"The internet can be a very negative place" says Stevie Robinson, creator of new comics review site Other Worlds Than These. He's not wrong. Seems you can't enjoy your favourite films, comics, TV shows etc with your like-minded friends without someone trying to rain on your parade on Facebook or Twitter because you dared to have a different opinion than them. Well in this year where one of my resolutions is to have a positive mental attitude in all things in life it's a breath of fresh air to find a site created to have an equally more positive outlook on the world of comics.
I've known Stevie (in the actual real world) for many a year and if there's one thing he loves more than dressing up as a giant Subway sandwich mascot at the Belfast Giants ice hockey games, it's comics. Well, and his wife too! Obviously. But yes, back to the comics and comic review sites are a dime a dozen these days but Other Worlds Than These has decided to do one thing very differently. You'll find hardly any negativity here.
The simple premise is that Stevie reads a lot of comics and will do write-ups about all the ones he enjoys, going into details on exactly what made them so enjoyable. But instead of then criticising those he doesn't find so appealing after reading them, he simply doesn't include them. As it grows it'll be a great collection of all of one comic fan's favourite recommended reads in one place - what's not to love about that idea?
As Stevie says himself:
"I'm not an author, a comic writer, or an artist. So what gives me the authority to hold court on these arts? I'm a buyer.
"The bulk of my meagre disposable income is spent taking myself to these other worlds. My intention is to review my purchases with the hope of sharing things I love with other people and to share my passion for them.
"The internet can be a very negative place for comics, sci-fi and fantasy and I'm trying in my own little way to counteract that. I'm not reviewing for the sake of slating the people who put their hearts and souls into these genres, I want to celebrate them as much as possible.
"Negativity will be kept to an absolute minimum.
"If I buy a comic and hate it, chances are you'll never hear about it. If I buy it and I love it, you'll hear me shout about it from the rooftops."
Unbelievably he's gotten stick for this approach on Twitter but thankfully it hasn't put him off. Reviewers (especially those online) have a habit of treating their negative opinions as gospel and woe betide anybody who disagrees.
Reading the few reviews Stevie has up so far fills me with excitement for what's to come and I definitely want to start reading Monster Motors as a result! He's taken a short siesta recently as he's a busy man but he promises to get back to writing up more of the comics and graphic novels etc he's enjoying. It's a very personal site instead of a by-the-numbers, factory-line churning out of business-like reviews, so new content will come at different times and in different quantities, especially with only the positive reviews seeing print.
So far, as well as reviews of the couple of comics above, there's a few book reviews and a feature on the Belfast Film and Comic Convention in August last year. At this point may I just say that, while I love the site and you're obviously a friend, I do hate you for this photo Stevie:
I look forward to new content soon and to seeing where it all leads and I'd heartily recommend it to readers of this blog who have an interest beyond our piggy pink stars. Also, a recent Twitter hashtag called #fourcomics was used on the social network site by many fans and comics writers, artists etc to accompany four photos of the comics from their childhood which had the biggest impact on them. One of Stevie's was Oink! There, 'nuff said.
(So there ya go man, I hope you'll finally be able to forgive me now for clipping the price off the inside page of that Spiderman graphic novel I got you for Christmas about ten or so years ago.)