Jun ’18 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: June 21st, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

“Laugh it up, fuzzball!” Er, waitaminnit, isn’t that the wrong franchise! Then again, with the whole ‘wurld’ in supposed thrall to another type of ‘fuzzball’ then what better time to visit Our Man In Pester Wails, a man more than capable of naming every Avengers starting eleven. And so it was on ‘Chewsday‘ that Agent Rob made a welcome return to Ice Station, braving the long journey from Bear Island HQ to join Agent Johnny in a long overdue ‘view to a swill‘. In fact, it was very nearly an own-goal, but thanks to Agent Austin‘s canny managerial strategy our two Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to scramble it off the line (and thus head in happily over their heels together)….

With the guest’s chair cleared of a ‘stack of books’ it was then time to sit down, crank open the swill and ‘dock’ the ‘music box’ (after a mild pause for panic while issue #2 of the recent Captain Condor reprints was successfully located). Agent Johnny seemed particularly taken with last week’s screening of Orson Welles‘s’The Trial‘ and this ‘fillum freakery’ dominated much of the ‘dafternoon’s contented chuntering, before the conversation settled into a general SF orbit, incorporating the Planet of The Apes fillums, Arthur C. Clarke and ‘Nova‘ by Samuel R. Delaney….

And just when you thought the afternoon could not get any more jammed it turned out Agent Johnny was power-packing the pencils for a mighty MARVEL-esque cover for the (proposed) John Stark: Secret Agent comic, as well as suitably eclectic takes on both (eternal favourite) Batman and (current favourite) Daredevil, events which saw Agent Rob gingerly leafing his way through some of our man’s prized 1960’s originals. Add to that two story roughs for strips featuring The (UK) Avengers and a vintage Ghostman strip salvaged from 1972(!) and you have what can only be described (at great volume) as a rip-roaring success! (Mind, you can expect the finished inks some time in 2020….) Of course, the volume was not nearly as deafening over and out at Deadhead Comics as Agents Austin and Rob peeked over the wall in deathly silence, watching as Poland stumbled, fumbled and finally fell to Senegal….

Sounds: Two From The Vault by Grateful Dead: A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd and (disc 1 of) Live 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert by Bob Dylan….

Grateful Dead – Death Don’t Have No Mercy, live 24/08/1968

Mar ’18 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: March 31st, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

“Thank God It’s Only A View To A Swill!” An excellent ‘view to a swill‘ on ‘Woden’sday‘ of this week, Agent Rob (surprise?) visiting Agent Johnny at Ice Station Zebra for the first time since the end of January. In spite of the fact Our Man In Pester Wails looked initially bemused by Rob‘s being washed up at his front door things thereafter went swimmingly, the vintage swill was quickly retrieved from the fridge and cranked open as seat springs sprang under the strain, the contented chuntering already well underway….

As ever, Philip K. Dick, The Grateful Dead, The Shadow and The Masque Of The Red Death were ‘finely whined’ topics of conversation. Add to that an intriguing discussion about Agent Rob‘s enjoyment of ‘skunk rock’, then on to the impact of ‘punk rock’ in Lanarkshire – it seems it raised barely a sneer – and (alleged) meetings with Siouxsie Sioux and The Stranglers – tentatively filed away in the same folder as Agent Johnny‘s extra-ing in The New Avengers – and you have a cracking afternoon’s entertainment. The Dark Horse reprints of the Doctor Solar title – it seems Johnny’s been tanking a full volume a day – and Crack In The World – watched along with The War Lord as a double bill at the Regal Cinema in Lanark – also kept the swill flowing at a brisk pace. Finally there was mention of a fascinating sounding 1968 ‘skill jottir’ comic of Johnny‘s featuring the leery ‘Cylindricone‘. How ‘Mr Christian‘, the strip’s hero, dealt with that, well, only Johnny knows….

As if all this ‘jolly good fun’ wasn’t enough, Agent Rob is pleased to report that he was allowed to return to Glasgog with the completed 7 pages of ‘John Stark: Death March of the Missile Men‘ – quite possibly the best thing Agent Johnny has ever done! – in his possession. And indeed, if that isn’t enough for you, dear reader, the borrowing of 5 aged issues of The Alchemist and 1 issue of Chewing Bricks in which there must be 10-15 pages of earlier material (that have thus far evaded the printed clutches of Braw Books) was also sanctioned. Whatever remains in the tank – both Agents had a quite frank conversation about the possibility that Johnny‘s drawing days are all but over – you can rest assure Rob will do his very best to realise every and any last drop of this most secret of agent’s astounding creative output. Surely after over 30 years toil at the comic coalface any man would be entitled to put his feet up, read a few books and comics and enjoy whatever programmes or fillums of yesteryear took his fancy on the ‘One-Eyed-God‘ – heck, as far as Agent Rob‘s concerned the return to nibblingg at the salad days can’t come soon enough….

Sounds: Two From The Vault by Grateful Dead: Sky Pilot by Eric Burdon & The Animals: Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by Pink Floyd and Nerve Pylon by The Lines….

Jan ’18 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: January 31st, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »


Long ‘overNeu Year’s visit to Ice Station Zebra on Monday, Agents Rob and Johnny dodgin’ the January ‘blooze’ – likely helped by the fact that neither has done a one-eyed-god damn’s worth of ‘comic drawin’ in the ‘winterim’ since their last meeting – by easin’ themselves gently into 2017’s first official ‘View To A Swill’….

It was contented chunterin’ all the way, ‘Our Man In Pester Wails’ takin’ great pride in showin’ off his recent Spaceship Away/Dan DareThe Big City Caper (controversial?) issue and a few other ‘oversize colour reprints’, includin’ Brett MillionThe Angry Planet and Wrath Of The GodsThe Bow Of Delos (by Michael Moorcock and Ron Embleton)….

The latter especially, with its simply gorgeous fully painted artwork, harks back to a far superior era of ‘comic illustration’ that it’s quite clear will never be seen again (aside from in loving reproductions such as these). It’s fair to say a good amount of time was spent staring in wonder at these vintage masterworks, Agent Rob scrambling to pick his jaw up from the floor….

Then, Grateful Dead playing quietly in the corner – well, until the startling, rousing guitars of Turn On Your Lovelight (slowly filtering in from 10:30 in the video below) scorched a path across the room! – it was time to discuss the epic, explosive ‘grande finales’ to both Tobruk and Escape To Athena as well as the Hammer Film Productions of Kiss Of The Vampire and The Plague Of The Zombies and obviously Philip K. Dick‘s The Game-Players Of TitanClans Of The Alphane Moon and A Scanner Darkly (“….it’s very well written….”)….

Sounds: Two From The Vault by Grateful DeadBlows Against The Empire by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick et al and Cool Snap and Nerve Pylon by The Lines….

Grateful Dead – Turn On Your Lovelight 24/08/1968

Nov ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: November 24th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

We’re off to see the wizard, the wizard of Wester Hailes! A much more magical visit to Ice Station Zebra to see Agent Johnny this month, Agent Rob cheered to find his auld pal looking far more fighting fit! As such it wiz straight down to the business with The Sweeney – featuring future, er, ‘Brush Stroker’ Karl Howman – getting things off to a flying (squad) start….

Next up our Men In Pester Wailes stayed tuned fer the ‘Stay Tuned‘ episode of The Avengers, notable fer featuring both Roger Delgado (Dr Who‘s The Master) and Kate O’Mara (Dr Who‘s The Rani) in supporting roles. Ironside, featuring a low-key turn from George Kennedy, then really upped the ante with it’s decidedly downbeat and leery ‘Priest-Killer‘ episode….

Unable to stomach the grim pulpit drama any longer – or maybe that wiz just the ‘Motherwell Odeon-style’ hot dogs Agent Johnny whipped up! – the channel wiz soon changed from Ironside ‘fer to catch’ the end of The Guns Of Fort Petticoat (1957) and thus making sure to catch the start of Dakota (1945) with John The Duke” Wayne on early comedic form….

There was much contented chuntering throughout, E. E. “Doc” SmithPhilip K. Dick and John Brunner’s ‘Stand On Zanzibar’ – “Oh, flip! Havnae seen one of those in a while!” – coming under close scrutiny, but Agent Johnny showing off a near-pencilled cover for the ‘Paranoiac‘ comic he’s ‘dreamed up’ wiz the paraticular highlight….

Visions: The Sweeney, The Avengers, Ironside, The Guns Of Fort Petticoat, Dakota.

The Avengers: Season 6 – Opening & Closing Titles

Nov ’17 – An Archive Of Doom….

Posted: November 20th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

Back! Back! Back! Let’s do the warptime again! It’s well over 10 years since Adam J. Smith and Agent Rob tentatively approached Agent Johnny at a SCCAM meeting in ‘The Mono‘ in 2005 and thus quite impossible to imagine the current underground creative landscape had this hesitant first encounter – Agent Rob remembers Adam pointing out “that guy” sitting, swilling at a table alone – never occurred (to Adam)….

Fast forward this rewind two years and in late 2007, after countless truly amazing letters (from John) and encouraging letters (from Rob), Rob agreed to head through to Pester Wails to join Johnny on one of his regular reconnaissance missions (AKA a ‘View To A Swill’) over the hill to Cramond Island (AKA ‘Crab Key‘)….

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so there’s no sense in wasting too much time describing how damp and dreary the day itself was, both Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. trudging on, boots squelching, bones soaked. An initial highlight was bumping into one of Johnny’s numerous ‘girlyfriends’, Lyndy Henderson – she blew up the world, dontcha know! – at a set of traffic lights en route. She was out walking her dog and it was heartening to see her affection for Agent Miller, who was clearly oozing (if not in fact visibly dripping) some of that old 007 magic….

The swill was duly cranked open – setting a template the decade that followed – and, to the drone of ‘airyplanes’ cruising in to land at Edinburgh airport, cans were necked and munchies munched. Nothing lasts forever, and in a flash the afternoon was over, years evaporating in the blink of an eye, our two sodden souls heading back to (equally not as) dry land….

There was to be no let up in the weather and, having missed his return train – by this time it was around ‘nineteen hundred hours’ at night – Agent Johnny kindly offered Rob some shelter from the storm until the next one. And so the threshold at Ice Station Zebra was crossed, thereby accidentally opening up a whole brave new world that would come to irrevocably shape the duo’s next ten years….

Cramond Island is (supposedly) about two hours walk from Pester Wails, but add on the scenic route, jaunts into ‘nooseagents’ fer grub supplies, the comic artist’s mantra of ‘nae rush’, the weight of rain saturating yer jacket slowing ye down and it takes twice as long. Sadly, the leaden pace on the day meant there was no time on the night ‘fer to stop off’ fer some glug at the Cramond Inn – an experience often given an enviable and pleasantly melancholy warm rendering in John‘s letters…

Cramond Island AKA ‘Crab Key’

Journey into fear….

Cramond Inn

“Double Oh flip…!”

Oct ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: October 12th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

A brief and decidedly dispiriting visit to Ice Station Zebra on Tuesday of this week as Agent Rob yet again (and somewhat unwisely) stirred Agent Johnny from his slumber, the resulting couple of hours crawling by in awkward silences, Our Man In Pester Wails spending much of the time dozing in his chair, bare feet boldly on display. When the chat did eventually come – following, rather bizarrely, a long pause for a change of trousers – it was horrendously one-sided, and a much anticipated conversation concerning recent viewings of The Fly (1959) and its various sequels was simply caught short in the web of despair….

Still, there was life in the old slog yet…. and also in the topic of Commando ComicsAgent Rob talking at length about the most memorable issue from his childhood, The Cat, the Rat and the Cobra and Agent Johnny duly responding with honourable mentions given to his favourite titles Crash Dive and Rogue Bomber. At one point Johnny rallied himself enough to reel off a (very pertinent) quote along the lines of, “if you are able to help someone as you pass along then your life has not been in vain”….

There then followed a brief thumbs up for the exploits of Alf Tupper, before, unable to even finish his first can of swill, Agent Johnny turned down the duvet and announced/whispered he was fer ‘hitting the sack’, leaving Agent Rob to ‘consolo’ himself for an hour or so, swilling to the epic sounds of Crippled Black Phoenix, live dreaming wistfully of the days gone by Hope Street ‘view to a swills’….

Sounds: (selections from) The Resurrectionists & Night Raider by Crippled Black Phoenix….

Sep ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: September 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

Yet another bon voyage of Agent Rob‘s ‘fer ter visit’ Agent Johnny at Ice Station Zebra on ‘Thor’sday’ of this week. This well coordinated exercise – postponed from last week and honed by years of secret agent training – allowed our two ‘men in Pester Wails’ to settle down in very good time ‘fer to watch’ the exceedingly leery The Masque Of The Red Death on The Horror Channel. Indeed, this followed a failed attempt to retune the ‘one-eyed-god’ to find Talking Pictures TV and a brief interlude of Bob Dylan live in 1966, the swill soon cranked open to smooth over the cracks, the cheese rolls munched, the outside world quickly forgotten by those it’s forsaken….

As soon as Vincent Price had laughed his last laugh Agent Johnny was suddenly (swill?) inspired to give a reading – yep, a reading! – of Edgar Allan Poe‘s original The Masque Of The Red Death short story. And so, like any good kiddie-winkie, Agent Rob – opting against sitting cross-legged on the floor to complete the picture – listened as Our Man In Pester Wails growled (mumbled, snuffled, coughed and hacked) his way atmospherically through the 7 pages of this twisted tale. Fillums and television – You Only Live TwiceThe GauntletVoyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and, of course, The Invaders – then occupied the rest of the afternoon’s contented chuntering before the ‘great white bus’ into town beckoned and where, in Deadhead Comics, Agent Rob picked up Wakeling, the newie by Braw Books favourite Magda Boreysza….

SoundsLive 1966, “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” by Bob Dylan: A Saucerful Of Secrets by Pink Floyd: Sea Within A Sea by The Horrors and Nerve Pylon by The Lines (the grande finale!)….

VisionsThe Masque Of The Red Death (1964)

Aug ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: August 7th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

Half-swill, half-grub, and all S.H.I.E.LD.! So it was with Agent Rob‘s first visit in a good while to Ice Station Zebra ‘fer to see’ Agent Johnny (who answered the door with his best ‘bedhead’ on, a truly impressive sight!). Seems the ‘aches and pains’ are often a little too much to bear and that ‘hittin’ the sack’ is the only sensible option. Of course, always best to gather one’s strength ahead of an afternoon’s ‘View To A Swill’. With nothing worth watching aside from Our Man In Pester Wail‘s brand new rug – a magic carpet fer sure! –  it was time to ‘mugdock’ the ‘music box’ and crank open some swill….

It was (nearly) 50 years ago today…. Imagine Agent Rob‘s surprise when presented with a ‘stack’ of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos comics – gifted to Agent Johnny by an old ‘Sheffield Fart College’ pal – that were published in 1967! Seems every pop-culture milestone’s hittin’ the hallowed half-century, er, milestone this year! As if trying to comprehend this sudden passage of time wasn’t enough, creative lives blinking on and then off, Agent Johnny then stated that, as well as conversing with Gareth Hunt on the phone several times, he’d met Patrick Macnee as he’d been an extra in 3 or 4 episodes of The New Avengers! (IMDB unable to verify this outlandish claim unfortunately….)

Following on from in depth discussions about ‘Woden’sday’s screening of The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb, that evening’s screening of Thunderball and the fillums Enter The Dragon and Shout At The Devil it wiz time for gettin’ on for time gettin’ on and Agent Rob ‘buzzed’ his way into town to drop off a bale of Braw Books at Deadhead Comics. Seems the festival spirit suits Agent Austin down to the grind and a guid hour of guid humoured chunterin’ ensued before Agent Rob left fer pastures old clutching Rumble Volume 1 and the ‘True Believers’ edition of Black Panther #1, a celebration/further milking of (what would have been) Jack “King” Kirby‘s full-century(!)….

Sounds: Memory Span by The Lines: Two From The Vault by Grateful Dead and Blows Against The Empire by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick et al….

Apr ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: April 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it….” And of course they did, Agent Rob and Adam J. Smith gamely heading through to Ice Station Zebra on ‘Wodens’day’ ‘dafternoon’ ‘fer to visit’ Agent Johnny ahead of the evening’s Event Horizon and the much anticipated opportunity to finally launch Unearthly Science Fiction. The day didn’t necessarily get off to the greatest of starts when Agent Rob reminded Adam of Agent Johnny‘s (as close a brush with actual fame and recognition as he was going to ever come) “lost interview” from a few years ago, a proposed piece by (Seattle’s) Gavin Lees fer The Comic Journal that wiz nixed (well, ‘nicked’ actually) at the last minute by, um, your friendly neighbourhood baggage handlers at the airport who made off with the equipment containing the day’s audio recordings and photographs. This kinda thing never happens to James Bond, y’know….

Not that it took much time for the trio to warm up at Ice Station as the swill was quickly cranked open – tho Adam Smith, with one eye on his later performance, decided to abstain, preferring instead ter swig from his carefully prepared flask of tea – and the ‘music box’ wiz ‘mugdocked’ ‘fer to amplify’ the acoustic sounds of a certain Bobby Zimmerman. Contented chuntering ensued, the recent repeats of The Avengers, Mission Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – all keeping Agent Johnny glued to the One-Eyed-God – and the usual topic of Philip K. Dick were covered in some detail. With the hours flown by it was soon time to board the bus and head fer Deadhead Comics to catch Agent Austin before the the Event Horizon finally loomed into view, swallowing our intrepid Agents whole….

Shoreline Of Infinity #7 – cover by Steve Pickering

With around 30 people gathered in the basement of The Banshee Labyrinth, the ‘Two-minute warning’ was announced. First up was the Glasgow rap duo Futurology – if Agent Johnny had a hard time getting his head around The Orb‘s Blue Room then who knows whit the hell he made of this! – before Jonathan Whiteside read Terry Jackman‘s short story Anyone Can ask About Enhancement’ (from the newest Shoreline Of Infinity, #7) and finally Rachel Plummer‘s witty poetry rounded off ‘Side One’….

‘Side Two’ got off to a flying start as Shirley Muir read some ‘exceedingly humourous’ short tales, after which it was time for Adam Smith ter take to the stage and give a spirited rendition of Jed Hale, Arizona Sheriff fer the assembled crowd. Not only did this hilarious performance underline the sheer abstract genius of John Miller‘s scripting and creative abilities but, thanks to Adam‘s highly skilled manic utterances, won a generous round of applause from the audience….

Braw McConnaissance imminent…?

Of course, you cannot feed a comic artist on claps alone so it’ll come as no surprise that in the later bustle to leave – following another intense set from Futurology – a solitary copy of Unearthly Science Fiction limped from the launch pad…. At this point Agent Rob really ought to be inserting a photo of Smith hard at work but thanks to a mixture of anticipation, excitement and just too many microphones no such record of the event exists. And so the lost nature of this endeavour brings us full circle, much like this shot of the miniature moon snapped back in Glasgog – Ice Station Lima is one of the tiny shining lights on the bottom right….

Sounds: Live 1966, “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” by Bob DylanTwo From The Vault by Grateful Dead….

Mar ’17 – A Chronicle Of Doom….

Posted: March 10th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: John G. Miller | Tags: , | No Comments »

Agent Rob wasn’t the only thing to make a triumphant return to Ice Station Zebra yesterday, as at last ‘The Archives Of Doom’ (rekkids, books, papers, comics, tbps. etc) have been reinstated! Well, assuming reinstated means hastily dumping a shitload of heavy boxes haphazardly in and aboot the hall and not even bothering yir bahookie to help Wir Man In Pester Wails put his stuff back in the order of chaos. Thankfully Agent Rob (AKA ‘Mr Puniverse’) put his back in (and perhaps out) to it and heaved the mighty boxes around sufficiently enough to restore slow shipping lanes fer to satisfactorily accommodate Agent Johnny‘s increasingly wide berth….

During all this ‘back in action traction’ our Agent wiz sat contentedly ‘wrapping up’ a(nother) Fireball XL5 short story, so the swilling took something of a back seat until such a time as that task wiz concluded (taking longer than expected as wir Agent was continually gigglin’ to himself). This bizarre 6-pager, titled ‘The Last Colonizers’ wiz soon joined by a 2-pager (produced from ‘The Drawers Of Doom’) known as ‘A Welter Of Gore’. It’s unsure as to whether Agent Johnny expects Agent Rob to jam these into the ‘long-time-printed-yet-not-yet-released’ Unearthly Science Fiction anthology – perhaps this signals the beginning of Issue #2…?

Long time readers of this blog will know what happened next, the ‘music box’ – updated ter add something of a new soundtrack ter the proceedings – wiz mugdocked and the swill was cranked duly open! As well as Agent Johnny brandishing his 2 completed stories Agent Rob wiz also treated to a rough fer old Lanark pal Ron Harris ‘fer to draw’, a ‘leery space comic’ to do with the planet ‘Polaris’. Glasgog’s Calderpark Zoo wiz the source of much contented chuntering, with Philip K. Dick and Robert Silverberg muscling in on proceedings too (where wiz their combined might when ‘hing’s needed shifting?)….

No doubt that great excitement wiz generated by the news that from Monday the 13th March the True Entertainment Channel will be repeating the seldom-seen-super-cult-favourite The Prisoner, something that has even jolted Agent Rob out of his increasingly jaded and apathetic reverie. Of course, the 9-11 ‘pee-emm’ timeslot time means Agent Johnny will have to rapidly reset his counter-clock world – if just fer the 2 weeks it’ll take ‘fer to show’ all 17 episodes – ter be able to catch this. Here’s to raising a glass to daytime repeats thereafter. Unfortunately Our Agents tuned in to Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers on ‘Fillum Four’ too late  – another abject failure of timekeeping – and Agent Rob had to slip oot ‘fer to catch’ the bus into town during the adverts. Following a quick Rumble pick up at Deadhead Comics Rob then concluded his awayday by meeting New British Comics Karol Wisniewski (‘veesh-nyev-ski’, pronunciation fans) for a final swill before being crated and shipped back to Glasgog….

Sounds: Live 1966, “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” by Bob DylanTime Of Ye Life/Born For Nothing/Paranoid Arm Of Narcoleptic Empire by Crippled Black Phoenix (a Hope Street Studios ‘Day In The Attic’ classic): Flood Bank by The Lines and Obscured By Clouds by Pink Floyd (and about an hour’s worth of Tartan Techno at full blast from the defk*nt through the wall)….

Visions: Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers….