Sunday, 23 December 2012

next bunch of films!

Haack: King of Techno 2/5 - no. no he's not. a great musician, yes.. an innovator of electronic music, yes. a fascinating man, yes. worthy of a better documentary, yes. this film is not bad as such, it's just not good enough
Hang 'Em High 3/5
Hannibal 2/5
Hannibal Rising 2/5
Happiness of the Katakuris 3.5/5
Happy Gilmore 3.5/5 - i still maintain and always will that this and "tommy boy" (two films very close to my wife's heart) are among the best comedies of the last twenty or so years. yes adam sandler has made countless crappy films. but he's also made this

Harlequin 3/5
Haunted House of Horror 2/5
Hellboy 3/5
Hercules Unchained (MST3K) 3/5
Hex 3.5/5 - weird little western/ ghost story. not great in any way, but has something really haunting and memorable about it...
High Plains Drifter 4/5
Hour of the Wolf 3.5/5
House (1977) 4/5 - i don't use this phrase lightly, but this is possibly the most batshit crazy film i have seen all year. totally and utterly bonkers. and brilliantly so...
House of Mortal Sin 4.5/5
House of Whipchord 4/5
House With Laughing Windows 3.5/5
Hukkle 3.5/5
I Saw the Devil 3.5/5
Idaho Transfer 3.5/5 - fonda's follow up to "the hired hand" (with which it shares a similarly interesting but not quite as good bruce langhorne soundtrack). it's a sci fi/ time travel film which although suffering occasionally from flower child hippy cliche nonsense actually succeeds in doing something different with the genre. apart from the ending which is bloody ridiculous. but hilariously so

Iguana With a Tongue of Fire 2/5
I'm Not There 4/5 - fantastic and, much as i hate to admit it, everyone was right - cate blanchett was the best bob. but david cross is my favourite thing in it
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 3.5/5
Inferno 3/5 - reputation will tell you that this is one of argento's best... but it left me oddly cold. i was surprisingly disappointed by it
Inglorious Basterds 3/5
Iron Sky 1.5/5 - nazis! on the moon! do you see?! and with that, the film makers gave up. they had their fool proof lol-making idea and then forgot to make an actual film to match it
Isle of the Dead 3.5/5
It's a Wonderful Life 5/5
Juan of the Dead 3.5/5 - this film should show the makers of "iron sky" how it's done: let's loosely remake "shaun of the dead" but with cuban slackers is the general point of the thing, but they then pepper it with satire and pathos and some half decent ideas and some good sight gags. which is why it's a lot better than "iron sky" was
Keep My Grave Open 2/5
Kiss Me Deadly 5/5
La Donk & Skor-Say-Zee 2/5
Lady Frankenstein 3.5/5
Lady of Burlesque 3.5/5
Lathe of Heaven 3.5/5
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 2/5
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural 3/5 - not half as clever as it thinks it is, which i suspect is very clever indeed. there are some really startling moments in this, but there are also lots of bits where you can tell everyone involved just sort of stood back and went "by golly, we're a clever bunch"
Leprechaun in the Hood 2.5/5 - not half as stupid as it thinks it is. i mean don't get me wrong, it's a ridiculous film and full of really cringeworthy moments but it's also a lot more fun than it really deserves to be...
Let's Scare Jessica To Death 4/5 - this was far closer to what i was expecting from "lemora". a really odd, dreamlike film with very little narrative sense but some extraordinarily striking ideas rattling around in it. tonally it's quite unlike anything else i've seen all year and some of the images - especially towards the end - will really stick with me for ages. almost a masterpiece

London Can Take It! 4/5
London to Brighton 2/5 - everyone seemed to love this when it came out, but watching it next to a bunch of shane meadows films shows it for what it really is: a slightly better than average british gangster film, but still full of cliches and hollow nonsense. great performance from the girl though
Lucifer Rising 2/5
Manhunter 3/5
Maniac (1934) 3/5 - bloody hell this is... a thing. a complete mess of a film, hardly any budget at all, massive gaps of logic and some incredibly weird performances. and yet... somehow all this mess makes something truly incredible. certainly you won't find anything quite like it out there. it's a properly illogical, dream like thing which doesn't seem to have been made... it just seems to have happened. such a strange, strange film. terrible, but so unusual it makes it worth while all the craziness

Maniac 2/5
Manos, the Hands of Fate (MST3K) 4/5
Marathon Man 3.5/5
Martin 4/5
Matinee 4/5
McCabe and Mrs Miller 3.5/5
Merlin's Mystical Shop of Wonders (MST3K) 4/5
Mouse Hunt 3/5
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. 4/5
Murder at 3AM 2/5 - ultra cheap british film starring dennis price, which seems to have been filmed on the edge of other, better films or in the middle of central london when they thought there weren't many people watching. this is also probably why during all the dialogue scenes seem to be so incredibly quiet, so as not to disturb the other people milling about just out of shot. it's bad but kind of joyously so. i loved it
My Name is Nobody 3/5
My Winnipeg 2/5
Natural Enemies 0/5 - the worst film of the year. a selfish, self indulgent, whine of a film in which hal halbrook defends his asshatishness of wanting to kill himself, his wife and his kids for an hour and a half by talking to various people with "problems". somehow even a chat with a holocaust survivor or his severely depressed wife isn't enough to stop him. just lazy and ugly and shallow and anger inducing. the fact that "revenge of the nerds" was made by the same person and that ISN'T the nadir of his film making history says a lot about how utterly dismal this film is
Neighbours Under Fire 3/5
Night of the Comet 3.5/5 - people will tell you this is a not very good film. and those people are wrong. a hugely enjoyable post apocalypse film with a bunch of endearing teenagers as the heroes. it's a great romp, massively entertaining and just completely and utterly FUN. i can't recommend this enough

Night of the Juggler 3.5/5 - actually this is the really good james brolin film. "80 blocks" was an equally good documentary and i am a fool for confusing them
No Country For Old Men 4/5
Nosferatu the Vampyre 4/5
Oasis of the Zombies 2/5 - hi! we're zombies! from the war! and we're in an oasis! in a desert! basically that for an hour and a half
Once Upon a Time in the West 4/5
Orcs 2.5/5 - ridiculous, terrible, badly made, badly acted and... massively fun. really enjoyed this
Ordinary People 3/5
Out 3/5 - an hour and a half of weird experimental theatre turned into a film. the most entertaining thing about this is the many, many ways the studio have tried to make this into an exciting thriller with all manner of new covers and plot descriptions. instead, what it is is ten actors wandering around muttering cryptic things to each other cryptically. does it mean anything? i have no idea. does it not mean anything? i have no idea. do you mean anything? I HAVE NO IDEA!
Out of the Past 4.5/5
Paranormal Activity 3/5 - there is no paranormal activity in this film which cannot be explained away by the presence of a cat...
Party Girl 3/5
Penda's Fen 5/5 - one of the most extraordinary things i have ever, ever seen. a beautiful paean to growing up, to sexuality, to music, to the landscape, to art... just an overwhelmingly moving piece of work. one of the best things ever to be put on british television. you owe it to yourself to see this, you really do

Pin 3.5/5 - the best film this to star a talking dummy. bar none. one of those completely ridiculous things that you genuinely have to see to believe even exist. it's also surprisingly good considering the... er... somewhat demented plot line

Planet of the Vampires 3/5
Pledge Night 1.5/5 - terrible, terrible slasher film with one incredibly unhinged performance which for ten minutes makes you believe the movie will transcend the terribleness. but it doesn't. it soon returns to crazy badness (which will entertain any anthrax fans out there at least)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training 1/5
Ponyo 3.5/5
Popcorn 3/5
Possession 4/5 - i have no idea what anyone who expected this to be a slasher film must have thought when they finally tracked it down. famously added to the banned list, what it in actual fact is is a crazy psychotic drama about a dissolving relationship. incredibly powerful and with the kind of unhinged performances most actors never quite fully give, it reaches the parts other films never really reach. not something you'll watch regularly, but my god! what a thing it is...
Premonition 3/5
Prince of Darkness 4/5 - incredible. a far from perfect late period john carpenter film (because the cast ad characters are mostly a little dull) but there's something about the tone of the film, something about the weirder details of what happens especially towards the end which are quite unlike anything else i've ever seen. and it's those moments that have haunted me for the whole year. incredible
Princess Mononoke 4/5
Profondo Rosso 4/5
Psychomania 3.5/5 - best frog cult zombie biker film ever made! OH YES!
Pulp 4/5
Punishment Park 4/5

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

old tintin and friends

second batch of films i've seen this year!

Cabin in the Woods 4/5 - probably my favourite new film of the year, because when it kicks in, by god, it kicks in. and such a clever film as well! so hard to say anything more about the film without giving away the joy of the surprise... but suffice to say at no stage did i expect it to end exactly where it did. do not spoil yourself before you watch this... enjoy the twist
Call of Cthulu 3/5
Candleshoe 2/5
Capricorn One 2.5/5
Cat Ballou 2.5/5
Cat O'Nine Tails 3/5
Changeling 3/5
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) 2.5/5
Charlie Bubbles 3.5/5 - flawed but fascinating sole directorial effort by albert finney. i wrote about it length during my MA dissertation and at the time it felt like quite a profound film - now it's more of a slightly immature attempt at profundity... but finney does get some gorgeous images and moments out of it. and the chemistry with billie whitelaw is so good, i'm glad they teamed up again in "gumshoe" below

Chopping Mall 2.5/5
Christmas Evil 4/5 - john waters favourite christmas film. and if you can imagine what kind of horror film set at christmas waters would like, then you've pretty much got the idea of this film. ludicrously fun and also pretty disturbing in places too...
Christmas in July 3/5
Christmas Under Fire 3/5
Cigarette Burns 2/5
City of the Dead 3.5/5
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 2/5 - balls? balls. spielberg has a handful of good ideas and then ruins it with the usual schlocky nonsense he can't help himself with
Colin 3/5
Colossus: The Forbin Project 3.5/5
Condemned to Live 3/5
Crimes and Misdemeanours 4/5
Croupier 3.5/5
Cutter's Way 3/5
Dark Water 4/5
Daughter of Horror 4/5 - a proper cavalcade of madness this. far from perfect, but also unlike anything else i've ever seen. you know the dream sequences in "carnival of souls"? how about one of those extending for fifty odd minutes? like that film, one of the few moments in the cinema that can be said to be properly dreamlike

Death Ship 3/5 - this film has a lousy reputation and i have no idea why. it's bad, but it's enjoyably bad and never takes itself seriously and also has a clatter of good ideas going about amongst the silliness
Dellamorte Dellamore 3/5
Demon Wind 2.5/5 - ridiculous horror film, i mean just ridiculous. one of those "we're a bunch of pals trying to solve a mystery which involves some deep, hidden, eldritch horror" which immediately makes you wonder how these people ever know each other socially let alone are friends (kung fu guy? magician? jock? sensitive glasses dude? really?). but it's so so so silly - and i mean, really silly - you end up not caring. it's just a cavalcade of chuckles...
Demons 2/5
Demons of Ludlow 0.5/5 - one of the worst films i've seen all year. shamefully, shamefully bad. first of all there's meant to be a haunted piano at the centre of the narrative. but it never ever sounds like a piano - and never do the hand movements of whoever's playing it look like anything that would make the music that comes out of it. also it looks brand new, not a three hundred year old antique piano. oh! and none of the ghosts wear clothes from the same time period and simply look like they got dressed up for the occasion. and it doesn't make sense. and it's boring. and i slept through half of it and it never affected my understanding - understanding! - of the film at all. maybe that half was the good half, but i really doubt it. TERRIBLE

Devil's Backbone 4/5
Die Screaming Marianne 2/5
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011) 2.5/5 - best thing about this film is when mike and jim from "neighbours" appear in the same scene. oh how i laughed...
Don't Look in the Basement 2.5/5
Doom Asylum 2/5
Dreams in the Witch House 3/5
Dressed to Kill 2.5/5
Eating Raoul 3.5/5
Ed Wood 4/5
Eegah (MST3K) 4/5
Electra Glide in Blue 4/5 - such a strange and powerful little film. it's hard to explain what it's about - small american motorcycle cop tries to better himself but ends up involved in tragedy - because it doesn't really give any understanding as to why the film works so well. i'm giving away the ending here, but the final few minutes (and closing credits) are possibly among the most powerful bits of cinema i've seen all year. so beautiful, so sad... AND you forget that robert blake is one creepy wife murderer for the duration of it as well, which must say something about how good the film is

Enemy of the State 2/5
Eyes of Fire 3.5/5 - such a frustrating film this. about 75% of it shows something close to a completely different and unique kind of horror film: something close to a proper lovecraftian sense of an ancient horror from the earth and the wrongness of humanity finding their way around that sentience. but something went wrong, because the ancient, eldritch evil frequently looks like the natrel woman from the nineties adverts and about ten to twenty minutes of plot development seems entirely missing when sudden, unexplained whizz bangs start happening. such a shame because moments like the other worldly girl dropped into the settlers' camp promise something extraordinary... hugely silly ending as well

Eyes of Fire (1983) from cougar on Veehd.

Fade Into Black 3/5
Family Plot 2.5/5
Famous Monster: the Forest J Ackerman Story 2.5/5
Fear is the Key 2/5
Final Destination 3 2/5
Final Terror 2/5 - nonsense, but for a brief moment this slasher film sort of promises to become something special. you know how the first "rambo" film has nothing to do with the jingoism now synonymous with the character, but is more a portrait of a severely war damaged psyche hiding in woods from his enemies? for a brief moment this film almost reaches that level of cleverness. almost. but just as it nearly gets there - it's gone again. such a shame
Fletch 3/5
For a Few Dollars More 4/5
Forbidden Zone 4/5 - bloody hell, this is a rich stew of insanity. a brilliantly mad bit of film making from oingo boingo and friends. stars herve villechaize as the king and a man with a frog's head. the songs are great too - been singing the theme tune all year
Four Flies on Grey Velvet 4/5 - giallo genius from dario argento. best beginning of a film this year as well. amazing

Frightmare 4.5/5 - unrelentingly bleak horror film from pete walker. you want camp fun from a seventies british horror film? then don't come here because thanks to sheila keith's performance this is as far from that as you're going to get. andrew sachs gets it in the first few minutes as well. brilliant. and bleak. i mean REALLY bleak. however bleak you think i mean, it's bleaker than that
Future Shock (Alvin Tofler) 2.5/5
Ganga and Hess 4/5 - pretentious? possibly. powerful? hell yes. a really different take on the vampire myth
Garden State 2/5 - silly, pseudo-indie nonsense with the archetypal manic pixie girl and no content whatsoever. zach braff is a likable star and has some strong sub-wes anderson images in his bag of ideas, but he also has nothing to say here at all. hugely disappointing
Ghost in the Shell 1.5/5 - no idea what was going on. sorry
Giant Spider Invasion (MST3K) 3/5
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (US) 3.5/5 - i liked this. not better than the original, but just as good. shame the last twenty minutes just petered out
God Bless America 3.5/5 - a not subtle, but also strangely powerful bark of horror at the modern world. you shouldn't enjoy it as much as you do - because it is strikingly immature - but goldthwait really gives it his all and you can't help but be taken along with him en route
God's Cartoonist: The Jack T Chick Story 3.5/5
Gremlins 2: The New Batch 5/5 - best sequel ever made. one of the best films ever made. the gift that keeps on giving
Gumshoe 4/5 - see "charlie bubbles"

Monday, 17 December 2012

films i have seen this year PART ONE!

here are the first bunch of films i have seen this year and what i thought of them!

127 Hours 3/5
24 Hour Party People 4/5
30 Century Man 4/5
80 Blocks From Tiffany's 3.5/5 - weirdly enjoyable action film with james brolin. weirdly enjoyable because it's got this strange pseudo documentary style thing going on and has a villain who is believably a bit bonkers. surprisingly good for this sort of thing
A Fistful of Dollars 4/5
A Journey to Avebury 3/5 - very early derek jarman film with a coil soundtrack. weird, haunting and beautiful
A Touch of Satan (MST3K) 3.5/5
Addams Family Values 3/5
Alice Sweet Alice 4.5/5 - crazily good this. it's sort of a bog standard horror film along the lines of angry sister takes vengeance on her much more popular younger sibling... but then liberally sprinkled with absolutely terrifyingly weird moments like the masks, the landlord, the first killing... actually all the killings thinking about it. crazy film. almost a masterpiece

Alien 4/5
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County 3/5
All the President's Men 4/5
Altered States 4/5
Alyce 2/5 - absolute tosh until the last twenty minutes, where the people responsible for this nonsense suddenly seem to go "bugger this - this whole self important pseudo "alice in wonderland" crap is getting us nowhere and decide to just go for the laughs. has a very, very funny final line but you have to wade through some utter nonsense to get to it
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 3/5
Arietty 3/5
Artemis 89 4/5 - it's crazy, bloated, insane and pretentious AND has sting in it. but it's also brilliant...
At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul 3.5/5 - i'm taking my time with coffin joe because... he's a bit on the weird side. but he's also absolutely unique in horror cinema. there's something genuinely disturbing about these films
Auto Focus 3.5/5
Basket Case 3/5
Basket Case 2 3/5
Basket Case 3 3/5 - basically a piss take of the first two. many people hate it, but... but... it has this moment in it which is about the greatest bit of cinema i've seen all year!

Bay of Blood 2.5/5 - one of the earliest slasher films and either a statement of intent or just a brilliantly lazy bit of couldn't-care-lessery from mario bava. nothing makes any sense and the very ending is one of the most fantastically silly things i've ever seen in a horror film
Bedlam 3/5
Being There 3/5
Bell From Hell 4/5 - this would get higher if it wasn't for the fact i couldn't make out a lot of what was going on because of the terrible print i found online. also because i imagine a lot of the nuances of the film really only make sense if you know your spanish history. whatever those quibbles, it's an extraordinary thing, a slippery film which constantly confounds your expectations. also contains a lovely riff on my favourite short story, "the open window" by saki

Bells 2/5
Berberian Sound Studio 4/5 - best new film of the year hands down. an incredible thing. although having said that, i'm seeing "the master" on thursday so maybe we should see what we think then. but otherwise, this is a very, very clever film about sound, about cinema itself and about the interior world of the mind. best sound design of a film for ages...
Beyond the Black Rainbow 2/5 - it looks amazing. it sounds amazing. the photographs promise something extraordinary. the set design promises something amazing. the film itself? nothing. there is nothing to it. there is promise of something - and i can't help but imagine with the imagination and intelligence at work here, something wonderful will eventually come from the director - but it never gets anywhere close to anything but lazy pastiche. the best example of this is the very end where the director boxes himself into a corner and goes "hell with it, may as well make a slasher film now". biggest disappointment of the year
Black Moon 3.5/5
Black Narcissus 5/5
Black Noon 2.5/5
Blind Beast 3.5/5
Blood and Roses 3/5
Blood Suckers 1.5/5 - hello! i'm a british horror film and have patrick macnee, peter cushing, edward woodward AND patrick mower in it. how can i fail to be anything short of brilliant? BECAUSE I MAKE NO SENSE AND AM MADE BY AN IDIOT! hilarious fun though...
Blow Out 3/5
Bottle Rocket 3/5
Brotherhood of Satan 4/5 - brilliantly nasty low key shocker. one of the reasons i've watched so many horror films this year is because at their best they'll take you along a particular road of preconceptions and then - at their best - at the very last drive the narrative into something brilliant and shocking and downright odd. and the end of this film is a perfect example of this
Burn After Reading 3.5/5
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker 3.5/5 - very hoary and generic for the most part... but then suddenly you get the completely insane character of the homophobic policeman and ON TOP OF THAT one of the most utterly bonkers performances you'll ever see from the aunt. crazy

Thursday, 13 December 2012

various variousness

so - uh - i appear to be on amazon! news to me!! try etsy instead, crazy fools..

big post coming up about my surreal work visit to wembley which involved... all manner of nuttiness, especially because of my personal dislike for football for most of my life. it culminated in a bit of sleep song  madness about someone called johnny kickfoot. there will be a cartoon of sorts very soon about mr kickfoot and his mission statement, "better living through kicking" (melior vivens per calcitrando in latin)

in the meantime, enjoy these strange individuals...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Usagi Yojimbo

One of the benefits of the new job is a rather nice commute which allows me time to either: kick back and doze; kick back and listen to the ipod while looking at the lovely scenery; or to kick back and get back in the reading habit again. Because the prolonged period of depression/ unemployment has had something of a serious knock on effect on my reading habits, it's been a while since I devoured a lot of books so I'm taking reading quite gently. So I've been reading a lot of graphic novels/ collections this last week or so as that seemed a nice compromise.

Today's book was volume seven of the mid nineties Fantagraphics reprints of Stan Sakai's "Usagi Yojimbo". I bought a handful of issues back in my first flurry of non UK comic buying because of Sakai's links to "Groo the Wanderer". "Groo" was my first non Fleetway/ DC Thompson love, a giddy, silly, witty and madly inventive romp of a book. I adored it for the stories, the jokes, the puns, the stunning art and also the mad attention to detail Aragones poured into everything. Not only did he pop in the infamous secret message into every issue (in the first issue I bought, the first appearance of Pal and Drumm, I believe the message is decorating the wall of a room in binary. I'd never have known this but just the fact it was there stunned me as a thirteen year old) but he also drew the creative team somewhere in each issue. In the poster below Aragones (artist and writer), Mark Evanier (sort of translator/ joke refiner), Tom Luth (colourist - sorry, have to do the British spelling. Seems wrong not to) and Stan Sakai (letterer) are hidden in the top left, in the tree.

As someone who always loved the scale and scope of fictional worlds, this was some sort of perfection to me. And as such I picked up "Usagi Yojimbo" because of the Sakai connection and because the general idea - wanderer in some sort of strange new land - didn't seem a million miles away from what Groo was doing. But I went no further, because there's so many back issues of the comic and I've never known exactly how self contained the world was. The reason why I picked up this volume was because it was cheap enough for me not to care too much if I'd missed too much in the previous six.

Thankfully it doesn't seem to matter at all. It's actually a far more enjoyable comic for me as an adult than it was as a kid. I definitely appreciated it back then, even though I didn't quite understand why it couldn't be as funny as Groo, but now it seems a lot more emotionally powerful. There's a sort of strange melancholy to it all, a sadness to the story, that seems entirely more adult than you'd expect from a comic with a samurai bunny in it. Mortality is often just one step around the corner and almost every story in this volume addresses loss in some way. If anything the fact that it's a bunch of animals paying very strict attention to ancient Japanese codes of morality gives it a lovely distancing effect - you focus on the narrative and the inter character relations a lot more, because the character design seems so initially jarring you just have to either accept or reject the concept of animals doing samurai things. You don't keep questioning it as you go along. I accepted it, and as such focused on the stories.

Which are, frankly, beautiful. Sakai has a really lovely eye for the poignancy of a story and can really tease a lot out of a simple story, which gives it a nice fable like tone perfectly in keeping with the genre. I think he particularly loves to imbue minor characters with more depth than other comic writers would, so even a couple of soldiers guarding a building chatting about what they have for dinner seem a bit more real when they suddenly die. It's kind of a shame that for my generation Usagi Yojimbo was kind of known peripherally as some sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles connected thing, because of a couple of guest appearances in the comic and show - there's a lot more to it than simply anthropomorphic warrior animals. Although there is a lot of Groo here in this world (kind of inevitable really, although in a drastically different tone obviously), there's a lot more seriousness of intent in what Sakai is trying to do. In many What it most reminded me of was Jeff Smith's masterpiece "Bone", but somehow slightly better because rather than one grand narrative, it's more episodic and thusly allows you more time to see how the characters relate to events. You see more about what makes them who they are without being info dumped on from a great height. And it's that subtlety which I really love. Definitely going to get more of these I think.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

still ill...

...and the wife is somewhat ill-er. so normal service is still to resume.. please enjoy this picture of surly people take from 1960s promotional in-house magazines i found in the archive of the company i worked for in loughborough. if you know any of them, please do let us know...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


am recovering from a cold which has turned, annoyingly, into a rattly cough. bah! in the meantime, i'll remind everybody about the new etsy shop and post a picture of a chubby boy with a chick on his head. as you do... normal service will resume soon i hope!

Monday, 26 November 2012

A Peculiar Letter

So I've received a most peculiar letter in the post. See if you can make heads or tales of it...

What could it all be about?

More on this soon...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

updates, updates, updates...

what's this? a quick weekend update? that so rarely happens! oh my!

anyway - two things. first of all i have an etsy shop at long, long last - off you go! purchase things please!

secondly - anyone want to give me some advice about how to make the blog here look a little prettier? it needs tarting up and i'm not sure of the best way to do it...

and finally.. have a hadron:

tomorrow - the proper launch of issue four - "lower piphill"! EXCITING!

Friday, 23 November 2012

final quick blurbage for the week

the end of my first week of work after... quite some time off! hopefully now i've dusted down some of the whole working again cogs of my brain, it'll be easier for me to get through a day without just wanting to go to bed once i get home so hopefully there'll be a bit more new content here next week rather than treading water. also, hopefully, the full blurb about lower piphill will be here over the weekend... 

next week i also aim to finally get the etsy shop up and running again and tidied up so people can buy some of the existing nonsense and buy any future nonsense. i'm trying to make it all pretty at the moment and hopefully a nice place to meander before spending any cash

and finally - before i pop another couple of pictures i did for "thought bubble" on the blog - a reminder to anyone who reads this from the west yorkshire/ lancashire area and especially those near calderdale: i'm working on setting up some kind of drink/ draw/ doodle/ comics thing in the area. i met a fair few people last week but anyone else who may know people who know people - GET IN TOUCH. one of the people, louise, who i met at the weekend, gave me a lift in on sunday and runs this wonderful looking thing in leeds called "laydeez do comics". if i had any money or free time at the moment, i'd be there in a shot

in the meantime: more tat and doodles! hurrah!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

more quick stuff: hadron special!

i'm still to get that strange package from the stranger lower piphill up for you here, but i still have some other things that i possibly planned to sell at thought bubble to share with you here... so have some hadrons!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

more quick updates

i have received an odd package from somewhere called lower piphill which i will share with you sometime before the weekend. some of you may find it of interest. in the meantime, here's some more stuff i did for thought bubble but didn't sell...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

thought bubble fun!

so! thought bubble then - first of all, the view from our table...

and another, this time with a pile of piphill parcels... what COULD be in there? maybe there are some clues elsewhere online?

me, posing...

me, deep in thought, with a good front view of the mysterious and SOON ON SALE piphill parcels... and a rather overlong advert to try and shift my crappy comics to the right of the desk...

me and a hadron pal...

and finally, the wonderful sam parfitt (whose wool skills are amazing) who joined me for the weekend as cheerleader, assistant and confidence builder... all hail!

ludicrously, i have already had my idea for next year... and it's AMAZING!

Monday, 19 November 2012

quick entry

because of my frankly unbelievably odd new job at a football club... here's some pictures from a small place called lower piphill...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

hello to anyone i met at thought bubble!

lots of business cards and flyers were given out so if anyone has found me for the first time - welcome! there's lots of stuff in the archives, including a long first bit of an ongoing story which i'll be posting up manageable links to soon...

i'll also have some more stuff about my views on how great my first thought bubble as a seller was, and more new pictures and whatnot coming up this week. in the mean time have a poke about and enjoy yourselves!

an unfortunate incident with kate beaton

thirteen years ago, i did a rare and foolish thing: approached someone whose work i admired. it was at the bowlie weekender of belle and sebastian in camber sands, and the compere was duglas t stewart of the bmx bandits. i love the bmx bandits and consider their single "little hands" a masterpiece - and told stewart so. well, almost... i said instead "i love your band! i think "little hands" is THE SECOND GREATEST SINGLE OF ALL TIME!" - which is true, i do ("tally ho!" by the clean, is the first if you're interested because it's amazing). he gave me a most puzzled look and, frankly bemused, said "thank you... but you know 'one of the greatest ever singles' would have probably been better". i became mortified and he then obviously felt guilty and said lovely things about my rutles' t shirt... but the moment became stuck as "the time i made an arse of myself in front of a hero"

time passes. i almost said things to wayne coyne of the flaming lips at a smog gig, but just before i did so someone else came up to him said "OMIGODYOUAMAZING" and vomited on his shoes. he was lovely about it, but somehow enjoying the music of bill callahan with him after this traumatic incident seemed considerably... classier somehow?

today, at thought bubble, i decided to go and get a book signed by the frankly overwhelmingly talented kate beaton of "hark, a vagrant" because i am always in awe of how she can wring the simplest gags out of the most obscure historical moments... and also because she's a great cartoonist. she signed the book - and did a lovely tintin in it for me - and i was nervous and that alone would have been fine. but i then decided to give her one of MY comics... choosing the hadro mega-pack...

if you've seen the hadron mega-pack you'll know that in the "history of the hadron" supplement, there is a certificate of ownership for the cardboard cut out one that comes with it... and you write in a name for it as well as your own name... and so i usually give them silly names like "zardoz" or "boggins" or "vorhaus"

but i had a mental block with kate beaton. i meant to call it "mungo" but thought... that's a bit boring. why not change that a bit? so i changed it to... mongo

i called the hadron mongo. and not for the life of me, until i told sam and sarah and tansy when i get home, did i consider the fact that it might at all be offensive. i meant to call it mungo but thought that too obvious and in a panic changed the wrong letter. and now she probably thinks she has a weird comic by a weird man who decides to call their toy he gives her the name of an epithet for the disabled...

i am officially an idiot


still not all that bad as me and sam met the best cosplayer ever, a girl dressed as tessla, complete with drawn on moustache and a big wave in her hair which was her "tessla curl". now THAT is class...

have some more normal hadrons to make up for my idiocy...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

thought bubble day one

a year ago today, i came back as a punter from my first ever "thought bubble" and remember thinking how lovely it was... so friendly and accessible to every level of comic fandom. and i decided "i need to try that"... so i did!

it's been a crazy few weeks for me in common swings' world - waiting for news on a job, having an important medical appointment cancelled at short notice and most importantly trying to get the fourth issue of "the common swings" ready in time for this weekend. and i managed it! and even though i didn't sell a huge amount of anything today, i think what i got instead was even better - encouragement, advice, ideas, friendliness and the slowly dawning realisation that the first time i ever do anything like this (so, today in essence) is in every way going to be the toughest. thank you everyone who came by today and made it so much fun - please come back tomorrow and BUY MORE STUFF!

if not, the etsy shop should be tidied up and put online next week... so keep your eyes out for that soon!

also: there is movement towards the creation of some kind of comic's group in calderdale after the enthusiasm of people today. at the minute there is a very small facebook community called "calder valley scribblers" so if anyone i saw today wants to join please feel free to do so!

now for "the killing" and SLEEP! see people tomorrow hopefully! have my wife and a hadron until then...

First Show in Two Years!!!

 This Saturday! The old college! Todmorden Folk Festival! I will be selling all the things! Come and buy them and tell your friends!!! (And ...