Script and Art by David Leach
Script Editing by Scott Gray
Lettering by Peri Godbold
Published by Ian Hine and Dead Universe Publishing
Out: Now – £3.95
‘I took it like a randy Welsh shepherd!’
David Leach Conquers the Universe, released earlier this year, is a great 20-page black and white small press title in which David himself – whose credits include Aces Weekly, OINK, the 1980s anthology Toxic! and the recently-released Psycho Gran in Titan Comics digital line – helps the army to defeat a huge monster that is part of a (seemingly) much bigger conspiracy.
The self-indulgence of this title is in many ways its strength. The writer, in heavy irony mode, describes his noble calling to be a cartoonist to a bar of inebriates. Seeking glory from the art he describes to their dead eyed and gaunt faces the story of his life. But it takes an unexpected turn, rather than dwelling in self-absorbed personal and boozy shoe staring he describes a story that involves a giant lizard monster that seems half Godzilla and half A.L.F. In a heartbeat, it goes from Minimum Wage/American Splendor territory to Shogun Warriors.
Listen. I ain’t saying that this unexpected turn of events is an altogether bad thing. As a book, it’s half zany genius and half indie kitsch. As you may know, David is something of showman as well as a creator – let’s not forget his brush with reality show stardom on UK television with his appearance on Come Dine With Me, so this self-created limelight in David Leach Conquers the Universe shouldn’t be a surprise. (Sadly, on closer inspection, the episode doesn’t contain any Kaiju!)
Leach himself eulogises to the pub regulars like it was a tiny Hall H at the San Diego Comicon. As a reader you can’t help but feel that he’s poking fun at those comic creators who bore endlessly about their greatness at comic conventions worldwide. But we don’t care. David Leach is here to save the world. It’s no spoiler to say that he defeats the Godzilla size monster in quick shift and is off home for tea.
From a writer and artist for British titles such as OINK and Toxic!, you know from the outset that this is not going to be a normal indie movie of a small press comic. It reaches far into fantasy. The cover is spot on and recreates a Monster comic superbly down to the faded faux Golden Age colouring. It’s packed full of panels and word balloons and isn’t a quick read. The art is crammed onto the page in a Crazy/Mad Magazine style. Full of detail and backgrounds you can see the levels of work that went into every panel.
David Leach Conquers the Universe is genuinely a joy to read, full of crackling bullshit and laugh out loud double entendres. The art is definitely a click above the normal small press crowd and reminds me of a cross between Dylan Horrocks, Paul Rainey and Gilbert Shelton. We really do need more from this gent. It has moments of real hilarity and is undoubtedly British in its humour. I suggest you pick up a copy of this and revel in its chattering mess.
Soldier – ‘The General’s pushed it up to Def-Com 3.
Leach – ‘That’s what my ex-wife said on our wedding night!’
Is David our nation’s action hero? Or is he just a storyteller in a pub? (I think I know the answer to this one but I’ll let you make your own mind up.)
Speaking to Ian Hine from Dead Universe Comics (the comic shop and small press publishers in Aylesbury, who put this book out) this was actually written and drawn some time ago. Following fast on the heels of another Godzilla movie this seems like perfect timing. Issue 2 is now in the planning stages and hopefully will be out soon. The preview to the upcoming issue is pure Wally Wood and I shall be bagging a copy upon release.
– Tony Esmond aka Professor RipTide
• Mr Leach is currently working for Titan as an editor. You can find him on Twitter here. Along with current titles such as Psycho Gran, and his strip for Moose Kids Comic, you can find his work in past books like Toxic’s anarchic gore ridden The Driver or spectacularly mental The Dinner Ladies From Hell.
• You can find the publishers Dead Universe over on Facebook. Pop into their store in Aylesbury if you are local at 25a Friars Square, Aylesbury HP20 2SP, or track them down on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeadUniverse
• Lew Stringer: David Leach Conquers the Univserse So You Don’t have To