Monday, 23 January 2012

Books: Turf


Written by Jonathan Ross
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here: 

Yes. This is a comic book written by Jonathan Ross.

Just to get this out of the way: I don't have any problems with Jonathan Ross. My earliest distinct memory of him is this - (and re-watching it now I've gotta admit that it did make me smile just ever so slightly) - and obviously since then he's done the talk show and the film show and that documentary about Steve Ditko and the naughty phone call with Russell Brand and etc etc etc. But yeah: whatever. If that guy from My Chemical Romance can pen the mighty Umbrella Academy (which you should read if you haven't already) then all bets are off: I don't care who you are or where you come from - but if I'm gonna give you my time then damnit I want to entertained, educated or informed: or all three (altho maybe educated and informed are the same thing? But no matter, no matter).

And yeah - I thought that Turf was going to show me a good time, the early reports were all good, Tommy Lee Edwards did lots of nice stuff in Marvel 1985 and seeing how Ross is married to Jane Goldman (who helped write the Kick-Ass film): I assumed that would mean that he would have a little help getting all the storytelling basics down. And even before reading the Mark Miller introduction I'm sure I knew that Ross had good geek credentials from his comic book documentaries and stuff he said back when he was going the whole Film critic thing.

So why am I writing this without even having finished the book? (And never intending to either)

I dunno. I got one third of the way through and realised how much I was struggling to not flip ahead (always a bad sign). The art is real pretty and everything looks realistic and nicely lit. And I've got nothing against the concept - which feels like it's sprung freshly formed from the mind of a five-year old boy - because as should be obvious by now: I tend to love outlandish concepts smashed and smeared over different types of chocolate cakes of awesomeness (If there's anyone in Hollywood reading this - then please know that I would pay good money to see this movie).

But Turf was just kinda - boring. None of the characters grabbed me. None of the dialogue fizzled in anyway (and is it just me or did lots of those full stops look a lot like comma's? and: did some of the sentences seem just a few more drafts away from being complete? "You got some set of balls, sonny. You better enjoy them while you can... Because I'm gonna cut 'em off and send 'em back to your brother this evening! And the rest of you will follow in little pieces for the next few weeks.": seems a little mealy mouthed to me). There was no special juxtapositions of the words and the pictures. Everything was just - meh. A bunch of cliche's all pressed together in the hope that somekind of magic is going to happen. And in parts felt more like reading a storyboard for a movie/tv show than something that existed in it's own right. There was nothing out-and-out terrible about any of it. But if the best thing you can say about something is that it was "functional" - then something's wrong. And yeah - well - I'm sorry Ross - but being a fan doesn't mean that you get to qualify for the main stage.

Like I said: all I wanted was some kind of good time. But Turf just left me feeling like I had better things to do. And the whole time I just couldn't shift that feeling that the whole thing was because just a big dressed up vanity project (and for some reason I don't quite understand - I feel really bad for sounding so mean!)

Better luck next time maybe (?)

Links: Comic Book Grrrl Review, Guardian Review, Comics Alliance Interview with Jonathan Ross.

Further reading: Road to PerditionMarvel 1985, Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy.

All comments welcome.

No comments: