Thursday, 16 September 2010

Review - CLiNT #1

CLiNT is a new ‘British’ comic / magazine edited by Mark Millar. I type the word ‘British’ in inverted commas because, well, a lot of the comics content had already seen print in the USA and most of it was drawn by (admittedly fantastic) American artists. Still, at least the magazine was written by British talent and hopefully we will see more home-grown talent as the months go by. I must say, it was very nice to see a new comic on the shelves in WHSmith. I only wish that Millar or (more likely) Titan were less embarrassed about CLiNT being a comics magazine. If it weren’t for the ‘Warning! Contains Comics!’ blurb, there would be very little on the cover to indicate to the casual reader that this was largely a comic – just two small illustrations alongside large photos of Frankie Boyle, Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz (admittedly dressed as Kick Ass and Hit Girl, but they have appeared on the covers of dozens of non-comics magazines this year, so their appearance here hardly assures anyone that this is a comics magazine), and smaller photos of Jonathan Ross, Holly Willoughby, etc. Personally, I would have been happier with one large John Romita Jr Hit Girl illustration on the cover and small photos of the celebs, although I can’t help thinking that one large photo of Holly Willoughby (and nobody else) would have sold more magazines than a photo of Frankie Boyle with a bushy beard!

As for the contents of the magazine, well, the comics were mostly decent. The eight pages here from Kick Ass 2 were okay but somehow managed to showcase all the worst elements of Millar’s writing – a pop-culture reference that already seems dated (a joke about Rihanna getting beaten up by her boyfriend that was in poor taste but, I’m ashamed to say, at least made me smirk) and an unnecessarily emboldened reference to Kick Ass’s sparing partners having severe learning difficulties (do severe learning difficulties make you a better fighter?). Next, we get the whole first issue of Turf (as originally published by Image) by Jonathan Ross and Tommy lee Edwards. I must admit that I had already read this, and enjoyed it more the first time, but the art is great and the story is pretty good, too, for Ross’s first effort. As others have said, though, it is way too wordy. The first time I read this I found myself editing down the word balloons in my head while I was reading. I understand that the Frankie Boyle strip, Rex Royd, has been getting a lot of flack but I don’t really have much to say about it. The art is okay – like a (very) poor man’s Sean Phillips – but it’s hard to really judge Boyle’s talent based on this one short instalment. The brand of offensive humour that Boyle trades in seemed out of place in this strip but things may improve in future issues. I had also read the first issue of Nemesis – reprinted in its entirety here – when originally published by Marvel but enjoyed reading it again. In fact, I think it was my favourite strip in CLiNT. As you may have already gathered, I am not a massive fan of Millar’s writing. His dialogue is generally terrible and his stories are nowhere near as good or original as he seems to think they are. If I discovered that I was reading the work of a 15-year-old boy, I’d think he showed a lot of promise, but the fact that Millar is a grown man and one of the biggest names currently working in comics just depresses me. Still, I often find myself wanting to read his comics – even if I do end up feeling dirty and disappointed afterwards – in much the same way that I always seem to want to watch the latest dumb horror or action movie, and this really is just a dumb action movie in comics form. But it was over-the-top enough, and well-drawn enough, to be enjoyable. The last strip here, Huw Edwards presents Space Oddities (a Future Shocks type of thing), was probably the worst one. It was fairly well drawn but the story was basically dull and didn’t really have much of a twist at the end. Worst of all, it seems to have had nothing at all to do with Huw Edwards. A comic strip not written by a celebrity? I want my money back!

And as for the non-comics content, well, most of it was just immature and moderately offensive. I suppose this was to be expected from a magazine edited by Mark Millar, so I shouldn’t really complain, but most of these articles were just plain bad. In fact, a lot of them added weight to the suspicions I’ve had about Millar ever since I first read Wanted – that if it wasn’t for the confines of the law and his religion, he would be stalking prostitutes through the streets of Glasgow with a skinning knife. The glee with which the author of the Charles Manson article (how very modern!) described the Manson family’s plans for various celebrities (what is it with Millar and celebrities?) was rather worrying, but this was probably one of the better features, while the ‘Secret Diary of a Celebrity Pot-Head’ article was, frankly, pathetic. An unnamed celebrity confesses to smoking dope while his wife is at work. Wow. What a scoop. Err, it’s not much of a confession if nobody knows who you are, is it? And it’s not such an amazing confession. This celeb’s wife already knows that he smokes dope, just not how much he smokes and that he can’t wait until she leaves for work to get smoking. I’m sorry, but am I supposed to be impressed by this? If I confessed that I couldn’t wait until my wife went to work so that I could start drinking, you would probably think I was a bit of a sad bastard. However, say that it’s dope and suddenly it’s cool. Sigh. Maybe I’m just too old (41) for this sort of thing. Elsewhere, the Jimmy Carr interview is slightly interesting but everything else is pointless and insubstantial. To be honest, the feature I spent the most time thinking about is ‘Hot TV Mums’ (yes, there really is a hot TV mums feature in this magazine) and I’m not proud of it. I’m really not sure what I found the most offensive about ‘Hot TV Mums’, the fact that crap like this sums up pretty much everything that is wrong with our declining society, or the fact that they got the list so badly wrong. There were some good choices – Samantha from Bewitched is a particular favourite of mine, I don’t mind Gabby Logan, have a soft spot for Holly Willoughby (if only she had a soft spot for me!) and can even see the dad-appeal of Kirstie Allsopp – but I draw the line at Lorraine Kelly. Is this a Scottish thing? How did she even make the top 10, never mind the number 3 spot, when they have completely neglected the likes of January Jones (Betty Draper) from Mad Men, BBC Breakfast’s Susannah Reid, and Jane Goldman? Ms Goldman would have been a particularly good choice for this list because a) she is a hot mum, and b) having the wife of one of the magazine’s contributors appear in the Hot TV Mums feature might make everyone involved realise how fundamentally creepy features like this, and the MILF culture in general, really are. Or maybe not. As you can probably tell, while I think that features like this are symbolic of everything that is rotten in our society, I am not above compiling such lists myself, and if Titan need any help compiling future lists of this type – Hot TV News Readers, Hot BBC South East Weathergirls, etc. – they are welcome to give me a call.

Anyway, despite my many complaints, I thought this was a pretty good buy. At the very least, it’s a cheap way for me to finish reading Nemesis, Turf, and Kick Ass 2. Here at Comics On The Ration, we are all about value and, at just £3.99, this certainly offered a substantial saving on buying the US imports reprinted herein. In fact, if you subscribe, it only works out to £3.00 per issue delivered to your door (about the price of one new US import in your local comic shop). You may want to skip the features (until I start compiling the Hot TV Girls lists, of course) but as a comic you could do worse.

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