Monday, August 29, 2005


I finished it! Yes! The final draft of Simian Smith is finished. I am sooooo happy. Got a fair bit of artwork done too, I might even post some up if I can kick my scanner into touch.

My day off

Ah sweet Bank Holiday Monday! My week off has had a last minute extension and I’m going to try and pack in a load of work I should have done but was too busy doing nothing. Ok, I’m not going to pack in too much. One thing I’d like to do it finish Simian Smith (and then I never have to type the words ‘Simian’s nearly finished’ again) and will be setting aside a couple of hours later to do just that - amazing how little little time I actually need as long as it’s spent focusing on one thing. Artwise I’ve been a good boy lately and have two illustrations all pencilled and ready to be inked (this is the second go at these as I wasn’t happy with the first try). And that’s all I’d like to do today, finish writing and get those pix inked...... easy.... maybe.
Off course the really distraction is the little pile of books and comics I’ve got crying and whimpering to be read. The book I’m reading’s not even that good but I have to finish it - it’s not a bad idea I’m just not convinced by the execution, anyway, I’ve got to know how it ends.
And then back to my humdrum life tomorrow. Bugger. I really should work harder at the writing and drawing so I can get paid for something I enjoy.
In other news my sister is going to be moving much closer to me... gulp. I’ve not seen much of her in about 12 years (shocking isn’t it) so even though we get on okay I find it really difficult to have anything to say. Can’t believe I can’t find any common ground with my own sister, hopefully some proximity will help improve things.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Lazy recommendation

No detailed reviews on this blog, no sir.
What’s the deal with manga? No idea. Over the last few years the amount of manga being published has exploded and frankly it baffles me. See, back when there were less I could look at what was available and make what I hoped were decent choices, now I just haven’t got a clue, the tidle wave of titles just makes it too hard to look at the stuff, which is a real shame. Anyway I spotted something on the new title shelf in Travelling Man on my monthly trip to a big city and decided to give it a go. Sexy Voice and Robo by Iou Kuroda is a very nice book, storywise it’s fun and interesting but the artwork is what really caught my eye, its’ a very european type of manga with thick lush brushwork putting me in mind of the stunning work of Blutch and Edmond Baudoin, or US artists like Brian Lee O’Malley and Craig Thompson. Looks like Iou Kuroda is a name to add to Rumiko Takahashi, Hideshi Hino, Taiyo Matsumoto, Junko Mizuno and Junji Ito as part of my list of creators to look out for.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


3 spam comments within half an hour of posting earlier today. Some people have no shame. Is blogger doing anything about this?


When I got up this morning it was something of a surprise to see a river outside our backdoor and another at the front. Thankfully it didn't quite make it indoors (although the water in the downstairs loo looked dangerously close to overflowing). Amazingly it stopped raining and dried out within hours. A quick look on the news and I see it's not just local weather. Weird.

Back again

Oh man, a few posts and a couple of weeks ago I promised I was going to list my 'influences', as a far wiser man than I once said, "Wha' happen?" Well, it'd just be tedious wouldn't it. I did start writing something, then I stopped because it was full of justiciations, caveats, asides and general nonsense. So I tried to do a list, but part way through it I realised I wasn't telling myself anything I didn't know and couldn't for the life of me think why anyone else would care. Talking about your influences is what you do when you're famous and being interviewed. So I just kept quiet for a bit.
But now I'm back.
With nothing to say.
Okay, how about I tell you that Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things has got a R2 release and it's a hell of a lot of fun. After suffering a few really bad big budget slick movies I'm getting really fed up with them. There was an article in the Guardian about a week ago talking about the latest death of the blockbuster and I'm inclined to agree. Of course there's a scare in Hollywoodland every few years and it usually works out, but this summer has been pretty sucky for decent popcorn fodder, which is saying something considering some of the naff stuff we've had before. Thank heavens then for films like CSPWDT (hate to anachronym-ise such a great title) reminding me why I like films. Smart, dumb, fun and just a delight to watch folk make a film for the love of it and not for the money or out of habit or just cos they can. Of course horror movies are suffering lately thanks to them becoming popular due to the likes of Scream. I miss the days when horror was rated 18 or just turned up on video unannounced outside of Fangoria. I guess that stuff's still out there but like so many things it's harder to find because it's buried under the uninspiring hack churned out by hack directors with too much money and the left over cast of the last not so popular anymore teen TV show. I don't like these new hacks, give me the old ones anyday.
The only other thing worth reporting is that Simian Smith is almost finished (again!) and I've decided to write a zombie book. Amazingly there's not many zombie novels out there (although there's some pretty good Zombie comics, 'Walking Dead' being a fine example), and the ones that are seem to be pretty poor affairs cobbled together by writers who've overdosed on bad 80's metal. Actually far too many modern horror novels read like that, it's amazing Garth Marenghi was ever recognised as a comedy creation when he was barely any different from far to many real life authors. Anyway, will my zombie tale be any different from the others? Will I actually complete it? Ah dunno!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fiery Biscuits

When I was little I used to love the Beatles films and The Monkees, as well as all those slightly insane kids shows that seemed to be cranked out so much in the 70's. That's why
, 'When it comes to the crunch', I love The Mighty Boosh.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Too lazy for links, use google like I had to!

Having needlessly padded out an email to Danny I thought I should put this where it belonged, on a poorly thought out self indulgent blog.... and it just so happens I have one of those!
‘The Iron Dream’ by Norman Spinrad
I’m sure those in the know are well aware of this, but ‘Johnny Come Lately’ are my middle names (and whilst you snobs out there sneer at my not on the ball tendencies, I simply chuckle and enjoy picking the wheat from the chaff and letting you do all the hard work) I recently discovered than Michael Moorcock is actually a very good writer, for some reason his image (and more importantly, self image, man does he like to talk about himself, I think it was his introduction to Luther Arkwright that put me off) really bugged me even though I knew he was well respected by those I, well, respected. A 2nd hand bookshop supplied me with a Moorcock book that a few friends independently recommended and many months later I finally read the thing. And loved it. Being slightly obsessive I proceeded to pick up some more Moorcock on the cheap and then prowled the internet looking for information, trivia and nonsense. Wikipedia is a great resource so inevitably I ended up there and as well as finding out a bit more about Moorcock I notice something else. Back when Moorcock edited the ‘New Worlds’ anthology he ran something called Bug Jack Barron which caused a bit of a stir. No real idea why but this caught my interest so I checked out it’s author. Norman Spinrad seems to be a bit of a dated sci-fi writer, but at least he’s one of the ones who doesn’t write sci-fi because he enjoys it’s trappings (have I ever mentioned my dislike for sci-fi and fantasy novels? Probably, but in the context of this post I guess that’s a bit odd), he does it to allow him to do other things, in the way Wells and Dick did I suppose. Anyway, Spinrad causes a bit of a stir with Bug Jack Barron (as far as I can tell it’s about a shock jock type tv host who finds that the powerful are up to something - I’m trying to remain spoiler free in reading about it) and then writes another ‘controversial’ oddity with Iron Dream. And what do you know, a couple of weeks later I’m back in the 2nd hand shop I got my Moorcock book from and sat on a shelf is Spinrad’s Iron Dream (couldn’t spot Bug Jack Baron though)
Iron Dream is actually a book called ‘Lord of the Swastika’ by Adolf Hitler (who left Germany in 1919 for America where he became a pulp illustrator and eventually writer) with an afterward by ‘Homer Whipple’. Lord of the Swastika is, as Whipple unneccasarily points out (because Spinrad is not subtle, I’m not even sure he’s trying to be), the cheesy pulp wish fulfilment fantasy absolutely brimming with military fetishism, barely suppressed homoerotisim, outrageous phallic objects, and who knows what else. Of course WE know what else, and so does Spinrad as he writes as Whipple - just what are these disease carrying filthy ‘mutant’ characters that the strong genetically pure ‘true human’ hero Feric Jagger (blonde and blue eyed of course) meant to represent. Oh, I wonder?! As an added bonus Whipple informs us that before Hitler died (shortly after completing Lord of the Swastika) he was probably suffering the tertiary stages of syphilis.
And so The Iron Dream is simply an exercise in reducing Adolf Hitler to a pathetic, albeit scary, joke. The whole thing manages to be cliched, inspired, ridiculous, chilling, funny and cringeworthy all at once. I’m sure it was seen as being dodgy back when it came out (‘72, I think) with a few people proclaiming it as powerful serious literature and a few more calling a crass sick joke, with the benefit of living in our ever so clever modern world it’s terribly cheesy, which is what gives it a very peculiar charm.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The art of obsession

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was blogging about my need to draw and write and make things. I can’t say I’ve done much in the time since then. It’s not just the usual reason of desire turning into apathy or self doubt chipping away at enthusiasm. One of the key factors has been time and my job at the moment has eaten into a lot of my time, and to be honest it’s also left me feeling worn out and unable to concentrate. But I’d still like to be doing my own work and I think I’m about ready to try again. But here’s what I’ve been thinking about recently. What do I want to do? After reading an interview with Richard Sala recently and having a conversation with Danny about it what I’d really like to do before I start planning 5 new books, a series of diorama’s, models, puppets, comics and a range of clothes is try and figure out what kind of stories I want to tell.
It goes something like this.....
In this interview Sala is asked about why he essentially does the same thing all the time and he responds by explaining that he has no choice and why would he want it any other way. This is what Sala does, if you like it, fine, if you don’t, buy something else. He make the point that artists follow and are enslaved by their obsessions and when they deviate from them the final results are rarely as good (he uses Hitchcock as an example claiming, fairly accurately I’d say, that Hitch’s best films are the ones that feature his usual obsessions) Later in the interview he talks about a cartoonist having a go at doing the kind of work Sala does and producing something less than good. The point for Sala is that there are artists who don’t have obsessions, they like everything and try their hand at it all without every tackling these things with any real depth.
All this got me thinking. I’m that depthless guy. Sort of. I do have favourite kinds of things I keep coming back to. But the problem is that I tend to be easily distracted by other stuff, if it’s a brilliant piece of work I want to emulate it, if it’s just a new shiny novelty I want to emulate it too. Maybe I’ll try and work this new kink into my usual interests no matter how uncomfortable (Oh, I just read a really great slice of historical life dealing with really down to earth events, I must do that, but how can I introduce a zombie into and have it be a funny too!!??) or maybe I’ll forget about my usual interests for a while until I realise I may have liked this new thing but that doesn’t mean I actually have any facility with it.
In my conversation with Danny I deleted (our conversations are held in ‘cyberspace’ dont’cha know) an analogy I made that my interests are like my bookshelves. If I didn’t have regular ‘spring cleans’ and take my books to charity shops or give them to friends my shelves would look dreadful. There may have been a great range of titles but most of them would’ve been rubbish. Working in a bookshelf gives you an amazing amount of access to all sorts of stuff, damaged books are distributed among the staff, advance copies and the handy discount available to staff. The problem is that it’s incredibly easy to pick up any old tat, and I have. Things that really are crap, or things that looked interesting for all of five minutes have all spent time on the shelf before I sent them to a more deserving home. You see it’s one thing to have broad tastes, to enjoy looking at something you wouldn’t normally look at, but when it comes to doing your own thing you can’t afford those kind of distractions, they muddy the waters. Danny called it a wood for the trees kind of thing and as that was exactly the same as what I had been trying to say and a less rambling than what you’ve just read I saved him the trouble of reading it (except you probably just did read it didn’t you Danny? There is no escape!)
It’s funny that part of what I want to do is mix up my interests into something else, such as I wrote about in my post about Sala, or the way in which Daniel Clowes did in his fantastic Lloyd Lewelyn strips (amazing) and Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron and Charles Burns does (keep an eye out in the bookshops for Black Hole as Random House/Pantheon have nabbed another creator from Fantagraphics) in his work. But when it comes to adding extra stuff to the mixing pot of genres, images, things, trends etc the stew tastes like someone took a dump in it.
Expect a post about what I REALLY like soon.


Harry Stephen Keeler. Trust me, you have never imagined anyone like this ever existed. Follow the link and be amazed.