Comic Reviewed by Will Cooling
Teaser: Buy it now!!!
Title: Red Eye 4
Written by various
Editor: Barry Renshaw
Published by Accent UK
This is the fourth issue of the ever-excellent Red Eye, the quarterly magazine that takes you into the very bowels of the British comic scene, mainstream and independents alike. Thankfully the winning formula has not been tampered with articles on as diverse subjects as “Anglo-American” projects such as Scarlet Traces II and Wildstorm’s forthcoming Albion project, British comic history in articles on the infamous Action comic and the legendary 2000AD artist Carlos Ezquerra and British independent creators such as David Hitchcock and Malcy Duff. However, despite this diverse range of topic matter the quality of the coverage is consistently high.
This issue (like the three that proceeded it) can be split into three sections, news and previews, features and reviews. The news and previews is where Red Eye excels, compared to most comic magazines, with an impressive range of stories from the recent Accent UK trip to the Danish Komiks.dk festival, the revival of 2000AD fanzine Zarjaz and the new reprint of classic eighties strip Doomlord. What also stands out is the quality of reporting, the articles on the Komiks.dk festival and on AP Comics new Mr. T series go into greater detail than any Comics International or Wizard news item. The previews, whilst being little more than super-solicitations are certainly a welcome feature with gorgeous artwork from the likes of Omnivistascope and the new Bulldog: Empire miniseries being given a welcome chance to shine.
The features section is equally impressive especially the evidence that more and more “professional” creators are taking Red Eye seriously with Ian Edginton, D’Israeli and Jock all taking time out to talk with the Red Eye staff in well structured and informative interviews. Perhaps the most interesting is the interview Leah Moore and Shane Oakley do to plug their new Albion mini-series that will see British comic heroes of the 50s/60s being revived in a Wildstorm mini-series plotted by Alan Moore himself. The insight we get into the story’s genesis coupled with the wider perspective of the current interest in old school British comics/sci-fi makes for a fascinating article that is extremely well written by Barry Renshaw. What’s impressive about Red Eye is that it treats such creators with respect without patronising or ignoring smaller, independent creators such as David Hitchcock and the Cosmogensis team of Tony Suleri Adam Grose being the subject of very attentive and informative interviews. One of Red Eye’s strengths is to combine both mainstream and independent coverage without falling into either Wizard’s or Comics Journal blanket refusal of one of the sections. However, its arguable that with these interviews Red Eye is giving us too much of a good thing with the number clocking in at an impressive seven. This is especially noticeable as there is a notable lack of feature articles or op-ed pieces on contemporary comics.
Where Red Eye can’t be faulted is in its retro coverage, with two fantastic articles bringing the features section to a close. Continuing Walther’s excellent series on 2000AD greats we get a superb retrospective on the only of the “big five” 2000AD artists** that still regularly works on the Prog. Walther details early 2000AD career expertly with a concise, vivid description of the creation of both Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog alongside an overview of his wider career and detailed analysis of his technique. The only flaw in a near perfect article is the lack of analysis of Ezquerra’s triumphant move to colour in the 90s first with paints and then even more successfully with computer colouring. Other than that Walther does a staggering job in distilling a 30plus year career in five pages. The second, equally excellent retro article is Moose Harris’ history on the British comic equivalent of a supernova-the infamous Action. No comic has burnt so brightly or so fast than the second of Pat Mills’ trilogy of mould breaking 70s comics. Harris goes over the familiar tale of the anti-establishment, anarchic boys comic that was launched to widespread reader acclaim, the “moral panic” it created and then its eventual suspension and neutering. It’s a very good article that tells an often told vividly with Harris’ passion and anger over Action’s treatment leaping off the page.
Finally, there are the reviews with the likes of Pest Control, Solar Wind and Charley’s War being placed under the gaze of Red Eye reviewers. The range of comics covered is impressive whilst the reviewers use the limited space extremely well, providing an impressive amount of information. Pick of the bunch has got to be Barry Renshaw’s excellent whole page review of Charley’s War that treats Titan’s first collection of the legendary anti-war story set in the First World War trenches with the respect and reverence it fully deserves.
And so concludes a magazine full of terrific writing with news, interviews, articles and reviews all written with passionate, energy and directness. A top quality read that demands your attention!!!
To find out more about Red Eye, Accent UK and the British Independent scene visit www.enginecomics.com
A big thank you to Barry Renshaw for supplying me with materials for this review.