Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Couple of Links

It's been a tough week again, although I'd like to think there's some kind of light at the end of the tunnel soon. I'm still churning stuff out and readying them slowly, but at the moment I'm keeping myself going and that's as much as I can expect really...

In the meantime there's a couple of good links out there. First of all, a rather wonderful thing on Seth's masterpiece "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken". This is one of those books that come across so very rarely in my life and has such an emotional resonance for me, it's hard for me to easily express it. So thank goodness for this blog doing it for me. And the second? I hate to bang on about Kate Beaton again, but "Hark! A Vagrant" is really an astonishing thing... and it's good to read something of the quality of this blog entry explaining why. As far as I'm concerned, in the world of what I want to do Beaton is the best practice for someone finding their way online in comics. Both these entries are good things. Read them...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Kate Beaton

A horrible, horrible day in advance of an even worse one in two days time. The best thing to come out of it? This wonderful thing by Kate Beaton. You don't even need to be interested in comics to find something encouraging in it. It's cheered me greatly on a day I really have needed cheering.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

any ideas?

I've been quiet the last few days because mentally I'm conserving all my energies for my work disciplinary on Thursday. But I have been continually tinkering with ideas for the web comic in between these moments of worry/ blind panic. While I continue to fret in advance, I'll leave you with this Christmas card from my sister. Any takers as to what the angels are holding in their hands? I genuinely have no idea... I know what it looks like but... it surely can't be that?

Or can it?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Further Web Comic Thoughts

I tell you, doing creative things when you're at your lowest mental ebb is a fascinating exercise. There's this constant play between wondering whether what you're doing stinks because other things are depressing you or because they're actually terrible. I genuinely have no idea which is true. All I know is that for the last two or three days I've been collecting anything that can be used for my forthcoming idea and trying to organise it. The main thing I've noticed? By taking an idea I'm not precious about, much like I was with "The Bombardier's Eyes", I'm willing to play about and experiment with style a bit more. I have no idea how this is going to play out, but as I'm aiming for approximately daily updates which i can amass in advance (about three weeks must be sorted before I start posting it) I'm trying new approaches for each possible episode. Some will work and some won't. It's fascinating to see how much I'm leaning to some styles over others though. I'm intrigued to see how this will play out.

The other thing low self esteem is showing me is that when I found all the notes for this story in my old work book - written in another bad patch - I'm surprisingly impressed by bits of it, whilst also a lot easier on the things that don't work. My problem is always going to be closeness to whatever I'm working on. When I'm close to it, then I can't see it at all objectively. Once I keep telling myself this repeatedly, maybe one day I'll actually believe it?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Idle Thoughts...

So... if I want to take this whole blog and drawing and minicomics thing a bit more seriously, I'm going to have to start pondering some seriously scary changes to how I do things. In chats with friends and neighbours and friendly neighbours, the idea of a web comic came up. Now... this is a problem to me, because web comics strike me as not the sort of think you start thinking to do, but kind of come about fully formed. Well the successful and good ones at any rate: Hark a Vagrant!, Cat and Girl, Nedroid etc etc. These are things which came about because the creator had a strong idea and then put it down on paper. But I don't really have as strong an idea... as such.

I have an idea for a sort of loosely connected series of sequential narratives though. I have tonnes of short story ideas and have always struggled to find a way to illustrate/ write them. Am wondering about some sort of loose framing narrative for such things and just... get them out. Not to be the next great web comic, because I doubt I'll ever be that. No. Instead so I can get things on here regularly which I have created. I'm doing well at updating this place regularly but, as you have no doubt noted, with the work of other people rather than my own. I'm still very cautious about my own skills and in my  brief attempts today to cook up some ideas I'm already being too harsh on myself.

But, and this is the real reason why I'm writing this, I need to get the slightly off attempts together to form a slightly better whole... and maybe just to see that my initial struggles did get better. After all, by turning off the interior editor and critic inside myself, I got "The Bombardier's Eyes" finished. Maybe it's time to turn that to other forms as well...

The pondering continues.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ionicus Part One: The William Kimber Covers

A few days ago, my good friend Nick of the blog A Pile of Leaves mentioned picking up a book of ghost stories because of the cover. Before I even saw what the book was I already kind of suspected what it *might* be. Knowing enough of Nick's taste and his description of the title in question I thought, rightly, that this may well be a William Kimber book with an Ionicus cover. Books which I have something of a long standing fondness for.

Now I've been collecting ghost stories for about seven years now - it's an interesting hobby because, unlike crime fiction, it's frequently about picking collections which have lots of doubles (at the very least) of stories you already own because of the odd one or two you don't... and all because that little, neglected gem may end up being something truly special. And during my detective work in trying to find these things I soon realised I had a particular niche in the genre all to myself - Kimber.

Most fans of supernatural fiction really don't rate William Kimber collections or editions. They think them a bit bloodless and lifeless. The Ionicus covers particularly figure highly in this disdain, possibly because for a generation of book collectors he's an artist who really seems deeply linked with PG Wodehouse reissues. They find him a bit limp and polite and - almost literally - a little bloodless, which is true if you're after lurid covers. But if, like me, you don't mind a bit of the softly sinister to go with the ridiculously overblown covers then they're an absolute treat. And besides, the fact that Kimber published so many books by R Chetwynd Hayes should be a giveaway - he's also often thought of as a little bloodless and "safe" compared to someone like, say, Ramsey Campbell or Robert Aickman (this is a little unfair: "The Day That Father Brought Something Home" is one of the greatest bits of supernatural fiction ever in my opinion). I will admit a lot of Kimber books are a bit... lacking in places, but I have such a fondness for them because of the design that I snap them up whenever I see them.

This is my collection of Ionicus Kimber covers - I will do a few more Ionicus entries during the week, particularly explaining why I love him and his art so much. In the mean time - enjoy!

Fairly obviously this last book is not particularly supernaturally themed, but it still does have a rather splendid Ionicus cover. So in it goes! More of these later this week hopefully....

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Discontented Peggy, and How She Was Cured

When I posted sundry scraps from "Mr Teedles" the other day, my friend and neighbour Gavin - of the most excellent Arkhonia blog - paid me the greatest of complements: he thought I'd made it up myself. I can see why - I do go out of my way to find books and ephemera of such mind boggling oddness so I can make my own fake books and films and the like seem just that *little* bit more likely. so it seems fitting that Gavin encouraged me to buy "Discontented Peggy" from Todmorden market

It's an odd little thing - very obviously an "improving" playlet for young ladies. One of over 500 of the things as well! Part of me wants to collect them all (in some sort of early twentieth century melodrama take on Pokemon, maybe) but i know the wife will have stern words about such things...

i'm rather delighted, by the way, that the publisher has a "play department". my mind wanders off into a wonderful image of a whole office of workers dedicated to improving the minds of the young through the medium of sentimental nonsense

I like how productions seem to be mainly aiming at "a decent "fairy glen"..." rather than something with any degree of competence. And I'm also quite fond of this too:"don't let "Peggy's" face look rosy in the "glen scene". It must be made up to look white and woe-begone." Bless...

Have any of you met anyone who's actually been made to swallow Castor oil? Is this entirely the sort of thing popular culture of the late nineteenth century to late seventies British comics have propagated for generations... is there a thesis in this at all?

Peggy: "... Nurse is a horrid old cross-patch, and I hate her."
Nurse: "... I'll punish Peggy when I find her. She richly deserves punishment."
And thus the circle of violence continues... how very sad.

Is "lightly tripping the lea" some kind of euphemism?

Nothing much to report here beyond yet more lea tripping...

My favourite line here is "so trip we a measure in happy content" which smacks of the sort of thing someone writing verse comes up with when their existing line of poetry doesn't scan quite well enough.

More tripping here, but also the promise of "a dish of dewdrops". I think most organic shops sell these nowadays, as well as larger branches of Waitrose.

I'll leave these pages as they are, but all I can say is that one-two emotional punch of "Peggy's Song of Repentance" and "Sprite's Song" must have overwhelmed contemporary audiences. Very popular in Sammy Davis Jr's Vegas set as well...

And then it all ends in dancing. I don't know if it's just me, but I think the ambiguity of some of the lyrics here remind of me of the breathless outpouring of imagination in Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands". Moving.

Fairy plays were obviously very popular weren't they? I'm also quite amused that the gauge of success of these plays was how easy the things were to repeat... Meanwhile "Cruel Jack Frost" seems unduly precious about his "artistic pictures". Always was a prima donna that one...

And obviously, before we leave these pages, I think it fairly obvious that there is no better title for anything ever is "Princess Jonquila's Necklace". In fact I think everyone should be called Jonquila... or failing that the majestically suggestive Violet Methley.

And finally...."The Truth About Tarts - if you are looking for a fairly short children's play which is full of good material you will find what you want here. This play is packed with good situations and cannot fail to get over." No further comments are necessary I feel.

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 ...