Tag Archives: Halo Jones

Arrival: thank God (or alien equivalent) for sci-fi with a brain

13 Nov
methode2ftimes2fprod2fweb2fbin2f47b59b1a-7054-11e6-acba-85f5c900fc1a

Amy Adams attempts to communicate with the visitors in Arrival

Arrival is that vanishingly rare thing: a major sci-fi release with a brain. When was the last one? Probably Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar in 2014, and its brain was pretty small: the whole film seemed based, as I wrote at the time, on a Queen song, while its striking time-dilation planet scene will be familiar to any fan, as Nolan is, of the works of Alan Moore (Halo Jones Book 3 on the planet Hispus, I’m looking at you).

Directed by the awesomely talented Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) and based on a short story, it imagines what would happen, and how people would feel, if alien ships suddenly took up position over the earth. Spoiler-free hint: it’s nothing like Independence Day.

I don’t want to give away too much about the film, as ever, but I will just give you one example of why and how it works. Doctor Strange has several striking fight scenes in which gravity is spectacularly upended. They are fun. But they don’t make you think. It’s all just special effects. The moment in Arrival when the heroes realise that gravity is no longer working according to accepted laws is a hundred times more powerful. Communicated through the panicked breath of Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, it feels real. We’re there, with them, as the enormity of the situation takes hold. There really are aliens, and they really are changing the laws of physics.

It’s that level of realism, applied to a science-fictional premise, that makes this a great film. I had thought, coming out of a preview a few months ago, that Amy Adams would be a lock for Best Actress at the Oscars. I’ve since seen La La Land, and without question that will sweep the board, including, probably, for Emma Stone. Nevertheless, Adams is terrific: Arrival rests entirely on her slender shoulders, and she Atlases it. Go see.

Pushing the boundaries of comics with Igor Goldkind and Al Davison

10 Apr

advance-review-pdf-of-is-she-available_page_451

I am about to embark on such a day-and-night month of work that it would turn a lesser man into a gibbering loon, so blog posts will be few and far between. But before I scale the Cliffs of Insanity, I’d like to bring to your attention two fascinating projects from auld acquaintances on the comics scene.

First up, Igor Goldkind.  Igor was the silver-tongued PR for Forbidden Planet and Titan Books back in the days when editors insisted on writing the headline: “Biff! Baff! Pow! Comics Are Growing Up!” (Sometimes they still do.) He it was who popularised the term “graphic novel” in order to make national newspaper critics feel they were not soiling their hands in writing about Watchmen, Dark Knight or Maus; he who introduced Wendy James of Transvision Vamp to Alan Moore’s works, leading to her single Hanging Out With Halo Jones – and to a weird afternoon I spent in the then notorious comics haunt Bar Munchen hanging out with Igor, the diminutive popstrel Wendy, and two incongruously vast and hulking Easter Island-type bodyguards.

But I digress.

Igor has now turned poet. But rather than release a slim, elegant, and easily overlooked booklet of verse, he has challenged himself to push the boundaries of what an enhanced ebook can do in order to house his whirling words. Is She Available? is a comic, in the way that a film is a book. In other words, it’s not a comic at all, though it does feature illustrations by 26 luminaries including Bill Sienkiewicz, Glenn Fabry, David Lloyd and Liam Sharp. Some of the illustrations move, in semi-animated style. Some of the poems speak to you – literally – in Igor’s own voice. Some are set to avant-garde jazz music by Gilad Atzmon. The whole thing is designed by the Don of Font, Rian Hughes, whose typographical word-sculptures make an extraordinary complement to the poetry.

Pretentious? Certainly. If it’s pretentious to dare reach for the stars, when you could so easily settle for a poet’s garret. It’s really quite an extraordinary thing. You can download Is She Available?, published by Chameleon, for $9.99 at http://is-she-available.com/. The full range of features is currently available only on iOS devices – iPad, iPhone or Macs – though a Windows-compatible version is in the pipeline.

A large panel from Muscle Memory by Al Davison

A large panel from Muscle Memory by Al Davison

And secondly, Al Davison. Al is an extraordinary man. His graphic novel memoir of growing up with spina bifida, Spiral Cage, and his reboot of the Theseus myth told from the point of view of the monster, The Minotaur’s Tale, are two of the finest works in the comics field. Having been told he would never walk, he became a karate black belt and martial arts instructor. Now more often confined to a wheelchair, he is working on a searing sequel to Spiral Cage, supported through Patreon, about his childhood, including how his father tried, repeatedly, to kill him as a toddler.

You can read the story so far, free online, here.

But if you’re near Coventry, go see for yourself. This Saturday, Urban Coffee Co at Fargo Village, Coventry is hosting the live event Muscle Memory: The Instant Retrospective Exhibition, 5.30-8pm. Painting live, Al Davison will also be telling stories of his life while the audience can bid for each work in a simultaneous live auction. After that, the completed exhibition will run for four weeks.