Well Gentle-folk, this Blog has moved.
If you want to see a more structured version of this blog with intermittent nonsense, come follow me to my new website.
Stella Artois aren’t known for making really delicately flavored alcoholic beverages, but their Elderflower flavored Cidre is pretty nice.
This is the North Calling, can you read me?
I spent sometime dicking around in a cave on Holiday and came up with a spooky story about a cave. My cave experience was a pleasant one (I took a bunch of photos, drew some rock textures in pencil, climbed over some stone in my white white shoes) so I think its typical writer bollocks that you can turn that into something weird and unsettling.
Fun fact, writer James Dickey came up with the story to his 1970 novel Deliverance after suffering a canoeing accident in the American south. He was rescued by some locals, who looked after him, nursed him back to health and got him back on his way again. From that encounter he cooked up Deliverance. Presumably somewhere after that fortuitous encounter he thought to himself “hmm… what would have happened if these kindly southerners had anally raped me and I killed one with a bow and arrow?” and wrote a book about it.
Philip K Dick (second Dick anecdote in two blog posts) wrote his novel Confessions of a Crap Artist about a bitter marital feud in suburban California, whilst in a seemingly happy marriage in suburban California. I think its weird the way people can project, compute and reach catharsis through writing. His marriage didn’t last long after writing that book.
I wrote that on Saturday night immediately after coming in from seeing Captain America 3: LOOK AT BLACK PANTHER EVERYONE, and it was a fantastic movie that managed to balance having a million characters and giving them enough screen time and character development. Since then things have changed and I am less into the idea of writing a blog.
So, fun story, my country elected to leave the European Union the other day, which has left me in a really bad mood. I feel, not for the first time in my life, ashamed to be English, so I’m not in the right mind set to talk for very long.
I’ll probably get over it sometime next week.
RANT KLAXON: The following blog post is one of those I might regret when I am an older, wiser man, because its a blog post on the powers of magic in writing.
This is the sort of blog post I think will make Rob Jones rub his forehead and say “For Christ’s sake Nick”. I think he genuinely thinks I’m batshit on occasion.
I write many words on consciousness magic, summoning and reality, and if you are likely to think that’s bollocks, then don’t read and keep your opinion of my unmarred.
If not, read on.
I listened to about eight Grant Morrison talks back to back last week, which was an interesting experience, because not all of them were purely comic related.It was also an interesting experience because only today did I realise how one of Morrisons points linked to a question as part of this Sunday’s Comic Book Hour, a twitter based conversation that happens weekly and can be found here. Kind of because as its a hashtag its everywhere.
I was looking for talks on subjects that grabbed me, so I started with a Warren Ellis one on that boiled down to uselessness of speculation, which was interesting to me because the first ever piece of academic writing I did was a building appraisal that centered around preparations for dead futures. Speculative futures are interesting, because they’re based solely on the presents idea of what is futuristic. In Star Trek the original series they’d developed a technology to teleport people, but they communicators were less functional than a mobile phone circa 2015. In the Next Generation they had the fully functioning android Commander Data, but he had to type messages into the computer as he was unable to wirelessly connect with it and send his message direct.
I also get really het up about the phenomenology of aliens in science fiction that they’re always based on different human cultures, rather than the mind bending philosophies that would be generated on worlds vastly dissimilar to ours. Oddly enough something that is tackled head on in Rick and Morty via their inter-dimensional television.
Back to Grant Morrison. He is a practicing Magician, and he is not afraid to say it. He’s not afraid to tel the world. I am very much into Chaos magic and magical theory.
As a side note; I am both skeptical and open to spiritualism; a great bone of contention I have is with the afterlife and mediums. Another one is past life experiences. Past life experiences basically enter into a linearity of time that I don’t give credit to. It says that everything has happened in one order merrily avoiding the idea of past lives that haven’t happened yet. The two are obviously not mutually exclusive, but ultimately I would like to think of myself as someone who has magical influence and has actively used this in the past to change my life, and the lives of others.
In one of his talks, Grant talks about summoning. Summoning up Gods to talk to, to speak to, and how the deities you can conjure envisage elements of personalities, eternal personalities that are a part of us all. Similar to the Seven Basic Plot types there are basic personality outlines, and these appear in many cultures, and often take the form of the Gods of their Pantheon. Pantheons have a War God (Anhur in Egyptian, Ares in Greek, Mixcoatl in Aztec), a Music God (Apollo Greek, Benzaiten in Buddhism, Saraswati in Hindi), a God of communication (Mercury, Freya, Thoth), and these all represent personality types.
So we come to the question I mentioned earlier:
— #ComicBookHour (@ComicBookHour) 12 June 2016
The answer I gave was a wide spread thing. I said “Research, Knowledge and Empathy” which I think to be a rather sound explanation. If I want to write anything, I usually try to read something about that subject, get some view points, so I don’t feel like I’m talking guff. Theres a page in 50Signal 2 where there’s a hyperspace relay, and I read a few articles on possible power supplies for something like that, and eventually settled on Dyson spheres, not because I don’t have the imagination to cook up a power source for it, I just wanted it to feel real to me. Write what you know and all that.
But characters are slightly different. When it comes to writing what you know, and with a person you’ve made up, you’ve got to know them. A lot of answers to this question revolved around people saying “When they make a decision, I think about the decision they’d make, not the decision I’d make” and I can’t help but think “Yeah, but how do you know what decision they’d make?”. I think that’s where Morrison’s idea of summoning comes into play.
I take a pragmatic approach to magic, I don’t believe in Midichlorians or light shooting out of wands, to me Magic is the manipulation of consciousnesses, and as humans are a pack animal, a communal energy, our powers of conscious are interlinked. Sigil magic works, I believe, because you are bending your consciousness towards an outcome, and positively reinforcing it within your head. You’re using things like confirmation bias and mind set to will you to achieve a reality. Giving yourself a spiritual goal. So when I think of summoning, I don’t see it as the conjuring of something real, like a deity, I see it as conjuring up a part of the large consciousness of the human race, you’re pulling into your mind parts of the world around you to create an artificial intelligence, a personality model of that you want to speak to.
In his talk, Morrison talks about an occasion where he summoned up the form of John Lennon, but how he thinks it wasn’t John Lennon, but the form of a God of music who filled in the role of John Lennon. I have never summoned up a demon, or anything like that. Partly because I find it hard to believe in, and partly because I am frightened that its possible and I’m fucking with things beyond my power. We’ve all read what happened to John Constantine in Newcastle. Chilling.
What I have done, is conjured a story, I have summoned narratives using chaos magic. Its a practice I evolved out of a process that I read about in a Philip K Dick biography. During the creation of his book, and now popular Amazon TV show I am yet to watch, The Man In The High Castle, Dick was heavily into the I Ching. The I Ching is an ancient divination text, and Dick used it to make crucial decisions in the plot development of his book. He used it to develop characters, simply by asking the I Ching questions, and then flipping a series of coins, and by reading into these coin flips, it allowed him to receive the answers he needed. The book was written by an outside force (whether that be spiritual or random in nature) that Dick was interpreting. I wrote a few things early on in my story writing career by using the I Ching, just as Dick did, but found that it was too linear for what I wanted to do. So I started to use a process of story summoning, and I used the central focus of this as music.
Phonogram by Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie posits music as being a fulcrum around which magic is tied, and its an idea that I can get behind. I spoke to Kieron about this at a signing early this year and asked him if he believed any of it was true, and he said that the whole of it is a very good analogy. A metaphor for the power of music, rather than straight up belief that music is magic. Though I think that Music is power, I think it is something that we can use to influence our consciousness and the way we process power through ourselves, which in itself could be perceived as magic. Songs can change us, they can alter the way we feel, make us happy or sad, and live music can change our outlooks. Its a common story to talk about that moment we heard something that changed the way we think, that altered our lives. I remember the first time I heard Joy Division and it completely altered the way I approached my emotions. There’s an issue of Phonogram where one of the non-magical characters, the wonderfully named Kid With Knife, performs some basic Phonomancy, and listens to Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio and becomes magically imbued, having the night of his life.
The instructions he is given as thus:
Choose a track, doesn’t matter what it is – just that is matters to you. Stick it on, and turn it up. Close your eyes, and listen hard. Focus. Just feel the song. Let it sweep over you. Breathe it in. Let it possess you. And when you can feel it filling every single cell in your body, just ride it as long as you can.
Of course Kid responds to that be saying “That’s magic? Everyone does that” and they do, we all do. We listen to music to enhance how we feel. My girlfriend Camila plays sad songs when she is sad because she wants to cry. I put on angry songs when I’m feeling angry, we put on the sort of music that reflects how we are feeling. With writing, I can put on music that embodies the way I want to think, the way I want to feel, and I meditate on the emotions contained within and I call out to the character I want to write, and the character will come to be because I have summoned them. The Space giant at the end of 50Signal 2 came to me in a gig. That story has been completely changed from how it was originally going to go by me summoning force the story, or the story summoning itself to me.
But you can use an object, an item of clothing, an artifact, or even a word written on a piece of paper as a focus item, to summon forth a fictional character. Get a grip of what that person is on the outside, and sit for a bit, focus on them for two or three minutes, and let them be there with you, call out to them to talk to you, and talk to a character and see what they say to you. From Grant Morrison’s perspective you’re channeling a deity that represents your character, you’re summoning them forth, in the same way you can summon forth a reality you want through Sigil magic.
To me you’re building an artificial construct, a Golem of ideas, that you will be able to interact with, and with time you can focus your meditation to summon more elements of a story, sew in more pieces of your own reality to make it real. Today in a story writing exercise I started with three blank characters and a location, and I wrote down one work for each character, and put on a song that I wanted to represent the feel of the story, and I sat with a note pad and just wrote what came to me, and without thinking I summoned forth elements I hadn’t imagined before, ideas that were beyond what I anticipated for the story. New characters that were outside of my plans for the narrative came into effect. The story wrote itself and it was nothing like what I had set out to create.
So, even if you think that everything I’ve just said about summoning and magic is bollocks, then treat it as a thought experiment, and write something in a similar setting to how I wrote today, and see where it takes you.
I remember fondly when you could embed Youtube videos to WordPress without paying them extra money on a Monthly basis. Those days are GONE and I swear to God it must chase people away to other sites. Blogger has a God Damn button on Youtube that will open a Video in a new window ready to post to your blog. I suppose that’s the benefit of them being owned by the same company.
I will continue this thought it a bit about Marketing below, so if you’re not into that, I’ll tell you when to stop reading.
There will be a day where I can devote the amount of time to comics that I want to. Currently I am renovating my bedroom, which is the most terrible experience. I’m a practical man, I like making and building things, but plastering makes such a fucking mess. Everything is filled with dust. EVERYTHING. My lungs are so filled with detritus that they could be used as flood defenses. If you’ve bought anything from the store, there may be a delay.
The Griff Gristle Kickstarter, the first Madius Comics kickstarter was launched last week, and it managed to meet its goal within 24 hours. Any doubts that it wouldn’t get funded have been annihilated and the only question I have is how long before Rob Jones gets all your money out of the bank and takes a bath in it.
Griff Gristle is a lot of fun, its a well crafted knock about adventure penned by alcoholic bin dwellers Robin Jones and Michael Sambrook, brought to life by the excellent visuals of Rory Donald. Donald’s art has the obvious Mike Mignola thing going on, but has enough personality and direction that makes it unique. One thing I love about this book, which I know from having read the script is all down to Rory, is the panel direction. Mike and Rob keep their scripts purposefully light when telling artists which angles and viewpoints so the artist does their own shit, and Rory knows how to compose a scene. He does a mean splash page.
Its worth your investment for a beautiful book that just happens to have a great story with it. If you want to review it then email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lance Reddick just turned up in an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What a weird world.
Finally got my hands on the first Octopus Pie collection. I used to read a shit tonne of Webcomics, and with time I just stopped. I find it difficult to find the time to sit at a computer and read loads of comics. I know, obviously this is a ridiculous statement because I spend loads of time sitting away from a computer reading comics. But this collection has got me right back into one of the greatest web-comics out there. Meredith Gran is a brilliant artist and writer and crafts great story lines out of a gag a day comic.
Its weird how I lost touch with web-comics. I opened up Questionable Content the other day, a comic I read DAILY only a few years ago, and one of the characters was in a relationship with another character and I couldn’t see that coming a mile off. I think I should get back into the comic. Do people still read web-comics the same way they did ten years ago? I wouldn’t consider doing one nowadays, though the urge is still there to do one. I started out in print zines in college, and then moved to web-comics, but print medium really is how people read all my comics these days. I am considering resurrecting Punk Rock Apocalypse, but it’d be done as a digital release for free. The hardest part of making web-comics was the schedule. Doing a page a day, or three a week or whatever your schedule is needs far closer attention to timing that working on a book to be published, primarily because you have to do them in some semblance of order. With a comic I can work in any order, and if a page bores me I can do something else and return to it.
Oni Press have reprinted Sophie Campbell’s Wet Moon, which is an interesting book that combines realism with slight elements of Horror set in a Southern Gothic world: a swampy small town filled with crooked trees and a constant sense of uneasiness and creepiness to it. Its set very heavily in gothic subculture weaving in its fashion and music. Its great, but my favorite thing is all the characters exist within the confines of the real world. Its LGBTQ+ friendly, it has characters with disabilities, No one is idealized, no one has a perfect body and yet no one is shown as ugly or as a caricature. Its a real world with real people, with a permeating atmosphere of dread and a great story.
Look at that last panel. Look at that mouth with those teeth and that tongue. The art work is presented with such a staggering confidence that I live in envy of. I cannot instill the virtue of realistic characters in comics. Once, long ago, I read an article by Mark Millar in Sci-Fi magazine where he said that comics were the one true Rock and Roll medium because no one is watching it. Obviously his method of doing this is to put in as much rape and violence as his tiny heart desires, but hey, each to their own. He is right in that its a really indie, make it at home do it yourself focus. Explicitly because we were allowed to do whatever we wanted for years and are creating our own stories, comics is one of the rare mediums where people can be represented people.
Come for Iron Man, stay for great stories and real characters and that sort of shit.
I’ve been reading Scott Snyder and Gregg Capullo’s Batman which is ridiculously good. I loved the Death of the Family story line, bringing the Joker to a level of menace and cruelty I thought he was deserving of is a mean feat in a world where he is a much maligned and overused character. I thought for a few seconds about how in the name of God they’d follow that story line. Zero Year was incredible. An explosive rush of fun, actually making me care about the Batman origin again because we’ve seen it so many times before it is a struggle to give a flip. Gun shots in an alley way. String of broken pearls. Man in an opera mask punching criminals.
We know it.
My favorite part, after it covers the Red Hood and the Birth of Batman, it makes the Riddler cool. I’ve been a big fan of the Riddler, but I am all too aware that on occasion he is presented as a Joker knock off who tries to kill people with Rube Goldberg machines and robs banks leaving calling cards, but they make him calculating, arrogant and a grand foil to a young Batman.
I’ve also started watching Daredevil season 2, which is such a good follow-up to the first series, and the fight scene in the stairwell in the third episode is some Raid style choreography. I love choreography. One of the things most entertaining about drawing Funk Soul Samurai is working out how to do the backflips and the movements between punches and kicks that could lead to the next. If I ever make a movie, aside from having the sort of meticulous direction that would drive Stanley Kubrick insane, I’d have so much fun talking to the Choreographer and getting everything write to mke the craziest fight scene in the History of british Cinema. How do you do Choreography in comics? Heres a few really good examples of how to do fight scenes in comics:
I love this page, specifically this page, which is why I used this below quality scan to prove my point. This is from Karnak issue 2 by Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino and that first panel sums up the rule of don’t show the punch hit, show the aftermath of the punch. Its simple, its brutal, it proves a point that Karnak is about breaking things not bending things.
Which is the exact opposite of the fluid movement that Shang-Chi is embodied with in this issue of the Secret Avengers, again written by Warren Ellis but this has the unmistakable touch of David Aja. This episode sums up why Shang-Chi is such a cool character, both in his mastery of Martial arts, understanding of life force and chi, and also the fact he is self aware that the Avengers basically use him as a cudgel to break peoples limbs. The creative team understand how the character works and mirror his liquid fighting style in the fluidity of the panels.
Here we have Jamie McKelvie drawing Kieron Gillen’s script for Young Avengers. Noh-Varr here being a slick, style obsessedhero type, it shows the Choregraphy IN his choreography if you will. Shows the planning, the precision, and the thought gone into looking like a bad ass hero type. All these examples don’t just present a fighting style in a set way, it reflects the character in the way they fight and shows that.
Guns are boring. Punching is where its at.
I’ve been experimenting a bit more in Manga Studio 5. I am going to be honest with you, when I first got it, I got it because it was on sale and cheap as chips. For the first… year I was totally afraid of it. I used it initially as a programme for coloring, all the tones in 50Signal 2 were added in Manga Studio 5 and even though I can see that its totally different to 50Signal 1 I’m not sure that the reader can. Its comfortable, easy to use (Especially with the touch sensitivity on the Surface Pro 2) but I found its brushes to be limited, but when you start getting in to more complicated stuff, it gets fiddly very quickly.
I started my first comic book project entirely in Manda Studio Late last year, the now as of untitled comic book formerly known as Flintlock, which I’ve been doing with up and coming writer Sam Head (Whose Twitter I am linking to here) first two panels here:
I had fun with that cow. I also had a lot of fun drawing as many different types of English flower as I could into this rural landscape. When I started I just used the ink pen function and didn’t venture much beyong that and using the watercolour pen for the grey tones. The more I drew though, the more I got to grips with the differences between working with the computer and working in physical mediums like inks and fine liners. The biggest difference is that you can make so many more mistakes with the computer and you can get away with it, because you can just keep deleting and chipping away. I do a blue pencil line, then an orange rough over the top, then a purple shading layer somewhere between blue and orange, and then I ink it. I didn’t know this when I started the comic formerly known as Flintlock, so as I am doing the book, I actually become more confident, and the art changes. Flintlock is weird then, looking back on what I’ve done so far because the art grows with the book and actually gets better. Visibly better.
It will be available some point in the future when I put the whole thing to bed. Probably before the end of this month. Bolstered by my work on this though, I went looking for some cool new brushes which were provided by Zombie Yeti, creator of the Go-To-Inker and the Rough Inker. I started to use these, and after reading P J Holden’s blog on Manga Studio, because that guy is a WIZARD and has started to share his Dark arts with the rest of us Mortals. He’s got great tips on how to improve your panel layouts, how to alter their size which is something pretty basic that I actually didn’t know how to do until he told me, and also how to use tone Layers. Its a wonderful resource and if you’re going to be playing with Manga Studio 5 his input is indispensable. Check it out here. Using these new tools, and my new knowledge I experimented on some punisher art, an the above First Order Stormtrooper.
This marks the first time I’ve drawn something and immediately after looking at it thought it was acceptable for a mainstream comic series. I want to experiment more with this style, these brushes and THESE BRUSHES.
Something I did learn was how to paint with the Tone layer. I made a small selection area and stuck the tone in. I used the biggest Dot size on the tone because I wanted it to have that old school materiality to it like when you look at Ashley Wood’s art. When I’d done this, if I selected that layer and painted with the brush outside of the selection area it’d paint with the tone dots. Thats how I did all the above tone areas.
I honestly bet if you haven’t thought about using Manga Studio before this wasn’t that much fun for you. Well, heres one of my favourite Miss America Chavez moments for you from Young Avengers:
Its has been a busy year for me so far, both in and out of comics, so its a real shame that the first thing that falls to the way side is my blog. Always the case. Look at any busy period in my life and you’ll notice a sharp decline in blogging. I think aside from the David Bowie eulogy I did last time I blogged was November. Lots happened since then. I got a new job, drew a bunch of comics, wrote quite a few, and attempted to get Madius registered as a Limited Liability Company.
Not to mention I have only done one blog post since Funk Soul Samurai got released.
Funk Soul Samurai has been a great experience for me. Its been a comic that’s got me the most fan art, the most fan appreciation and a cosplayer. An actual cosplayer. The below photographs were taken of @Shantianna66 in her get up, which made me very happy.
I could reel off reviews at you, or you could Google “Funk Soul Samurai Comic Reviews” and take a look. I don’t know whats good. Do people like links to reviews? Tell me.
So I went to Atomicon 2 in Hartlepool, where I was joined by THE SMITHS, aka Darren and Mike Smith who sat with me for the whole day making me look like a Charlatan by spitting out amazing art work in seconds, sometimes without looking, sometimes without pencils, they just willed art into existence. It was like watching that super computer convert that woman into Robot in Superman 3, only they were converting paper into artwork. Here’s me eating a Bacon Sandwich whilst the two professionals went totally shit house on some art work.
I would like to thank Scoobert Mills and the Atomic family for hosting a great event and I hope they have us back. I think they are having us back. I think we’re doing a signing there in July… more news on this as it develops.
So we now come to the part of the blog where I talk about books. Since we last spoke I bought the Warren Ellis documentary CAPTURED GHOSTS, and purchased the accompanying book that’s one gigantic conversation with the man himself. I’m always happy to hear the points of view of another artist who deals in things that interest me. I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of Ellis and his comics, as the surrounding philosophy and knowledge that he invests in his work is fascinating.
I reread GRAVITY’S RAINBOW, which is the perfect novel and a quick summer read at 760 pages, with enough characters to collapse a decent sized theater stage. Its a post-modern marvel, a book detailing the ridiculousness of war and ideology, and the ineptitude of fate and those involved in it, all in the shadow of the V2 rocket. The Rainbow of the title is the arc the missile makes as it falls to earth, and the contradiction of the bomb that can only be heard landing after its exploded is one of the many dualities of the book as Tyrone Slothrop explores the relationship he has with sex and death across a worn torn Europe.
All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”
― Thomas Pynchon,
Also Thomas Pynchon is a funny guy. Comedy is a big part of the joy of his novels.
“The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.”
― Thomas Pynchon,
We went to Doncaster for Digicon 2 (Lots of twos, a sign?) and had the weirdest fucking comic con experience imaginable. So here we are, let me set the scene:
Truly Mike is the handsome one. Anyway, after the convention is open and people are milling about the center, the doors fly open and men carrying scaffolding and matting come marching in and assemble a Wrestling ring 3 feet away from us.
Later people proceeded to Wrestle in it.
It was really odd. Two men, slapping around one another theatrically, whilst an angry teenager shouts sexually explicit insults at a Vampire themed wrestler who used to be on the WWE. It exploded my mind. This is the same convention with a leaky gunge tank on stage with very few people willing to be gunged, and a compere who brought two prepubescent girls on stage in school uniforms to perform the longest synchronized dance routine in history. It was the craziest, most entertaining day I’ve had in a long time.
Is that us caught up? I think it is. When I return, I will talk about comics.
Its impossible to understate the effect that David Bowie had on the world. Its impossible to understate the legacy that he leaves and the pathway he cut for the modern world.
Being one of the most important cultural influences of the modern world, the Picasso of pop, a constant engine of reinvention and not so much a reflection of the zeitgeist but the active ingredient in it, there will be hundreds of articles and eulogies written by people closer to and more educated on the man himself. So I will talk mostly about the relationship I have with him, a man born 43 years before me who I never met or even saw in the flesh.
For my Seventh birthday I wanted a CD player, which was interesting as I had very little interest in music. I think I wanted to be my father, who had an insane amount of albums and a large black stereo system that stood monolithic in the corner of the living room, out of bounds, untouchable unless it was one of the odd occasions that under strict supervision its magic could be shared. My Father’s musical obsession was overwhelming, and living in a household where both your parents have an astounding passion for music, (my Mother laying somewhere between flower child of the sixties and eighties eye liner stained New Romantic has always had a firmer grip on modern music, whilst my father liked the more obscure sounds) meant that it was common place, and therefore I was spoiled and didn’t appreciate it. I had no passion for music.
That was until I bought the 1997 Children in Need charity single “Perfect Day”, a suitably embarrassing first single, but featuring contributions from Lou Reed, Courtney Pine, and Suzanne Vega it was a great tasting platter for future interests. But the man who stood out the most, was David Bowie. With only two lines, the way he sounded was enough to get me hooked, an instant grab that I would never experience again until I fell in love with Ian Curtis in my teens. His voice was powerful, alien, charming and alluring. My mother fed my addiction and bought me two Best of collections (David Bowie best of 1969 to 1974, and Best of 1980 to 1987) albums from the musical mail order company Britannia music. These, and a CD of Cajun music given to me by my Grandfather, were the only three CD’s on my CD tower left over from the redecoration of the living room.
It was from the age if Seven years old that David Bowie started telling me things. Through music, and later style and culture, Bowie has had messages and statements that I’ve taken to heart. Experimentation and reinvention are two concepts that Bowie has always played with, and things I aim to copy. In his music he was constantly juggling with pop and outsider art. Space Oddity is a perfect pop song and a bleak song about the futility of Space exploration, Starman is a catchy tune and a song about extraterrestrial space gods, and Ashes To Ashes was a new wave song embracing the full force of the technology of the time. One of my favorite albums has arguably the best intro in the form of Station to Station from… well Station to Station that with its radio signal static and steam train drone feeds directly into the post rock music of Godspeed you Black Emperor. Stylus magazine once stated that ‘Had the album [Low] been released twenty years later, this would have been called “post-rock.”‘
David Bowie was the outsider king; bringing the weird into the forefront of the public eye. In the early seventies, a world still steeped in stoicism and post war male posturing Bowie was unafraid to step on stage at 25 years old, dressed as an alien deposited on Earth to play music. He sang of Armageddon and Hallucination, anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, and he was on television, and in magazines. A contradiction of terms, and to me, looking back on this man an inspiration.
He experimented with the roles of Gender and sexuality, appearing on album covers in a dress, gender swapping clothing with his wife out and about in London, putting his arm around his guitarist dressed androgynously on Top Of The Pops. His close relationships with Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger were the cause of much rumor and in my teenage years he was a real support for me and my blossoming Bisexuality. His style in clothing and album art is next to none, even down to the 2000 Glastonbury appearance where he proved that even as a man standing looking back on a career of characters and roles he was still master of them all.
The most important message David Bowie ever gave me was “You are not alone”. The last song from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Rock and Roll, builds from quiet introspective introduction to bold crescendo ends with Bowie’s voice singing bass to his high pitched vocals, and he sings:
Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)
Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)
And in that moment he is giving the most important advice, the single most striking message, that you can be weird. You can be emotional and expressive, you can be gay and flamboyant, you can be who you want to be, and you’re not alone, because we can all be who we want to be, who ever that is, and that person is wonderful.
This book is a masterpiece and cannot be overlooked
at first it looks like something a 9 year old child drew
Which, you know…
I’ve been having a very productive week, written several short comics and laid out the plot for six issues of an idea that I need to get out of me. I won’t say much about it yet because I’ve learned my lesson doing that over the years but if it gets made it’ll be pretty cool. I got Mike Sambrook, the man without a website, to look it over and we had an little conversation about it, but it mostly drew attention to the differing ways in which we write. I have a tendency to carve a story out of a vague outline, plotting the whole thing over and over, this serving as draft after draft and then
eventually I have a finished script.
I know that Rob just writes things. I wish I could. I get all… complicated, as pictured above.
I have not listened to it yet, but Games and Graphics podcast did their reviews of Funk Soul Samurai and 50Signal 2, and I value their opinions quite a lot, they’re big supporters of my evil empire and I’ve appeared on their podcast twice now (only once published to date) and I’d go one every week. I don’t feel like I’m pushing anything with them I’m just talking with friends. Listen to their reviews here.
I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, as I’ve mentioned before, but I’ve been listening to Spektrmodule which is Warren Ellis’ list of sleepy/haunted/drone music. Its 30 minute bursts of gloomy atmospheric songs, perfect for going through the police infested streets of 2015 to. Listen to that here.
Its only been Three days since my last blog, so the KILL JOHN REPPION’S WALLET section of the blog will be short. I started reading Mark Kermode’s book Hatchet Job which is all about the effect, life and responsibility of the film critic, and its a delight to read. The intro along is worth the cover price wherein he writes some of his favorite short pieces of criticism. I also read D4VE from Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon, published by IDW which was a fun comic about Robots kicking butt. I like the idea of stuff being set AFTER the interesting thing has happened, and D4VE follows on from that as its set AFTER the robots kill all the humans and deals with that. It’s a lot of fun and the art work has a beautiful texture that reminds me of a less busy Geoff Darrow.
Finally finished Mass Effect, the level cap got on my nerves as I got to 50 with a whole planet left to do, and the money cap was too easily reached. But the final set piece was very cool and the space lore of Mass Effect is really something I can get my teeth into. I loved learning and discovering things about the Mass Effect universe and look forward to playing more of it, after I’ve finished with The Last Of Us and stopped crying.
Finally, I mentioned this on my twitter, but I cooked something that I really really liked, that I sort of made up so there is a recipe incoming.
Creamy Garlic Prawn Pasta (serves 2)
What you need:
2 decent sized cloves of Garlic
An Onion (Diced)
A couple of handfuls of prawns (shelled)
A large amount of cheese
Salt and Pepper
Couple of knobs of butter
A big glug of Olive Oil
I boiled up the pasta first of all, I was using Fusilli because I had it laying around. Whilst that was cooking, I grated the cheese, broke the eggs into a bowl and whisked. Then I put the grated cheese into the eggs, seasoned with a lot of pepper and salt and stirred it to make a big mess. I put a decent amount of olive oil in a frying pan, chopped up the garlic and put that into the frying pan with the prawns and onion, so that the prawns cook and the garlic and onion softens. Don’t burn anything.
Keep an eye on the pasta and when that’s cooked to your satisfaction, drain it and run the butter through the pasta so it gets a nice coating of butter. I then seasoned the pasta with the salt and pepper again because this is based on a Carbonara style sauce so it needs a large dose of pepper in it.
Take the buttery pasta and put it in the frying pan with the prawns and the garlic, and just stir the lot of it up so that the butter and the oil and the garlic gets all over the pasta. After that, slosh the egg and cheese mess over the pasta. This bit is important because whilst I have suggested many unhealthy things in my life to people that I enjoy, nothing, no one, no enjoyment at all can be taken from eating raw eggs. The other thing is that you don’t want to over cook the eggs otherwise you’ll be eating a pasta omelet. Keep stirring over and over making sure that the egg mix coats the pasta, and keep doing this until you’ve got a white creamy sauce clinging to the pasta. It’ll turn white and will become a gooey sauce as it mixes with the cheese. The sauce will coat the pasta, it will not create a huge amount to like dip your baguette into or anything.
Anyway, there you have it, turf it out onto a plate, sprinkle some Italian Parsley over the top and furnish with more cheese if you are that way inclined.
I served it with a glass of red wine and had a little too much pasta and felt over full.
There are the dangers of food my friends.
Its been a week since Thought Bubble 2015 ended. Its a weird return back to reality, especially after such a good show. The Madius table was utter madness for two days as we sold far more comics than we expected. 50Signal issue 1 is now sold out. I will have to get a third print run. When I ordered the first lot of 50Signal I ordered a huge amount of a comic that I honestly thought no one would buy. The reaction to this comic that I thought no one would ever read is staggering.
At the convention I got to meet some great people. It was good to catch up with Brian Burke who did the art on my new project The Perplexity. He’s from Ireland so we never actually met before. Because we’d talked for quite some time it was like meeting a guy for the first time who I’d met many times before. I also got to hang out with Farel Dalrymple who was a serious dude and we got to talk about music and watercolour paint and he did some great sketches for me. Thanks to everyone who came by.
Our next con is Digicon 2, in Doncaster, in February.
50Signal 2 is now available to purchase, hence this new bar;
Isn’t it lovely.
Now 50Signal 2 is the difficult second album, because with all art people take in on-board and when you leave something on a cliff hanger like I did people make assumptions as to where the plot will go and its probably not going to be the direction you think it will be. So I hope that its good enough to no disappoint.
AND IT IS, so sayeth Comic Bastards:
It seems like there will be more of 50 Signal. I wouldn’t be upset by this, but I do think that these first two issues are pretty wonderful on their own.
There will be more, so pick up a copy if you like original, creative works.
For those playing along at home, I just finished Carrie Brownstein’s Memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. Its a really frank and expressive biography about the creative process and the history of Sleater-Kinney. Sleater-Kinney are a band that I’ve been listening to for years but after hearing the story of how the band got made and the struggles involved in it it really hits home the emotion and the savagery of the songs. My favorite albums of theirs are Call The Doctor, The Woods and No Cities To Love. But back to the book, its lyrical in its writing and touching and funny. Really funny, considering its quite a sad book. It really made me think about the nature of performance as well, the act of getting in front of people and opening your art up to them and seeing them react. Its not something as a comic book artist you get to experience very often.
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl (Amazon).
I’m also dipping into Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler, the book of the blog Scarfolk Council. I expected it to be just a collection of the blog articles put into a nice hard back collection that is perfect for reading on the toilet. Weirdly its a collection of the blogs articles wrapped around a narrative involving a man lost in Scarfolk, a town in the North of England where the Seventies never ended. It has the scent of hauntology about it, and the narrative unfolds in this demented vision of a past that keeps on happening through the guys journal. It reminds me a of light hearted comedy version of Cyclonopedia. More on this story as it develops.
My greatest achievement to date is getting John Reppion to buy Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy from Zero Books, so hopefully he will start reading this blog and I will kill his wallet. Kill it dead.
Hopefully I will write more here soon, but I PROMISE NOTHING