Saturday, 10 September 2016

A small, noteworthy note

In the past few minutes I've tentatively started a Facebook "page" for TwoHeadedThingies (this website), with the idea being hopefully to fill the silence between posts here, maybe get some sort of dialog going, and being one step closer to becoming the worldwide media empire that TwoHeadedThingies was always destined to be.

So, go on that Facebook thing and search for "Twoheadedthingies" if you "like" that sort of thing.

See how it goes and all that.

We have calamari and macaroni

Credit where credit's due and all that... For a publishing house whose main output was of the top shelf variety, Galaxy Publications put a LOT of effort into their comic-based endeavours, which would maybe explain why it's taken me so long to cover all of their various "things" - Almost two years so far (!!!). There was the "Trying-to-be-OZ-in-the-Eighties" Brain Damage, the "Initially-ripping-off-Viz-but-then-turning-into-something-halfway-decent" Gas, the "We've-got-some-bits-left-over-from-the-other-comics-so-let's-put-them-in-a-new-comic" Elephant Parts... And then there was this one:

A bit more like what would be expected, right? From the people that brought you Fiesta, here's Fiesta Comic Strip. Emphasis on STRIP because it's got nipples in it and stuff, get it? Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, this one has a big fat NSFW warning on it.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Trunks, tails, ears, eyes, tusks, feet, mouths, and wrinkly grey skin

Not the Michael Nesmith film, but another Galaxy/Tristar comic - Elephant Parts is what appeared on the shelves instead of the fifth issue of Brain Damage's third year (1991), hence the odd numbering of its first issue:

Three cheers for Ben Baker for spotting Oink! co-creator Patrick Gallagher on the cover there.

"Incorporating The Damage" it says, but far from it - Elephant Parts is printed on cheaper paper with mostly black-and-white pages (or spot-colouring at best), and it does away with (almost) all the political parts that made Brain Damage that much more "interesting", and instead goes for a more "surreal" tone (so a bit like Gutted, but only slightly). As with most things that set out to be deliberately "weird" it's mostly a disaster, but there's also a few odd bits of genuine "goodness" - read on to find out, if you're up for it...

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Well there's Flo on my left and Mary on my right

Told you I'd been busy...

The last few weeks have been of the travelling variety - this time last week I was in Glasgow, my first ever trip north of the Wall, which was a lot of fun. Couldn't go to Glasgow without meeting up with that chum-of-chums, Mr. Adam Smith (you know, him from Khaki Shorts and so on). Along with himself he brought along fellow member of the Khaki Khollektive, Mr. Rob Miller, and I was given a "tour" of Hope Street Studios, owned by Jamie Grant and the former home of Northern Lightz and Wasted - much original artwork was perused over, from Miller and Smith and also Shug 90 and the indescribable John G. Miller (including an exercise book full of his stuff from when he was still in school, of a Scottish Tijuana Bible-quality, if that can be imagined).

The other Miller (as in Rob), ever generous as always, gave me a few bits as souvenirs, including the hefty tome above. John Miller's stuff really is like nothing else, and there's three big collections of his stuff available from Braw Books - go and seek! Think I've got nearly everything they've published now, whoops. 

Also in my goody bag was The John G. Miller Scrapbook...

As if his comics aren't nuts enough, this is a collection of clippings, ramblings, rantings and imaginary (or not?) newsletters:


Finally, from the Miller called Rob, there's this:

Big Moff - Strap On Japan, telling the tale of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton (of Arab Strap fame) on their farewell tour of Japan... If you've any idea what all the references mean, you'll "love" this one:

The whole thing's one of the funniest books I've read in ages, had me giggling all the way back to Merseyside, so it did. As did this attractive looking pub situated opposite Hope Street Studios:

From Hope Street, we trekked across town to the Briggait, home of Wasps Artist's Studios, where we had pizza and beer and met three more Scottish folk and one Canadian. One of them pulled a big pile of papers from a drawer and handed them over for perusal purposes - top of the pile being this nice bit of original Dudley D. Watkins Oor Wullie-based fun:

The rest of the pile (hundreds and hundreds of bits of paper) was all original Frank Quitely stuff - he's a bit of a "big deal" nowadays what with all his X-Men, Batman and Superman shenanigans, but all the stuff we were looking at was from the GOOD kind of comics, including tons and tons of his stuff from Electric Soup - including one of my all-time favourite comic pages (scan from Electric Soup shown here, not the original):

It was only as myself, Miller and Smith were saying our farewells before going our separate ways that they thought to mention that one of the guys we were sitting with was Frank Quitely himself... So at least I didn't show myself up being all "I love your work!" and so on, hey hey!

A couple of weeks BEFORE Glasgow, I found myself working the floor at the Manchester Film & Comic Con, where I first met a Mr. Gary Whitlock (of Acne, Gutter and Adroit fame - my issue of which I shamelessly brought along for him to sign) - from Gary I got one of his new books, Creatures of the Weirdieverse:

From Whitlock's Monkeyhound Studios, it takes its inspiration from Ken Reid's Creepy Creations and World Wide Weirdies, and my current favourite amongst Gary's lot is this one:

Later on in the day, I met Mr. Lew Stringer, who's been in most comics by now. An affable chap, he already knew my name which threw me a bit, and I felt a bit "special" when both Lew and Gary said that they read this blog thing here (hello you two!), so that was a nice chit-chat. From Lew, I got one of his new books, Brickman Begins:

Being a "digest-sized paperback", I can't fit this one under my scanner without wrecking the book, but it's definitely worth "getting" - there's a few new comics in here but it's mostly a compilation of all of Brickman's appearances from 1979-2005, from the pages of such publications as Fantasy Express, After Image, Metamorph and various small-press things, plus guest contributions from the likes of Mike Higgs, Hunt Emerson, Kevin O'Neill, Ian Churchill, Dave Gibbons and so on... I like it muchly, I do.

Whatever you take from this lot, at least it's proof that I HAVE been busy, yes?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

An explanation, of sorts...

This place isn't, much as it would seem it, dead. I've got plenty of ideas/things to scan left, and I'm always happy and excited to be thinking about it. Even got a couple of "collaboration" things going on that I've been unintentionally rejecting as well, exciting things! And to those two collaborators (clue: they've both been previously featured on this blog) I offer my apologies publicly (sort of) for my tardiness. I also (and equally) extend my apologies to those of you that have sent me stuff for free, along with a load of interesting "behind-the-scenes" information and so on. That stuff WILL be gotten to, in time. Definitely. Can't start one thing without finishing another though, and there's still five titles left in the Galaxy/Tristar Publishing series - gah!

This isn't just one of those "been really busy" blog post things that you see all the time, I've always been mostly open with you lot so here's a bit more of that open-ness, with some fun Sparky covers and other bits of DC Thomson miscellany in between, just to keep things colourful around here.

Back when I first started this thing in 2012 (my but those years have flown over), my life consisted of working six days a week in a shop that's on the same road as my flat. I worked from midday till 8.30pm every day except for Tuesdays, and whilst this meant I'd always get a lie-in, I'd never be able to do much outside of work. Didn't go to the cinema for six years, had to book holidays if I wanted to go and see a band or something. First world problems and all that, it was a job and it was paying for my flat, but I'd go whole months without leaving the road I live on. My social life consisted of two-and-a-half hours in a pub with a friend on a Wednesday night, and a weekly visit from my mum. I convinced myself I was happy with this. Ha, I was wrong!

Hindsight's a wonderful thing and all that - that job was literally sucking the life out of me. It was nice to have a regular income, it kept me fit, I made some very good friends in both staff and customers, and I became a "face" in the local community. But at the same time, I had multiple threats of violence, two actual death threats that resulted in a court case, one count of physical assault, one panic attack, frequent raging outbursts and a constant, numbing background desire to die. Friends and family kept on telling me that the place was changing me, and not for the better, and that I should try and get out of it, but I was insisting to myself that everything was just fine. 

The way the place was run was essentially have sex with the boss or else suffer for it - And the boss being a straight male meant that I was to suffer. I was doing the work of six staff at once, I did EVERYTHING. Ordered stock, warehoused stock, kept shop stock level, kept an eye on the dates, kept everything clean, looked out for shoplifters, kept the fridges running, worked on the tills, looked after the CCTV, opened up in the mornings, closed up at night, took all the tobacco off the shelves and boxed it up at night, cashed up at the end of the day, took cash to the Post Office, ordered newspapers and magazines, sent back unsold newspapers and magazines, bagged up fruit and vegetables... Everything. I found out that everyone else was getting paid a pound more an hour than me, because I was classed as "warehouse staff". I found that out four years ago and stayed around for another three years, without doing or saying anything about it, just hating myself and wishing the years away. Everyone else got at least two weekends off in any given month, but not me, because every day I wasn't in the shop, "things didn't get done". Punished for being good at my job! And no weekends off means essentially I got less holidays than everyone else as well, because I'd have to use a holiday to do something on a Saturday or Sunday. And if I ever DID take time off - well, the boss wouldn't speak to me a week before and for the week after I got back, because it meant that HE'd have to do what I was doing. This all seems like a moaning rant, and it is - just me wringing out my catharsis bag is all. At least it's illustrated?

With all that, I somehow convinced myself I was happy and that everything was fine. The lack of a social life eventually lead to the creation of this blog - that's not to say I was doing this out of misery, I was doing it because I had the time. It was pretty much the only thing keeping me from completely snapping, because I could just think about articles and comics all day and then get them all scanned in and talked about once I got home. The job was supposed to be something to get me back on my feet after the initial breakdown that seemed to be coming full circle by this point, and all of a sudden I'd given six years of my life to that place. Ending it all was getting closer to the front of the mind, one of the psychotic staff members giving me a false glimmer of "something" before turning out to be using me to get someone else jealous - a very fucking miserable Christmas that was. Earlier in the year, the boss had told me that someone had been asking him about me, apparently very interested, but he wasn't going to tell me who it was because it would put me off my work. What a guy.

Around the middle of January, that "somebody" apparently ran out of patience and cut out the middle man(ager), and proceeded to change my life completely. She re-introduced me to all the fun things I used to do ten years ago, and so much more besides. I was feeling the "real" kind of happiness for the first time in fifteen years, not the "fake" one I was putting on myself. I apparently looked taller and she was glowing, something she hadn't done for five or six years herself also. The shop, which I'd somehow told myself was the most important thing in the world, suddenly didn't seem to matter so much. I was still working hard, but I stopped being so anal about things, stopped losing my temper, stopped keeping myself awake at night worrying about the out-of-date butter I'd left on the back shelf. This apparently wasn't enough for the boss... He'd take her to one side and say "You can do better than him". He told her that I was prone to frequent VIOLENT outbursts (I've never hit a human to this day). He told her I was a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic. He told her not to leave me alone with her six-year-old son. He told her to wait until she sees the REAL me. She rightfully (and thankfully) thought bollocks to everything he said. This is the man who I somehow thought was a friend, who I thought I "owed" my time to. This wasn't even when I began to fully see through his shite.

A new girl had recently been hired, a proper gobby little cunt. She was hopeless at everything and wouldn't even try, so when I worked my inevitable shifts with her, I'd be doing HER job as well as my many own, but I kept my temper. It was her first job and I still thought that the shop had some worth to it. One day, the lifesaver walks in with a Subway for me, and Shortcunt just starts laying into her, completely unprovoked and out of nowhere. The lifesaver's so upset she walks out the shop, and I'm so angry I have to go into the back kitchen. The boss sees I'm angry and asks me what's up, I tell him that I've had enough of that little shit. So of course, her having a vagina, he took her side instantly. For the next few months we hardly speak a word to each other, but by this point I don't give a flying monkey's spleen anymore. It was about a year ago this week I handed in my notice without any contingency plans, and this coming Sunday is the one-year anniversary of me walking out of that place for good, without a handshake.

It was pretty much the best decision I've ever made. The lifesaver gave me the confidence, the balls and the sense of self-worth necessary to do something about my misery. In the year since leaving, I've turned 30, and I'm liking how things are going now more than any other time since I was... 8 or 9? On my 29th birthday I was hoping I would go to sleep and not wake up again, and yet here I am. While money's been more of a struggle since leaving (obviously), I've been ENJOYING MYSELF for the first time in a LONG time. And properly, not just pretending I'm having a good time. And the combination of "more time" and "more confidence" has lead me to a possible whole new career doing something I actually enjoy and have an active interest in, with plenty of travel and dodgy hotels on top of that. The lifesaver eventually became more of a casual thing, but there's still a lot of love there, a constant companion, seemingly for life. It's rare these days for me to spend an evening in by myself (hence the lack of activity around these parts), if this person had come into my life a few years earlier, who knows where I'd be by now? Six years alone had convinced me that a job was enough to justify me being on this planet at all, when it was human companionship that was needed all along.

If this is reading like a preachy Buzzfeed-esque thing, then apologies - blah blah unhappy with job so quits and gets a new one blah blah. I've read plenty of those things and then hated myself afterwards for not having the balls to do anything like that. "My time" and all that, I'm happy for once and I felt I owed an explanation to all you beauties. As I've said, I've still got a a LOT of plans and love for this place (and odd/filthy/shitty/bizarre comics in general), I'm currently half way through scanning in the pages for the next "article"... The place is "alive" is what I'm saying, it's just not going to be anywhere near as frequently updated as it used to be (well, maybe once it starts getting colder out). And I thank and appreciate every last one of you that are still reading by this point, there's a 7-Up or similar in it for you if we ever cross paths.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

"Do you have someone who looks after you? Could I see them? Because I need to read your meter..."

Finally, finally, here we go. Part two of the extended "look at" the various adult comics put out by Galaxy/Tristar Publications during the late Eighties/early Nineties. Only... Fifteen months after the first part. 2015 was a busy year, what more can I say? And so on. Anyway, back in 1989, Galaxy Publications (of Fiesta fame) decided to have a crack at the Viz-like-comic market, initially with Brain Damage (see part one), a smart, politically-charged thing filled with quality stuff from the likes of Borin Van Loon, Hunt Emerson, Kevin Woodcock, the mysterious "Lucian", and several dozen more. At the same time, they also put out Gas, a more blatantly obvious Viz clone (but with the same editor as Brain Damage - "Big" Bill Hampton). Initially dodgy and not-all-that-good, by its demise in 1991 Gas had evolved into something fairly special - and that's what's getting looked at here today. Hang onto your bandwidths, there's over a hundred-and-fifty scans on this one...

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Serious Business

"Mini Comix"... Know anything about those? I didn't until a few years ago, when I got a close-to-900-page anthology of the things (this one). Small press stuff (which is always fun to investigate), on a TINY scale. Cheap, too (mostly). Got a couple of issues of one such article in the post a couple of weeks ago, No Funnies by Jason Walter (of Augusta, Georgia stock). He also emailed them to me as well, which is just as well - getting good scans of these wouldn't be any fun at all (how apt!):

The actual size of the thing is one sheet of A4, folded in half three times then stapled (so about 4.5" x 2.8")... I'm wittering about the size a lot here, it's all about what you do with it (or so I'm told) - plenty to behold within!

The contents are odd, intelligent and fast-moving - witness the career of the Pubescent Godlike Ninja Ducks:

The Hellish literary analysis of 2 Dawgs In Hades Discuss James Joyce:

The heroic adventures of The Amazing Cat Hand:

And the ongoing obsession with space whales:

No Funnies - they're fun, cheerful and cheap. Find Jason on Facebook and for $1.98 he'll send you two issues in an envelope (that's in American money, same price for anywhere in the world). It's this "anyone can do it" thing that I love and it makes me hate myself for not doing it too, instead of just reading and writing about them (although that's enough fun in itself as well). I've got a few Biro pens and a pack of paper and plenty of free time, why not?

Repeat procrastination until the End Times...

Friday, 22 January 2016

Belated Bowie 'Bituary

Well if that's not a terrific way to start the new year, I don't know what is, bah... It's been a LONG time since the death of a musician has affected the world in such a way, so it only seems right that Mr. Jones be remembered in these quarters too - and with thanks going to Mr. Ben Baker for the suggestion, we return once more to Zig and Zag's Zogazine, from the second issue dated November 1994 (the scratch 'n' sniff issue) - this highly referential and gag-filled number from Kev Sutherland and John Moore...

Count the references!

For more Bowie-based comic-stuff, have a look at Mr. Baker's write-up on the whole Bowie/Viz connection here and here.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Festivities at the Old Piano Factory

Since 1976, Leo Baxendale's first Willy The Kid Book has gone mostly unchallenged as being amongst the funniest books ever written, and I say that completely without hyperbole. Filled with trained goldfish, vampire cows, plenty of Daleks, a family of Loch Mess Monsters, a Nazi witch, progressive attitudes toward racism, leering snowmen, hidden cunts, demonic bus drivers, a dwindling zoo staff, anally-violated elephants, King Kong, flying teeth, and enough background jokes to keep you reading and re-reading for years... It really ought to be a staple part of ANYONE's bookshelf.

And of course, it being an annual, there's a Christmassy story in it too - a proper "festive spirit" one too - presented below for all to see. Enjoy the festivities if you're of the sort that likes to do that kind of thing...