Comic Reviews — SLUG Issue 43.

Comic Book Review: July 1992



Britain’s coolest comics magazine, Deadline, continues into its fourth year. And while the quality and brashness of the material have.faltered a bit, it’s still one of those titles that elevates a market glutted with ‘Yanboy” junk.

Begun by British comics artists Steve Dillon and Brett Ewins as an alternative to the often juvenile 2040 A.D., Deadline features cutting edge work by top cartoonists and hip music news.

The latest entry, #39, is highlighted by the return of favorite album Tank Girl in an ode to Beat writer Jack Kerouac. Unfortunately, this loving tribute is probably lost an mst of the ilk who make Tank Girl so popular. (Writer Alan Martin and artist Jamie Hewlett have both expressed a desire to kill the character off, but fan support keeps bringing her back.) Despite this limitation, though it’s actually a pretty clever and amusing satire. 

Similarly, enjoyment can be derived from “Underworld,” part 7 of Nick Abadzis‘ masterful “Hugo Tale” saga about Hugo’s unpleasant trek across America along with the sadistic Spooner. The more close-minded comics resider may be turned off by Abadzis’ rough rendering style, but it is employed with maximum effect. And frankly, the unflattering portrayal of the good old U. S. of A. by a foreigner is stunning and powerful.

Also, this issue sees not one, but two installments of Evan Dorkin‘s wonderful Milk & Cheese. Any comic strip which includes dialogue like “Go unconscious for the Lord!” has to have some value.

But, as with any anthology, there are low lights. These include Jan Beeston‘s Bubble Up and the Sideshow Freak and Alan Martin‘s “. . . And It Looks Like We’ve Made It Once Again” and “Cirde Sky – It Looks Like We’ve Made It to The End.” While all are drawn by spectacular artists (Beeston himself, Philip Bond and Glyn Dillon, respectively), the tales are pointless and ineffectual. Likewise, the once-amusing Shaky Kane continues his descent into mediocrity.

But the worst part of the magazine, as usual, is the music news and interviews, conducted in a condescending and vapid manner by the staff. While that kind of deverness may be big in the U. K., here hamars merely annoying Plus. . . there’s a free tape of 9 “up and-coming” U. K. bands which left this reviewer alternately frustrated and bored.

Despite all these negatives, though, Deadline is still a worthy product. The promise of the return of Disraeli‘s “Fatal Charm,” Peter Milligan‘s “Johnny Nemo,” and possible inclusion of short “Pirate Corp$!” lock very bright indeed. (B&W/color, $4.95)

 (Aside: There is also an odious creation circulating in comics shops entitled Deadline U. S. A. Published by Dark Horse Comics, this noxious comic reprints some hard-to-find material from newly issues of Deadline along with some new material.

The only real reason to buy Deadline U. S. A. is the occasional ”Weird World by Philip Bond, “Timulo” by D’israeli, and “Milk & Cheese” by Evan Dorkin.

There is also the mystifying but empty ‘Thirteen O’clock” by the usually reliable Richard Sala and some truly pathetic work by Alec Stevens and Ho Che Anderson.

But the worst content is the amateurish “Gwar” strip. Honestly, my grandmother could do better. To be kind, Dark Horse did at least lower the price of this comic from $9.95 to the exorbitant $3.95 But even that cost IS over-inflated.

Look, but don’t touch.



The title means just what it says in the case of Spider Baby Graphix’s Taboo anthology.

Created by horror artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben, Taboo acts as sort of a clearinghouse for ideas by comics creators and horror authors that other publishers might consider. . . taboo.

And, with issue #5, this comic appears to be achieving an admirable identity.

The fiendishness opens with Tom Marnick and Dennis Elletson‘s 39th and North, a dissection of the infamous (and nefarious) case of “The Black Dahlia.” While this piece is largely inconsequential, it selves as a good aperitif for the material to follow.

And those contents are often stunning.

At the top of the list is Jeff Nicholson‘s Through the Habitrails.” The three segments of this larger work-in-progres contained within reveal a bewildering and evocative look at life and work for a corporate entity. Depicted in symbolic fashion, the story is amusing but also depressing, as the company siphons off the employees’ creativity and drives those same employees to maddening extremes. Honestly, Nicholson wields an incisive mentality which makes “Habitrails” astounding.

But no less incredible are two chapters in ongoing stories by Alan Moore, “Lost Girls” and “From Hell.” The first, remarkably illustrated by “underground” cartoonist Melinda Gebbie, is billed as “enriching pornography” and dwells on the foibles of Lady Fairchild and her minor. The loneliness and despondency evoked by this simple tale leave one aching for more.

It is with “From Hell” that Moore achieves true perfection, though. Assisted by artist Eddie Campbell, Moore’s ambitious intellect probes the history and mythology of the “Jack the Ripper” murders. But. . . Moore peers beneath the surface of those events and explores just what kind of mentality could have perpetrated such a hideous series of mutilations Accepting author Stephen Knight’s premise, Moore weaves together a fascinating tapestry involving conspiracy, mysticism, and madness.

Chapter 4 of this magnum opus sees Queen Victoria summon Dr. William Wahey Gull to handle a matter a matter of some delicacy and Gull lures coachman Netley into the evolving and sinister deeds, with a coach ride around the magickal haunts of London. All this is rendered by the sloppy but talented Mr. Campbell.

Frankly, all else in this comic pales in comparison to these works. There is a lightweight piece by the extraordinary Matt Howarth and an adaptation of a Ramsey Campbell short story by consummate illustrator Michael Zulli, but these are merely added pluses

Those eager to rush out and buy Taboo should be warned that it is pricey at $1 4.95for 130 pages. /but the incredible interiors, coupled with the promising future addition of Neil Gaiman and Michael Zuli’s “Sweeney Todd,” make Taboo hard to resist. (B&W/ color, $14.95)

Afterword: There are at least three excellent mini-comics being produced locally: Rutabaga Comics, Coagulated Comics and Pez. All are or will be available at various locations around the valley, so your humble reviewer suggests you attempt to find copies of all three. You won’t regret it.

Check out more from SLUG Archives:
Book Review: January 1992
Books and Literature: February 1992