Recently I used up money from the Google Rewards program to buy a Comic Collection app, so I ventured forth to catalogue all the titles that majestically nest on my selves. The trades, graphic novels and hard covers were very straight forward but as I proceeded through the boxes of single issues I (re)discovered comics that I had utterly forgotten I ever had. Some are great, some are horrid.
In Australia, especially rural areas such as where I grew up, purchasing comic books was not easy and the only source was the local news agent where supply was sporadic at best. Occasionally, however, they would have a run of comic book ‘grab bags’ where there was one comic that was not half-bad at the front of a sealed plastic bag and three or four behind it – and what they might be was entirely pot-luck. It has to be assumed that is where many of the below issues came from…
- Writer: Steve Perry
- Artist: Tom Yeates
This seems to be centred around two Indigenous Americans, one a wizened old man and the other a fool-hardy teenager, who possess magic – including the ability to time travel. There’s talking fish, power hungry princes, beautiful princesses, a dying old ruler, a dragon serpent thing … and a giant space fungus god thing that spurts on everything. It’s even called ‘The Spurtyn Duyvel’. Between the ‘spurtyn’ and the title of the issue “the Blacksack of King Ogam” … there’s a certain subtext happening. It’s not a bad issue, though the art looks like one of those all ‘classics illustrated’ titles but there doesn’t seem to be anything special here. The old man seems to be a cross between Yoda and the William Hartnell Doctor, while his student is a stereotypical brash teenager who doesn’t know his own limits and causes trouble for everyone.
- Writer: Watson Portello
- Artist: Watson Portello
Black and white artwork does nothing to hide predictable and cheesy ‘horror’ tales – using horror as a term to describe gore and violence rather than any actual scares, much less anything that anyone above a 12 year old might find engaging. The two stories inside (‘The Hound of Hell’ and ‘The Axe’) try to be edgy and full on but instead just came across as dull and groan inducing. The art itself is serviceable but lacks any real oomph or energy. This comic is, to be blunt, trash and serves only as an example of what a fairly bland and un-entertaining book looks like.
- Creators: Michael Michalandos & Tim McEwen
A delightful Australian comic with an interesting premise; on a farm one of the bulls realises that he is bored and decides to do something with his life, starting by knocking on the farmers door and starting to talk about life. He watches TV for three days straight and is still keen to see the world but has a heart of gold – when a bank representative comes to the farm house in order to repossess the farm, the bull intimidates the suit and eats the letter. There is a lot of heart and comedy in the interactions between the farmer (who struggles to come to terms with his suddenly sentient bull) and his former prize stud. I am not aware that another issue was ever released but this was worth reading.
Platinum Grit #1-10 (Dead Numbat Productions / 1994)
- Writer: Danny Murphy
- Artist: Trudy E. Cooper
Another surprisingly good Australian title that I was delighted to find in the miscellaneous comic book box during my sorting. The narrative centres around Jeremy (a hapless science geek who desperately wants to meet a nice girl) and Nils (a sex driven abusive girl who is definitely not nice) and their outlandish adventures. The first arc involves Jeremy inheriting a Scottish Castle from his senile Aunt but to keep it he needs to win a sword duel against his immortal cousin Dougal. Then there is alien abduction, mind control, investigative reporters, a talking cupboard, pet pigs, a family mental asylum and so much more mayhem that it is surprising the story makes any sense at all. This title is not for children but it is fun and the art style suits the story very well. I have the first TPB (released by Image, no less) but damned if I can find any others for sale. I recommend Platinum Grit for the covers alone if nothing else.
- Writer: Peter Quinones
- Artist: Steve Ditko
I vaguely recall the TV show that this title is based on but those hazy memories tell me that it was not a hit TV series as the cover tries to tell us. The script is amateurish to say the least, with the villains monologuing and appearing from nowhere while motivations for any of the characters seem to range between non-existent and puzzling. The legendary Steve Ditko supposedly did the pencils for this issue but the flair and originality he was so known for seems to be missing here – perhaps it is a case of shoddy inking which seems to be of a uniform thick width throughout the issue, I really don’t know. However, the art comes across as amateurish as the writing and the mix does the comic no good at all. It is not a good issue and really is not worth reading.