Atari 2600 label maker – more ways to waste time in a constructive, kind of creative way (2008)

My good grief! The fun that can be had with this fantastic site hosted app;

http://www.labelmaker2600.com/

Easy as HTML to get started, but I get the feeling some of us will not be content until we have done all the pictures in the world as the stars of their own Atari 2600 packaging. Well, for starters, here is one I did earlier;

But not only that, you can update the packaging to reflect the early to mid eighties style revamp;

The website find of the year! Expect this blog to clog up with an alternate reality of Atari console fodder.

Review – The Walking Dead #55 (Image Comics)

WARNING – SPOILERS!!!!

In the letters pages,(‘Letter Hacks’), at the end of this book, Robert Kirkman expresses his, and his teams, satisfaction at this issue. The fact that it has come out a mere fortnight after issue 54 is a cause for celebration – the fact that it is so bloody fantastic and brilliant makes me incredibly happy – all this, and Batman #681 (ie the end of ‘Batman RIP’) to follow…..glorious. A lot of people will be happy with this issue of ‘The Walking Dead’, and it will, no doubt, get great reviews. All fully deserved.

Back to the book in hand – what is it that makes this issue so amazing? It is simple – Kirkman is starting to peel off plots and drop them all over the pages, which are again gloriously drawn by Charlie Adlard. If anything, Adlards art looks cleaner and fresher in this issue, and the emotion he manages to portray on these drawings of people is a high point for me issue after issue. In this single issue we got a further exploration of Ricks mental anguish and an insight into his fears. Slowly, I believe, we are seeing our ‘hero’ unravelling. It is a good job there is a new Sheriff in town. None other than the excellent Sgt Abraham Ford, the Warrior / Protector. There is a section where Sgt Ford gets to work out his action-man mojo on some ‘roamers’. He doesnt do a lot else this issue of note, other than a get into a little bit of a debate with Rick. On top of that, you get a new perspective on the undead – a startling new avenue of exploration that neatly dovetails with the arrival of the new characters and specifically Dr Eugene Porter. Alongside that, there is a sense of fatigue and agitation amongst some of the group. Finally, to say that the ending is shocking………I gasped. I never really gasp when reading comics, but this ending – it made me gasp. Kirkman, as I have said before, really seems to put a lot of energy into ending the issues on a cliff-hanger. This one is one of the best. Trust me.

After the bloody denouement of the prison siege and the relative calm of the following issues, ‘The Walking Dead’ has now begun a trajectory that is near impossible to chart – but it is certainly going upwards and onwards, and it is managing to be exciting and consistent and credible. The shocks and revelations are believable whilst being exciting and they genuinely move the story on. Lets hope (please!) we get one more before the end of the year.

Morecambe and Wise Atari advert for Christmas 1982

Just to get you into the Christmas Spirit – and seeing as we are in dire financial times and all that – I think that the Atari 2600 could be a viable alternative to the Wii this Christmas. Of primary interest is the price – observe the listing below as a guide;

Then, just show your kids this advert from a long time ago (1982)and they will understand everything – like the Wii, the 2600 is about playing with friends and family, a communal exxperience. Like the Wii, the Atari games are not so much about the cutting edge in Graphics technologies – rather than that, and better than that, it is about pure playability (who can deny Pac-Man (albeit not the Atari version) is a true gaming classic and deserves its status as such?). Finally, the 2600 is a discreet, charming addition to any household, unlike the monolithic PS3 and Xbox 360. Anyway, here is Morecambe and Wise to seal the deal;

and if you want to see a non-Christmas advert with Morecambe & Wise, an Atari console, Ernie Wise gamely playing the legendary ball-breaker that is Defender, and Eric Morecombe taking the opportunity to cop off with a woman on the sofa, then have a look below;

http://video.play2000games.com/video/462

Finally, for no other reason than that I like it, here is a flyer for Defender, the timeless and still hard-as-nails shooter from Williams (so many buttons!!)

Flyer was sourced from here;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/racketboy/

Link

http://www.atariage.com/2600/index.html?SystemID=2600 – a fantastic Atari 2600 resource

and this is just…….genius. Words nearly fail me;

http://www.labelmaker2600.com/

Young Liars – and specifically issue #9 – and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? (Vertigo, 2008)

Warning SPOILERS!!!

David Laphams ‘Young Liars’ is proving to be an amazing experience – not always entertaining, sometimes confusing, but amazing indeed. The plot is not linear in the slightest – it hops, skips and jumps around time until, frankly, I am lost.

But it is the only comic book out now that can make me gasp and laugh at the same time. In fact it is the only book ever to make me laugh and gasp at the same time.

In this issue, we learn that, maybe, the invasion of the spiders from Mars is really just Sadie’s delusional dream — but only “maybe” as Sadie’s confrontation with her mother and half-brother suggest that it could be real. Except that Danny knows she confuses reality and this delusional dream of hers, and has somehow worked to influence it, to change his role in it from the father/invader to hero Danny Duoshade. We’re never told how Danny accomplished this, but the idea is very intriguing.

As is Sadie’s continual failure to stop this invasion. Danny narrates that she always fails and always somehow lets five spiders escape, suggesting that this delusion is some sort of psychological defense, a reason to live in a way. Or, those five spiders actually keep escaping the same way villains continually escape the hero after being foiled in superhero comics. Lapham purposefully references superhero comics as Danny calls the manic, violent, excitable Sadie “Superhero Sadie,” the survival persona of Sadie who hunts the spiders and saves the world… but not quite.

What’s amazing is that the story Lapham is telling could turn out to be something as simple as a messed up girl with a bullet in her brain who is delusional, or it could be a full-out invasion by spiders from Mars with this Martian spider-princess as the only line of defense. Even Danny isn’t totally convinced that one possibility is the true one, and Lapham is brilliant at making both seem equally likely. There’s even the hint of questioning why they both can’t be true.

I cannot begin to summarise, and do not advise any newcomers to do anything other than, if they wish to join in on Laphams fun, then start with issue #1. You will still be confused within a few issues, but still, start at issue #1 or you will never ever understand.

Ostensibly about a group of 20-somethings from New York, all potentially treacherous, mainly psychotic, self serving and messed up, lurching from one disaster to another, their lives constantly in danger.

However, it is funny, energetic and vibrant. There is a lot of love going into this book, and it really deserves to be read by anyone with a love for comic books. Lapham, who writes and does the art in the book, and it is a great achievement.

But anyway, back to issue #9 – this was the one that sent me from confused to over the edge. Now I am just going to read the thing and whatever happens on the page happens and there will be no questioning from me. I will trust David Lapham to deliver all the answers in due course or when (if) he sees fit to do so.

So – are these Spiders real? Who the hell is the guy who turns up at the end (this was the bit where I laughed and gasped at the same time)? What was going on with Sadies mom? and dad? The dad seemed fine a few issues ago, why is he dying now and what is with the dwarf and the prostrate?? Why is the anorexic acting like nothings wrong even though she is in league with these Spiders…..? Has Danny really lost his penis and will it not grow back?

My head hurts. They are collecting the first few issues in a trade and calling it ‘Daydream Believer’ – out Dec 2008. Relive it all in its gory, brutal, funny, weird beauty.

Whatever happened to Infinite Horizon? The frustration of the comic book reader and awry scheduling.

‘The Inifnite Horizon’, and updating of ‘The Odyssey’ to reflect a modern day America and its troubled relationship with the Middle East, was given much fanfare and attention late last year by Image comics, who were to publish the 6 part series, and the comic community at large.

The initial episodes lived up to the hype, with both the story (by Gerry Duggan) and the art (by Phil Noto) being high calibre and individual enough to stand out from the ranks of superhero titles.

The first 3 episodes had been shipped by Spring 2008, but since then – nothing. No news on the official creator site www.the-infinite-horizon.com. Try googling for news – nothing, just the solicitations for #4 and onwards.

Considering this was a title that justified the hype, it seems a great shame that we may not get the chance to finish reading this story. Or maybe it will come out in another year or so. But will anyone care? You can expect delays when it comes to comic book scheduling and releases. You need to be patient and allow a month or 2 of no releases on a title – but a 6 month delay? Longer than 6 months? It smacks of trouble, and inevitably there will be frustration, and ultimately indifference, on the part of the reader, the person who has put it on their pull list. The person who has been led to believe a 6 issue series should come out in regluar instalments. When issues fail to ship you lose continuity (which can always be remedied by reading the previous issues again), but more fundamentally, the reader can lose faith in the product.

I hope Image and the creative team behind ‘The Infinite Horizon’ can get the remaining issues out. I hope they still get a substantial readership. They deserve it for such an interesting and innovative title. If they leave it much longer though, I think it may be too late. In that case, ‘Infinite Horizon’ may be an apt description on the shipping dates for #4, 5 & 6……

Reaction to Walking Dead 54, plus more Kirkman news (2008)

IGN review of Walking Dead 54

weeklycomicbookreview…..review

comixtreme view

Also – is Walking Dead 55 going to be out next week??? If the Diamond shipping list for next week is to be believed, then it will be. 2 issues of The Walking Dead in 2 weeks…………….?

Finally, Kirkman announces the end of the Brit title – I thought it was mildly entertaining but not a patch on Invincible and Walking Dead;

Brit ends – CBR article

GB84 – who was the real Stephen Sweet (aka ‘The Jew’)???


In David Peaces haunting, brilliant book ‘GB84’, the character of Stephen Sweet, enemy of Socialism, the Miners Strike and the free market, is portrayed as an eccentric and emotional Right-wing warrior in thrall to the UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. A peculiar figure in the book, he is both a fierce defender of Conservative values and a fragile, emotional creature with a flamboynt sense of style. He is one of the main characters in Peaces haunting account of the dispute (that went for a over a year between 1984 and 1985) between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Conservative Government of the day.

But who was Stephen Sweet – was he a fiction, a faction or a composite of several figures involved in the dispute?

It seems that Stephen Sweet was simply based on the Milionaire David Hart, an advisor to Thatcher and the National Coal Board Chief Ian MacGregor. Through his efforts to get Miners back to work, to break the picket and to establish a breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers, who did not support the NUM action. He was associated with the Thatcher family, including Mark Thatcher, and if you read the links below, you’ll find out some more about the man who is Stephen Sweet. Is it a coincidence that when you put their names together you get SweetHart???

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/aug/25/politicalnews.southafrica A guide to an attempted coup in Equitorial Guinea – with some familiar names implicated.

http://oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/2534432 – more on the ‘Wonga’ coup

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/mar/01/uk.tradeunions – an article on a few of the key figures in the dispute including David Hart and Arthur Scargill

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/006370.html – a fantastic book review and analysis of its content, context and meaning. Highly recommended.

http://www.geocities.com/socialistparty/Documents/NumReviews.htm A socialist party review on ‘outstanding accounts’ of the Miners Strike.

http://www.workersliberty.org/node/2366 – media bias in the portrayal of the NUM, Miners and Police.

http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/corru/doc/harare6.html – attempted coups in African States, with Mark Thatcher and David Hart

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_miners%27_strike_(1984-1985) – what happened before, during and after the strike.

http://www.strike84.co.uk/ – a brilliant site dedicated to the work of Martin Shakeshaft who documented the stike with his camera.

Image taken courtesy of The Guardian;

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/gallery/2005/01/07/miner_mcphee.jpg