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

Windhead's Dogs #7

Posted on October 28, 2001

The bimonthly Hawkwind tribute zine (that this non-Hawkite struggles to recognise the point of) hits a seventh issue and rekindles in me renewed hope that I might at last stumble upon its raison d’ĂȘtre...

Nope. Even after viewing Hedwig and the Angry Inch I continue in vain to glimpse a semblance of coherency in Windhead's Dogs on-going strip Ledge of Darkness! In fairness, it looks a lot of fun, is competently drawn and, at times, meticulously inked, but possibly requires a stoned understanding to prompt appreciation. It seems to be aiming for a kind of Rocky Horror/Spinal Tap barminess but delivers not a science fiction, double feature, but a science friction double dutch! Far too esoteric for a non-Hawkite audience, methinks.

Also wedged somewhere between the adverts this issue are 'Jack and the Herbstalk' - a two page argument for legalising cannabis told through a modestly realised cartoon that lacks a humorous punchline; and 'Once Upon A Time' - another two pager, this one offering sound take on 'The Prisoner', capturing the feel of the cult TV series with spot-on dialogue and genuine glimpses of the likeness of actor Patrick McGoohan. (Occasionally betrayed, though, by the Kirby illustration style's penchant for fat heads!)

I remain pretty much frustrated by the elusive contents of this publication, and by the fact that it has a tendency to be over before it's begun. But still, Windhead's Dogs #7 has its moments, and is just as free as previous issues, so whether or not "the alchemists of British psychedelia" are your thing, this impressively printed title might just prove no money well spent.

20 A6 pages, free - send SAE to the rather unlikely address of Zephyr, P.O Box number 6, The Village (Liscard), Wallasey, North Wirral, CH45 4SJ. Tell 'em 'the General' sent ya!