Barking – Review.

Writing, art, and letters by Lucy Sullivan.

Instagram: @lucysullivanuk

Twitter: @LucySullivanUK

Barking Front Cover

Valentine’s Day, 2020. Looking forward to a pleasant evening with my good lady when, on the train back from Oxford she called to say that a particularly feisty pothole on a dark country road had ripped a hole in her tyre and she was waiting for the RAC to arrive.

An hour later I was sending her home in my car while I settled in for a lengthy contemplation of the rain beating on the window and an obscured view over a darkened Cheltenham.

Not perhaps the evening I had in mind but, the consolation was that I had an Awesome Comics Podcast downloaded and ready to come in my ears. In that particular episode, Lucy Sullivan was the guest talking about her soon to be released book, Barking.

I’ve read enough comics, and especially indy comics, now to know that I can enjoy almost any type of story – not just the superhero books that I used to read back in the day. So, the semi-autobiographical story that Lucy depicted and the insight into her experiences sounded intriguing. Looking it up there and then, I immediately loved the artwork – a real must for me to invest in a book properly.

It took me  awhile to get hold of the book and I kept checking in on the samples of amazing at that Lucy was posting – the slightly frantic scratching of the pieces was evocative of confusion and anger – I later discovered this was exactly the right tone.

When the second printing came along, I ordered a copy and was interested to get an email from Lucy with a playlist to go along with the book – I held off reading it until I had time to sit down with both.

First off, let’s talk about that artwork. I really enjoy an expressive line in comic art – sure the clean-cut stuff can be great, but the art in Barking is so perfectly in keeping with the story – urgent,  challenging, and at times hard to decipher. Despite the fact that anatomy and perspective aren’t at all text book, Lucy’s background in art allows her to convey both movement and tone in a way that says ‘I know this looks a little off kilter, but I know exactly what I’m doing’. And she does.

I just want to dwell on that point about the art being sometimes hard to work out. Lucy is very clear about her struggle with mental health and this is of course a key strand of the story, and although I’ve not suffered in the same way, the sense of being overwhelmed and unable to process everything that’s happening is perhaps something many of us have experienced. So, the fact that we, as readers are challenged to makes sense of the apparently scrawled images which overlap and interact making some more difficult to read seems to be a direct depiction of a sate of mind and one which is handled beautifully.

It’s no spoiler to say that the story opens with the main character, Alix, in crisis – on a bridge and wrestling with the darkest of thoughts. Thoughts which soon take on shape and being and which become an important device in the tale: the ‘Black Dog’ is an age old manifestation of depression but here it takes on a slightly different role and is a constant and brooding presence.

Although the cause of Alix’s crisis seems pretty clear, for me that was called into question towards the end of the book but I’ll let you see what you think and not discuss the resolution here. Perhaps the best way to talk about it is through the soundtrack, which starts loud and brash with music that insists on filling your head, adding to the sense of disturbance and at times making it hard to concentrate on the text – once again, all contributing to the mood and experience of reading Barking. As it progresses, the playlist becomes infused with a melancholic introspection which I really enjoyed (oddly, I suppose) and, about two thirds of the way through everything takes on a more hopeful, uplifting vibe. All in all, it brought a whole new dimension to reading the book for me – fantastic.

There’s a lot more I could say about ‘Barking’, but probably the most useful thing is to recommend that you go get yourself a copy, download the playlist, sit and enjoy every dark, frantic, chaotic page of what is a classic comic.

The Whore Chronicles – review


Possibly not one for the feint-hearted, and certainly not one for your nan, here’s a review of this short anthology brought to us by the small-press man-beast that is Tony Esmond (@Ezohyez  –

There are seven stories in this book, all written by Tony, amounting to 36 pages. We have five sequential pieces (each by a different artist) and a couple of prose shorts. Here’s the artwork credits:


‘Shelly’: Rachael Ball @Rachaelcartoons

‘Peggy’: Sarah Harris @implausible

‘Diane’: Rik Jackson @gojacksongo

‘Lana’: Tom Curry @thischucklehead

‘Sasha’: Charles H Raymond @not_so_tiny

The cover-art is by your man Vince Hunt @jesterdiablo

The two pin-ups in the back of the book are ‘Behind the Camera’ by Stuart Mulrain @TokenNerd, and ‘Reality Sucks’ by Vince Hunt

The two prose shorts written by Tony are: ‘The Story of Sidney Small’ and ‘Peggy was a Rubbish Prostitute’.

Let’s start at the start: Vince might have come up with anything for the cover – a rough London pub where some of the women in the book ply their trade, or the shadowy alley where some of them service their customers. But no. Instead we’ve got a cover that’s an old VHS cassette which immediately sets the period of the comic – this is a solid pre-turn of the century piece and we know it before we open the book. I don’t know whose idea that was, but I like it!

Not everyone will want to read this book, which is a bit of a shame. With that title, I’d probably hesitate to read it in public myself to be honest, but, while the title is entirely representative of what’s inside, it perhaps isn’t w

hat you might expect – there’s no actual sex in the book and no nudity, i.e. what you might expect from the title. None of the stories tries to present the sham glamour of Hollywood prostitutes, or the one-dimensional whore we often see as bit-part characters on TV; the women we meet here are all different, all individual. Their stories are unique with many motivations and experiences.

Each sequential story is a short interview with one of the women where they give you a brief insight into their lives. It would be easy to feel sorry for them, but I don’t imagine that pity is what they would want. I wonder if some of them would even know what they did want if you took the time to ask them – most of their world’s feel pretty damn bleak, where the luxury of hope is something that they probably don’t allow themselves.

The exception to this format in terms of the sequentials, is a back-story relating to a background character from the brilliant Cockney Kung-Fu, one of Tony’s other creations. In fact, there are two stories in here about Peggy – the sequential and a piece of prose. Knowing Tony, the fact that this sequential comes first is probably deliberate as there’s a definite cause and effect relationship between the two stories. I won’t say more but see what you think.

Finally, there’s a sort of flipped story in there too by way of the other prose piece. The Story of Sidney Small makes you realise that the punters aren’t all husbands whose wives don’t understand them or pissed business-men away at a conference. Some of them are just bastards.

I particularly enjoyed the sequentials in this book – the artwork has real variety and, for me, Rachel Balls’ work on Shelly is the stand-out.

When you read the stories told in the prose you make that face like you’ve just sicked-up into your mouth, but sometimes, it’s worth reminding yourself how good your life is and there are people who have to taste a bit of sick more often than not. For me, I’d have liked a little more punctuation in the prose now and again but nonetheless, powerful stuff from a guy who has obviously seen some right horrible shit in his long and, possibly, illustrious career.

All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone who isn’t too squeamish or too easily offended. If you want a flavour of what life on the streets is like, get yourself a copy of this moving book and, while you’re at it, think about donating to the charity Tony mentions at the back of the book; Beyond the Streets – they’re a UK based charity who sees the possibility of life beyond sexual exploitation. Find them at







I’m absolutely delighted to say that I finally finished my short comic, Sugarcane: Prologue, which, as the name suggests is an intro to the world of Sugarcane. I’ll post it here, but probably the easiest way to read it is to get yourself along to or grab their free Comichaus app and read it there.

Sugarcane: Prologue cover

Awesome Comics Anthology, Issue 4. Review

Well, we’ve arrived at the end of an era. Ok, as era’s go, it’s not a very long one, but it is the end. At least for now. A year ago, the Awesome Comics Podcast boys put out Issue 1 of their three story, four issue anthology and, today, they dropped issue 4. Quite some achievement.

Looking at all four covers lined up at the OK True Believers comic con this morning, I have to say, they looked brilliant. As for what’s inside? Read on for a spoiler-free review, my friends.

Murder road

Story: Vincent Hunt (@jesterdiablo) and Daniel Marc Chant (@danielmarcchant)

Art / Letters: Vincent Hunt

For this final episode, the Chunt* has really narrowed things down, focusing entirely on the three main characters and the last minutes of this terrifying encounter. The atmosphere is great in this last scene – with occasional glimpses of sentinel like trees standing watch over the unfolding nightmare; the clearing in the forest feels oppressive and there’s a strong sense of claustrophobia as the darkness presses in.

I really like the way the guys have paced this; imaginative panel layouts which move the story on rapidly using images straight out of those stomach-churning horror movies you shouldn’t have watched when you were a kid – there’s no time wasted on dialogue here and no need for it either. You don’t need words to tell you whatever’s going on ain’t natural and you ought to be papping your under-crackers right about now!

The mother continues her Ripley impersonation and comes out of her corner fighting for the sake of her family with a great splash page and some inset panels that really feel like a cracking piece of cinematography.

As we move on, there’s more great work on the layouts which really speaks of Vince’s expertise on the graphic design front with some neat panel border breakout’s that add to a sense of dynamic action charging through the story.

There are some telling little choices that Vince has made in the artwork itself too – like a panel where he hasn’t delineated the visor of the Driver in profile making it seem like the darkness is flowing straight into or from the helmet of this hellish vision. Very nice.

The reveal of the story perhaps isn’t entirely a surprise but is certainly satisfying and doesn’t detract from how enjoyable this is; playing with some classic horror tropes, some deadly action, and a strong pay-off.

I’ve never read a horror comic before, and, putting all four issues together, this is a great entrée into that world. Familiar because it feels so cinematic, easy to read because of the pace, and satisfying because the story is very neatly packaged. All wrapped up with a blood-soaked ribbon.

Fantastic work boys, you should be rightly proud of yourselves.

*”Chunt” = Chant and Hunt, the deadly duo.

 Cockney Kung Fu – The Big Old Kent Road Kick-off, Parts 7 (I hear you knocking) and 8 (Queen Bee)

Story: Tony Esmond (@ezohyez)

Art / Letters: Nick Prolix (@nickprolix)

There’s an old adage among writers. I don’t know exactly how it goes but I think it goes something like “if you want your readers to feel empathy for your protagonist, put ‘em through the wringer”. Let’s just say, Tony’s wringer must be well and truly battered by the end of this forth issue.

Before we get in to any detail, let’s just have a chat about the feel of this story. Right from Issue 1, there was an underling sense that any one of the characters would screw another over at the first opportunity of turning any sort of profit – I mentioned it in some of my earlier reviews. There’s plenty to recommend this story, but I think, more than anything, it’s this feeling of being off balance that’s drawn me to it and which I’ve really enjoyed.

Once again, we’re treated to superb cartooning by the legendary Mr Prolix – the art’s been great throughout the story and his hand lettering and particularly the sound effects are things of beauty. The tension to his comical, almost caricature-like portrayal of the characters comes from the dark undertone of Tony’s story – it’s a low-down, violent tale of some really nasty bastards where the moral is fuck them or they’ll fuck you. It makes the read edgy in a fantastically compelling way.

Part 7 opens with a really nicely portrayed dream sequence while Red is still out cold from the end of the last issue – it shows us something of her past and how she came to be who she is and hints at a discipline that we haven’t seen in her before. Another layer to this character who I know Tony has plans for beyond this comic and which I’ve no doubt readers would love to see.

All my reviews are spoiler-free so I won’t tell you exactly what happens but, as in life, the story isn’t all neatly wrapped up with a bow and put aside ready for the next chapter to start. In Part 8, we’re introduced to some new but equally horrible characters and Red finds that there’s nowhere to go from the frying pan but into the fire.

It’s hard to know how to sum this story up – it’s funny, comical, jaunty, violent, vicious, dark, and nasty. All in a gritty soup than smells like a packed commuter tube in the height of summer. Whatever it is Esmond’s got planned for Red, you can bet it isn’t going to be plain-sailing. Bring it on, baby-cakes!


Everything: Dan Butcher (@vanguardcomic)

Once again, Dan’s displaying some absolute chops with the panel layouts in this final issue of Vyper – we’re straight into the action here and the sharply tilted panels make for a really fast paced layout.

Dan’s portrayal of the action is brilliant – I’ve said before how much I like his use of blurring to create dynamic motion and depth of field, and it’s used again here with great aplomb. The environments too; like the city, the dock, and the establishing shot of the police HQ, work beautifully and once again teach us that any number pier you care to mention, in any coastal American city, is not the place to be after bedtime.

There’s some real jeopardy for the good guys in this scene and the classic action show feel just oozes from every panel and speech bubble – it’s so full of nostalgia, I’m surprised there’s any room for story!

But room there is. And not only for story, but for character development too. The main character really does go on a journey here; putting at least some of his dark past to rest and realising that he doesn’t have to be a complete dick all the time.

We’ve boiled things down to just a few key characters for most of this issue and the focus works really well – Lopez is also developing and we see the respect that she’s worked hard to gain from Vyper paying off as the relationship becomes more trusting and we realise there’s something in this for both of them.

There’s a nice scene towards the end of the story where Sloan thinks he’s got away with his duplicitous Vyper / Viperini shenanigans, but…well, you’ll have to read it to find out what happens there, but, let’s say no more than it’s a really sweet little twist.

It definitely feels like we need to see more of these characters as Dan drops in another potential follow-up story hook towards the end of the book and indeed the closing text gives me the strongest possible suspicion that that particular itch is going to get scratched…


There’s a nice little ‘interview’ at the back of the book exploring the experience the guys have had putting the book together over the past year, some nice little back-matter sketches and an invite to let them know what you think of the whole sorry affair. So, don’t disappoint and give  apiece of your mind by emailing or tweeting the hell out of them @theawesomepod

Awesome Comics Anthology, Issue 3. Review

Once again, Tony Esmond has slipped a little unexpected something into my bulging inbox and, to be honest, I was only too happy to receive. Following our meet up for a couple of jars after work, Tony dropped me a link to Issue 3 and I figured the least I could do in return was to give it a damn good reading and write down what I thought about it all. So here it is.

Let’s start with the cover. Despite being a guy who appears to have a small Thomas the Tank Engine toy held captive between his toes as his Twitter profile pic, it hasn’t stopped Ed Traquino (@feliqscomics) really pulling one off on the cover art – it looks fantastic and shows Red really digging the funk in one of her more unguarded moments, which I suspect don’t happen often. Very nice work man!

Murder road

Story: Vincent Hunt (@jesterdiablo) and Daniel Marc Chant (@danielmarcchant)

Art / Letters: Vincent Hunt

Part 3 opens on a flashback scene of the mum character and, what I guess is her high school sweetheart / soon to be husband (slightly freakily, his name is the same as my dad’s, which is a worry to be honest). The music playing in the background immediately confirms that we’re back in the day when the two young lovers declare their devotion to each other with the choice of song beings a nice touch with the first line we ‘hear’ sitting perfectly with the tone of the book.

The transition back to present is handled really well – it could have been a harsh cut but as it is you can almost feel the final words the guys says echoing down the years to stroke your spine with grave-cold fingers.

As we come back to the present, the pace really picks up and the boys (who, from here on, I’ll be referring to collectively as “the Chunt”) have timed this issue beautifully; if I was reading a print copy, I’d be in danger of giving myself a very nasty papercut whipping the pages over to see what the hell happens next. The story canters along at rare old pace – I tore through this and had to go back a second time to properly take it all in.

Again, Vince reinforces that whatever this is, it’s been going on for years with the mum being the link between then and now. She takes on a real Ripley-esque feel in the second half of this issue and, frankly, I would not like to be the one to short-change her at the diner ‘cause she’d be likely to tear a new one. Possibly two.

The terror is really mounting as we switch back to the action where the Chunt provide only a petit morceau of gore d’jour but it’s plenty to let you know that The Driver is a twisted bastard alright, just in case you weren’t sure already.

I won’t tell you how this episode ends, but it’s a real treat and cues up the final part beautifully. Can’t wait to see what dark, twisted finale is planned for this very much depleted cast!

Cockney Kung Fu – The Big Old Kent Road Kick-off, Parts 4 (She wears it well)

Story: Tony Esmond (@ezohyez)

Art / Letters: Nick Prolix (@nickprolix)

We’re straight into the thick of it here with no titles and no fucking around. Red and the boys are dead set on parting the punters of the joint with their hard-earned and they’re aren’t about to take an IOU.

It was clear that the job wasn’t going to go the way Red thought in the last episodes – where would be the jeopardy for our lovely lady in that? And so it proves.

There’s something really conflicting about this whole story for me and I mean that in the best possible way: on the one hand you have this jaunty, old fashioned language that we’ve all seen in old movies if not in real life which sort of gives you a slightly off-kilter sense of fun. And then you realise that these people are absolute bastards. It gives you a wonderfully uneasy feeling as you read it – great work by the Segal doppelganger that is Tony Esmond.

There’s a beautifully paced scene where one of the boys takes off his balaclava which can only mean one thing (assuming you’ve watched just about any heist movie, like, ever) – it happens at the bottom of a page and the next panel is fantastic; Nick has totally nailed it; brilliant!

Once again, Custard doesn’t say much, but what he does say is deeply moving and profound – now doubt after this one last job, he’ll move to India and become a yogi…

Part 5 is a classic caper where it all goes sideways like Bobby Charlton’s comb-over in a brisk wind – it’s pacey and fun and might even be slapstick if there wasn’t this undercurrent of dark skulduggery and lingering doubt in the back of your mind. Nick’s art only adds to the Ealing studios feel of the whole thing which is just such a perfect fit.

By the time we get to Part 6 we’re left in no doubt that who the bad boy of this piece is – just a bit too nasty to really be your mate, but you laugh at all his twisted jokes because he might just beat the crap out of you if you don’t. No idea what’s going to happen to this guy, but I’m hoping it isn’t pretty.

As I said in my review of the first issue, you see here the fragility of Red’s existence in a world where the sands can shift under your feet in the blink of an eye and your friends become your enemies in a constantly turbulent environment where you don’t have the luxury of trust. Whether you take any notice of it or not, the shadow of a malign and precarious truth sits just on the edge of your vision when you read this story and for all it’s jaunty, Ladykillers banter, it’s disturbing. And I love it.

Roll on issue 4.


Everything: Dan Butcher (@vanguardcomic)

I have to start by saying that I absolutely love Dan’s done layouts in this issue; he’s really done some great work with panels including switching to an off kilter diagonal as the action heats up bringing a whole new level to the experience of reading the story. There are plenty of panel border breakouts too which really make the artwork pop. That and Dan’s as ever brilliant backgrounds make this a great looking story.

As for the story itself, the dialogue once again captures that ‘80s exposition vibe as we get ready for the action and Vyper gets a briefing he’s obviously going to give as much credence to as the lessons of his Sunday school teacher; he’s a loose cannon, but what the Hell – who else is going to look that good in those tight pants and a shiny helmet…

Later in the story there’s a detail I hadn’t picked up on before – there’s a hint that his secret identity is part of a larger organisation and while we don’t hear any more about it, I wonder if Dan has more backstory up his sleeve than he’s sharing. I like that nod to a bigger picture without any explanation – just like real life. Sort of.

Virtually all the bad guys here are nameless henchmen; just as they should be, with the focus squarely on the big bad who our hero has personal history with and who’ll probably be one half of the badass showdown that’s on the cards for the final episode.

Sloane naturally goes off-piste and the jeopardy cranks up as the mission starts to go south – as with every good ‘80s action movie, when the shooting starts, things get manic and over the top with the body count racking up at an alarming rate; none of your A-Team, how did those guys come out of the horrendous car-crash / fall / shoot-out with just a headache BS here. Dan handles the sound effects of all this action nicely too; both of the shooting, and the screeching of wheels. Talking of wheels, the Vyper itself is really well drafted. You see it from lots of different angles and it always looks convincing; no mean feat. I can’t wait until Dan really challenges himself with a story about a Mongolian reindeer herder who travels everywhere with his extended family on horseback!

We leave this episode with Sloane now having an almost impossible task – complete the mission, while defeating the big-bad, and saving the girl. Will he do it? I guess we’ll have to tune in next time to find out!


Once again, a couple of pages of childish, near-the-knuckle fans’ letters for readers to enjoy at the back of the book – obviously spot-on and entirely appropriate for the mental age of us degenerate ACP fans.

There’s a page of fan art too with some great work on display – again, no less than you’d expect from the dedicated followers of Awesome! My own piece didn’t make it into the book, so I thought I’d share it with you below dear reader – enjoy!


So, I’ve been trying to make progress on my next comic but, frankly, it’s painfully slow. I seem to be working, like, a lot lately and struggling to find time to draw or write. And when there is a little time, once the thirst of the eternal list of the DIY purgatory has been slaked, I’m too knackered to do anything worthwhile.

That said, it’s not like I haven’t done anything. There’s been a lot of thinking and that’s good at least. I’ve also been thinking about the art style of the book and creating characters to populate the world; I thought I’d share some here.


I’m thinking black and white. Not really because of the expense, but more because “one thing at a time”! It’s enough to deal with the artwork and the script let alone attempting the pit of despair that is colouring…

Feel free to let me know what you think about any of these btw.

If you’re interested, it’s set in the future. In a world where economics and climate change have forced almost everyone into huge cities, all humanity packed into a tinder box of overcrowded, desperate lives. Where religion used to play the lead role in survival but now has fallen to the decadence of commerce. In this world, the further up the social ladder you are, the further up you live. You have light and air and all things sweet. Below, deep below, there are things that no-one wants to see, but that make the world tick irrespective of people’s preference for not acknowledging they’re there.




Neotheric Vol 1, #1 & #2

Story and letters:  Michael T Gonzalez

Art: Dave Mims

Finally got round to installing the Comichaus app today – and instantly regretted not doing it sooner. The very first book I picked, pretty much at random, is fantastic!

First up, this is not an all-ages read – there’s violence and swearing a-plenty, so if you’re under like 10 or whatever (when do they start swearing and playing inappropriate games these days?), you shouldn’t be reading this…Seriously though, it has a “Mature” explicit rating so save it for later kids; there are plenty of cool all-ages books out there for you.

Right, on with the (no spoilers) review.

Something that used to right-royally yank my tatlocks was a cover that hooked you in and made you buy a book that was a load of old turd on the inside – I’m very happy to report that this bad boy is 100% on the button; the cover looks just like the internal art. Which, in case you’re wondering, is freakin’ awesome!

The colouring uses lots of gradients and a slightly muted, but rangy, palette that works beautifully with really fantastic linework – and this is the real strength of Mims’ work here – he does an inspired job. At first glance it looks like there are too many lines, but somehow, it works to create a strongly graphic feel with sparse backgrounds, expressive characters and great action. This is some of my favourite artwork this year; sweet!

The story is a little off-the-wall and, although you might think you can spot the backstory of the main characters pretty quickly, issue 2 ups the ante and raises an eyebrow: no spoilers, but there appears to be at least one pretty famous dude in this series… I’m digging the premise and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story goes and I’m kind of expecting it to be not where I think! The dialogue throughout is nice and tight, funny, and natural – really great work which isn’t always in evidence in indie comics and a big thumbs up to Gonzalez for this work.

Pretty quickly he’s managed to create some interesting characters who are shaping up really well – one of what appears to be the main couple of characters (right now at least – I’ve been caught like that before…) is looking to be particularly interesting and I can’t wait to see what happens to him. I have some ideas of what his arc might be, but let’s just wait and see if he can step up and crack destiny right in the chops. I hope so…

Gonzalez also does the lettering duties here and does them brilliantly. He’s come up with some neat ways of dealing with different voices and the word balloons are tidy and sized well for the panels. A big shout out to him for the use of thought balloons too – I miss them.

All in all, you want to jump on board with this immediately, like now! It’s worth the Comichaus subscription all by itself! Amazing value!