Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Getting their kicks the only way a group of bratty hell’s angels in early 70’s Britain know how, the biker gang ‘The Living Dead’ decide to kill themselves. But wait! According to the leader of ‘The Living Dead's’ mam ,who knows these things, if you truly believe that you will not really die then death will have no hold on you! Yes, ‘The Living Dead’ actually become.... the living dead! HAHAHAHA! Cue blackly humorous suicides and resurrection followed by more motorbike carnage.
‘Psychomania’ is ever so not quite as much fun as the plot suggests unfortunately. For some reason the director decides that camp is not the way to go and plays it a bit too straight, which is a shame because it’s undoubtedly a fun film very well done, just not quite the classic it deserves to be.
The devil worshipping mam is the biggest example of opportunity not played to the hilt. With a class act like Beryl Reid playing a character she could really get her teeth into the only thing a director needs to do is point the camera and ask her to go over the top. What we get instead is a good performance of a character that never really cuts loose despite being a rich devil worshipping druid/witch who uses her son to form a pact with said cloven hooved chap (for reasons unknown and pretty vaguely (but psychedelically of course) presented), she’s even a bit upset when her son uses his knowledge for evil for crying out loud!
Anyway, despite not running (riding?) with it’s fantastically daft idea (let’s face it Robert Fuest should’ve directed this, the man who gave us Doctor Phibes would’ve had a right old laugh with it.) ‘Psychomania’ is a great film with enough chuckles, thrills and British actors to go ‘oh it’s him, what’s his face, he was in thingy with that other bloke’ to merrily while away an hour and not quite a half.


That's we're I'm heading. Me and Rebecca will be spending 2 nights in a B&B in Windermere. In fact we're off in about half an hour. YAY!
Finally got photobucket working too.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stupidity beats inability

Yes, too stubborn to admit defeat I have finished my comic strip. 20 pages of finished artwork (and hand lettering) in a horribly short space of time and it should just creep in on the deadline. typically I'm more proud of just doing it rather than of the actual work, but for once I do think the whole thing hangs together remarkably well. There's a few duff panels but there's a definite improvement on the last lot of comics I did.
So that's the comics done and a new manager at work in a few weeks. YESSS!
2006 can now start properly for me, not bad considering it's already nearly 2 months old. Still, I did manage to complete a 20 page comic strip, once upon a time it would take me about 6 months to manage that and the quality would've been variable to say the least.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

oh woe

Sometimes it’s a real pain not having a clue about technology. Am I doing something wrong or do I have rubbish equipment? No idea, but scanning artwork is proving to be more painful and laborious than actually creating it - which for me is saying something.
I’ve got a feeling if I just had photoshop I’d find things much more straightforward than using the basic art package that came with my mac in the first place.
What’s particularly irritating about all this is that it means I’ll have less time to get the artwork finished. If I was just burning it to a disc I could still be messing on with it all the way until the early hours of Monday morning, as it is it’ll either be a little late (depending on the post) or I have to finish it on Friday night so I can photocopy it on Saturday (nowhere will be open on Sunday)
I had planned to show some finished artwork here, but photobucket doesn't seem to want me to, maybe later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Recruits by Various

An anthology of work by new talent published by Dark Horse, could this be a replacement for DHP? Hope so.
Andrew Krahnke’s ‘Zombiekiller’ disappointed slightly, barely starting before it ends with a ‘to be continued’. Where? Dunno. It’s all set up with no pay off, to the extent that we don’t get any zombies let alone someone killing them! Either more pages were needed here or a self contained story. Krahnke draws well but more was needed here.
‘The Pied Piper’ by Nick Plumber and Adam Adamowicz didn’t do much for me. I didn’t get why what happened happened to the main character. The art style is nice, all pencil sketchy, a technique that gives the story a gritty squalid look suiting the content.
‘Discrete Despair’ by RHS is an odd fit. It’s nice to have range in an anthology, but this looks like the print run got mixed up with Kithcen Sink/Fantagraphic’s Blab. That said I did like it, and the artwork was very appealing, particularly the colouring.
‘The Mighty Skullboy Army’ by Jacob Chabot was one of my favourite pieces in the book. Sweet with a hard edge. I liked this a lot - especially the robot.
The last two strips are by INJ Culbard. ‘Way of All Flesh’ is a zombie story, which makes me happy, especially as zombies actually appear, but it’s the way it’s told I really liked. Culbard has a lovely clean art style no doubt informed by his animation day job. The storytelling’s clear and straightforward and maybe I’m imagining it but Tor makes a guest appearance, which is a nice touch.
I’m inferring from the intro that there’s more of Culbard’s ‘Wild Talents’, I hope so as it deserves a comic of it’s own, it’d fit in perfectly with DH series like ‘The Goon’ and ‘Hellboy’, not to mention one offs like ‘Amazing Screw-on Head’ and ‘Scarlet Traces’. Murder mystery in Victorian London, and a few more surprises. Excellent.
And that’s volume 1. Despite my complaints it’s well worth buying, all the people featured clearly have talent and anthologies, by their very nature, aren’t going to please everyone all the time, but that’s part of the fun, it’s a chance to sample different things.

Monday, February 20, 2006

God Told Me To by Larry Cohen

If I was a proper reviewer and had been making notes as I watched ‘God Told Me To’ the only intelligible words I’d have scribbled would be ‘wow!’ and ‘huh?’ over and over again like some Jack Torrance outtake.
Larry Cohen’s most recent success has been his script for ‘Phone Booth’ for Joel Schumaker (he’s also the man who gave us the calssic TV show ‘The Invaders’) but I much prefer his low budget films particularly when he’s writing, directing and producing them. He plays with genre very well and can usually be relied upon to come up with something weird and wonderful, and ‘God Told Me To’ from 1976 surely comes under the category ‘weird and wonderful’.
Random everyday folk suddenly go on killing sprees, giving the same reason, ‘God told me to’. The detective investigating one of the cases not only finds that these various cases are connected but that the killers are actually telling the truth. A mind boggling mix of horror, thriller and scifi with religion and genre ambiguity as it’s key themes I’m not kidding when I say I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it - although aspects of the plot seem to crop up in the ‘X-Files’.
‘God Told Me To’ is shot with lots of handheld camera work around New York making it look as fresh as anything you might see in modern US cop shows. Another plus in terms of feeling fresh and realistic (important in a film with such an outlandish plot) is Cohen’s love of old character actors, he clearly loves unique expressive faces and they repay him with memorable performances.
The DVD is available on Region 2 but it’s through Vipco and although I appreciate some of the titles they’ve released their presentations are not so good so I decided to get the Blue Underground produced Region 1 copy. The picture and sound are excellent and there’s a great commentary with some funny behind the scenes stories (as he was about to shoot a scene requiring a rifle with a telescopic lense Cohen found out that nobody had got hold of one and didn’t want to upset him by telling him. Seeing as the scene was being shot next to a New York apartment block Cohen simply asked if anyone had such a rifle.... sure enough someone did) and a easter egg of Cohen being interviewed at a festival.
I can’t recommend ‘God Told Me To’ enough, it’s fun, silly, strange, disturbing, smart and pretty cheap to buy online.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Casting wide my critical eye

Still not updated Jackanory but I have but have reviewed the works of art 'Psychomania' and 'I Drink Your Blood' on wazzocks lantern recently.

Inky finger

Funny old time at the moment. On one hand I’m up to my eyeballs in work, but on the other hand it’ll all be over soon.
Sitting on the floor doing my drawing (yeah I have a table, I even have a drawing board, but I still do most of my work sat on the floor like a little kid) I’m feeling much the same as I often do at this stage, the deadline is closing, I’m regretting leaving it so late (I have an excuse this time though), cursing my ineptitude and feeling elated at what I can actually do when I’m forced to get cracking.
In the real world my fulltime job will be changing, and not a moment too soon. Bizarrely I do have an interview to take over the role I’ve temporarily been doing for the last few months. It’s bizarre to apply for a job you’re already doing, but more so when you don’t really want and you’re not really wanted for it either.
The best thing about this interview and comic deadline is that it’s all over on the same day (ish) and it’s the day my holiday starts. Bit annoying to spend the first day of my holiday in an interview, but it works out pretty well, not only do things come to a close just at the start leaving me the rest of the week to chew cud, but the interview’s in Blackpool so me and Rebecca will be eating ice cream/candy floss/chips and mixing it all up on a few rides. Kiss me quick hats will be optional.

Monday, February 13, 2006

wa’choo bin waitin’ fo’

Well, long time promised but here’s a peek preview (yes, that third one is of the coffee shop I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in - in the original photo I used for ref. the woman who stopped my fun was giving me some seriously evil eye) of a couple of pages of my manga comic strip for those who’re interested. It’s all fairly light and basic as I usually add more ‘weight’ to the stuff when I ink, but this is pretty much what the end result will look like. Afraid my scan/imageposting skills aren't up to much which is why they don't look so neat on the blog, but it's getting on and I'll fix it later.... maybe.
I’m about two thirds through the pencils and I’ve got about 2 weeks tops to finish it all up, very tight deadline indeed! Still, I ink very fast and can probably do all 20 pages in about 5 days, but that only leaves 8 or 9 to finish the pencils which is where I’m at my slowest/weakest.
Anyway, all be over soon, then a bit later work pressures should get lifted from my shoulders and dumped onto someone elses, then I can practice my banjo, write, read, watch cheesy horror DVDs and generally muck about a bit. Yes!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hatchet for a Honeymoon by Mario Bava

After reading and hearing about mario Bava I finally got round to watching one of his films. The main impetus for watching was an interest in the ‘Gaillo’ genre (I quite like the old ‘Pulps’ and Gaillo (pronounced with a hard ‘g’) is the Italian equivalent; it’s even named for similar reasons, i.e. the look of the books - gaillo means yellow and this was the colour scheme of the books, yellow covers with suitably lurid illustrations) and Richard Sala is a big fan. Well, there’s only so long you can read about something before you finally dive in.
‘Hatchet For The Honeymoon’ is as stylishly and inventively shot as I’d been led to believe a Bava film could be. Interesting angles, carefully shot compositions and neat little tricks abound (lot’s of people’s faces only seen in reflections, particularly in the main character’s cleaver, was a nice touch), Bava’s grounding as a cinematographer is apparent and appreciated.
The plot is suitably bizarre and darkly humorous, the boss of a bridal fashion company murders brides to be in their gowns because each time he does a repressed memory of who killed his mother becomes clearer. The boss is creepily played by Stephen Forsyth (“My name is John Harrington, I’m thirty years old. I am a paranoiac... The fact is I am completely mad.”) a strikingly handsome man with rather cold and slightly feminine features making him an excellent casting choice even if his acting slips in a couple of scenes .
A brief subplot about his own wife haunting him turns up in the middle of the film, is dealt with, forgotten about and then resurrected near the end. I found it to be interesting but unnecessary her final scene could have been kept in without the previous scenes, and might have been a little more effective in fact. Other than that it’s a solid and very interesting film, possibly not Bava’s best but it’s got me wanting to watch more of his films.
Special mention goes to the soundtrack which had a nice ‘groovy nightclub’ track as well as some great discordant clanging moments.
The DVD is an Anchor Bay package and as such has more than just ‘Biography’ and ‘Trailer’ as special features. The documentary ‘Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre’ was a nice introduction to the director whose influence was on a lot more the just Dario Argento (a film expert pojnts out the some of Friday the 13th looks like it was shot on the same set as a Bava film such is the degree it take’s ‘homage’). Contributions from Kim Newman are always welcome and I was glad of the chance to finally see some scenes from ‘Planet of the Vampires’ after usually hearing it in connection to alien.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Last post

Oops, don't drink and blog folks!
Just to clarify, the people alluded to in the post aren't the problem, it's my inability to do things properly that's the problem, knowing the people involved just makes it harder. I get frustrated at not being able to do things as well as I know they should be and then get in a strop about it.

Doing a bad job

Since I moved to Lancaster, and possibly well before that, I've done one thing, I've tried to do the best for people. It's a waste of fucking time. It's not appreciated, it doesn't help and it doesn't make anything better. I can't wait until I don't have to fill the gap whilst waiting for a real manager.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

It took me way too long to read this book, and that’s a shame, because it’s an excellent read, obvious and misleading, creepy and odd, all quite appropriate considering it’s about magicians. It’s fun reading a book the lovingly presents an attractive rug, invites you to step onto it and then yanks it away from you... and then shows you another pretty rug.
Christopher 'Momento' Nolan is directing the film adaptation and I've got high hopes for it.
One word of warning, if you check the Wiki link careful if you look at their info on the book, it gives away all the plot and it really would spoil it.

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

This book took me no time to read. It may 400 pages but each chapter is only 2-5 pages and there’s a gap of a couple of pages between chapters (there’s chapter headings that have sheet music accompanying them), but it’s not the length that had me finishing this book sharpish, I just didn’t want to put it down.
The only other book I’ve read by Thompson was the first part of her Switchers trilogy which was pretty good but a little old fashioned, oddly her latest book is about fairy folk in Ireland yet seems a lot less old fashioned.
Thankfully even though the subject matter is about a young lad stumbling into the land of the fairies (he’s trying to find where all the time goes and his hoping to get some more) it’s written in quite a straighforward manner. There’s a few mysteries to be solved on the way but not everything is resolved, this seems less to keep it open for a sequel and more because life doesn’t always work that way.
The New Policman is a fun, fresh read that put a nice big smile on my face.

The Tooth Fairy

This is a book I remember coming out in hardback and flicking through a few times before putting it back on the shelf. There was something about it that fascinated me and yet almost as soon as I picked it up I was putting it back as if slightly repulsed. My best guess is it was because of what I'll call Gaimanitis. Something about it made me think of Neil Gaiman, and I’m very very undecided about Gaiman’s work - at the very least I lean towards thinking it might be a load of pretentious nancy wank, but then sometimes I think I quite like it.
After finally reading a different Graham Joyce book altogether (‘TWOC’, if you don’t know what that means you’re either an honest law abiding citizen, or you’ve never had your car nicked) and enjoying it, I decided I’d read ‘Tooth Fairy’. It’s supposed to be about a boy who is regularly visited by a, surprise, tooth fairy, but rather than being a lovely little pixy of this fairy is foul and sinister, well, sometimes. I say supposed to be about, because it’s really a book about growing up and Joyce wisely uses the fairy sparingly, instead treating us to the growing pains of a group of 3 boys and the various people who play a part in their lives. Joyce evokes a lovely bittersweet childhood nostalgia with ease and I wonder how much is autobiographical.
‘Tooth Fairy’ is a very easy read due to familiarity (I doubt I’m the only one who cringes with recognition at some of the boys antics) but still has nice challenging prose which only occasionally gets a bit to fancy for it’s own good. The Gaiman comparison wasn’t far off it seems, but I got a lot more out of Joyce and next time I look at one of his books I’ll know to just buy it.

Time on my hands

It’s about time I expanded the links bit of my blog. So eyes left and check out some of the stuff I’ve been checking out lately.
Monsterama would be an excellent site anyway, but the fact that Jay Stephen’s is the brains behind it makes it even better. Jay did some great comics in the 90’s but seems to havev moved into animation more and more. I remember picking up ‘Space Ape No. 8’ by Jay years ago in a comic shop in Leeds and being bowled over, the work I’d seen by him before (‘Atomic City Tales’) was good, but Space Ape was the bees knees. Think I gave my copy of the comic to Danny when I got the collection, ‘Land of Nod’ that Dark Horse put out. Anyway, go click and check out the cool monster masks, haunted memories and other top links.
Dean Haspiel is another cartoonist who’s gone from strength to strength. Top Shelf put out a collection of his ‘Billy Dogma’ stories a few years ago which is how I discovered him. I’ve not checked out ‘The Quitter’ by Dean and indie legend Harvey ‘American Splendor’ Pekar, but that’s only because it’s a pricey hardback from DC who’re just trying to screw more cash out of the readers, I’ll sit tight fot the paper back like the tightwad I am.
My mate Liam’s blog disappeared a while back, but he’s giving it another go now, or at least he was, it’s gone a bit quiet again, hopefully just temporarily though.
That’ll do for now, more to come though.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Corporate spying

About a month ago I tried to take some pictures in a Starbucks as reference for my short comic strip (the main character works in a coffee shop) and was told to stop. Today I asked at the Cafe Nero in town if it was possible to take a couple of pictures of someone making coffee and got a very flat ‘no’. I know none of this is personal and I’m also aware from my own job that chains frown heavily (until their eye brows and eyes disappear in a wrinkle of disdain) on people taking pictures of the premises, but it still feels like a slap in the face. The Cafe Nero one was particularly annoying as I’d just bought drinks for my wife and I and was politely asking permission, a friendly no and an explination would’ve been nice.
Actually what probably annoys me most is that I had hoped I projected an aura of ‘affable decent guy’ which is apparently not the case.

Spending spree

A chance comment in an email from Danny has led me back down the dark path of boxset buying, or it will anyway, I've got them all lined up ready. 'Wonderfalls' is a show I'd heard about but when Danny recommended it I thought I'd properly check it out, it looks fantastic and the R1 boxset's already been paid for. Amazon being amazon though there was a whole bunch of over stuff to look at. So now I want 'Joan of Arcadia', 'Dead Like Me', 'Veronica Mars' (maybe) and I also find out 'American Gothic's' got a R2 March release date (think Danny mentioned this a while ago over on Wazzock) as well as a show I caught ages ago called 'Profit', which I remember very little about other than it had a corporate setting, was very creepy and had Adrian (Near Dark) Pasdar in it (interesting how many of these shows were cancelled in the face of great reviews, Arrested Development and Firefly are obviously just the latest in a long line of support lacking). Let's not forget the regular boxset buying I have to indulge in and that all adds to a lot of money and very little life. I'm blaming Danny for all of it!

Friday, February 03, 2006

A quiet moment

As I dug the key out my pocket in front of the house strange sounds echoed round the court yard. Overhead the sky was the first overcast one in days, instead of the black/purple of previous evenings with bright white holes of light there was a thick blanket of grey cloud rippling across the evening sky. Then a flock of geese flew over head. Nothing moved, nothing interrupted the honking geese and I watched them until they were gone. Then the world started turning again and I got my key and open the door.
What is it about geese that make me want to cry?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blog commenting on blog

As Reese and Nimwey pointed out, some of the type on my blog was pretty small, so the layout's back to it's default setting, now you can look at links and the archives (what was Paul thinking way back in May 2004?)
Looking at my blogger sign on page I see that my Jackanory blog hasn't been updated in about 2 weeks. Yikes! That must mean I haven't read a book in about 2 weeks! Not long after setting up Jackanory I decided that I'd write something about every book I read figuring it'd be quite nice to look back a the end of they year at it all. Now I'm thinking it might be interesting seeing all the gaps between 'reviews' and wondering why my reading slowed down.

Making lemonade

How's this for a bright idea? I get loads of spam, I'm just not computer literate to know how to block it and I've had the same email account for over 5 years. Spam is annoying, it's intrusive, it's dodgy and there's never anything you actually want. But I've found a use for it. When I write one of the big problems I have is character's names, I really struggle to come up with decent ones. So I'll stop bothering and just use the names of the 'people' who spam me. There's some incredibly inventive names, I got an email from Prospero Purdam today, how cool is that? There's a story I started last year that calls for silly arcane, gutteral sounding names, there wasn't a Prospero in it, but it is now.

Making lemonade

How's this for a bright idea? I get loads of spam, I'm just not computer literate to know how to block it and I've had the same email account for over 5 years. Spam is annoying, it's intrusive, it's dodgy and there's never anything you actually want. But I've found a use for it. When I write one of the big problems I have is character's names, I really struggle to come up with decent ones. So I'll stop bothering and just use the names of the 'people' who spam me. There's some incredibly inventive names, I got an email from Prospero Purdam today, how cool is that? There's a story I started last year that calls for silly arcane, gutteral sounding names, there wasn't a Prospero in it, but it is now.