Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What the Duck?!

My friend Andy sent me this link (don't click on the link or any of the others if you don't want to see an un-bloodied, apparently pain free duck impaled with a crossbow bolt) today about a duck being shot with a crossbow in Barnsley.  The duck was, if not fine, well enough to avoid being caught by the RSPCA.  Apparently this mallard is Rambo.  Anyway when I finished reading the article I noticed the related stories box at the bottom of the page.

So two more ducks have been shot with crossbows, in Lincolnshire and Derby.  I read these articles and found a similar story reported in Cornwall.  In total the BBC has reported six incidents of crossbow attacks on ducks, in Herefordshire and Leamington Spa in addition to those listed above.  The RSPCA reports an additional duck being crossbowed in Cheshire, I have no idea why the beeb failed to cover this story.  Eight ducks were shot and two were killed.  Ducks really are crossbow proof.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, I guess mostly out of surprise at the number of duck crossbowings I've just discovered.  Who knew that all across the UK people are united by there shared love of using medieval weapons to spectacularly inconvenience mallards?  At least I hope that's the case, what if it's all one person?  What if it's one shadowy individual biding his time, spreading his crimes over years and hundreds of miles to hide his guilt, perhaps conducting some satanic ritual?  Why do I feel like I've only uncovered one dark corner of a massive web of water foul murder?

It's because I've watched too many serial killer movies, that's why.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Play the game, play the game, everybody play the gaaaammmmeee!

I like video games.  I wouldn't really call myself a gamer and I haven't bought one since 2011, because I'm a proper grown up with grown up things to do like sitting in my pants and watching repeats of Stargate SG1 on Pick TV. But as I say I like video games, I watch Zero Punctuation every week, subscribe to Rock Paper Shotgun's RSS feed and lose embarrassingly to my more gamery friends at Halo.  It's not beyond the realms of possibility that I could be convinced to part with money for a shiny entertainment fun disk.  Then I see something like this, or this and I think fuck the video games industry.

Do they really think so little of their customers to believe that this sort of stuff is what they want to buy?  (Obviously the answer to that question is no, as evidenced by Valve's frequently wonderful ad campaigns but it's much less fun being nuanced).  What sort of mindset thinks that people will want to pay extra for a statue that suggests they are a dangerous pervert?  Ed Gein should think that bust looked a bit tasteless.  I don't want anything to do with anyone who thinks associating their brand with horribly violent sexual imagery is the way to get my cash.  I can't believe that this needs saying but don't advertise your product with a serial killer's wank fantasy.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Deadbeats is a graphic novel by Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey with art by INJ Culbard. I was familiar with the writers form their work on the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, an insightful and amusing examination of the great horror writers work that combines literary criticism, interesting triva and dumb jokes. I first encountered Culbard's artwork on the Brass Sun strip that ran in 2000ad last year and was impressed by his beautifully clean, European style cartooning.  Aside from his work for Tharg Culbard has adapted a series of Lovecraft stories into graphic novels published through British publisher Self Made Hero. Given this shared interest in the Lovecraftian it comes as no surprise that Deadbeats is a weird tale with a twenties setting.  However, the comic is more than a pastiche, the creative team have taken some of the core ideas of Lovecraft's work and created a story around them that could only have come from these three people.

Lovecraft's work focused on mood, atmosphere and concepts rather than plot or character and he told his stories through dense, beautifully purple prose, Deadbeats is a story centred around a strong core of characters who are constantly on the run with little time to pause for breath.  Long drawn out descriptive paragraphs are replaced with pact chase scenes and moments of slapstick. The story focuses on three jazz musicians on the run from the mob who run straight into Lovecraft country. The central characters are all well defined and most of the time likeable. They have distinct voices and feel like believable prohibition era people.

The comic contains perhaps the best use of music I have seen in the medium.  As comics are a silent medium the use of music can often feel awkward and take the reader out of the story.  Alan Moore in particular seems unable two resist derailing a masterpiece by having the characters burst into song. However the authors of Deadbeats succeed not by recreating a song lyrically but by using the medium of comics to represent the feeling of different pieces of music in a immediately recognisable way. 

Deadbeats' greatest success is in recreating the most enjoyable aspect of the author's podcast, its sense of humour.  The book never quite becomes a farce or a parody as the various supernatural threats are presented seriously and remain scary but the authors allow plenty of moments of humour.  This is aided by the art which manages to combine some exaggerated facial expressions and almost farcical schemes with the moody terror of the entities menacing our heroes.  The story feels like it could easily exist within the Lovecraft cannon, you believe the Dunwich Horror could be happening a few valleys over from our heroes' adventure. In the same way that Scrubs, House and Bodies are all successful hospital stories.

Deadbeats is an action packed, funny and scary romp right through Lovecraft country and its well worth reading. The comic is available world wide from the book depository or from retail sites such as OK Comics and Travelling Man in the UK (I'm certain you can find it in other places as well).