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

The Surgeon #1 and #2

Posted on October 25, 2001

Formulaic stuff, this. A group of disparate characters find themselves trapped in an enclosed space with an evil entity on the prowl. And get this: it's bent on their destruction!

"Based on the screenplay from Parade Films", The Surgeon is a comics adaptation of a film that hasn't yet happened. With its join-the-dots plotline and attempt at establishing another iconic horror figure, it has play it safe stamped on every cliche-ridden scene throughout. The artwork, however, mixes Talbot with Lloyd, and with a lucid enough scripting, it's not terrible – just derivative beyond maintaining consciousness. (Unless you're 15 or under.)

Pretty much a poor kind of Prince of Darkness then, The Surgeon is just as appealing as the majority of mainstream titles to be found on your local specialist's comics rack; and no less original or dead-bodied than the recent Jeepers Creepers.

US size, £2 - check availability at www.roughcutcomics.com.