Monday, 17 March 2014

Doghouse, Video Nasties and Comic Book Coincidences.

Two years ago I wrote a blog entitled 'That was then...', which was a rise and fall story of my comic shop; Apocalypse Comics. At the end of the blog I spoke of my desire to become a comic book writer and asked for you all to watch this space as I attempt to break into the industry that I love once again as a creator this time. Today, I am home after the hugely successful launch weekend for 'VIDEO NASTY', my d├ębut comic book, which has quickly become the hottest independent comic in the UK (soon to be the world) and I wanted to share with you all the story of how this project came to fruition.

January 2011, Apocalypse Comics, the comic shop that Brendon Irons (my best friend since childhood) and myself built from the ground up closed it's doors for the final time. We had been struggling with our finances for months up to that point and had found ourselves in an inescapable hole of debt to the point in which we finally had to wave the white flag and admit defeat. It was a crushing blow for us both, but as neither of us are the kind of blokes to just roll over and die, we remained determined to pursue our dreams in seperate avenues. Brendon now buys and sells retro toys (which was always his primary passion) online under the name PAST TIME TOYS and I couldn't be prouder of him. I on the other hand took the opportunity to do something that I had wanted to do for years, but never had the time to dedicate to; write comics.

I had already begun work on a project that would eventually become 'CIRCLES', the award nominated web comic that I release on a monthly basis through my website - - which I co-create with artist Frank J. Right, but now that I was out of work I had plenty of time on my hands to turn my ideas into scripts. The week after the shop closed I opened my laptop and begun working on the script for 'IMPERFECT WORLD', (which you can read more about here) an original graphic novel that is due out later this year with art by Grim Rascal, as well as fleshing out 'CIRCLES'. I soon started to see potential stories everywhere, gaining inspiration from the things I would see, hear and read, looking at the lives of those around me and wondering 'what if?'.

A couple of months into the year I was buying a horror movie on Amazon and in the recommendations section was a DVD that instantly piqued my interest. VIDEO NASTIES: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape, a documentary film about the video nasty scandal that rocked the UK in the 1980's. So I went straight to the torrent sites and downloaded a copy (yeah, I know it's wrong, but I'm one of those try before you buy guys). The film was a shocking eye opener that explained the media madness and government manipulation that led to 72 films being prosecuted for indecency, 39 of which were banned outright and the remaining 33 cut to ribbons by the censors. Video rental outlets and distributors had their stock seized and incinerated and some even faced prison sentences. It was lunacy as the newspapers and members of parliament involved created lie after lie to enforce their agendas of scaremongering. The film on the other hand was incredible and I was quickly back on Amazon purchasing a copy. Whilst waiting for it to arrive, I watched my dodgy pirate copy over and over and by the time the DVD saw its way through my letterbox I had found myself inspired to write another comic script.

My idea was to create a fictional horror story set in real world Britain during the nasty scandal. A series of brutal murders would rock a small English rural town and whilst a level headed police detective was attempting to solve these horrific crimes, pressure from on high was forcing him to investigate the possible link to horror videos. I had my inspiration, my plot and time to write and a week later a script for a 100 page stand alone graphic novel that I was very proud of. So what next? I needed to begin looking for an artist, but in the meantime I thought it would be a good idea to contact the people involved with the documentary to see if any of them would have a look at my script and endorse it. I may as well start at the top with the director, a man called Jake West. I knew that I had heard the name before but couldn't quite put my finger on where, but a quick search on IMDB made me believe that this project was serendipitous.

Rewind to 2008. I had just started up Apocalypse Comics as a mail order business from my bedroom at my Mum's house, selling comics through our website and on ebay. I received an email from a film production company that was making a horror film staring Danny Dyer called Doghouse, a scene of which was to be set in a comic book shop and I was asked if I had any spare comics that I could donate to dress the set, specifically any Evil Dead comics. We had recently done a deal with Dynamite Entertainment to produce a retailer exclusive variant cover for an issue of their ARMY OF DARKNESS comic, which to those of you that don't know is the third film in the Evil Dead series and so not only did we send over a big box of assorted comics, but also a stack of these exclusives. They credited us in the 'Thank You' section at the end of the film and we could advertise our comic as 'Seen in the film Doghouse' when flogging them at conventions. My girlfriend at the time and I went to the cinema to watch the movie on release and both thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a buzz to be part of a film and gave my shop a bit of bragging rights, which is all I thought it would ever be... But I was wrong.

So I'm looking at Jakes profile on IMDB and low and behold, he was only the bloody director of Doghouse! This guy owes me a favour! I google Jake and find Nucleus Films, the production company that he and Marc Morris run and I send him an email explaining this string of events that led to me to this finished script asking him to give it a read. At this point I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had nothing to lose in sending the email, but this guy is a film director who is probably way too busy to look over my funny book script, right? Within a day I had received a response from Jake, who was not only keen to read the script, but flattered that his work had inspired me to write it in the first place. What a result! What a nice guy! I'm a nobody fanboy with aspirations of becoming a writer and this man who was responsible for the critically acclaimed Video Nasties, the best documentary film I have ever seen, is willing to take time out of his busy schedule to take a look over my work! This is amazing! And being so proud of what I had written at that point, he will no doubt love the script and tell me I'm the next Alan Moore, right?

After reading it, Jake emailed me back with some notes of problems that he saw in the story. There were to be a fair a good few notes. Here I was thinking that I'm going to blow this guy away to the point in which he'd insist on adapting it for his next movie project and I'm being told that the script is less than perfect. My ego was bruised and it took me a few days to actually email him back as I read and re-read his advice over and over again, at first trying to see where I could tell him that he was wrong and the script was fine as it was. But he wasn't wrong and in actuality as I looked closer at the script, taking his advice into account, I could see just how it could be improved. What had just happened was probably the most important lesson I will ever learn about becoming a writer, in that you can become so close to what you are writing that you don't see the flaws in your own work. I know the messages that I want to convey to my audience, but if I don't tell the story properly or to its fullest potential then how can I expect them to be as impressed as I am. Even writing this blog now, knowing that no one else will read it before it is published I worry about mistakes. Once again Jake had inspired me, this time to become a better writer, open to criticism and willing to admit when changes need to be made. So back to the laptop I went, Jakes notes in hand, and began rewriting several more drafts until I was completely happy with the end result.

The 100 page graphic novel soon became a six issue mini series and now the hunt was on for an artist. A couple of artists seemed keen to be a part of the project, but were unreliable and to be fair their work wasn't great. What I really needed was someone who understood the vibe of the story I was trying to tell and could convey my vision into panelled pages. Enter Andreas Pefanis, the manager of COMICWORLD, a consortium of incredibly talented artists that all hail from Greece. Andreas had one artist in particular that was just finishing up on a comic that he assured me would be perfect for my project, a man by the name of Vasilis Logios. I took a look at Vas' portfolio and was inclined to agree with Andreas and so emailed him the scripts. Vas understood straight away what was needed and almost immediately began work on character designs. Shortly after we agreed on a financial arrangement and Vas got to work bringing Video Nasty to life.

I knew I had a great script with an original concept. I now also had a phenomenal artist making the book look incredible, but none of that is worth a damn if you can't entice people to pick the piece up in the first place. I needed a hook, something to make the book pop and force people to take notice. The old adage states that 'you should never judge a book by its cover', which whilst being true is something that is generally ignored in the world of comics. Almost all of the big publishers will boost sales by hiring big name premium artists to produce covers for their comics and as much as I love Vas' work, with the two of us being unknowns in the industry, it would be easier for us to gain recognition if our covers were produced by a big name. In horror art there is no bigger name in the UK than Graham Humphreys, the man responsible for the movie posters and VHS covers for films such as; A Nightmare on Elm St parts 1-5, Evil Dead 1&2, Return of the Living Dead, Kindred, From Dusk Till Dawn and the list goes on and on. I had loved Graham's work for years and even had one of his posters for Nightmare on Elm St 4 framed and hanging on my wall. In my mind there was no one better or more appropriate to produce the cover art. After an email conversation Graham was on board and the next few months was joyous as I received emails from both him and Vas with gloriously gory art. Soon, Sam Palmer joined the team as colourist and Nikki Foxrobot came on for lettering duties. The book came together smoothly and we were set to release the first issue in early 2014.

So I had a complete team and together we had a finished piece and a tentative release date. All I needed was to make some noise and get a potential fan base to be excited about this comic. I had read somewhere that when Joe Quesada, artist and Chief Creative Officer for Marvel Comics, was releasing his work for Event Comics, he would throw big launch parties that got him noticed by Marvel. You have to hustle in this business and so I thought if it worked for Joe, it could work for me. I knew that the Prince Charles Cinema in London's Leicester Square would show sponsored performances of films and with it being the best and coolest cinema in the UK, would also garner the book extra attention. So I booked the cinema for Saturday the 15th of March 2014 to show a special uncut screening of Sam Raimi's classic video nasty; THE EVIL DEAD, where I could address the crowd to promote the comic and send everyone away with a free copy of the first issue.

Everything was booked and in place and the next two months was hardcore promotion for the event and the comic in which I got back in touch with Jake who introduced me to Marc, both of whom have been massive supporters of the project and have done nothing but help get the word out about the book. I was also introduced to the guys that organise Fright Fest, the UK's biggest horror film festival and was invited to Glasgow to introduce the comic to the attendees as well as give them a sample in the form of an ashcan preview comic. After mailing out the press release there has been an overwhelming flow of support from the horror and comics media and the great reviews for the book keep coming. Academics, authors and film critics such as Brad Stevens, Patricia MacCormack and David Flint have all endorsed the book and critically praised it. It has been a roller coaster two months leading up to the launch of Video Nasty #1 that culminated in an incredibly successful launch weekend at both the Prince Charles, where 200+ horror fanatics came to watch the Evil Dead and support the comic, as well as at London Super Comic Convention where Vas, Graham, Sam and I signed copies of the first issues for fans rabid for the next big thing in horror and comics!

It took three years of hard work to get to this point and this is still only the beginning. There are still five more issues of VIDEO NASTY to come and Vas & I are already getting prepped for volume 2 which we will release in March 2015. Plus my webcomics are going from strength to strength and I have at least two other separate projects due for release this year.

I need to say a massive Thank You to all involved in creating the book, to all that have helped to promote it, to all that have bought it and to those that attended the launch party. I am overwhelmed by the positive reaction and promise to continue to create the best quality comics on the market, making sure to remain humble and open to criticism.

Thank You All!


You can buy Video Nasty from UK on Display, Forbidden Planet and all quality comic shops.
Please follow Video Nasty's progress at
Follow me on Twitter @MarioCovone
And buy yourself a copy of the Video Nasties documentary here.

Monday, 31 December 2012

It's not a review. It's just my opinion! #10 - RECESS PIECES

I read a lot of graphic novels, more so than floppies. So I have decided to tell you all what I am reading and what I thought about those particular books. I want to stress though that I am not looking to review these books in the style of a critic, or to give them a rating, only to express my opinions as a fan of what I personally thought of what I have read. Please do not let my opinion sway you in any way, as I have always lived by the credo that I will make my own mind up about something and so should you. Plus, they say that critics are people that can't actually create themselves and that aint me.
Finally, this is my actual reading pile. All the books I have bought myself for the purpose of my enjoyment and as I am not tieing myself down to any kind of formulated structure, you may notice that I read whatever takes my fancy, rather than switching characters or publishers etc...


 RECESS PIECES - by Bob Fingerman

It is books like this that make me state that this is only my opinion and I am in no way arrogant enough to critique my peers by picking holes in their work. I say this because this book is written with a certain style of humour that isn't usually my cup of tea, but just because it isn't, doesn't mean that there won't be a huge audience out there that will appreciate this book completely.
It is a Zombie book, the beauty of which is that zombies can be placed in any environment, unlimited by anything other than their origin (which a lot of the time can be left vague) and the characters within the book/film/comic carry the story and keep the interest of the observer. In this case, after a lab experiment by a zany science teacher goes awry, the living dead are roaming the halls of a suburban American high school in what seems to be the mid seventies. A group of students are then left to defend themselves from the marauding mob of man munchers, all the while looking to escape the school.
Bob Fingerman writes as well as provides the very unique art and I wonder if he has based the main character Bobby on his young self. If he has, this may be where my problem lies with the book as Bobby is a genius who knows that he is a genius and enjoys nothing more than to tell jokes, playing up the class clown and coming across quite arrogant whilst doing it. This doesn't make for a very good protagonist, as half the time I found him annoying and was hoping that he would be eaten alive.
The book also has a no holds barred attitude with its political correctness, having certain characters using racist and homophobic slang whilst talking. To be fair though, it is mostly the school bully who is guilty of this and his character is written as ignorant and to be disliked. It also adds an edge of realism to the book, as kids who don't really know any better, especially in the seventies, talk the way that these kids talk, with the exception of Bobby, whose deep vocabulary is explained with the fact that he is a genius, but doesn't sit right with someone looking to relate with the main character of the book.

Not that I'm not a genius that is!

Even with my minor problems, I found this book to be very easy to get into and extremely enjoyable too. I read it cover to cover quickly and by the time I got to the end, I could have done another hundred pages easily!

Maybe my affinity to this book springs from the fact that I have a similar zombie book coming out mid 2013. It too is a comedic affair and more of an action farce than a straight up horror comic. Mine features wrestlers in a grave yard though and I hope that when it is completed it comes across and reads as well as this book. You can read more about it in the following blog post:

Anyhoo... pick up Recess Pieces and Imperfect World if you are looking for a fun read that is a break from the constant string of superhero books.


Friday, 28 December 2012

Hero Talk Episode 28

Hey Dudes and Dudettes! Available now to download onto your new fangled listening devices is Episode 28 of everybody's favourite comic book and geek related podcast - HERO TALK!

This week, James Lundy, Mat Guy & Dean Saul take part in an end of year quiz, hosted by none other than myself. See if you can match wits with the 4 Guys with 4 Eyes!!!

We also talk about new Irish Indie comic; The Celtic Clan, Marvels new Digital Unlimited reader for the iPad and the crazy death threats posted towards Dan Slott.

All this plus much more on the best comic book podcast in the WORLD!!! :)


- Subscribe via iTunes entering the following:
- Download the mp3 via:

Thursday, 13 December 2012

It's not a review. It's just my opinion! #9 - BATMAN - KNIGHTFALL

I read a lot of graphic novels, more so than floppies. So I have decided to tell you all what I am reading and what I thought about those particular books. I want to stress though that I am not looking to review these books in the style of a critic, or to give them a rating, only to express my opinions as a fan of what I personally thought of what I have read. Please do not let my opinion sway you in any way, as I have always lived by the credo that I will make my own mind up about something and so should you. Plus, they say that critics are people that can't actually create themselves and that aint me.
Finally, this is my actual reading pile. All the books I have bought myself for the purpose of my enjoyment and as I am not tieing myself down to any kind of formulated structure, you may notice that I read whatever takes my fancy, rather than switching characters or publishers etc...


This is one of the all time classic Batman story lines, running through the dark gritty nineties whilst characters the like of Punisher and Lobo were at the height of their successes, which heavily influenced the mainstream titles including Superman, Spider-Man and of course Batman. The breaking of the Bat and his eventual return is one of those iconic arcs that has resonated throughout the characters lore all the way through to Flashpoint and the New 52. It even took centre stage as a pivotal part of the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy this summer just gone, which is probably the main motivating factor for why DC took it upon themselves to finally release the story in a complete unabridged set of graphic novels. The original three part collection of books came in at about 300 pages per volume and missed out massive chunks of the story, including the entire Knightquest arc, but this new set clocks in at around 600 pages per tome and is a proper meaty read. Finally I will be able to read this story as it is intended and below are my thoughts on each volume.

Knightfall Volume 1 - (w) Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon & Alan Grant (a) Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent, Bret Blevins, Klaus Janson and Mike Manley

This volume begins with the one-shot; Vengeance of Bane, in which we discover the back story of Bane and his associates; Zombie, Bird and Trogg. Bane, born the son of a prisoner in Pena Duro, a maximum security prison on the Island of Santa Prisca, is raised in a no holds barred, kill or be killed environment within the prison walls, where love and kindness seems to be an alien concept. He grows up to be a cold merciless machine of a man who is then experimented on with the super soldier style drug known as Venom which then turns him into an almost unstoppable tank like killing machine.
On hearing of Gotham City and the legend of the Batman, Bane now gives himself a new mission in life, to destroy the Bat, who he sees as a warrior that he must overcome on his way to greatness and become the new "King" of Gotham.
His first act is to break the inmates out of Gotham's famed Arkham Asylum. Batman, who is suffering from a virus anyway, now has to run a gauntlet of his most feared foes. A large chunk of the book then follows the Dark Knight as he squares off against The Mad Hatter, Amygdala, The Ventriloquist & Scarface, Zsasz, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, The Joker, Cornelius Stirk, Firefly, The Cavalier, Poison Ivy and the Riddler all before facing Zombie, Bird and Trogg and then the main event; BANE!
At this point Batman is in pretty bad shape. Sick and beaten up, he has to face someone that would pose a serious challenge even if he was in top form. On returning to the batcave, Bane, who has now discovered Batmans secret identity, awaits his return and proceeds to beat the living hell out of the caped crusader, culminating in a devastating back breaker across his knee. In critical condition, Alfred, with the help of Robin, has to fight to save his Master Wayne's life, only for him to awake in a crippled, wheelchair bound state. Back broken, spirit shattered.
Now a new man must take up the mantle of the bat as Bane takes his place as the crime lord of Gotham. Enter Jean-Paul Valley, the vigilante known as Azrael who had been working under Bruce Wayne's tutelage, a man who has been brainwashed since youth by The System, a deep level of psychological conditioning preparing him to serve the sacred order of Saint Dumas as an elite assassin. Now, in the guise of Batman, Valley must fill the void that Bruce Wayne has left behind whilst Bane and his enforcers run rampant over Gotham. This culminates in a final battle between the new Batman and Bane, in which Bane is finally beaten and a new Dark Knight stalks the streets of Gotham.

I LOVED this first volume. It introduces Bane and fleshes him out incredibly well so that you genuinely fear for Batman's safety when they finally collide. The gauntlet leading upto this collision is also extremely fun to read, as Bats goes up against fan favourites like the Joker and Scarecrow, which is always fun. The breaking of the Bat is iconic and one of those scenes that gets you every time you turn the page to see that big splash panel of Batman bent awkwardly over Bane's gigantic knee. My only disappointment with this chapter is the ease in which Valley defeats Bane at the end of the book. Sure, he hasn't run the gauntlet like Bruce had to, but he also doesn't have the training and experience that his predecessor had. I would have preferred to have seen a stalemate that culminated in a chess game of back and forth battles and manoeuvres between Gothams two newest members.

All in all though, a very enjoyable and easy read from start to finish, which surprised me with the somewhat clunky style that the nineties is often famous for. I went straight into volume two, which after 600+ pages speaks volumes.

Knightfall Volume 2 - (w) Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy & Alan Grant (a) Barry Kitson, Vince Giarrano, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent, Bret Blevins, Tom Grummett and Mike Manley

I wish I could be as passionate about this volume as I was about the first, but unfortunately it is a big disappointment. The thing that really jazzed me about these new printings was the nature of them being the complete Knightfall saga, but on reading volume 2, you come to realise that eight key issues are missing. At the end of volume one, Jean-Paul Valley becomes the Batman and Bruce, battered and crippled by his fight with Bane, sets off on a mission to locate Tim Drakes father who has been kidnapped under mysterious circumstances. Bruce and Alfred board a private plane, accompanied by Selina Kyle, who stows away with them, and begins their quest to search for Jack Drake. The story arc that follows Bruce, entitled 'The Search' is omitted from this book all together. Instead we follow the journey of Jean-Paul as he takes the legend of the dark knight into a new and twisted direction.
He bans Robin from the batcave, bricks up the entrance that leads to Wayne Manor, creates a new suit of armour and ditches the batmobile in favour of a vehicle that runs on the underground subway tracks. He also has a different attitude to that of Bruce Wayne, adopting a more vicious style of crime fighting. All the time there is a battle raging from within as the spirit of Saint Dumas and that of his Father act as devil and angel sitting on his shoulders, urging him to act in conflicting ways. His Father wanting him to be the ruthless assassin that he was raised to be and Saint Dumas instead insisting that he be more like the original Batman, a crime fighter, not a killer. With all of this going on inside his head, as well as The System forcing his hand to create new armour and arsenal, no wonder he seems to be pushed off of the edge of sanity.
The meat and potatoes of this book tells the stories of the new Batman fighting crime, but unlike the previous book this volume is more of a series of short stories cobbled together with no underlying arc running through it and with no mention of Bruce, Alfred or Jack Drake coupled with the sudden change of pace, this makes for a stilted read. I found myself not caring as much as I had just spent so much time invested in Bruce's ordeal and for it to not be followed up was incredibly frustrating.
The final chapter of the book sees Jack and Bruce return from nowhere. Bruce is out of the wheelchair and walking again, with only a brief explanation as to why. Robin informs him of Jean-Paul's decent into madness and there is a confrontation between the two, with Bruce demanding that the mantle of the Bat be returned to him. After a scuffle, Bruce decides that he needs more training before he can truly confront the new Batman and the book pretty much ends there.

If anyone out there is considering picking these books up, then please search for the following back issues that you will need to complete this second volume and read the story of The Search:

Justice League Task Force #5 & 6
Batman Shadow of the Bat #21, 22 & 23
Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #59, 60 & 61

Knightfall Volume 3 - (w) Dennis O'Neil, Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy & Alan Grant (a) Barry Kitson, Vince Giarrano, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent, Bret Blevins, Ron Wagner, Joe Rubinstein, Mike Vosburg, Mike Gustovich, Romeo Tanghal, Lee Weeks, Phil Jimenez, MD Bright, John Cleary, Tom Grummett and Mike Manley

The final volume of this epic arc in the legend of the Batman is split into two stories; Knightsend and Prodigal.
The first story, Knightsend, focuses on the final days of Jean-Paul Valley's run as the Dark Knight and Bruce's training in his journey to take back the mantle of the Bat. Bruce seeks out Lady Shiva and asks for her help in getting him back to fighting fit shape and ready for action. But Shiva is devious and whilst donning the mask of Tengu, a bat like Japanese mask, she murders the sensai of seven deadly ninja assassins and frames Bruce by giving him the mask and setting the killers onto him. This leads him into a new gauntlet of foes to battle, each more deadly than the previous, in an effort to regain the skills he feels he has lost since his defeat at the hands of Bane.
Bruce, of course, is victorious as he defeats them one at a time and finally puts the cape and cowl back on, resuming his role as the one true Batman.
Meanwhile, Jean-Paul Valley, driven to madness by the voice in his head claiming to be the spirit of Saint Dumas, is on the search for the man who killed his Father, beating information out of petty criminals and hoods on his way. He has lost the plot and isn't representing the ideals of what the Batman should stand for as he brutalises his way across Gotham.
This all leads to the final showdown between Bruce and Jean-Paul as they battle ferociously, both claiming to be the true Batman. The fight concludes at Wayne Manor as Bruce leads the pretender through the bat cave and tricks him into finally removing the helmet and admitting his wrong doings. Surprisingly, once Jean-Paul gives himself up, Bruce doesn't attempt to take him into custody, instead leaving the broken man that was once Gotham Cities vigilante to walk away, know what he had done and being full of regret.
The second story arc, Prodigal, sits very strangely in this collection as it really doesn't appear to have anything to do with Bane, Azrael or the flow of the story up to this point. Taking place directly after the events of Knightsend, Bruce tells Dick that even though he felt that he had to fight Jean-Paul and reclaim the mantle of the bat, that he wasn't actually ready for the task and places the responsibility with the original Robin. What follows is a twelve issue story with Dick as Batman and Tim Drake's Robin as his sidekick. At first it seems that there will be one main threat flowing through the arc, that being Two Face who has taken an opportunity to escape from prison and is undertaking a scheme to free a whole load of Blackgate inmates by hacking into government computers and overturning their sentences. This arc comes to a conclusion by issue 6 and the rest of the story is broken into individual plots with varying villains and no real coherent direction. The main focus is with Dick, who now that he is finally wearing the cape and cowl, is resistant to giving it up, but this is handled in a very wishy washy way and never had me gripped or feeling like I empathised with his plight. My frustration truly lies with the fact that Bruce doesn't take on Bane again and finally have his victory over the man that crippled him, something that was handled much better with the Dark Knight Rises film.

All in all I enjoyed these books for what they were, but truth be told, I was expecting more. They should have ditched the Prodigal story arc and included The Search within the collection. As for the comics as they were originally released, I still don't understand why there was no showdown with Bane.

Pick these up if like me you want to read the full story, but just make sure you grab a few back issues to plug the gaps first.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hero Talk Episode 27

Hey Dudes and Dudettes! Available now to download onto your new fangled listening devices is Episode 27 of everybody's favourite comic book and geek related podcast - HERO TALK!

This week, James Lundy, Mat Guy, Dean Saul and myself ramble on about what is going on in our heads in regards to the world of comics, including, but not limited to; the new shiny MAN OF STEEL trailer, our memories of Collectormania in the MK shopping centre, Gail Simone being fired from DC & the women of the comic industry, Artists vs. Writers and Star Trek Into Darkness.

All this plus much more on the best comic book podcast in the WORLD!!! :)


- Subscribe via iTunes entering the following:
- Download the mp3 via:

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Short Stories #2.2

The Orphan
Chapter 2
by Mario Coleman

Ritchie loved Saturdays. It was his all-time favourite day of the week by far. On any other day he would fight the sunlight peering into his room between the curtains by scrunching his eyes up tight and pulling the cover up over his head. This would leave his feet sticking out from under the covers, so he would pull them in and curl up into a ball, which is how he would stay until his mother demanded that he “Get up and get ready for school” or his full bladder couldn’t take it anymore and he had to run to the toilet. But not on a Saturday. On Saturdays, Ritchie would be up and awake between six and seven in the morning. He would jump out of bed, throw his dressing gown on and run downstairs. Once he had fixed himself a bowl of cereal he would sit in front of the TV and watch cartoons until his parents got up. There was something magical to him about this two or three hour period that he had to himself. He would feel special, like the man of the house with the responsibility of guarding the downstairs all to himself whilst Mummy and Daddy slept. It was a little slice of liberty for him too, as this was the only time in the week he could think of that he had to himself and he enjoyed this small sample of solitude. By nine thirty his folks would be up and Mum would be grilling bacon whilst Dad made a pot of coffee. The aroma from the kitchen was indelibly carved into his mind like a lovers promise in the side of a tree and it gave him the same safe, warm, fuzzy feeling every time. He was probably too young to realise it, but he loved his life. He was happy to be in a good place and without knowing it, he appreciated it immensely.
His father, Joseph, was a fork lift truck driver and his mother, Catherine, worked at a bakery. During the week, Joseph would get home from work tired and would crash out on the sofa. He always had time to spend with Ritchie, but Catherine would be in the kitchen preparing dinner or cleaning up afterwards. Not on a Saturday morning though. They would both be in the kitchen making breakfast and laughing and joking with each other. Joseph would hold Catherine in his arms and they would act like kids again, young and in love. Sometimes he would chase her around the kitchen, sometimes he would just hold her tight and close his eyes, nestle his head between her head and shoulder and kiss her neck, breathing her into his soul. She always smelled like fresh bread and half of the time he would be tempted to nibble on her, though ever so gently. Ritchie never saw them fight, a blessing he was also unaware of, but on Saturday mornings when they would cuddle in the kitchen, he would get his half bacon sandwich and run out of the room, half with a childish sense of embarrassment and half to let them have their time together.

At ten thirty, Joseph would take the boy to football training at the playing fields and Ritchie would run around for the next two hours whilst Dad stood on the side-line and cheered him on. He was always Ritchie’s biggest supporter and when the under elevens season was under way, he would go to all of the games and let him know that he was supported. He was a proud father who had made up his mind a long time ago that he would always be there for his son.

This particular Saturday was an extremely hot summer’s day. One of those horrible humid days that keep your clothes clinging to you with sweat and no matter which method you try to cool yourself off, the heat just won’t quit. The football field was dry and dusty and by the time Ritchie had finished practice, his knees were scuffed and his shirt was drenched. He didn’t bat an eyelid though as he ran off the pitch towards Joseph with a Cheshire cat grin. “How was I Dad?” Ritchie asked as his father passed him a water bottle. “You were incredible as always. You keep the practice up and you’ll be playing professionally when you grow up.” He responded. “Can we get ice cream on the way home?” Ritchie asked hopefully. “On a day like today, I think it would be wrong not to get some ice cream.” To which Ritchie beamed. He loved Saturdays.

The car pulled into the drive as Ritchie was finishing up his ice cream. He had a double scoop, one Chocolate and the other Vanilla, with raspberry sauce and chocolate sprinkles. He wasn’t generally a messy eater, but somehow he had managed to get a dribble of chocolate ice cream down his chin that he hadn’t realised was there. Joseph had a brown paper bag with a pint of pistachio ice cream for Catherine. It was her favourite and even though he himself wasn’t overly keen on it, he knew it would make her smile and that was all he ever wanted to see. She had the most beautiful smile that made her eyes sparkle and Joseph’s heart would still skip a beat at the sight of it. That alone was worth the extortionate amount of money that they charged him for this tub of ice cream. “I want you to jump in the shower right away. Don’t sit and watch cartoons whilst you’re still dirty. Not on my couch mister.” Joseph ordered Ritchie who gave his Dad a nod of affirmation back to him. They got out of the car and walked up to the front door. Ritchie ran in front and pushed the door open without noticing that it was already ever so slightly ajar. He ran straight upstairs and into the bathroom and by the time Joseph stepped in over the threshold, he could hear the shower running. “Cathy.” Joseph called out as he rummaged in his pockets to pull out his wallet and mobile phone and put them, along with his keys, in a fruit bowl on the living room table that was cluttered with bits and bobs rather than any actual fruit. There was a small pile of unopened letters on the table next to the bowl and Joseph picked them up and sifted through them. Catherine usually opened the mail as soon as it arrived. She was a stickler for making sure that the bills were all sorted and taken care of and that they were filed away in neat file folders and placed on a shelf on the bookcase. Maybe the post had only just arrived. “Cathy?” he called again as he left the living room back into the hall on his way to the kitchen.

Ritchie was never overly keen on showering. He found it boring. Plus, if his smell didn’t bother him, why should it bother anyone else. He had found that his opinion on the matter didn’t really count for anything though as his parents wouldn’t allow him to watch cartoons, get a sandwich or go out to meet his friends unless he had showered after football practice. So instead of complaining, he had submitted to just getting on with it, jump in the shower and scrub up as quickly as possible because then the rest of the afternoon would be all his. Today he had planned to watch some more cartoons until wrestling was on at three. There was to be a World Tag Team championship match and his favourite tag team was going for the gold. He lathered up his hair with shampoo and did his best not to wince as the soap stung his eyes. If he was ever going to be a professional wrestler when he grew up, he would have to be tough and only a sissy would let shampoo in the eye bother him. This lasted all of about three seconds until his eyes were burning and he was rinsing them under the cleansing water of the shower. Maybe he wasn’t cut out to be a tough guy. Maybe football would be his calling. He was at an age where he wanted to be everything that was ever considered cool and wasn’t overly concerned with how the future would turn out. As long as his Saturdays remained as fun as this, he would be content. After a few minutes of rinsing the soap from his body, Ritchie grabbed the big fluffy towel on the rail next to the shower and wrapped himself up in it. He shivered a little as the warm water ceased to run over him and the outside of the shower was a little cooler, though the day was too hot for him to feel any cold for long. Ritchie left the bathroom and went into his bedroom, where he proceeded to dry himself off and throw on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Now he was ready to enjoy the rest of his day.

Ritchie descended the staircase, entered the living room and went straight for the remote control. He turned on the TV set and switched it to the channel that was playing his favourite cartoons. Happy with this, he turned to head for the kitchen where he intended to fix himself a cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. He walked down the hall and entered the kitchen.

This is the moment in time that Ritchie lost his innocence and his care free existence, as he stepped into the kitchen and was immediately hit with panic and nausea. His head spun and went cold, as if rebelling from the heat of the day. Shock set in and he began to shiver as he lost control of his bladder and bowels. He couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing, never in his worst nightmares. There was a man, dressed all in black with a black balaclava, straddling his father who was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The man in black had his back to Ritchie, but turned to look at him as he entered the room. Dark eyes peered through the window of the hood and caught Ritchie’s and the little boy, petrified, was frozen in place. The stranger was clutching a large knife, smooth on one edge, serrated along the other side and dripping with his father’s blood. The man stared a hole right through him, as big as the gaping wound in Joseph’s chest and may well have been considering using the knife on the child when his father stirred, coughing up a globule of dark crimson liquid. Surprising the stranger, he turned back to Joseph and began hacking away at his neck, sliding the jagged edge across his windpipe and through his spinal cord. It was at this point that Ritchie, desperate to look away, spotted his Mother looking down on him. “Mummy!” he cried out at Catherine, reaching his arms out towards her. He could only see the top of her head, as she seemed to be ducked down, hiding behind the kitchen counter. Ritchie ran past the stranger, who was still working on his father, and around the counter. There he saw his mother’s headless corpse on the floor and as he turned to look up at the counter he could now see that her head had been placed neatly on top and sticky red blood pooled on the surface mixing with the melted green ice cream that was leaking out of the brown paper bag next to it. The stranger then got up, wiped the blood off of his knife using the top of his trousers and headed towards the boy.

Ritchie blacked out…

To Be Continued Next Week.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Hero Talk Episode 26

Hey Dudes and Dudettes! Available now to download onto your new fangled listening devices is Episode 26 of everybody's favourite comic book and geek related podcast - HERO TALK!

This week, James Lundy, Mat Guy, Dean Saul and myself round up our personal highlights of 2012 sharing our favourite Comics, writers, artists, blu rays, animated movies, statues, video games, conventions and much more.

On top of this and all of the latest news and current affairs, Dean discusses his picks for Comics of Future Past, these being Amazing Fantasy #15/Amazing Spider-Man #1, The Tower Chronicles and Fairy Quest!

All this plus much more on the best comic book podcast in the WORLD!!! :)


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