Saturday, 10 December 2016

Office Christmas tree & other triv


I've put up office Christmas lights for the first time I can remember. We happened to have a spare timer plug, and a spare Christmas tree for that matter. So I've dangled the top half of the Christmas tree in my office window, incorporated one of the Tardis lights Annette bought me a couple of Christmasses ago, et voila I have a seasonal display that'll light me through the next couple of weeks in the office (during which I have to get Book Of Esther coloured).

Again I've not been recording much in my blog, but I've posted the odd thing on Facebook...


So Facebook thinks a) that my year ends in the first week of December and b) these are my most significant moments. An interesting insight into how their algorithms work.

I am guessing these are the photos that have been most liked or commented upon, hence me & Sophie Aldred coming out on top, along with a nondescript shot of me in a ropey Tardis. But a shot of me in the Pompidou Centre last week? Doncaster Book Festival? Me aged 8 dressed as Superman? Walter Tottle from 1977? My wristband from Latitude? These bring a new meaning to the word random.

And not a single picture of The Socks, my comics or the kids' comics, and nothing from Edinburgh? Facebook and I remember this year very differently.

#yearinreview2016



Hmmm. It would be premature to judge a movie on a trailer, but this reminds me of the 1970s Spider-Man TV series in that he's out of his element (New York, skyscrapers, things to swing from) and out in the open. It's just not where I picture "my" Spider-Man. Also the whole Team-Up thing is too reminiscent, to me, of the Marvel Team-Up comics of the 70s where Spidey would, once more, be out of his element in occasionally risibly inappropriate nonsense. I have never liked Spider-Man mixing with aliens and spaceships, but since that started with Ditko more than 50 years ago, it's nothing new. PS: The Peter and Mary Jane stuff looks nice, and I like the wisecracking (What's the betting the kids will think he's ripping off Deadpool?)

Also ironic that it's called Spider-Man:Homecoming when it looks more like Spider-Man On His Holidays.

***************

Watching an interview on BBC Breakfast, chanced to google a certain topic. Can you remember what these people have in common?
Jason Wood
Esther Rantzen
Jan Ravens
Stephanie Beacham
Don Warrington
Heather Small
Lynda Bellingham
Paul Daniels
Peter Shilton
Rory Bremner
Johnny Ball
Denise van Outen

I did not remember any of them. Probably blindingly obvious to you?

Guesses on Facebook ranged from them all being deaf (a popular suggestion) to...

Wil Hodgson Rear of the year winners?
Stuart Robinson Have they all accidentally eaten their own poo?
Becky Armstrong They all advertised meat based products?
Lew Stringer They were all previous Doctor Whos.
Freddie Valentine They've all been questioned as part of Operation Yewtree.
Simon Ward All are cockney rhyming slang for the male genitalia.
Frank Plowright All outed as Soviet era spies.
BraĆ­nne Edge People I've only met one of...
Chris Miller They all served ten-year terms in Turkish prisons.
Mike Donaldson They were all invited to one of Jim Davidson's weddings
Darrell Maclaine-Jones Original 'Perfect Day' lineup.
Elise Harris Are some of them dead and some of them deaf?
Steve Keyworth They've all turned on the Christmas lights in Stevenage? That's what Heather Small's doing this year
Jamie Neil Founder members of the Illuminati
Marc Blake Closet nazis?
Cris Warren I'm a celeb losers?
Steve Tracey Proposed cast for 12 Angry Men 2 - Brexit
Jamie Smart All their mums invented Tipp-Ex.
Edith Moss They've all had face lifts and tried botox.
Jonathan Green Are they the other contenders for Time magazine's person of the year?
Steve Keyworth It's a list of everyone who said yes when Zammo told them to 'just say no'.
Richard Starzak Friends of Jimmy Saville?
Graeme Casey Could I add Stephen Colbert?
Paul Cowan Have they all slept with Russell Brand?
Steve Keyworth Are they all Spartacus?
Wayne Coleman They were all crucified at the end of 'Monty Pythons Life of Brian' !
Martin Walker They all featured on the rejected Sgt Pepper cover.
Paul Cowan Are they all really Jamie Oliver at Christmas?


(In case you haven't worked it out, they were all Strictly Come Dancing contestants that I couldn't remember)




Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.

Friday, 9 December 2016

5 Great Things I've Found This Christmas (already)

The Christmas season is upon us, and with it has come some novel findings. Top of the list is this little treat...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU5Rnd-HM6A

Christmas TV ad of the year. Showed it to Hev and she was welling up by the end, as it seems was everyone who posted it on Facebook. Couldn't tell you what it's advertising.




In contrast this is just funny, and painful, and cruel to watch. And bless, I don't think anyone got hurt. Oh go on, watch it and treat yourself.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/some-arsonists-have-already-destroyed-the-2016-gavle-goat
Thanks to Natalie Haynes for alerting me to the existence of the Gavle Goat. Read the timeline of the fate of previous goats, it is reminiscent of the fate of the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Check out its timeline. 1978 - kicked to bits. 1976 - collapses after being hit by a Volvo...




That much hairspray that close to an open fire? A Merry B52s Christmas and no mistake.


And finally James Cook nails Christmas hypocrisy in the comedy routine of the season...




Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Book of Esther line art finished


A small triumph, but a milestone for me. I've completed the line art for The Book of Esther, my 26 page humorous graphic novel adaptation of the Bible story, for Bible Society. It's taken a lot longer than it would have taken had I been working on it exclusively, but squeezed in between Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, Socks gigs, and other jobs with tighter deadlines, I've got the 26 pages pencilled, inked, lettered, and collated as flat line art pages, and sent to my publisher for approval at last.


It's become something of a labour of love, and I really have strived to make the art as good as I can. I know my limitations, and I have to play up to my natural comedic style and treat it as a virtue, but I think I've made this a pleasure to read. Of course I still have the colouring to do, and I've proven very good at making that job take longer than it really ought. But if I can get that done by Christmas I'll be delighted.


The script was commissioned a whole year ago, just before Christmas, and I got it written and delivered in March. I then had a little wait to have it approved and get the go ahead to draw it. My plan for August, while up in Edinburgh doing the Socks every night, was that, instead of doing classes in the day and knackering my voice, I'd draw the Esther strip instead. With that plan well thought through, I took my portfolio and a fresh pad of Bristol Board to Scotland with me.

And I returned a month later with the portfolio unopened. Of course. I should have known I can never do anything but promote my show when I'm in Edinburgh. What was I thinking?


I began pencilling Esther in September, interrupting it to turn around the 4 page Feeding Of The 5000 in October, and some time towards the end of October I finished pencilling the lot. I inked all 26 pages in fits and starts through November, and finished inking the final page on Monday (Dec 5th). I then managed to take two whole days to scan the art and assemble the Photoshop pages, relaying the voice bubbles to fit, cutting and pasting the various step-and-repeats that appear in the strip, spotting in the blacks, and cleaning up the bits that needed it. Voila, we have a black and white fully lettered comic book.


How long's it really taken? When there's nothing else on my desk (like it used to be back in the day, when Mark and I shared a studio in the 90s) I'm pencilling three pages in a day and inking at the same rate. (Realistically it's been a page getting pencilled after a day of booking Socks gigs, and a page getting inked after days spent adding up receipts for my accounts, etc). The script was produced slightly faster, from notes to layout in about a week. So, spread out as it was, these 26 pages represent approximately 26 days solid work. Which, if it weren't for the colouring still to do, would be exactly how it should be. (That is to say, that's what I quoted for, so I'm actually earning the right amount of money doing this. Well done me.)

I'm hoping to do more along this line in 2017. Fingers crossed.



Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Sunday, 4 December 2016

One Year - brand new video from the Socks


Brand new from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, their first new video in over a month, a song called One Year, nailing the single worst thing about 2016. Click to play, and do please enjoy.




The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do Shakespeare ON TOUR NOW!

2017 TOUR
Feb 15 - Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre Studio 
Feb 17 & 18 6.50pm - Kayal, Leicester Comedy Fest
March 9 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
March 15 & 16 - Dram! Glasgow Com Fest
March 23 - The Bill Murray, London
Apr 6 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
Apr 8 - Rondo Bath 
Apr 13 - Hexham Queen's Hall 
Apr 22 - Swindon Arts 
Apr 27 - Stroud Subscription Rooms 
Apr 28 - Merlin Theatre Frome 
May 1 - Chiddingstone Castle Kent 
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 17 - Dalkey Festival, Dublin
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Wee Guy - kids' comics from Glasgow


This week I had the pleasure of three days in Glasgow teaching the First Years at Eastbank Academy how to write and draw comics. The 6 groups of kids produced some fabulous stuff between them. These are just the front covers of the A5 photocopied comics each of them takes away at the end, with colour added by me after the fact.


As always, the titles of these anthology comics are chosen by every one in the class writing a name down on a piece of paper and us doing a knockout round of one versus another until we end up with the favourite. This is usually the one that's made them laugh the most. Quite what Posest Bacon was supposed to mean, I don't know. Tunufu is, apparently, the name of their grouping in English. No, I'm none the wiser.



The hairstyle and eyebrows you can see on the Tunufu cover were a feature that popped up a couple of times. It seem shaving half your head and having the rest in a quiff is a big thing with the boys, and thankfully only a couple of the girls had given themselves Frida Kahlo eyebrows that looked like they'd been applied by a road painter.


The celebrities they chose for my demonstration strip were Cristiano Ronaldo (twice), Donald Trump, Beyonce, Jeremy Kyle, and Selena Gomez.




Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Get In The Chopper - comic by kids (and crazy names)


And then I spent two days in Northumberland, on a well planned schedule that took me from Ponteland in the morning to Morpeth in the afternoon, then Rothbury the next day and Alnwick in the afternoon, and finally back to Newcastle airport, delivering four Comic Art Masterclasses in (if you haven't worked it out in your mental map) successive towns working vertically up the map. As it transpired, a couple of schools got swapped, so I ended up staying in one town then working in the other first thing. But whatever, it was a lovely round trip. And look at the comics the pupils produced.



These are merely the front covers of their A5 comics, a copy of which they all take home, with colour added by me after the fact. And, notably, these schools straddle the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA. I was hoping the above example for Ponteland was to be the last in a long line of Trump themed comics by primary school pupils, but sadly that's clearly not the case. (They didn't plan for Trump to be the "Get in the chopper", but that's what they got.)



A moment, if I may, to celebrate the parents of, not this week's school, but an earlier one. For it was in Ipswich that we reached quite possibly the apogee of the phenomenon that is Kids Names. I can't besmirch it with a description any worse than that. They're fine names, they're lovely names, and undeniably they are great kids. But those names.

You see, what happens is that I draw every child's caricature. And, once done, I ask their names. And, for the challenge, I hazard a guess at the spelling of their names. By and large I'm considered quite good at this task. Occasionally I am stretched, maybe even embarrassed. There are many names that originate overseas, and I'm good at politely acquiring the spelling thereof. But every now and again...


"Reilly" says the child. Go on, what would you guess? Obviously it wasn't REILLY or I wouldn't have opened the paragraph with it. So, what? Riley? Ri - actually I'm out of guesses right there.

Rhylee.

Welcome to Ipswich (for there it was. You can we see their delightful faces above). See also:

"Kieran". Spelled Kyrun.
"Mason". Spelled Maycun.
"Cyrus". Spelled Zyrus. And a girl.

It's not an unusual phenomenon. Though, I have just corrected myself by editing, it is not phenomena. Or they're not phenomena. Or... oh I don't know. Don't come to me as an arbiter of grammar. Or spelling.

But seriously. Rhylee? Kids today...


The celebs they chose for the demonstration strip were John Cena, Declan Donnelly, David Beckham, and inevitably Donald Trump.



Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Weekend in Paris


I'll tell you one thing, the French serve a rotten cup of tea. Twice we were given cups of not-boiling water, with a tea bag lying beside it, sealed in an envelope that took so long to rip open the water could only get colder. And once we had the same, but with the milk already in it. Yeuch. Never order a cup of tea up the Eiffel Tower.

It was Hev's birthday so we went to Paris. That's the long and the short of it really. At this point a good journalist would spin a yarn about the real reason behind the trip, maybe the guy was going to propose or tell the family he had a terminal disease. But, reassuringly I'd say, I had no ulterior motive other than to make up for last year when I was away in Jordan working over her birthday, and seeing if we could improve on her 2013 birthday which we spent in a cold and rainy Dublin, again thanks to my work.


We flew on Saturday midday, arriving early afternoon, then enjoyed a perfect meander to the Eiffel tower. The perfect romantic Paris visit there, all in the first day.


The flat was great too, overlooking the Natural History Museum, right by the Seine and Gare D'Austerlitz, it made everywhere easy to get to and navigate, in theory, though by god I had fun with Apple Maps on my phone (since it upgraded to the latest operating system, the maps are rubbish and seem never to tell you where you really are or where you should be going, which rather negates their usefulness).

On Sunday, which felt like our Saturday, we went to the Centre Pompidou via a meander through the streets of the South Bank, but only saw the free exhbitions, there being a 75 minute queue to get to any of the paid shows. And there were plenty more shops and galleries to peruse which kept us more than busy enough. And rather than knocking ourselves out like youngsters with a late night, back in the flat in the evening we watched movie on Netflix on the laptop (a very disappointing Ridley Scott thing called Body Of Lies, which Hev wisely slept through most of).


Oh yeah, they have tons of graffitti. And not like the visual extravaganzas you get on the walls of Bristol, it's mostly overgrown tags straight out of 1970s New York. It reminds you that we do have an equivalent alongside the railtracks of Britain: large grey rectangles where they've been painted out by the British Transport Police. It's hard to know which looks worse. The unimaginative repetitive old school tags that make your underground look like a war zone, or boring grey squares that hide the truth.

Monday we were flying back in the evening, which meant depositing our bags in a locker at Gare Du Nord before going off to do Montmartre. The area around Gare Du Nord has become pretty grotty in recent years, and I must admit today was the day that was hardest going and left us with the abiding memory of Paris as a slightly down at heel, slightly inconvenient, and tiring place to visit. We had a great time on this visit, but this third draining day slightly took the gilt off the gingerbread as Apple Maps sent us the wrong way up streets thronged with folks who looked, to paraphrase The Fast Show, "a little bit whee a little bit whoo". 

And France's security alert situation really made itself known. Airports aside, we had to go through four X ray machines or metal detectors: to get up the Eiffel Tower, to get into Centre Pompidou, to get into the lockers at Gare Du Nord, and to get into Galeries Lafayate. Understandable obviously, as were the occasional groups of police with machine guns in popular parts of town, but with the resultant queueing it slowed the days down and must be getting to the locals no end.


We did Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, we meandered to Galeries Lafayete, got lots of good photos, saw lots of great sights, and even bought some stuff. For my part I got a copy of Spirou and Charlie Hebdo, which is what I seem to come home with after every trip to France.

We gave ourselves lots of time to get to the airport and to catch our 9.20pm flight, and a good job too, as no part of the process was anything less than a slog. Picking up our bags in a rush hour crowded Gare Du Nord was made more fun by the fact that the lockers had a glitch so they were printing out blank receipts which, had we not spotted it in time, would mean not only would we not have been able to extract our bags, we wouldn't have remembered which of the identical lockers they were in.


The rush hour tube train was the busiest I can remember being on for a very long time. They employ people in uniform to squeeze punters on the trains. I remember seeing that in documentaries about Japan 30 years and thinking it could never happen here. Well, it's happening in Paris.

Having left the shops at 4.30, taking an easy stroll to the station then getting caught up in the hustle and bustle, we made it to the airport at 7.20, spot on in time for bag drop opening, then 2 hours to fill trying to find somewhere to eat. Thanks to building work (we think) Paris's Charles De Gaulle airport has fewer places to eat than Bristol airport. I know.  And, as if we weren't drained enough, the flight was delayed from 9.20 to 10pm, a good wodge of which we spent stood up in the bus to the plane as a result of the pilot - who subsequently came out and apologised to us all in person - being directed to the wrong parking space. (With his plane, that is). Add to all of this our drive back from Bristol airport being extended due to flooded roads (we missed a very wet weekend back home), and our journey home from Paris had taken so long we would have been quicker driving.

A draining journey notwithstanding, it was a glorious holiday weekend and I hope Hev enjoyed it as much as I did. I've already collated the best of the photos up into a Blurb book, which is a mark of a memorable trip in our house (past collections include Venice, Malta and a couple of Edinburghs).




Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here


TOUR DATES 2017
Feb 15 - Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre Studio 
Feb 17 & 18 6.50pm - Kayal, Leicester Comedy Fest
March 9 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
March 15 & 16 - Dram! Glasgow Com Fest
March 23 - The Bill Murray, London
Apr 6 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
Apr 8 - Rondo Bath 
Apr 13 - Hexham Queen Hall 
Apr 22 - Swindon Arts 
Apr 27 - Stroud Subscription Rooms 
Apr 28 - Merlin Theatre Frome 
May 1 - Chiddingstone Castle Kent 
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 17 - Dalkey Festival, Dublin
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe
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