Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

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Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

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Showing posts with label John Wagner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Wagner. Show all posts

May 30, 2009

Paradox - A History of Violence | 1997

All the election fever which was going around in the country for the last few months, have finally come to a sweet end, with India Inc. decisively voting in Elections 2009 for a stable government at the centre. Let’s hope that the momentum shows enough strength in revitalizing the economic fortunes of the country, which took a beating, undoubtedly, by the global financial slowdown.

Iznogoud Mini At Comicology, our recent post on Iznogoud with a complete account of his Indian presence, has garnered enough interest among comikers. Being an Iznogoud fan myself, there is no joy abound then sharing all the info about one of the famous antagonists in Comics, with like minded people.

Rest assured that, with the list of Iznogoud titles published by Lion Comics, and the ones planned by
Euro Books and CineBook, may mean that this is only a start to the avalanche of posts reviewing the titles featuring this legendary Franco-Belgian comic character over here at Comicology. Stay Tuned, Comikers.

The topic for the current post, is a follow-up on the works of John Wagner, about whom we saw more during our Mehta Comics debut post, here.

Paradox – A History of Violence (1997)
ISBN: 1-56389-367-3 | Pg:300 | TPB | Size: B6
$9.95 / INR 125 (in India on Back-Issue sale)

This time around it is about his first ever works in form of a Graphic Novel, as quoted in there.

Small town Michigan wears a calm LookSo without further adieu, let’s move on to this issue, Cover-art of which is sure to turn-on anyone towards exploring it.

Life is moving at their slowest best, in one of the evening in a small town near down-town Michigan. Mild-mannered Tom McKenna appears serving his last regular customer, Bessy, at his soda-shop.

Hitchickers are Brutaly MurderedThe door bells cling, as the two disturbing figures enter the shop with a demonic freezed looks.

The trouble makers were just shown leaving a blood trail on the way to the town, by killing two hitchhikers cold-bloodedly for money. So, their intentions were pre-told as they enter the unsuspecting town locality.

Duo demands their CoffeeWithout heeding to McKenna’s advice that he is closing, they demand their Coffee. The premonition of trouble, thrusts McKenna to wrap up his customers, and serve the duo before he brings down the shutters. McKenna was wise enough in deciding to send his daughter Ellie, to tag along with Bessy, for home bound.

McKenna attacks the Trouble-doersHaving cornered McKenna alone, the duo threaten to deprive him off his life and money. Just when they thought that they have managed to make some free-lunch, they are shocked by the swift attacks McKenna manages to throw, in the process killing one and brutally injuring other.

A Natonal Hero is Born The next day, papers across country flash the news of the unlikely hero who courageously made his stand, helping to capture the mischief-makers. McKenna and his family suddenly receives huge fanfare and attraction. But McKenna is shown growing in concern, as he mysteriously starts fearing that the increased limelight may only bring more trouble.

Torrino confronts McKenna His fear turns to reality as the incident draws three more strangers to the isolated town, one of them an elderly man named Johnny Torrino. Dressed in Gentleman suits, the trio starts stalking McKenna and his family.

Torrino shows his brute strengthTorrino, who sports scarred face with an missing eye, confronts McKenna in his shop, quizzing about a long-lost kid from New York, named Joey Muni, who had left something with him: A cut finger, which hangs in a capsule on the neck of Torrino. A sight of which brings shivers down McKenna’s whole body. McKenna’s wife Edie, comes to help, as she quickly pushes out the trio, warning them of police action if they every trouble them again.

Back at their hideout, the trio confronts between themselves, as the younger sect believe that they mistook McKenna for someone else. But, they are soon silenced by the raging Torrino, The warring party arrives at Tom's placewho seems to have more power than his deputy’s, even at his old age. Feared by his anger, the trio decide to follow McKenna, even setting aside the warning they get from the Sheriff of the locality.

Tom confronts Torrino & Co After a lot of run-down of frequent visits, and anonymous telephone threats, Torrino, finally consoles himself that he may have a mistaken in identifying his man. But just as they were making it back out of the town, Torrino encounters McKenna’s younger son, Frank.

The resemblance of his face with his father’s, was enough for Torrino, to confirm his assumption, which sees him abducting Frank, and landing outside McKenna’s home. Torrino warns McKenna that he has finally found out his real identity, and it is time he comes out and gives himself up, or see his family massacred just before his eyes.

Joey and Richie ponder over their plans The resultant gun-shots and edge-of-the seat action, is sure to bring a chill running down your spine, as the Chapter 1: “A Small Town Killing” comes to a close on this Graphic Novel, which details how someone’s past life can come Richie faces his worst nightmareback to haunt him even if he desires to drive away from it. As they say, when you play and live life hard, then you have got to pay the price.

What did Joey do in his young age which has brought such hell to his new home, is detailed in the Chapter 2: “The Brooklyn Murders”, as it chronicles the life and trouble of two teenage friends, Joey and Richie who play hard, and use the shortcuts in life to earn quick money and fame, which sees them go separate ways.

After seeing that their is huge cash being circulated in the locality, Richie decides to steal some out from them, which was also to avenge his brother’s murder by the goons. Along with the reluctant Joey, the duo manage to make a run-down with local mobs, in a swift cloaked attack, and leave them bruised and killed, and having drained them of their booty, expectedly leaving them seeking for revenge.

Torrino corners young Joey/TomBut, Richie’s attitude of flashing his money all over, draws the attention of the mob leaders in the locality, who hand-pick him for slaughter. The trails leads up to Joey, as he makes a run for his life, followed closely by the underground mobs.

The scenes where he confronts Torrino, in an alley, and the resultant fight where he takes an eye-out of Torrino with a barb-wire, can’t be expressed in mere words. Incidentally, the talented artist did the same in those pages for us.

Joey gets a call from a dead manThe life comes back to present day, as Joey now in his new life as Tom, tries to mend the evil seeds from his past, as he reappears in the city which changed his life for the worst, as Chapter 3: “With Evil Intent”, closes this 300 page epic Graphic Novel titled, aptly as A History of Violence, and carries the same weapons used significantly throughout the novel on its cover.

As witnessed throughout in the graphic novel, It has surprise twists at the end too, as Joey receives a chilling phone call from his supposedly murdered cohort Richie, and the last scenes where he encounters his worst nightmare, is one to take the readers to witness a whole new level of evil incarnation, which is an embodiment of a evil man’s inner self.

Overall, HOV is a Graphic Novel to remember for long, at least for me.

John WagnerJohn Wagner, who wrote “A History of Violence (HOV)” graphic novel, was eventually his first attempt to establish himself among the bigger league in American Comics Industry. He was ably assisted by Vince Locke, who with his unique line-artwork was able to recite the dark and noir nature of the graphic novel and its intrigued plot, a fact acknowledged by Wagner himself in his Preface on the Graphic Novel.

Vince Locke (c) We have seen enough in detail about John Wagner, during our Monster review post over here, so let’s look briefly at the other creative genius behind this graphic novel, the American comic books artist, Vince Locke, whose expressive style of bringing the emotions of the characters in his artwork, formed a great combination along with Wagner’s writing style.

Vince Lockes Artwork on CCorpse-DVD Locke came to in prominence in 1986 during his work as the artist for the underground hit series Deadworld, which was a zombie horror comic set in post-apocalyptic world. Though the series was short-lived due to frequent ownership changes, Locke was one of the main-stay, during which the series achieved a cult status.

Buoyed by the success, Locke, soon contributed as an artist for the some of the famous comic series, including The Sandman, American Freak, Batman, Witchcraft, and eventually tagging along with Wagner in this memorable graphic novel, HOV.

You could read more about Locke’s work on his official site, who is currently busy with his artwork contribution to many a Role Playing Games (RPGs), an area where he would flourish for his noir-touch mixed artwork style, and a taste towards using watercolours heavily in his art-frames. Some of the images in his site was as scarry as it can get, for which a sample is given over here. So, it is not for the light-hearted :).

The idea of the Graphic Novel, HOV, came when Paradox Press Editor Andrew Helfer met Wagner in Scotland during a convention circa 1995. They have had prior stints of working together in various publications, before Helfer joined Paradox, which is a low-cost trade imprint of DC Comics, which was setup to concentrate on real-life stories, and drive away from the superhero theme adopted by DC.

So as per their established standard Helfer asked Wagner, to drive away from his Superhero works on 2000 AD series, and concentrate on providing something which involves Real stories with Real people. Wagner, accepted that challenge, and came up with an initial proposal which looked lot more similar to his other work on Button Man comic series. No need to say that Helfer rejected that concept, asking for more humanish characters.

History Of Violence (Vertigo Version) After another two years of hard-work, Wagner finally came back with the story which eventually found its place in History of Violence graphic novel, making it one of the memorable novels to hit the stands under Paradox Press brand.

But, due to the low cost mantra, and content, Paradox never really achieved its due credit in the American market, which greatly affected the talented work of John Wagner to go places. Wagner is still restricted to his work on 2000 AD, with his works on his world famous creation, Judge Dredd.

But HOV, as stated before, was one of the best selling novels released by Paradox, so when Paradox was wounded up due to low sales, the series was reprinted in DC’s another trade imprint Vertigo. By this time, talks were on about making a movie based on the graphic novel, and when it was reprinted again, the covers widely published this news, as seen above. Also note the subtle change in the cover-art, to hide the suspense of the graphic novel, and leave it for the movie to open-up.

History of ViolenceA History of Violence (2005): It’s a premonition that not all great graphic novels get their due recognition, when adopted into mainstream movies, a fact agreed among many comics fans. But the 2005 movie, for which the central plot was adapted from the History of Violence graphic novel, sure deserves mention in our HOV review post here at Comicology.

The Movie was directed by David Cronenberg, and had a mega star cast like Viggo Mortensen (famous for his role as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as Tom/Joey), Maria Bello (seen recently in Mummy 3, as Eddie),
Ed Harris (the multi-talented actor-director-writer as Torrino, or Carl Fogarty in the Movie), and William Hurt (as Richie), with all contributing equally to the success of the movie.

The Opening of the movie, with calmly looking duo, slowly moving past a Motel, leaving a blood trail, is sure to have caught the attention of all movie lovers. Especially considering that there was no background score for more than 5 minutes from the start during this scene enactment.

More importantly Ed Harris’s still and scary slow-paced acting (he was undoubtedly the perfect choice for graphic novel’s Torrino’s character), and Mortensen’s renditions of a frightened man trying to save his present being haunted by his past. Bello’s acting ably assists in bringing out the character of a worrying and supporting wife through his husband’s struggle to take control of his sagging life.

The scenes were Harris and his goons, stalk Mortensen’s family were shot with a unique blend of suspense and thrill, which is sure to bring many a comic fan’s dream of seeing a movie made out of a graphic novel with all its essence, maintained at the same level as the Original. Top of the pick is the shopping-mall and house invasion scenes.

Cronenberg was the right choice to direct this venture, as he has the speciality to make movies with themes ranging in the darker aspects of human emotions and behaviours (who can forget the Sci-Fi movie, The Fly), and the plot of HOV was virtually his playground. Josh Olsen who adapted the Screenplay based on the Novel, also contributed to twists and scenario changes to make the movie interesting and packed for the 80 Minutes run-time, meaning it was meant to cut the past reciting witnessed in Chapter 2 of the Graphic Novel.

Tom confronts the thugs at the Diner (A Scene from HOV)It should not be forgotten, that the success of the movie also derives heavily from the reciting of Wagner and Locke in their graphic novel, which contributed heavily to the screenplay in many parts of the movie, which propelled it to a blockbuster of success, and landing William Hurt and Josh Olsen for Oscar award nominations as the Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively.

Eventhough, the movie at many its places moves through the mum-scene way of story-telling, there were instances of genius in dialogues, when an opportunity was available. Two of the areas, which I felt touched where:

When, confronting with his son, who just broke out of a fist-fight at school

Tom: In this family, we do not solve our problems by hitting people!
Jack: No, in this family, we shoot them!

When, an irate Eddie after knowing of Tom's past life, quizzes about the choice of his last name - Stall

Tony: It was available.
Eddie: I guess I was available, too.

The climax of the movie is altered from its Graphic Novel counterpart, as that scene was too a risky proposition to have passed through movie censorship (if at all, there is one such in United States :)). But, looking at it from the movie point of view, the climax looked like a better fit. The movie ends with a silent dinner scene involving Tom’s family, which leaves viewers to diffuse whether they stayed together or not, after all that has gone through. All credit goes to the director and screenplay writer, for delivering such a power-packed movie.

Tom Stall & Eddie (A Scene from HOV) Apart from that, there were little-over dose of sexual romance scenes of Mortensen and Bello, which could have been avoided. But hey, aren’t we talking about a Hollywood movie? so it is well within expectations, as many would agree :). Not a movie to watch with your family for sure :).

Thus we come to the end of another review post, which featured one of the unique Graphic Novels I read in recent times. Thanks mainly to the Back-Issue title release, as a result of Paradox’s closure, through which this particular issue was available in India at a throw-away price. I wouldn’t have spent $10 to buy this comic for sure :).

Also to be noted here, that I should admit that, “Lover of Dreams” Shankar Visvalingam’s recent review post (in Tamil) on a graphic novel titled, From Hell, which was based on the notorious Jack the Ripper character; was instrumental in me getting down to read through this novel. The reason, I generally despise those comics, which have a noir style of artwork, but still doesn’t classify in the standards laid out in the present comics world.

But Shankar’s post made me realize that artwork has to more importantly resemble the plot for which it is drawn, yet maintaining a style of its own, and in that way A History of Violence was truly up-to-the mark.

With that note, I will conclude this post, and would be eager to read your comments on the graphic novel, and this review post in whole. And by the way, if you get a chance, to grab this copy, do not miss the opportunity to own an item which certainly deserves to be there in your collection. Have a Great and Enjoyable Weekend, ComikersAdios Amigos !

Apr 6, 2009

Mehta Comics #20 – Monster | Nov 1985

After the Celebrity Comics run-down, which enthralled the Comicologists, we are back with our main theme of Comics Review. And what we have for this post is another yesteryear classic review for Tamil Comic fans, as we debut Mehta Comics (மேத்தா காமிக்ஸ்) in the Blogosphere. 

Mehta Comics LogoLong time fans will remember that Mehta Comics was started in 1984, the very same year, when the much famous Lion Comics and yesteryear Rani Comics started their venture in Tamil Comics Industry.  Eventhough, I won’t rate Mehta Comics, with more seasoned performers like Lion & Rani, the fact remains that they had their fair share of quality titles, which captivated Tamil Comic fans for a couple of years when it had its continuous publishing run, totalling up to 30 issues. (They had numerous re-runs, all with reprints of these line-up time in and again, but for obvious reason they don’t count towards the main lot.)

Indrajal Comics Tamil Logo Muthu Comics Logo Until 1984, there were only two recognised players in the Tamil Comics arena.  The first being the venture backed up by the Times of India Group, erstwhile Indrajal Comics, with their regional edition in Tamil language.  The second was none other than our very own and the ever-green Muthu Comics.  History of Indrajal Comics is well known in Blog-O-Sphere. Ref. Comix Planet

On the other hand, Muthu Comics was started by M Soundrapandian, and initially had Mullai Thangarasan as its Editor.  In 1984, S Vijayan, the elder son of Soundrapandian, joined his father, and started working on launching his own dream project, in form of Lion Comics.  Around the same time, Thangarasan left Muthu Comics, leaving Mr.Soundrapandian himself donning the Editors role for Muthu Comics.

1984's Mehta Comics #3 with John Havoc Whatever may be the reason for his departure, it was very clear that Mr.Thangarasan wanted to give a cut-throat competition to his former employers, by coming up with his own title before the impending launch of Vijayan’s Lion Comics.  He found an able ally in form of Ashok Mehta of Mehta Publications, in the same Southern Indian city of Sivakasi. Together they launched Mehta Comics in July 1984, with Mullai Thangarasan returning to don the Editor role.

John Havoc Unlike its competitors Muthu & Lion, Mehta & Thangarasan decided to base their titles on a titular character, in the form of John Havoc; an estranged pilot who lost his license, due to an accident, and wants to win it back at any cost. 

In the process, he is manipulated by the the British Intelligence Agency ‘Q Branch’, who promise to get his license back, in return for his help in their secret missions. 

The missions meant that he had to fight the crime lords in different parts of the world, but he did it with the sole aim of regaining his license.  Much of the stories of John Havoc always ends with him walking away in disgust from the Q Branch authorities, who would find some reason or the other at the end of the story to convey him that they couldn’t restore his pilot license. Havoc even though knowing that they are just buying their time to retain him in their service, would still continue to let himself be played as a pawn, hoping that he attains his goal someday in the future.

Top Secret Library with John Havoc (c) Top Secret Album 1 featuring John Havoc (c) Havoc is another story arc from UK’s IPC Magazines Ltd, in their comics brand of Top Secret Picture Library.  Surprisingly, not much is known on the creator details for this wonderful story arc featuring John Havoc’s adventures.  The only references I could find on the web for the same were:.

1. British comics historian, Steve Holland’s Bear Alley comics post, and;

2. Fellow comics enthusiast Sunshines Weblog, from a fan’s account.

As much as like discussing John Havoc’s titles here at Comicology, it’s a long list, as other than Mehta Comics, he is said to have been featured in Muthu Comics as John Silver. I do have them in my collection, so can cross-reference it, once I get the reference to the original series, for a exclusive John Havoc post at Comicology.

But today’s post more importantly discusses about another Comic series, which was featured in limited issues in Mehta Comics, one of which was in in November 1985, priced at INR 2.  It was Mehta’s #20 Issue, by which they had changed their Comics title as Ashok Comics (they eventually changed to Mehta again). The first on the list, which is said to have covered the initial episodes of this series, is not in my collection, so I will add it later with this post, when I grab the same. (Thanks to Chezhi, for the reminder).

Mehta 20 Cover featuring MonsterThe Mehta #20 issue, was titled Iratha Bootham (இரத்த பூதம்), and it spoke about the life and troubles of a ill-fated living being, named Terry, who is cursed in this world to live with a defaced figure, and as a semi-minded powerhouse, much in the lines of the character made famous by Marvel’s Hulk persona.  The only difference being that while Hulk is an alter-ego, Terry was born with the god-cursed persona, to live a life of his own.

Kenny-Terry IntroThe disfigured and frightening physique, leads him to live a life away from the common men, lurking in the shadows and abandoned sites. But there was one person who loved him the most, his nephew and 12 year old Kenny. 

Kenny finds one day that Uncle Terry was kept locked up all his life, in the secluded place at their home.  He had just now killed Kenny’s father, who had been torturing him all along. But, despite these circumstances, Kenny understands that Terry has done them only in the act of defending himself, and also understands that he still is a small child at his mind and heart.  So, he decides to escape along with Terry, now his only living relation, to fly away from the crime scene.

Police start their Search for TerryThis Mehta Comics Monster issue starts with this scenario, where Kenny and his Uncle Terry flee from their home, in order to avoid a police patrol, who have come to know of the deaths caused by Terry, albeit unintentionally.

Terry's Intro SceneReaders get to witness the terrifying face of Terry, during this scene, and also there is a hint of his innocence, where he is shown to be unaware of the words "Dogs", even.  Highlighting the fact that the secluded life of his has made him unaware of any external lifestyle.

During their stay, through a newspaper, Kenny becomes aware of a Scotland based doctor who is said to have cured the over-tempered people from their violent ways. Kenny decides to make the journey to cure his beloved uncle.

Terry controlled by Kenny Terrys Incredible Power on Show Kenny and Terry escape the town by hiding in a load truck, and manage to get away from the following police patrol.

But, they are attacked by some goons, who try take advantage of them for a ransom, as their faces are now more known through a Police Vigilants on Run advertisement being continuously flashed on State Television Channels.

During their escapade, readers get to see the Incredible power of Terry, as at one stage he even manages to roll a police wagon over the mountain’s cliff, as they try to stop them from their search of a new life.

Kenny despite being wary of these violent activities of Terry, understands that he couldn’t do anything less, as the aggression was always started from the other end, and Terry just responds to shield them away from harms ways. He is determined to lead his Uncle to the Scotland based doctor, for a possible cure to his running rage.

Closing  ChapterPolice arrives at the SceneAll through these scenes we are able to witness the love shared between these unlikely duo, and Kenny somehow controls the anger and tempered Terry, at times.

In return Terry finds his lovable friend Kenny, as his only trusted ally, and silently follows on his quest to mend the ways of his beloved Uncle. 

This one shot title spanning 64 pages, finally ends with the police officials arriving at the scene, and wondering how many more casualties would this fearsome creature lay on their paths before they get him under long-hands of law.

Readers are left to wonder, what happens next, as the final scene closes.

Terry Coming Back ? Even though, in the end page Mehta Comics had promised that there will be more stories on escapade of Uncle Terry and Kenny.  They were never released, as far as my memory serves, and the abrupt ending of the story might have fused this title as a not so impressive one, for the first-time readers back then, which includes myself.

But recently I came to know about the original of this series, and after reading through it, I understood how good the whole storyline was which was shown in poor light by this venture of Mehta Comics. A clear lesson that, you shouldn’t zero in on the series, without having a dedicated mind to continue it for long. 

Eventhough, the translation was well within standards, an area for which Thangarasan was known for during his stint with Muthu Comics, the story was mishandled starting with the very title of the issue (Blood Demon, if translated in its entirety).

By which they had put a wrong image over the character of Uncle Terry, which was to have been shown with a proper limelight. The Coupled with the chasing scenes, and gore action, many would construe to think him as what the title suggested.

Well, one of the good thing out of the whole scenario, was that we were exposed to a wonderful series, the Original of which is now available for the aspiring readers. And it is certain to put our thinking's and presumptions to a back-burner, when we meet a physically deprived person next in our life.

The Original for this Mehta Comics title was a Weekly series called Monster which debuted in the British Horror Comics Monster LogoScream! in its first edition, released on March 24, 1984.  Much like the Thirteenth Floor series reviewed at Comicology, this was also a weekly series which ran for 15 episodes in Scream.  The story was abruptly ended, with the closure of Scream magazine on 30 June 1984, which was mainly due to a strike at the parent company IPC Media (International Publishing Company).

Scream was then merged with Eagle.  Later, Monster along with Thirteenth Floor became the only series from Scream, which began their weekly run in Eagle magazine.  Monster was continuously featured then on weekly episode which spanned more than a couple of years.

The 1st episode of the series was originally credited to Alan Moore (the man behind the recent “Supposed-to-be” blockbuster movie Watchmen, as it was adopted from his graphic novel by the same name), with an artist named Heintl.  But from the very second episode the credits page started featuring Rick Clark as the scripter.  Rick Clark is actually a pseudonym of John Wagner, who is more known to the comics world as the creator of Judge Dredd in 2000 AD Comic series.

John Wagner (c) John Wagner was born in Pennsylvania, United States in 1949, but he was moved to Scotland when his family shifted location.  He started his publishing career when he joined DC Thompson as a Sub-Editor in 1960’s, and met his eventual long time friend Pat Mills in there.  In 1971, they both left DC Thompson, and started doing freelance jobs in UK.  During this freelance period, they also worked on a a handful of projects for IPC Media.  Monster was one such series which Wagner went on to script during its entire run. 

During his tenure with IPC, he is often credited along with Mills for their successful Battle Picture Weekly’s launch. Tamil Comics fan will remember that many of the wartime stories featured in Rani Comics and Lion Comics, during those yearly years all came from this IPC magazine.  Ironically, Battle Picture was a direct competitor to Warlod Magazine, which was from the stable of Wagner & Mill’s former employer DC Thompson.

Judge DreddMills, who is often credited as the Godfather of British Comics, then gave Wagner a chance to script stories for his new  comics magazine 2000 AD started for IPC Media in 1977. Wagner went on to create Judge Dredd, his more popular creation till date, which also remains the titular character for the entire 2000 AD Comic series.

In 1980s, Wagner was one of the members who were famously touted as the British Invasion of American Comics, which was often dated to Alan Moore’s work on Swamp Thing & Watchmen.  The so called Invasion, saw a number of writers from the 2000 AD Series, working for the US comics giant DC, and later with Marvel.

In 1997, Wagner wrote his first graphic novel, A History of Violence, which many critics consider as a good work even though it was a commercial failure.  I recently acquired this title, and found it impressive enough for an exclusive review at Comicology, very shortly.

Wagner till date remains a prolific writer for 2000 AD Series, still working on majority of Judge Dredd series every year.  He is said to be interested in retiring sooner, if we finds a suitable replacement to pen Dredd’s future series.

There is not much known about the Artists for the Monster series, which was Heintl for the 1st episode, but later was handled by Redonodo for its entire run.  In all possibilities this could have been the pseudonyms of artists, much like how different creators worked during the Scream and Eagles Horror series run, to give their pseudonyms an Imaginary feeling.

There was a significant difference between the artworks of Heintl and Redondo, as the later’s work brought the seriousness of the comic series in display.  Have a look yourself and take the judgement. (Pics Courtesy: BackfromDepths)

Monster v1 01-1 Monster v1 01-2 Monster v1 02-1 Monster v1 02-2

Overall it’s an issue, which certainly deserves its place in your collection, if you are a Tamil Comics fan, with a different taste.  Looking at the relative recent past this issue was released, I hope everyone do have this already in your cherished possession.  The English Originals can be found on BackfromDepths weblog.  So enjoy reading, while the content lasts over there, and get to know of another golden series from the Golden age of British Comics Genre.

Quasimodo (c) Origins of Uncle Terry: Staying on with the Uncle Terry or the Monster character, I was under the impression that the more famous Frankenstein character might have been the inspiration of this characterization too. But fellow Comicologist ShankarV shared an interesting fact that he shared much in common with the Quasimodo, a hunch-back character from the French novel Notre-Dame de Paris. After reading through the archives, it looks this character was the real inspiration for this comic series itself. Have a look at the image from a Movie, which was made on the Novel, and judge yourself.

But that doesn’t hide the fact that Quasimodo itself could have been inspired by the Frankenstein character. As the novel featuring Frankenstein was released in 1818, while Quasimodo made his appearance in Notre-Dame novel in 1830.

Thanks to Shankar, and his wide knowledge on every media. Without whom I wouldn’t have even known about the existence of this classic work.

And that brings us to the close of to our first ever Mehta Comics review at Comicology.  Hopefully, you would have found it useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it.  If so, then why not leave your comments to let others know, for which you could use the Comment section below.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (to go with April Fool’s Day concept, which should have taken place in this post, but needed a little more preparation). Adios Amigos !

Feb 2, 2009

Thigil Comics #56 – The Thirteenth Floor | 1992

Thanks to all the Comicologists, who loved our special Republic Day post last week, covering Indian based comic characters from the stable of Tinkle.  I enjoyed every comment registered in the post, and my replies for the same could be found at the end of the post. To say the least, Jan 2009 was the best month for Comicology, second only to Aug 2007, when I started blogging regularly. It meant, that I had to sacrifice a lot of family ties in blogging about our passion through the month, which I am not planning to do so regularly.

But the number of visits and comments recorded last month, shows that the Comicologists are always appreciative on the effort put-forth, which makes me feel fulfilled. Thanks to all the passionate followers who choose to leave their relative and meaningful comment, to record their presence at Comicology. You are my source, keep me afloat.

Thigil Logo Moving on to this week, it is another attempt to rekindle the old memories, by bringing up erstwhile Tamil Comic series from the stable of Prakash Publishers (known for the long running Tamil Comics Lion & Muthu, in South India), Thigil Comics (திகில் காமிக்ஸ்).  It was the brainchild of Editor S.Vijayan, who originally intended it as a medium to publish Horror, and Creepy series (famous in the 80’s British Genre), targeted for mature audience. 

The Tamil series was introduced in the late 80’s, and it ran for a total of 60 issues, stretching till 1993.  Apart from the British Genre, it also touched based on the famed Franco-Belgian Genre, in the process introducing some famous comics characters to Tamil Comics fans like, Ric Hochet (as Reporter Johny), Batman, Bernard Prince, and XIII.

Even though, the series was more heavy on Thriller genre during its later run, the initial issues were full of Horror stories, and I should admit that I was at times scared to collect these issues in tender age, fearing the elders irate at home.  I managed to sneak some issues here and there, heavily during its last run, so I obviously missed out on many of these collectible issues.  Going by which, our first review of Thigil at Comicology, will be the creepy series ‘The Thirteenth Floor’, issued during its end-run.

13th-floorcover The Thirteenth Floor, was originally published in the British Horror Comics Scream! from Mar ‘84.  Unlike other comic characters which are largely in human form, the plot-hero of 13th Floor, is an indigenous Computer (Artificial Intelligence, AI, for computer geeks) named Max, which was deputed in the Maxwell Towers, to look after the residents of the tower block.  His Mainframe was located in the penthouse of the Towers, with an adjacent flat where its controller Jerry Knight resides.

As it is a common practice in high-rising buildings, Maxwell Towers also does not have a 13th floor (which is just numbered 14, after 12th), due to the superstition associated with the number 13.  But unknowingly to its controller Knight, Max had the ability to create a virtual reality in the form of Thirteenth Floor where he could lure anyone who threatened the good of his residents. 

Most of the times these troublesome goons are caught when they use the elevator, where Max creates a series of illusions mostly through hypnotism, bringing the innermost fears of those who are tested. 

While its intentions are mostly to correct the corrupt individual, there were instances when the mental tension, leads to forced heart-attacks resulting even in death.

Max IllusionMax defecting the Wrong-Doers with its Illusional 13th Floor

This often puts Max in question, with the local police finding it hard to disassociate the list of co-incidental deaths, with the crime scene often in and around Maxwell Tower’s Lift. To avoid such incidents, Max had hypnotically controlled an inmate named Bert, to do his works like moving people from lifts, or in some cases bringing some forcefully to it.  The entire series is told from the first person account, with Max being the narrator himself.  Despite its scary nature, 13th floor was indeed a fun strip, where there is no stopping to the imagination laced with humour all along, which made this one of the famous series ever published in Scream.  The series was continued in Eagle magazine, after Scream was acquired by them. 

There were a total of 15 episodes of 13th Floor, with each episodes spanning around 4 pages (A4 Size), with the end of an episode typically being carried over as the start of the next episode, thus keeping the users intrigued by following them passionately every week in Scream Magazine.  The Scream series is now a collector’s edition, drawing a high premium price at eBay.  I have a tendency to get a cold feet being in auctions, so it’s clearly not my forte.

Now let’s look at our Indian debut of Max, in Thigil Comics.

Thigil #56: Marma Mandalam (மர்ம மண்டலம்) – Jun ‘92 – INR 3 – Size: B6 – Pages: 68 – B/W – SoftCover

Thigil 56 c1Front Cover of Marma Mandalam

Max was officially unveiled to the Tamil Comics fans with Thigil issue #56, titled Marma Mandalam, which carried 9 of the original 15 episodes of The Thirteenth Floor series from Scream.

The series was largely edited panel by panel to fit it into the B6 size of Thigil, as the original was of an A4 Size.  Due to which, an episode which ran only 4 pages in its original form, was actually reproduced in 8 different pages, in Thigil.  Editor should be commended for his work on maintaining the story tempo, even after the heavy work which he had to do for restricting the content in a budgetary size (obviously since B6 was the most commercially successful size, due to the lessons learnt from Lion Comics' past success).

The initial pages introduces Max, as an obedient maintenance computer of the residential towers, as narrated in his own words.

His first act in protecting its inmates is shown when he steps in to protect a new tenant from the evil hands of Money Launderer.

He is eventually lured into the illusional 13th floor, where Max plays his own money game with him, in a Computer game of Maze, where he considers himself physically partaking as.  The emotional trauma, which the guy truly deserves, causes a seizure resulting in his death.  Editor’s remarkable translation is shown where he has replaced the texts from the original, with meaningful sentences, in line with the target language.  Look at the two scenes, to see the power of Mr.Vijayan’s translation, when compared to the original text.

Max expressing his love towards TenantsMax expressing his love towards Tenants

Scene 1: Mom says to the kid - “I’ll bet it can’t get you to wash behind your Ears”, while approaching the new building, jokingly points out that the powerful Max can’t do all the work.

Scene 2: The Computer Screen which displays - “Debt Collector” in the Original

The result is right in front of you to take the judgement.

Moms Fun with Kid Scene 1: Moms Fun with Kid Debt Collector in Tamil Scene 2: Debt Collector in Tamil

The other stories which could be found in this Thigil extravaganza,

  • Max confronts two road goons, who arrive chasing a inmate kid of Max Towers;
  • Max Teaches lesson to a troublesome paint can kid, for which he utilises the help of his hypnotized inmate Bret to bring the kid into the elevator;
    (The Cover art seems to have been drawn from one of the scenes in this story where the kid takes a nose-dive into the streets from the Maxell Towers, obviously in his mind not physically. As much, we agree to believe on that aspect, incredibly stunning artwork, implies otherwise. For the original, refer to end of the post)
  • Max decides to punish an arrogant Bailiff, sweetly translated in Tamil as Ameena (அமீனா), who tries to snap the livelihood of an aged couple.  The illusional punishment, he goes through in line with his profession, is a top-pick.
  • Finally, Max punishing an inmate family, which turns out to be a dacoit group.  The climax was little way too-much with brothers killing each other, but don’t say they that ‘What goes around, comes around’.

Again look at what the Trouble Kid is drawing on the outer walls of Maxwell Towers.  The original text was “Cheezy Was Here”, which finds it Tamil form as “சின்ன தம்பி வாழ்க”.  Mr.Vijayan at his best. A lesson to be learnt for the others who think that mere translation of text is enough to get a comics to the target market (as witnessed by the “Junoon-Tamil” used extensively in erstwhile Indrajal Comics Tamil version).

Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 6, 7, 4, 5, of the original episodes finds there place in this issue, in the listed order, due to Editors scissor work (or should we say Computer provess, as in modern way of editing).  Editor has also ensured that he takes out the panels from the original content in these episodes where a Police sergeant suspects Max’s involvement in all the incidents and probes it further, before getting fooled by the computer to think otherwise.

Bret HypnotizedThe Trouble-Kid with Paint Can
& Bret being Hypnotized by Max

Obviously, Editor would have had hard time editing this particular scenario, which was lazed inside 3 of those episodes, so he promptly cut them away to present the 9 episodes in a little jumbled order. But, a first time reader would not notice this editing work, as the story flows superbly right till the end.

Look at one of the end scenes, as it is typical in many episode’s end notes with Police arriving at the scene, and finding the laid bodies of mischief makes often in the lift.  Isn’t it typical like in our movies, where they arrive always at the end.

The Thirteenth Floor, was written by Ian Holland, which surprisingly is a pseudonym for not one but two writers, who worked on it in unison – Alan Grant and John Wagner, who are both known for their thriller works on 2000 AD Series.  The artist for the series was José Ortiz.

Since the size of the post has grown too big, let’s look at the Bio of these “Three Amigos” in our next Thirteenth Floor Comic post at Comicology (Oops, did I leak out a suspense in here?)

Police arrives at ScenePolice arrives at Scene, in the last story of the issue

This Max instalment of Thigil ends with Max re-iterating its stand that he only does these things, to protect its inmates, and to teach the guilty of their sin.  He agrees that there may be some unexpected deaths, but it was clearly not its intention.

Editor further, makes us all in waiting by announcing that there will be another instalment of Thirteenth Floor with Max returning for a different issue of Thigil very soon.  The message from Max also secretly indicates Editors note, saying “If possible, we will meet again”, which is not a text you find in the original version of the same.  Clearly, Editor knows how to add his charm in every bit of piece throughout an issue.

By now, you would have all understood that that eventual issue would be our next Thigil Comics review post soon at Comicology.

End Scene with PoliceThe End Scene with Editor claiming “More of Max”

Supplement StorySupplement Story: Doomcrest Palace and its mysterious inmates

That is not all, as typical to many Thigil issues, we also have a 8 page feature of Doomcrest Palace inmates receiving an audience from another wanderer who tries to impress the Master Hugo of the Palace, with his real-life story, for a bounty.  Does he succeed in that? you can find out by reading the story from Thigil #56.

By the way, could anyone help me by giving a reference to the Original of this series, which is often featured in the Thigil issues? Pls. mail or add your comment, if you do. 

Twilight Zone Dell No-43Overall it’s an issue, which certainly deserves its place in your collection, if you are a Tamil Comics fan, with a different taste.  Looking at the relative recent past this issue was released, I hope everyone do have this already in your cherished possession.  The English Originals can be found on BackfromDepths weblog, if you want to check out.  I initially refrained from providing this link at Comicology, as it may be against the copyright of the said content.  Anyways, we are only providing a link to another site, so there is no harm done.  So enjoy while the content lasts over there.

Before I close here is the a cover from Dell’s 1972 issue, which was the inspiration for this Thigil Comics venture. Mr. Vijayan does have the passion to link up cover arts from different genres to be based on the storyline. All Kudos to him.

And that brings us to the close of this first ever Thigil review at Comicology.  Hopefully, you would have found it useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it.  If so, why not leave your comments to let others know, for which you could use the Comment section below.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (about which you would have already had a Preview on the Updated Sidebar). Adios Amigos !.


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