Friday, 12 February 2016


I do like those nice little fated moments in life where, just as I'm finishing up reading something, the book in question has some kind of milestone.

So, it seemed rather ironic that, just as artist Emma Vieceli was announcing that it was the second birthday of hers and Malin Ryden's webcomic Breaks, I was just finishing up reading it (well, up to date anyway). It was this irony made me decide to write this.

Breaks is different to my usual kinds of reads in that it isn't a superhero comic or something action packed, but is instead a much more charming kind of story. It is a coming of age story revolving primarily around Cortland Hunt and Ian Tanner, two schoolboy who despite having something of a bitter rivalry with each other, begin to develop a emotional connection while also dealing with their own ongoing problems.

To be fair, I'm probably simplifying this way too much because, despite how it sounds, I think Breaks is an incredibly complex and compelling piece of fiction. Writer Malin Ryden seems to have an incredible grasp of producing in depth, realistic teenage voices in her characters who, are so multi-faceted it is almost impossible not to empathise with them (except maybe Spence, because I think he's just a dick).

Of course, I can't ignore Emma Veiceli's art because I think her soft pencils are such a defining factor as to what makes this webcomic such an addictive read that to downplay them as anything less than equal in importance to the writing would be criminal.

Not since Alex + Ada have I read anything so emotional, but to say Breaks is 'just a love story' is an unbelievably ignorant understatement. To me, Breaks is a definitive coming of age stories as it shows its lead characters facing some real turmoil in battling the demons of their respective pasts. This is especially apparent to me in Cortland, whose temperament, social standing and cynical attitude remind me of my own at a similar. Based on that alone I'd have said this is a story which focuses equally on some mental health aspects as well as same sex love.

And, having ignored that point thus far, the focus on a same sex relationship is, quite possibly, the major factor in my thinking that this is an essential read and not because it is included but because of what it means. For me, this is a story about being yourself, not being afraid of your peers/society's thoughts of you and being strong enough to get back up when you are put down.

And as a sufferer of depression, those are certainly themes I like to read.

So, in the end, I enjoyed breaks, which I thought I would. But I can't believe how much I enjoyed it and now I hope that, if the first two years are anything to go by, Breaks will still be going in two more. This is an essential read in my book and hope my kids can read it when they are a bit older.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

True Believers 2016, what a fantastic con!!!

This might not be a long post as I'm writing it while waiting for my car to be repaired, but I want to get it written before the memories of yesterday leave my head.
So, I've already written a show report on Pipedream comics which is up/will be up soon but here's a more personal take.
Yesterday was fantastic and I'm not over selling it here! From the moment I got there to the moment I left, the entire day was a blast.
The reason it was so good for me can be drummed up in one word;  conversation.
I got to talk to so many people yesterday. From old friends to new creators and beyond, I talked so much that I've lost my voice a little. But, damn do I not regret it!
I started with a circle round all the tables, with my plan being a second circuit to buy that didn't work too well. No sooner had I walked in the door the talking started with Big Punch Studios right there. This followed with Sam Webster, meeting Andy Bloor and more. However, not only was there lots of talking but I found so many sellers which saw me back issue diving for old Daredevil and FF issues.
And these two things were what took up my five hours there, to the point that I missed the panels I'd been planning to go to.
If I had to say one problem with True Believers it was that there was so much to see, not that that's a bad thing because of the quality of what I saw, like the awesomely knowledgeable comic sellers (Sid at Comic Connections is my hero)  and getting some good insights from, as well as giving praising to, the creators also.
And then there was the true highlights of my day. First there was meeting my absolutely favourite writer Paul Cornell, who was such an awesome and genuine guy and was so generous that it nearly floored me.
This was followed by seeing Emma Vieceli, where I gushed praise over hers and Malin Ryden's web comic Breaks, before seeing Emily Owens and Joe Glass, where I got to enjoy some in depth discussions on a variety of comic thoughts.
Those are the moments which really stuck out for me but, in truth, every person I spoke with was a joy and I could only wish I had gotten another hour, two, hell ten to have spoken with them all longer.
So, I said before that that might have been my last con for quite a while and, if it is, I'm glasd it was this one and all I can do is gush and thank everyone I encountered and everyone who arranged it for a truly fantastic con!!
And I really, REALLY hope I can go again next year.