Friday, 29 April 2011

In praise of Axe Cop

Someone just asked, on a comics forum, has anyone read any good comics lately. As it happens I have read some good, and bad comics, lately. My current fave rave is Axe Cop, the strip written by a 6 year old and drawn by his 30 year old brother.

It's simple, innocent and exciting, and overflowing with genius nonsense ideas, like robbing the Museum Of Diamonds and selling the diamond for a Tyranotillion Dollars, which is the highest number in the universe.

Of course the double pleasure of Axe Cop is that not only is it hilarious, and not in a mocking-of-six-year-olds way, it also shows up the paucity of imagination in so many other comics.

I'm very very out of touch with American superhero comics, which I was raised on and which I read from age 6 (Fantastic & Terric the Odhams reprints) to my twenties (Marvel UK reprints via 2000AD to Alan Moore and the 90s British invasion) till I started working for Marvel in the 90s then got jaded, until they finally stopped sending me free copies at the end of the 90s and I lost touch.

So, in a vain attempt to have some connection with comics, and to have stuff to show the kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, I buy the Panini British Marvel reprints and get 5-for-a-quid comics from FP. And so little stimulates me. I've found some good and readable superhero stories by Grant Morrison and Paul McCornell, but the fact of the whole lot being obsessed with the superheroes I used to read 30 years ago is stifling. (Have I mentioned that kids in schools don't read superhero comics? If they read anything it's manga).

And so much of the stuff I'm seeing just seems overblown and pretentious, like every hero is some sort of God and every story is some kind of epic legend. I find so little humour and so much self-important pretentiousness.

Have a look at this opening paragraph and try to guess, is it from Axe Cop or Superman? (Names have been changed to protect the innocent):

"Arion of Atlantis has travelled forward in time to reveal the result of (the hero's) never-ending battle, by showing him the future of 2014, a time when L, J and L form the tattered remnants of humanity. Arion tells (the hero) he will be the downfall of us all!"

You remember when Neil Gaiman took over Miracleman from Alan Moore and it stopped being fun and started being wanky? Well that's what almost every superhero comic I'm wading through is like. (The stuff in Clint is okay, but useless for me to show to kids. I know comics don't have to be for kids, but writing stuff just for 40 year olds with Aspergers seems to be limiting your market unnecessarily).

Except Axe Cop. It's the best. If you've not read it, do. Here's a paragraph that knocks Superman into a hatted cock:

"They hit the lion and it died then the pig ate it. It turned into Super Lion Pig... Super Lion Pig jumped in front of them and said "Go to the year Zero Thousand And Zero, when animals could talk!""


I'm also enjoying the giant 40 years of Doonesbury book I got at Christmas. Yes, it's that thick.

Kev F

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