Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Day of the Hungry Ducks

With two loaves of bread and no desire to eat through one of them quick Rebecca and I decided to have a walk along the nearby canal and give the ducks a feast. What we hadn’t expected was who much ice thee’d be on the canal. After walking a ways the ice began to thin and, it seemed, all the ducks in Lancaster had gathered. As soon as we stopped walking the ducks knew what was coming next, stopped floating about, turned all at once and started swimming towards us and hopping out of the water as if directed by George Romero. Surround by dozens of quacking ducks all without fear in the face of some easy food.
Ridiculously cheered by the duck frenzy we carried on walking and marvelled at the thinkness of the ice as we broke it with peebles or, more frequently sent the scittering across the surface of the ice.
A walk back and on into town, a good cup of coffee and a big bag of jelly beans rounded off a fine day of pleasant aimlessness.
Pleasantly aimless, a fine addition to whisky, pastry, cheese and nonsense.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pastry, cheese, whisky and nonsense

Just in case anyone’s wondering. yes, I did finish up my script. it does need a little work however, so I’ll try and polish it up on Monday evening and then send it off.
Not a very interesting weekend, much of it spent at work which meant I missed a big chunk of the French market that visited. I did manage to buy some delicious pastries but it was mostly just looking and oohing and ahing.
One high point was finally sampling the famous (in this neck of the woods at least) cheese board as supplied by the Water Witch ( our nearest pub, famous for having good cheese, whisky and, like so many places in Lancaster, hanging witches). The cheese was fantastic, the whisky perfect, and the witches were spared.
Due to the difficulties in getting to a decent cinema I finally managed to watch ‘The Decent’, a review will be appearing of danny’s review blog soon, but basically I loved it.
I’ll be breaking out my pinstriped suit for the work’s Christmas do on Wednesday, not sure how it’ll go but I’m looking forward to in anyway. I went out for a drink tonight and bumped into a someone from work and realised that nobody really seems to have a clue what I’m like. Not that I’m some enigma, just that they have certain expectations of me that they believe I’m actually fulfilling but in actual fact are far from what I should be doing or what I’m about.
Oh hell, it was an interesting weekend really, I’m just not telling you all why. Not everything’s for blogging consumption!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Late Night Shopping Spree

I did manage to curb myself a little though what with Christmas presents to buy.
Within a few days I should be recieving 'Hatchet For a Honeymoon', an early Mario Bava film. It was a toss up between that, 'Danger Diabolik' and 'Planet of the Vampires', a tough choice but I went for the one that I could get quickest as it was on region 2. No such concerns on the other DVDs
The others were tough to narrow down, but as they were all region 1 (meaning I'll have to wait a little longer for them) and I didn't fancy getting hit by an extra import charge from the postman I had to - another reason to go for 'Hatchet'. In the end I chose, 'God Told Me To', a film by Larry Cohen who cheered up my youth with 'Q The Winged Serpent' (and you can bet I ran out and bought the recent rerelease of that on DVD), 'The Stuff' and 'It's Alive'. I've never seen GTMT (and a few other Cohen films) but as it seems to be about mass murders done at the behest of Jesus as well as something to do with flying saucers I figure it's worth a look.
I decided to go for 2 fond remembered films from my childhood to round out the package. Death Line (or 'Raw Meat' as it'll say on the US edition) is a British classic (making it a bit galling to have to order it from overseas) featuring cannibals hidden deep in the London underground. It's a darkly humourous and ultimately sad and moving story, and after Anchor Bay rereleased the director, Gary Sherman's later film 'Dead and Buried' (another great, sort of 'The Fog' meets Nigel Kneale meets Bodysnatchers meets Romero.... maybe) I've been wanting to see this again.
Finally there's 'Psychomania' to look forward to. It really has been a while since I last saw this, maybe 18-20 years, but quite a bit of it has stayed with me. Mainly I remember it being about a gang of hells angels who, inspired by the leaders black magic worshipping mother (played by the brilliant Beryl Reid), kill themselves in order to be reborn as, well, living dead hells angels I guess. One scene that sticks in my mind is over one of the recently buried bursting out of his grave riding his motorbike (might have inspired the cover for Bat Out Of Hell by the great Richard Corben - we won't mention MeatLoaf).
The ones that didn't quite make it onto my list, and not for reasons of quality, just what I fancied now and what I could put off for a little longer were - 'The Final Programme', 'Six String Samurai', Spiderbaby', the Pete Walker boxset, 'Blood on Satan's Claw', 'Hell is a City' and a double bill featuring Ealing's 'Dead of Night'. The last one I decided to wait as I think it might be getting a R2 release, although I'm not sure if it's the Bob Clark ('Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things') one (which I also wouldn't mind).
In my travels on internet land for theses goodies I also came across 'I Drink Your Blood' which I might have to add to my list, it has a great cover and sounds suitably funny, lame and horrible (hippies terrorise a small town, an angered old guy chases after them, they make him take LSD so his grandson trickes them into eating meat pies infected with blood from a rabid dog causing them to go on a kill/infecting spree.... the 70's really did produce some classics.
Night everyone!

Friday, November 25, 2005


Following on from my gush about L’Association a couple of posts ago I just finished reading the latest in what will hopefully be a long line of translations of the 'Donjon' (that’s ‘Dungeon’ to monolingual folk like myself) series. Instead of reviewing the latest book I’ll attempt to explain ‘Donjon’.
If creators Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar (anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while will know of my deep love for those two creators) actually carry out their plan for ‘Donjon’ then it’ll be the biggest comic ever written. ‘Dunjon’ is a dungeons and dragons fantasy story. As it happens I’m not that big a fan of the genre, but what Sfar and Trondheim (henceforth known as S&T) have done is to parody it whilst playing it totally straight, a pretty difficult trick to pull off yet seemingly effortless for them, the review on amazon put’s it very nicely, ‘the parody actually reinforces the adventure’, to my mind it refreshes the cliched aspects of the genre (Jeff Smith also managed this with 'Bone', although in an different way, which I suppose proves that there’s no such thing as a bad genre just bad creators). The dialogue is funny, the characters play against type at the right moments (Marvin the dragon is a great character) and the quests are nicely ridiculous. All well and good, except S&T are not just fine genre practitioners, they are also experimental comic formalists (Trondheim’s first comic featured only three panels repeated through out several pages) and this extends to ‘Donjon’. So here’s how they have a bit of fun with ‘Donjon’.
(Coeur de Canard) ‘Duck Heart’ was the first in the ongoing series ‘Zenith’ (featuring Marvin) where we are introduced to the Dungeon it’s keeper and all the strange creatures it holds (if you’re thinking ‘Trapdoor’ then it’s not a bad starting point) ‘Duck Heart’ is in the fairly well known European comic format (like Tintin and Asterix, 48 full colour A4-ish pages). Zenith concerns the Dungeon at it’s peak. After ‘Zenith’ vol. 2 S&T started another ‘Donjon’ series ‘Crepuscule’ showing the end of the Dungeon. A couple of books later to keep a sense of balance we get the ‘Potron-Minet’ which shows, you guessed it, the beginning of the dungeon. The numbering of Zenith starts at ‘1’, ‘Crepuscule’l starts at 101 (there’ll be 99 of them too) and ‘Potron-Minet’ starts at ‘-99’ with one series ending to lead into the next, a little bit of maths should tell you that S&T intend ‘Donjon’ to be at least 297 (if my maths is any good!)volumes. Except I didn’t mention the ‘Monstres’ series which features the adventures of various supporting characters from Dunjon either did I? Well there’s already been a fair few of them. Oh, yes, there’s the ‘Parade’ series featuring funny stories about Marvin and DUCK, there’s been a few of those too. This kind of insane work load requires a degree of dedication that boggles the mind, so it’s no surprise that S&T have roped in help. S&T both write all the ‘Donjon’ stories with Trondheim producing the artwork for the ‘Zenith’ and ‘Parade’ series, Sfar art for ‘Downfall’, the excellent Christophe Blain (with a style quite similar to Sfar’s) provides art for ‘Early Years’ and various artists work on the individual ‘Monstres’ series.
With the sheer volume of work will the ‘Donjon’ story ever be told in it’s entirety? A quick look at the bibliographic section on Trondheim’s website shows far better than I could explain just how incredibly prolific the man is, he seems to be able to turn out a 48 page album every 2 months amongst other things. Sfar manages to match Trondheim in terms of speed and quality so between the 2 of them and their friends anything’s possible. But maybe it’s all a big joke, maybe they don’t care whether they do all the ‘Donjon’ stories or run out of steam part way through. Maybe the epic size and strange numbering system is just another parody of the nature of the genre. Who knows? And who cares. NBM have published three volumes of ‘Dungeon’ (although each book features two of the original volumes so six have actually been translated) and they’re are charming, witty, smart, lovely to look at and great fun to read, I don’t care how many books are eventually published (and translated) I just want to get as many as possible.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Must. Work. Harder!

Think I’m in danger of scuppering my atempt to get back to comics before I’ve barely begun. A busy, and frankly strange, few weeks has meant that I’ve not finished the script or sent it off for approval, and that’s just way to slow. So, I hearby swear, in front of all the people who read this blog (yes, each and every one of you) that I will finish the script by Saturday (I’m off Thursday and Friday, but I’m spending Friday with Rebecca where I insist it will be fun and frolics with no talk of work, lack of money, lack of time or doom and gloom in general. Friday will be hard graft day)..... and it will rock!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

An (over)appreciation

The 70’s is famous for producing a broad range of excellent films. The Godfather, Jaws, Clockwork Orange, Badlands, Harold & Maude, Wickerman, Taxi Driver, The French Connection, Close Encounters and on and on. It’s a very long list. I firmly believe the Superman The Movie deserves to be placed highly on that list.
Superman as a character is seriously limited, the comic is not usually that good (there’s been exceptions, the early newspaper strips, Alan Moore’s masterful ‘The Man Who Was Tomorrow) and he’s so dated it’s doubtful he’s really worked in any decade since the 50’s. And yet.....
As an icon Superman has very few equals. As an ideal. As something positive, something to believe in. I don’t know why he appeals to me in that way, maybe as an atheist I need a Jesus substitute. Maybe it’s the typical geek dream of being secretly all powerful beneath the meek and mild mannered exterior. Either by design or sheer luck Seigel and Schuster tapped into something powerful and on the rare moments when Superman’s done right it’s just perfect.
When Richard Donner did Superman The Movie it was done right. Yes, has it’s cheesier moments, but the carefully constructed sense of fairy tale about the film, from the opening of it being in a comic, then a theatre and then becoming ‘real’ to it’s flight through a space that has more in common with what’s seen under a microscope than a telescope to a planet that very clearly represents Heaven just before it turns in to Hell. That sense of fairy tale sets it in realm where I never had any trouble swallowing anything that happened. It’s not just that sense of magical fantasy that carries Superman The Movie, it’s the little touches, it’s the performance that probably killed Christopher Reeve’s career. When an actor becomes something as absurd as a Superman and does it as believably as Reeve it becomes impossible to see him as something else. So in a film that sees the destruction of a planet, villains encased in a huge mirror and sent hurtling into space and a (super)man make the Earth spin backwards I vividly remember the moment when Clark Kent suddenly straightens up, takes a breath, stops talking in pinched voice and nearly tells Lois who he is and we actually see how such a flimsy disguise might just work; the moment when Superman gently lays the lifeless body of Lois down on the ground and lets out a little whimpered gasp as her head falls to the side. Those moments, that performance and the grand opera of Superman make it a very memorable movie for me.
And now there’s going to be a new one. Normally remakes and sequels, especially when the originals were doing just fine on their own, fill me with dread. But Superman’s already had his bad sequels and now he’s got Bryan Singer taking care of him. And I’ve just seen the teaser trailer, and I’m seven again and I’m not embarrassed at writing a gushing review about silly movies based on silly comics.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Paul talks comics.... again.

In an article in The Guardian (which does seem to be a bit of a graphic novel (or as I like to call them, comics) champion) it seems the Royal Society of Literature is recognising comics, very nice to hear, but more important later in the article seems that a UK publisher is releasing Ozamu Tezuka’s 6 (I think) Volume biography of Buddha which is good news indeed. It’s been available in the US in a nicely designed (by Chip Kidd) buy pricey hardback, think I’ll have to add them to my new year purchases list.
Even more excitingly is the news that another member of the damn fine L’Association (of who my fave Lewis Trondheim is a member of) has English translation due out. The only work I’ve seen by Killoffer was in the SPX EXPO 2000 book (and possibly a Bart Beaty article in The Comic Journal), but it was a great little story and he’s certainly a worthy member of L’Association - pretty high praise considering the company. Anyway, Six Hundred and Seventy Six Apparitions of Killoffer is out soon and I’ll be buying it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A 200th post, am mystery revealed

Why was I so down last night? What was the weird occurance mentioned in the post before that?
The manager at the shop I work at as assistant manager quit a couple of days ago and yesterday was his last day complete with leaving do. Less than 5 minutes after head office type people got his signature on the leaving forms they asked me if I would consider replacing him for at least the Christmas period. I've not been an AM for a long time and still need training with that, but I took the job anyway voicing my concerns.
It's not really for me to go into the circumstances of why my boss went, and why so soon, but it's been a tough year at work and I totally understand why he felt he had to go, and truth be told he looked better over the last couple of days than he has in a while, so good for him. But to be told your a man down and it's the bossman just at the start of a seriously busy shopping season can take the wind out of your sails,to have to replace him felt like being beaten by those sails. I'm glad to be trusted with the task, and could do with the extra money, but it did feel a little bit like climbing over someone's corpse to get a job. Silly to feel like that, circumstance has got me the job and it I had nothing to do with that, but my ex is a nice guy, who was pleased for me, and I felt a little bittersweet about it all.
But now it's a bright new crisp cold day and I'm just about to post my 200th post (let's party!) put a top on (still only in my jama bottoms - a truly horrible sight) go out and have a coffee.

drunk maudlin and sad

It’s been a tough few days. I’m a bit teary.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Post 200 gets ever closer

It’s been a strange couple of days for reasons I’ll mention in a later post and I’m feeling a bit shell shocked. Looks like the end of 2005 is going to be a hectic one for me.
End of 2005.... it’s not far away. I’m sort of glad it’ll be a struggle as I can’t wait to see 2005 end and I want to sweat it out of my system with some solid toil. It’s not been a bad year, but the main thing is that during it I’ve (and that should really be ‘we’ve’) come to realise that it’s time for some serious changes. As I’m a bit of New Years Resolution type person it seems pretty appropriate that I try and instigate them in the new year after work has, hopefully, calmed down a little.
So, what are these changes? Well, that woud be telling:)
Oh, okay, they’re just a bit dull that’s all. I’m not going to get a sports car (although if we can sort the money out a motor bike is a serious possibility) or find me a young blonde trophey wife. No, the changes are a bit more fundamental than that, character changes really, rethinking the way I look at things. I really don’t fancy waiting til I’m forty to change the life I’ll grow to hate, it seems to make more sense to try and figure that out as soon as you realise the life you’re living’s not going in the direction you want it. And I’m just not the person I want to be, which seems a bit rubbish really. I’d like to be a bit more comfortable with me and get over all my own nonsense.
Gosh, that all sounds very grand and yet incredibly vague. Oh well, makes it the perfect post for a self indulgent blog then :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

post number 197!!!

Posted my manuscript for Simian Smith today, everything going to plan someone from Orion should be holding it in their trembling hands by Wednesday. First thing that I’ve submitted in a long time, and the last thing didn’t even get looked at because unlike Simian it didn’t go through a ‘known source’. Scary scary.
Danny’s got a new blog, pressumably because three just wasn’t enough eh Danny? :) It’s for film/tv reviews and I’ve become part of it with my review for Saw2 (there really is limited choice at the local cinema) How could I miss an opportunity to spout opinionated nonsense?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bad Hair Day

What is it about holding a pair of scissors that makes someone become a cloth eared twat lacking the basic understanding of units of measurement? Oh yes, I got my hair cut today, can you tell?
All I wanted is half an inch (at the most) taken off my fringe and even less taken of the sides (leaving the hair over my ears), fairly specific, easy direction and surely nothing to offend the delicate sensibilities of your average hairdresser. So why did he take about an inch and a half off the fringe, top and sides!?! The length I had been cultivating gone in the blink of a cack handed idiots eye. Yeah, it looks okay and it’s still longish, and in a months time it’ll probably be back to the length I was liking but with a bit more sense and shape, but why must I wait a month after the jobs been done for it to look like it should have when I paid for the fucking thing?! Why do I have to look like a geek who’s atempting a trendy haircut just because the person who cut it thought they knew who I was better than me? When asking ‘are you going clubing tonight’ and hearing the reply ‘Nah, I’ll watch some Doctor Who videos and read some comics” you’d think Edward Fucking Scissorhands would realise I didn’t want some semi mod/punk McFly atempt at coolness. Where’s my Dave Grohl meets Jeremy Dyson hair gone!?
It’s no good, I’ll just have read some newspapers to track down the days worth of death, destruction and disaster to put my own woes into perspective - ie some people nearly have it as bad as me.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The music continues

Thanks to Danny's recommendation I bought Nine Black Alps today and enjoyed if very muchly. However this fine CD was overshadowed by the staggeringly good 'All The Stuff and More' by 'The Vaselines'. The CD was cheap, Curt Cobain was a fan and I'd recently found out that far from being some Seattle grunge band or a New York post punk new wave act they were in fact a jangly indie Scottish '80's garage band and what with me being a bit of Jesus and Mary Chain fan (I still remember first hearing 'Some Candy Talking' in my Nana and Granda's kitchen when I was about thirteen or fourteen. Bliss.) I figured I'd give them a go. Utterly fucking amazing. Funny, folky and punky, and lovely.

Get thee to a hair cuttery

It’s about time I had a hair cut. But I don’t like getting my hair cut, especially when I’m growing it. It’s the fear that it’ll just look stupid, that the hairdresser will botch the job or that I won’t like it as much as I liked it before it was cut. Still, at the moment my fringe is hanging down to the tip of my nose even when it’s gone a bit curly so I should just get it sorted out, just a trim, a light trim, a little bit off here and there, nothing too drastic..... gulp.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh, my hero! *swoon*

If Alan Moore speaks I must listen. Follow this here link to read the words of the man himself (read it aloud in deep rumbling Brummie tones for the full effect). I’m looking forward to finally reading the complete 'Lost Girls' after reading the first two issues way back when. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is fun (please ignore the appalling film version) but Lost Girls was clearly where this kind of story first took root and seems far more interesting.

No Banjo?

Rebbeca’s dropping hints that she might be getting me something else for Christmas as she want’s whatever she gets me to be a surprise. This is all well and good, but I WANT MY BANJO! Actually, I said fine, if I don’t get a banjo off her then I’ll just put any Christmas money I get with my own cash and buy it myself, easy peasy lemony squeezy.
I’m actually looking forward to making music (or just noise, I’m not fussy). For some reason I’ve been getting into music again over the last month after not really bothering for, uh, about 12 years - wopnder what brought that on?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

My Saturday

Soup first. Yesterday was Red Thai veg, today I had Tomato Barley and Basil and Rebecca had Parsnip, Apple and Ginger. Every one of these soups were delicious, with the added perfection of it being cold and wet outside plus we were facing the Subway over the road and got to laugh at the idiots who actually eat the muck Subway claims to be sandwiches.
On a food note we went out for pizza last night and mine had stilton on, stilton is very good on pizza, give it ago if you haven’t already.
Looks like I’m doing that manga-esque comic I mentioned a while ago. I finally sent a synopsis for a story along with some recent art samples (including the one’s I posted on this very blog) and the editor liked it all enough to give me the go ahead. So now I’ve just got to do it and make it good enough to appear in print. Daunting, scary and exciting all wrapped in one package.
Picked up an amazing graphic novel yesterday. The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar is excellent, comic lovers, cat lovers or people just interested in charming debate should buy this immediately. I’ve added it to the book pile on the right and observant follows of my blog will already be aware of the link to Sfar’s website. The book link I chose was to the US amazon site simply because it already has quite a few reviews (one bad one, not because the author didn’t like the book but because it was a moronic review!) but the book is also available in the UK.... obviously, that’s how I got a copy.
Finally got round to picking up Laura Veirs latest CD, very good indeed, I’m sure I got the chance to see her a year or so ago and didn’t bother (think that’s the gig Paul went to?), which makes me an idiot.
I bought a jumper and a couple of t-shirts today, when I tried them on I was surprised to see my reflection not looking as fat as I thought it would, infact I may not have a six pack at the moment but I’ve managed to keep a flat stomach and there’s nary a sign of bitch titage or bingo wing on me. Don’t know how I’ve got away with this as I’ve been regularly eating cake, jelly beans (especially the cinnamon, root bear and peanut butter flavoured ones.... mmmm) and the odd packet of biscuits. Anyway, the pleasures of sugar will have to be curtailed for a while to prepare myself for the fine food overload that is the Christmas season.
Lancaster puts on a fabulous fireworks display and this year we got to see it, what with living here now. I’m a bit funny about fireworks, partly because I’m not big on crowds and partly because I’m not big on fireworks. When I was a kid the smell made me feel sick and I wasn’t always terribly comfortable with the noise - I was a bit of a nervous child I think. Anyway, the display was held near the church and castle (not a pub name, that’s a spot we’re there is actually a church and a castle - it’s well known for being a favourite spot for hanging witches, but then I don’t think there’s a spot in Lancaster where witches haven’t been hung) and was fantastic. Seeing the fireworks exploding next to the church was amazing, and the accompaniment of various classical music was perfect.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Seems that my sort of reoccuring eye infection/allergy has returned. Will I wake up tomorrow looking like someone's hit me in the eye with cricket bat....


A soup place has opened up in town (or it's been there for ages and I missed it) so I gave it a try today. I love pumkin soup, especially when it's home made and comes with fresh home made cheese and onion bread. I think I'll become a regular.