A Review Asks Only Whether One Can Live With It Or Die Of It

I've been reviewing small press publications on www.bugpowder.com for a few years now. Totemic small presser Andy Luke recruited me; he'd been impressed with my essay, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll, and was convinced that I could restore some cheer to the reviews section.

Ostensibly a scoff-mixture, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll discusses the pathogenic presence in UK small press of comics creators eager to produce work sterilized by an ambition to be adaptable to the strictures of an intrusive company bent on 'product development', and who derive a vanity-buzz of satisfaction from tucking themselves into deadlines and knocked-off scripts. "This budding hack is fuelled by little more than the desperation for a sense of celebrity," I wrote, "and must be destroyed."

My muscular reviewing-style grated with small press enthusiasts' indulgence in self-satisfied congeniality and writer/artist shape-throwing, but I refused to conveniently dismiss creators with throwaway compliments, employing instead a reviewing discipline based on four simple tenets: 1, perspective is to be achieved; 2, the standards by which one is judging the work are to be made clear; 3, credit is to be given where it is due; and 4, one should not be such a fucking misanthrope, you above-being-human narcissist.

Regularly achieving three of the four principles with my aesthetic evaluations, and quickly developing an obsessive-compulsive urgency for production of symmetrically paragraphed reviews, the meaningless absurdity of opinionative writing soon revealed itself to me. I was not deterred.

John Robbins

Andrew Luke's Comic Book: Episode III

Posted on October 31, 2003

When Jazz & Blues act Sy Snootles And The Max Rebo Band embrace the techno wizardry of new member R2D2, their residency at the Cantina is relinquished in favour of an intergalactic tour which (metaphorically) includes a few disturbed nights at the Casino Royale - with cheese aplenty! Meanwhile, in the hands of creator Andy Luke, band roadie and occasional tippler Anakin Skywalker proves himself more worthy of the identity 'Heineken Skywalker', and Samuel L. cements his reputation as an actor capable of five easily recognisable facial expressions.

Affectionate parody of the Star Wars mythology, however irreverent, is not my thing. However, in Revenge of the Cantina Andy Luke provides the shifting focus of a non-linear narrative applied to a linear plot, which at one point prompted me to contemplate the abandonment of reading in favour of some form of sequential snorting. The patchy artwork, though no more than functional, manages a naive appeal, and any creative effort I think that can inherently highlight the error of the most blatant beard-promotion since Grizzly Adams is to be applauded. All in all, an oblique reading experience that made the back of my brain hum. (And no, I don't know if this is a good thing!)

28 A5 pages, £1.50 – check availability at http://andyluke.livejournal.com