giving me a handle. It‘s an interesting model to apply to society. One of the concepts that seems to apply most to society where it stands at the moment is the phase transition period. You couldn’t deduce the properties of steam from looking at water, because they‘re completely different things. But what happens with a lot ofsystems is that there is a chaotic point, like that between water and steam.

You get the same thing ifyou look at the progression of numbers: you reach a chaotic, turbulent point of randomness and after that the patterns will be different. I think that what we’re approaching now is a social boiling point. The acceleration oftechnology, the pace oflife itselfis getting faster. All of these vectors are gathering speed, mounting along their exponential curves, and we seem to be reaching a point where we are hitting a zone of heavy turbulence. Just look at the newspapers, nobody knows what the fuck is happening. The Berlin Wall is down, Mandela’s free, the Sandinistas lose an election; there’s probably been more world events this year than I can remember in the last ten.’

It‘s the sort of ‘what if?‘ scenario you might read in a comic story, I suggest.

‘I think we’re living in a comic story,” agrees Moore, ‘and sometimes I wish I trusted the writer more.‘

Big Numbers is published by Mad Love Ltd at £2. 75.

Buying British

To take the output of one publisher and announce that It marks the best comics work being produced in Britain today is an ambitious conceit; but Titan Books have made that the basis of their ‘Best oi British’ promotion, which is targeted at the bookshops that have so far resisted the lure of the graphic novel.

The sheer market-comerlng size oi the iirm lends their claim some credibility. With a burgeoning roster oi zoooao books taking over the wall space oi shops around the country, Titan took on the repackaging at such milestones as the ‘Love and Bockets’ sagas, Frank Miller’s ‘Dark Knight’ and ‘Batman: Year One’, all licensed irom the States. They produce prose iictlon as well - ‘loads of Star Trek’ but the vast majority are graphic novels; about 300, with another 45 in the planning stages.

More than 40 books are highlighted in


I The Cartoon History oi Time Kate Charlesworth and John Gribbin (Cardinal, £4.99) Einsteinian physics demands a leap of imagination so vast that it’s not surprising most high school students give physics the body swerve. It’s only a misspent science fiction-reading youth which allows me to babble about time dilation, infinite density and singularities. Thanks to Charlesworth and Gribbin’s book-length comic-strip explanation of the mysteries of the universe, lean now add to my repertoire quantum cosmology, Sehrodinger‘s Cat and Cold Dark Matter, which makes me less fun in pubs, but happily better informed

llB: Most registration lor the Convention has been done in advance, so tickets at the door can NOT be guaranteed.

I Giants, Cams and Jewels Hunterian Museum. Glasgow University. An exhibition of 70 pieces of artwork by the celebrated French bandes dessinées artist Moebius, including some from his lncal series. Convention attendees can get a sneak preview on Sun 1.

I See Glasgow, See Culture Art Gallery Museum, Kelvingrovc, 1—29 April. Mon-Fri 10—5pm; Sat lOam—lOpm; Sun

the ‘Best oi British‘ promotion. These include a helty wad oi zoooao books; the entire Alan Moore era ol ‘Swamp Thing” (11 books), ‘Watchmen’ and his Batman excursion, ‘The Killing Joke’; the sombre ‘Vlolent Cases’ by the team oi Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean; DC’s ‘llellblazer’ (by Jamie Delano and John Bidgway) and ‘Tapping the Veln’, three volumes of Clive Barker horror stories visualised by John Bolton. There is only one new title: ‘Spiral Cage’, an autobiography by Al Davison, which is confusineg described by the company’s Liz Gay as ‘the ultimate graphic novel - ior the spring’.

‘As tar as the British public is concemed,’ she expounds, ‘comlcs are very much an American or a European thing, and a lot of books in our promotion are books that people tend to think of as being American, but were in fact produced by British writers and

for all that.

Gribbin, a Cambridge astrophysicist, and Charlesworth , whose educational comic strips brighten up New Scientist, have attempted to present current cosmological thinking in an easily-digestible strip format, with the aid of a smartarse chicken and a very thick eat.

While it is, without a doubt. a book that schools should stock as a set text to overcome students‘ prejudices against physics, its layout is often confusing, and it would have been improved by using the cat as the willing partner in a dialogue. As it is, the animals’ antics become a distraction from the text, not illumination of it.

Quibbles aside, with a bit of perseverance you’ll be starry-eyed and cosmic for days and suffering from an awful tendency to draw arrow-spattered diagrams on beermats at all the wrong moments. I Hard-Boiled Detective Stories Charles Burns (Penguin £7.99) Charles Burns, however much his clean, bold lines resemble those of classic comics art, has a taste for the grotesque which makes for unsettling reading. He can also command the serious attention of a man who is at the forefront of his field.

Hard- Boiled Defective Stories is lighthearted compared to some of his work, but the unsettling reminders of horror still pepper the backgrounds of the stories. El

noon-6pm. F rce. The rich tapestry of Scottish cartooning, with works by around 20 local artists, including McCormick. Gall and Turnbull. Also Claire Bretecher and Alec Graham of Fred Basset! fame. Later in May it’s at Parkhead Forge Shopping Centre.

I Children’s workshops City Chambers. George Square, Sat 31 and Sun 1. 11am—1pm, 3-5pm. Free. lfyou wantto go to the Convention upstairs, you‘ll need to pay, but the younger ones can be entertained at these workshops (for want of a better word),run with the resourccsof Marvel Comics, who are supplying materials and costumes.

artists. Look at “Watchmen” - the archetypal American comic book, and yet it is both written and drawn by Englishmen. That also now Includes “Arkham Asylum” again, archetypal American material, one would think, because it’s Batman, but written by a Scotsman and drawn by an Englishman.‘

Numerous publishers are dipping theirtoes in the water- Penguin have committed themselves to producing one graphic novel a month iorthe next year- but originating one irom scratch is expensive, and even Titan have shied away irom that particular challenge, although this may soon change. Still, considering that comic books make up a third oi Japan’s entire publishing industry, and that the lonnal is growing steadily more popular here, the battle lines are only beginning to be drawn.




E \\

Borbah, Burns’ chain-smoking tribute to the pulp gumshoe, is hard-boiled all right. Hard-drinking, super-macho, totally dislikeable and his clients aren‘t much better. Permanently garbed as a masked wrestler, and prepared to inflict extreme violence on anyone who looks at him the wrong way, El Borbah gets the sickest cases in a sick world: corrupt hamburger chains, insane cloning plots, bent sperm clinics and teenagers who want to be robots so much that they have their body parts surgically replaced.

Though £7.95 is steep for what it is, Hard-Boiled Defective Stories is enjoyable enough, but since the private dick angle has been done to death, we could have asked for a little more.

I Comic Book Coniidentlal Glasgow Film Theatre, Rose Street. Fri 30 and Sat 31. The highly-praised but little-seen film of interviews with such illustrious comic creators as Will Eisner. Robert Crumb. Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko. Frank Miller. Art Spiegclman and Harvey Kurtzman is getting special screenings to coincide with the Convention.

I Words and Stones Central Station. A dozen local artists have contributed one-page strips on the theme of ‘Glasgow for inclusion in the Convention booklet. The original artwork can be seen here. Most of the artists are unknown, but a few have had work published professionally.

The List 23 March - 5 April 1990 9