collection of material- I’m not a fan of most ongoing comics series. The one current exception to this rule is IDW’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, which I came round due to having my nostalgia ignited by the most recent TV series. In a way, they’re a cast of characters built upon contradiction for me. On some level I sense the franchise is schlocky and silly and not really worthy of the attention it’s received: it started out as a kind of joke, albeit one running for thirty years, and seems based upon throwing together as many disparate elements it can get away with. I don’t know if there’s one iteration that really rises head and shoulders above its fellows, and I’ve yet to see one through from start to finish.

And yet it’s something I find hard to resist, particularly when the IDW version has been making some great strides lately into exciting, action-packed storytelling. It’s definitely something aimed at the older generation of fans: not just because of its violence or themes, but due to its broad spectrum of references. We have Krang, the Technodrome- even the Neutrinos make a sizeable appearance for a few issues, and ridiculous as it may seem these references feel like a way of legitimising the comic for my age bracket.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while I don’t know if it ascends some grand height of storytelling or comickery- or if it’s even trying to achieve both these goals- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pushes a lot of buttons for me and I enjoy reading it. I just wish doing so was more intuitive in the trade paperbacks, which is my main point of access for the majority of comics in my collection.

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The Beast Within

Over the last week or so, I’ve been working on a shorter comic as a prelude to some of my bigger creative projects. It’s based on an idea I had some time ago, and explores what happens when we die…or more accurately, what reason we have for living. It’s a pretty small-scale project, focussing on the interaction between a couple of people in a precarious situation, and I’ll be happy to share a lot more detail on it soon.

What it does do, though, is throw up some interesting questions about its main character: they aren’t exactly the most sympathetic person I’ve ever written. In light of that, how do we garner sympathy for a person with few, if any redeeming qualities?

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The Bigger Picture

A little while back I wrote an article on Richard Fairgray’s Blastosaurus, a comic series about a time-travelling dinosaur with a taste for revenge. While I liked the comic and thought its use of anthropomorphism was interesting and largely well-reasoned, I also felt that its more absurd elements- like talking, thinking dinosaurs- lacked some explanation, and this made the comic less subversive and groundbreaking than its description would have you believe.

Richard Fairgray was kind enough to get in touch with me and explain that, while the issues of the comic I examined were patently silly and absurd, the later issues went on to explain these inconsistencies and turn them on their head. In light of this, I decided I ought to read the later issues of Blastosaurus he’d created, to give myself (and you) a more balanced look at what he was trying to do. Continue reading

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Walk the Dinosaur

For my third article on anthropomorphism, I wanted to look at how it’s most often used: in a situation almost (or literally) cartoonish in its absurdity. Now, there’s a vast number of comics using anthropomorphism in them: heck, Comixology treats it as its own genre. Eventually though I settled on Blastosaurus, written and illustrated by Richard Fairgray: it features time travel, mad science and anthropomorphic dinosaurs punching one another. Should be fun, right?

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