By Vance and Van Hamme
An awful lot has happened in the story of XIII so far, so it's gratifying to see the first two pages of this thirteenth volume turned over to a comprehensive recap of the saga so far (which perhaps works better than the entire recap volume we were expecting). And let's face it, it's been a complicated, intriguing and exciting ride, so you'd be forgiven if you've not been keeping track of every twist and turn along the way.
The man once known as XIII, Jason Fly, now finds himself being charged with the kidnapping and murder of the President and is without his allies. The new President has gone back on his word to protect Fly and new enemies seek to use his disadvantaged position to get themselves out of their own mess.
When Fly is sentenced to life in a secret prison he is in little doubt he will get there alive, and sure enough an attempt is made on his life. However, another force wants the honour of sending Fly to the grave, so he's saved from one assassination only to find himself the centre of a manhunt in the Californian wilderness.
Despite the two pages of recapping that help get the story straight in your mind, there are further twists and revelations here to cast doubts on Fly's identity and past. Vance and Van Hamme keep the pressure on and the adrenalin pumping, making this a genuine must-read.
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
In the world of Japanese manga, Yoshihiro Tatsumi was a pioneer of the craft and is largely over-looked now in the country of his birth where there is a constant focus on the new. Us westerners still have a lot to learn and discover about Japanese comics, so it’s gratifying that Drawn & Quarterly are taking the trouble to collect his work and make it available to an English-speaking audience.
This particular volume focuses on some of Tatsumi’s short-stories, originally created around 1971. They’re not a jolly read by any means, and show a bleaker, darker side to life in Japan, in some cases still haunted by the events of the second world war.
The first tale is very much about this, featuring a military journalist who photographs a ghostly silhouette of a mother and son’s shadow, etched into the wall by the flash of the Hiroshima bomb. He believes the son is massaging the tired shoulders of his mother and the blast caught them unawares, making it a poignant and powerful moment in time and it rockets him into the limelight as the nation takes the photo to heart. However, when the photo turns out to have captured a very different moment, the photographer finds his reputation threatened.
In another tale a woman remains faithful to her rogue of a man while he’s incarcerated, getting by as a hostess in a bar and having to suffer the daily drunken and lecherous punters. For four years she waits and is faithful to him, but on the day before her man’s release she realises what a fool she’s been to hold out for such a despicable character and ends up avenging the matter in the only way she knows how.
There’s little redemption or hope displayed in these tales, but the cultural and historical differences make this a fascinating and captivating collection. If modern manga isn’t quite your cup of tea then you may well find this more to your taste.
And if you liked that: Look up a copy of Barefoot Gen.
ANIMAL CRACKERS - A Cartoon and Comic Bestiary
The Cartoon Museum, 25 July – 21 October 2012
Animals have always inspired cartoon and comic artists, and this cartoon bestiary features the iconic American Eagle, the Russian Bear and the financial Fat Cat, as well as favourite characters such as Mickey Mouse, Wallace and Gromit, Flook, Fred Basset, Gnasher, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred and Rupert Bear. Also included are cracking joke cartoons from Punch, Private Eye, The Oldie, The Spectator and many national papers. There is something for everyone with over 140 cartoons, caricatures, comics and graphic novels by over 60 artists.
Throughout history animals have fascinated us - we have hunted, eaten, studied, collected – and drawn them. They inspired our earliest art and our oldest myths. We have given them human attributes: ‘as cunning as a fox’, ‘as wise as an owl’, ‘as brave as a lion’. Selfish pigs and proud peacocks strut their stuff on our gallery walls accompanied by Aesop’s Hare and Tortoise, the Three Bears (minus Goldilocks) and other characters of fur, feather and scale from folk and fairy tales and from literary classics such as the Alice books.
Many of the cartoons suggest how much animals are ‘just like us’. From Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket and King Louie of The Jungle Book to Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, these animals are human in every way that counts. Others, such as Simon’s Cat and Thelwell’s ponies, highlight our pets’ irritating or endearing habits.
The exhibition includes works by Nick Abadzis, Nathan Ariss, Sally Artz, Bill Baker, Ian Baker, Carl Barks, Les Barton, Leo Baxendale, Steve Bell, Neil Bennett, Steve Best, Alfred Bestall, Andrew Birch, Simon Bond, Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, Cluff, Clive Collins, James Crighton, Andy Davey, Jim Davis, the Disney studio, Hunt Emerson, Michael ffolkes, Jacky Fleming, Herbert Foxell, Les Gibbard, Carl Giles, Henry Harrison, W. K. Haselden, William Heath, Wilf Henry, Martin Honeysett, Housley, John Jensen, David Langdon, Don Lawrence, John Leech, David Low, Ken Mahood, Mac, Ed McHenry, Ed McLachlan, Howard McWilliam, Matt, Nick Newman, Ronald Niebour, A. B. Payne, Oliver Preston, Jack Prout, Ken Pyne, Chris Riddell, Andy Riley, Royston Robertson (cartoon above), Martin Rowson, Tim Sanders, Peter Schrank, Ronald Searle, Robert Seymour, Will Spencer, Ralph Steadman, ‘Sidney’ Strube, David Sutherland, the Surreal McCoy, Bryan Talbot, John Tenniel, Norman Thelwell, Bert Thomas, Geoff Thompson, Simon Tofield, Trog, Dudley D. Watkins, Doris White, Colin Whittock, Kipper Williams, Mike Williams, Richard Williams studio and Gahan Wilson.
For more information or for other images contact Anita O’Brien or Sarah Batten on 020 76310793 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A Belfast-based cartoonist has erected satirical banners on foot-bridges over major roads in the City to vent his anger with the Ulster Bank.
Brian Spencer has had difficulty paying his bills because of problems with his account in the wake of the bank’s group IT meltdown on June 19. "I made the banners myself. One says 'Fat Cat on a hot tin roof' - a cartoon of Jim Brown holding a cigar - and another shows him saying: "Computer says 'no' adding underneath 'well you gotta go'. Two have already been taken down, and I think that whoever removed them was being heavy-handed.
“I am a disgruntled graduate – a victim of a recession - and a disgruntled victim of the Ulster Bank’s self-inflicted credit crunch. Satire is an essential part of a functioning democracy, allowing grievances to be aired. Hogarth, the 17th century satirist, set the benchmark for political satire in art and it has been crucial ever since.”
Brian, 24, who studied law at Queen’s University Belfast, was working towards his U.S. Bar exams in New York when he was seriously hurt in a road accident and had to return home. He said: "I have had to put my legal career on hold and am now spending part of my time doing satirical cartoons which have been published in newspapers and on the internet. But I am also open to commissions for birthday caricature banners and that sort of thing."