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

Season X #2

Posted on September 26, 2001

Much like its premiere issue, this second instalment of 'the reality challenged Starburst' crackles with a wit and exuberance that is hard to resist. Science Fiction/Fantasy reportage parody is the order of the day, and no popular cult show of those genres can escape the affectionate prods of the SEASON X tickle-stick. (Andy Luke guides my hand!)

Though at times seemingly no different in tone or content to the magazines it seeks to lampoon, and though this 'failing' is probably down to lack of subject matter knowledge on my part, the writing, anyway, is never less than fluid, and the kind of effortless it takes two rewrites to achieve.

That said, X2 is less trash-scholarly than its first issue, and as a consequence is more accessible to those, like myself, not quite fanatical about the shows 'discussed'. Ergo, that first issue's tendency toward overly long passages of text (to which I could not attach a substantial enough degree of parody to justify inclusion in the publication) is eliminated, and the humour less likely rendered redundant by trash-ignorance.
And yet, I suspect that those cunning writers of X2 continue X1's penchant for jocularly rewarding its prime target audience of Babylon-brained-Buffites with hidden extras. These fuckers can't lose!

Inventive, mad-cap in its convolution, and containing a wonderfully realised Seinfeld three-page strip that could easily pass as a still episode, X2 is daft as sandwich-spread and much deserving of an audience or two.

For this A5, 32-page veritable trash-carnival of a title, send your pound to Rik Hoskin, 1 Ravensbourne Road, East Twickenham, Middlesex, TW1 2DG.