When he’s not interviewing megastars, wearing shockingly garish clothes or pissing off Daily Mail readers, Jonathan Ross is a bit of a comic fan. Actually, he’s a lot of a comics fan. He used to co-own Soho Comics with Paul Gambaccini, he’s in possession of Detective Comics # 27 (the first appearance of Batman) and Action Comics # 1 (an original copy of which, featuring the first appearance of Superman, remains one of the most expensive comics in the world) and those who saw his documentary In Search of Steve Ditko – about the legendary and reclusive artist/co-creator of Spider-Man – know just how much Wossy loves the comic book medium. So it’s unsurprising that he’s taken the plunge and written his own comic. With the artistic talents of Tommy Lee Edwards, Ross has created a story of gangsters, aliens and vampires.
In New York at the height of Prohibition era America, gangs fight to control the illegal drinking dens and various other illicit activities that keep the money rolling in. The Dragonmir Family are one gang that is getting the upper hand. But then again, they have an advantage: they’re also vampires. But soon it becomes clear that the Dragonmir family want more than a piece of the action – they want the whole human race to feed from. Enter the amoral Eddie Falco who finds himself in the middle of a war to save the Earth. Can one man battle against the hordes of the undead? Well, he has a better chance thanks to a stranded space alien by the name of Squeed.
It’s clear that Ross has turned to the comics he grew up with as the inspiration for Turf as it emulates the pulpy storylines of Marvel and DC comics of yore. Indeed, there’s little room for subtlety here as Ross throws everything at the wall with the various plot strands of bloodsuckers and galactic creatures all being thrown together with reckless abandon. Those who have grown up on the more angst ridden comics of the modern era might find it something of a surprise to see something so direct. Apart from the central character of Eddie, who goes from conman to hero, all the protagonists are either ultra good guys or evil psychopaths. It’s not to say that everything here is old fashioned: it’s just an unashamed slam-bang adventure filled with explosions and action (and there’s just enough nasty violence and a smattering of four letter words that means that parents should keep it from younger eyes).
Ross throws everything at the wall with the various plot strands of bloodsuckers and galactic creatures all being thrown together with reckless abandon.
There is sometimes a lot of exposition, especially in the opening scenes in which the speech bubbles seem to outweigh the images, but when the action comes it never lets up. Also, the art from Tommy Lee Edwards mixes clean lines with a dark and murky world that evokes 1920s New York alongside a world slowly falling into hell with aplomb.
Turf perhaps lacks some of the sophistication that some hardcore comics fans may be used to, but as a rollicking adventure that never stops it’s a tremendous amount of fun. Given the fact that Ross has given up the BAFTAs and leaves the opening ripe for a sequel, perhaps we’ll see a new volume soon.
Turf by Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards is available now from Titan Books (www.titanbooks.com).
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