Another week, another poor soul washes up on the shoreline of one a string of isolated tiny desert islands somewhere in the Pacific. Misery, isolation, loneliness, and a constant struggle against the elements await them. But on the plus side, they do get their eight favourite comics to while away the hours with.
”Babble is an intriguing book, one that benefits from Robson’s decision not to drown the text in swathes of characters and plot lines, making for a clear, streamlined tale. The choice of subject raises some thoughts over which to ponder: if language is a cornerstone of civilisation, are we not better for the diversity and richness of various tongues or is the fuel for knowledge and the need for instant blanket communication paramount? Robson and Cole have created a great comic here, with an ending that you’ll have to read to appreciate. Pick it up.”
Robson’s based in the North East and has contributed to various UK publications and anthologies over the years; FutureQuake, Something Wicked and the Accent UK series of anthologies (Robots, Western, Predators, Zombies 2 and the forthcoming Victoriana). Babble was published in 2013 by Com.X to lots of reviews very similar to Zainabs. He has more more work set to appear in upcoming issues of Zarjaz and FutureQuake.
Desert Island Comics – Episode 60 – Lee Robson
I’ve owned a hardback copy of this since I was a kid. I can’t remember where I got it or who gave it to me, but I do remember being completely drawn into it in a way that a lot of comics like The Dandy and The Beano et al never had. Uderzo’s art was – and still is – amazing; it’s packed with so much detail, and, even now, I find myself marvelling at it and finding things I’d never noticed. Combined with Goscinny’s script (albeit the English translation from Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge), and all the jokes and silly character names, it’s a book I literally can’t imagine not having in my life.
Transformers UK: Time Wars by Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman
I make no excuses for my love of Transformers UK. The original strips produced for it by Simon Furman, Barry Kitson, Will Simpson, Lee Sullivan, Andrew Wildman and Geoff Senior amongst many, many others, quickly outstripped the US reprints in terms of quality. There’s a lot of great collections available, and, I’ll admit, I was torn between this one and Dinobot Hunt, but Time Wars just pips it. It was the culmination of a lot of UK storylines and had some brilliant moments that kept me on the edge of my seat (I mean, Optimus Prime vs Galvatron as the universe begins to tear itself apart!). This book – in fact, make that the whole series – still stands up as a great example of what can be done with licensed comics when the creators are let loose.
The complete Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle Detective Comics run
Slight cheat this one, I’ll admit, but, hey if I’m going to be stuck on that island, I can damn well take what I want, and I want to take this run.
This was, for me, the definitive Batman run. The characters presented here encapsulated the whole mythos so perfectly. We had a Batman who was lithe, menacing and almost demonic; a hardboiled and tough as nails Commissioner Gordon, a prim and proper, but deeply caring Alfred and, frankly, some of the best character work on Tim Drake that’s ever been done. It also introduced some brilliant new villains and painted the characters – both good guys and bad guys – with a lot of moral grey areas. It’s a shame DC have never collected any of these issues, though.
Dragon’s Claws by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior
Dragon’s Claws is, basically, awesome. Razor sharp scripting by Simon Furman and hyper kinetic art from Geoff Senior made the whole series read like everything was happening in fast forward. I remember that the Claws’ main rivals in the The Game (an atypical violent future sport), The Evil Dead, were introduced in the second issue and then killed off before it ended and it struck me that this was a comic where literally anything could happen – which was proved when Death’s Head turned up in issue five after being dumped in that timeline by The Doctor (yes, that The Doctor). It was a brilliant series that deserved to run a lot longer than its 10 issues.
If I’m asked, nine times out of ten, I’ll say that Flex Mentallo is my favourite comic series ever. I remember picking up the original comics on a whim for around 50p each from a back issue bin (this was back when no one cared about the series). I knew very little about it, other than something I’d read saying how brilliant it was, so I bought them and read them. And I was completely blown away. I literally had no idea where Grant Morrison was taking the story, but the final page of #3 just made my brain melt and had me clambering for the final issue to see how it was all going to end. For all of Morrison’s trademark weirdness, it was surprising and heartening to see that the story had a sense of hope and magic at its centre – something that seemed absent from a lot of the stuff I was reading at the time.
Confession time: I’ve never been a big fan of The Avengers. The revolving door take on the membership, the endless parade of d-list characters and the mountains of continuity surrounding the team history just turned me off completely. However, Millar and Hitch’s The Ultimates was, to me, everything The Avengers wasn’t: it had new takes on the big name characters, no baggage and some beautiful cinematic storytelling. More importantly, though, it was a damn fun read, and, the two volumes contain a complete story, so I wouldn’t be left wandering around the island trying to second guess what happened next. And I can also forget the horrible Ultimates 3.
Again, this is a cheat, I know, but I’d like to take the full series of the Dredd Case Files that have been printed so far (and then see if I can get the new ones dropped in as they go to print). I’ve had a pretty rocky relationship with 2000AD down the years, I’ll admit. There’s been times where I’ve been unable to get enough of it, but also times when I’ve barely been able to muster the enthusiasm to pick it up, but Dredd has been the one constant through it all, the one thing that’s kept me coming back. There’s just so many great storylines and iconic moments from down the years, it’s virtually impossible to list them all, but I’ll be damned if I ever get tired of reading them.
I mean, really, what more can be said about Warren Ellis and Stuart Immomen’s Nextwave? Pure genius/insanity from start to finish and, unfortunately, a type of comic that Marvel will probably never allow out of their stable again.
Luxury: For this, I’d have to take a TV and DVD player (and some sort of generator) along with the every series of Mad Men and a rack of sharp suits. If I’m going to be alone on that island, then no one can stop me living out my fantasies of being Don Draper…