Friday, 20 October 2017

Biggest piece of artwork ever

Here was a novel job. Thanks to Laurence Smith, who I first met at comic conventions and who works in insurance, I've done a variety of interesting art jobs. I've designed his family's Christmas cards, and drawn caricatures on a moving double decker bus, among other things.

This, though, must be the biggest job. A giant piece of paper, 6 feet tall by nine feet wide, on which I drew cartoons based on the suggestion of 150 members of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Across two days at their impressive offices in the City of London, while they were doing talks and presentations, they each took it in turns to spend two minutes with me, give me their idea of some sort of visual that captured an aspect of the future plans for the company and, by the end of a few hours, we had one big illustration, full of doodles, some of which I think look pretty nifty.

Then Laurence decided it would look better in colour. Which was easier said than done. But, eventually, I did it. 

The line drawing having taken literally 8 hours, done at lightning speed in two four hour sessions, the colouring was a different matter. Have you ever tried colouring a piece of artwork that's 6 feet high and 9 feet wide, in Photoshop at 300dpi? On my laptop? No, you haven't. And it's not impossible, but it took a bit of working out how to do, what with having to keep quitting Photoshop and restarting it because the programme remembers every stage along the way, hogging Gigabytes of memory as it goes. Added to which it came during a busy couple of weeks so I didn't get it finished until we were in Venice, where I spent Monday and Tuesday at the table in our flat completing the job.

Hopefully Laurence, and the folks at the CII, like the finished piece. If I'm lucky, it'll be displayed in pride of place in their new offices. Where, for years to come, people will be wondering quite what the pictures of Dan Ackroyd and Thelma & Louise and a ringmaster herding squirrels have to do with insurance.


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, 19 October 2017

Adventures Of Balzac Man - new comics by kids

When it comes to inexplicable titles, if there's a contest for that sort of thing when kids are coming up with names for the comic they take away at the end of one of my Comic Art Masterclasses, then The Adventures Of Balzac Man has to be in with a flying chance. The kid who wrote it down had no double entendre in mind, spelled it exactly that way, and (I can guarantee) had never heard of Honore De Balzac. So. Meanwhile, I snuck V For Vendetta into a title with "Guy" in. My class, my rules.

These comics are the fruits of two days at the Isle Of Wight Literary Festival, into which I managed to squeeze four schools. You're right, he has the skills to pay the bills. These from Studio School, at which yr 6 pupils from Holy Cross were the class, and from St Thomas of something RC Primary. The ones above are from the sweetly spelled Hunny Hill and St Francis. 4 schools, 2 days, that's all you need to remember.

And two lovely comics from Widewell primary near Plymouth, where they put Mrs Kerr on the cover last time (memo to self: insert link here) and did the same again today.

The celebrities these classes chose for my demonstration strip were Donald Trump (twice), Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, Cristiano Ronaldo and (most original of the week), Youtuber Jake Paul. Me neither.


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

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Don't Shoot Grandpa - new comics by kids

Two days in Newton Poppleford primary produced some lovely comics, working with pretty well the whole school full, year 3 to 6. A return booking, they'd waited two years and grown almost a new school's worth of kids since last time, and what an imaginative bunch they were.

Okay, two comics with Shut Up in the title isn't big or clever, and one cover about shooting and another one about suicide may not be that impressive either. Pah. Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of primary school kids?

Here was a treat, me doing my Comic Art Masterclass at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, arranged very kindly by The Beano, who also organised Beanos galore to be given to the kids free. I did a class in the morning, followed by an hour long talk in the afternoon, after which I signed over 200 Beanos. Which, by the way, didn't have anything by me in!

I could do more of this talking from a stage lark. They'd sold more than 200 tickets for this baby, with me doing the best of my workshop spiel, with ad libs, audience questions and a very funny running joke that started with a toddler in the balcony appearing to keep shouting "bear" at random moments. Hev pointed out afterwards that it lacked structure, and if I get the chance again I could shape this much more into a talk with a purpose, rather than a workshop with the work taken out.

And of course the fact that it sold 200 tickets is more down to The Beano and the Cheltenham Literary Festival than to me. But it would be worth investigating whether this is something that we could offer again. Let us see.

The six celebrities chosen by these 5 groups and one talk audience were Donald Trump (three times), Taylor Swift, and then two most original suggestions: from Year 4 Adam West; and from a pupil in Year 3 (then voted for by the rest of the class) Kojak! I know.

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

Wednesday, 4 October 2017



For the attention of Socks fans who weren't able to pick these up at our recent tour dates, we have Socks Do Shakespeare t-shirts left in every size except Small and Ladyfit Small. So we have M, L, XL, XXL and Ladyfit M. All for £15 inc P&P to UK, £20 inc P&P to US and rest of world. Paypal to (remembering to give your address & the size you want)

I also have, in the Socks vault, the following t-shirts from previous shows:

Minging Detectives in S, M and L (one of each left)

Socks In Space  UPDATE - all sizes now sold out (6pm 6/10/17) 

Boo Lingerie in L, Ladyfit M and Ladyfit L (we obviously thought we had a lot of larger female fans back in 2012, I have 3 of each left over)

Classic design in Ladyfit M

*2010 "On The Telly" in XXXL only* (it's the design where one sock has a lightsabre and the other is reading the paper. I clearly thought we had one giant-sized fan more than we do)
*UPDATE: This has now gone (as of 5/10/17) sorry

*2007 earliest design in XL and Kids age 9-10 (yes, we printed kids sizes one year and, amazingly, got rid of all but one of them. This is the very first Sock logo, before they had costumes or even a kilt)
*UPDATE: This has now gone (as of 6/10/17) sorry

You can have any of these for £15 inc P&P (£20 US). Any 2 shirts will be £25 inc P&P (£30 US). Anyone wanting more than 3 shirts is mad, but ask me and I'll calculate the postage. As ever, Paypal to

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Minions, Emmys, Only Connects - Facebook posts

A month of Facebook posts, cos they've got to go somewhere.

Sept 2: Excellent, if unexpectedly sad, programme about some of the British artists at this year's Venice Biennale. We're going to Venice this week so we were worried about any art getting spoilered for us, but in fact it just gives you a taster. We know, from having gone before, that there's sooo much art in Venice we won't see a fraction of it. The sad part? Khadija Saye, the central person in this show, died in the Grenfell Tower fire after this documentary was made. We get an interview shot in her flat in Grenfell Tower! That is a weird thing. Anyhow, we can recommend this programme (and can't wait to get to Venice).

Sept 4: An interesting phrase came up on a Facebook flashback post this morning: "Everyone needs to laugh, especially these days." I read a lot of that sentiment, and I always have. "These days". What's so bad about these days that's worse than the past?

Is it more a reflection of the writer of the statement and their increasing pessimism and disillusionment or do a significant number of people really think that the state of the world in 2017 is that abysmal?

It could be the week in particular that the writer of that post, from September 2014, was writing. About which I can remember little. I know it wasn't the year when all the celebrities kept dying and we voted for Brexit and Trump.

I know it wasn't the year we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the year Princess Di died. I know it wasn't one of those years when Reagan was president and we lived in constant fear of nuclear war, or when Thatcher was in charge and it was all ghost towns and riots round here. Was it as bad as the 70s which I remember as a mess of skinheads, bin strikes, power cuts and IRA bombs? Or was it the 60s, when they assassinated a president and went to war in Vietnam? Or the 50s when everything was rationed and we lived in prefabs on bomb sites? Or the 40s when they made the bomb sites in the first place?

In short, I quite like it these days. Am I mad? Here, have an Abbott & Costello sketch (which was the subject of the original 2014 post of which I spoke).

Sept 4: Thank heavens for Minions. Last night we especially enjoyed the Minions movie cos we needed cheering up after watching animations at the Bristol Festival of Puppetry. The animations were good, they were called Cabinet Of Curiosities, but my god, how dark? There was a horrible one with holocaust victims depicted as balls of string, then an even more nightmarish one with dead bodies and no happy ending. Czech and Polish animations, with all that entails. And shown in such an order that we'd totally forgotten the less bleak ones in the middle by the time we came to the end of 90 minutes of films, and all exited shell-shocked and depressedly miserable. Quite the most dispiriting film show I've seen in a while (but well done Puppetry Festival for showing a challenging programme. But, blimey.). So, thanks again Minions. You made it all better. Banana!

Sept 8: Oh well done AI guy. You just signed the death sentence of hundreds of people in Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria and 100 other countries where they were just waiting for this sort of thing to cut out the middle man. Now one scan and you can be accused, imprisoned and killed. And I bet this seemed such a lark when you invented it.

Sept 10: Well, we were just laughing out loud, sat here in bed of a Sunday morning watching the pilot of Mr Winner. Once you get past the rather gag-heavy radio-style first half of the script, the farce is brilliant. Stay for the aquarium scene and I think we've got a new Mr Bean / Some Mothers Do Ave Em here.

Sept 14: Okay, got a topical Only Connect for you. What do these companies have in common?
Nationwide Building Society

A: Sponsors of Mercury Music Prize

Sept 15: Quick question - where the hell do I see any of these TV shows? I've just read the contenders for the Emmys, and there's only three or four I've actually seen, a couple more I've heard of, but most I've neither heard of nor know where on earth you can see them (in the UK). Anyone know?
Big Little Lies
The Night Of
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Real Time With Bill Maher
This Is Us
American Crime
The Wizard of Lies
Silicon Valley
Better Things

Sept 17: I bought a lovely Kull The Destroyer comic at the weekend (antique shop in Gloucester, £1), a real gem by Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog from 1973. What a reminder of how comics have changed since my childhood. Look at those colours. All over the place. Hardly a splodge stays within the outlines. Why was this? I mean I love them, but this was state of the art 40 years ago, and it very much emphasises how the line work was paramount and the colour art almost a second thought. How do other comic art lovers feel? Is this naff colouring a problem or a joy? And do the present day uber-photoshop-painted comics pages make them better or worse?

Sept 21: Thanks to Lew Stringer for prompting me to a bit of research on comic sales. Having learnt that US comics struggle to sell more than 50,000 a month these days, I've found a site that not only shows you US comic sales for every month from now back to 1995, it also has some sales figures from the 1960s. Check 1966 out. Batman was selling 898,470 copies a month, and another half dozen titles sell half a million an issue. Poor old Marvel are just outside the top ten (selling less than Archie comics) with Spider-Man selling 340,155 a month. I appreciate I may be the only person interested in these things.

Sept 23: My Facebook feed is equally split between people who think the way Uber treat their drivers and endanger the public is bad, and people who think the way Uber saves them money and gets them home at night is good. (There is a third group, including me, who has never taken an Uber cab so has no idea what everyone's talking about.) Given the way lots of right-minded, good & liberal people are defending Uber, I'm guessing Uber aren't as bad as sweatshops and slave labour? Or are people in London just really self-centred?

Sept 24: Oh well done my bank. My bank (who shall remain nameless for, cough, security reasons*) have redesigned their website to make it unnecessarily hard to use. Until the weekend, if you wanted to make a payment, it displayed the words "Make A Payment". Now, have a guess. Which of the blobs on the left hand column is the Make A Payment blob? It took me two incorrect stabs to find it.

* I know, I know

Sept 26: Stories that may not have made today's Metro down in England. Mark Millar is awarded the Tennents Golden Can.

OK, got a Tea Time Theme Time for you. What do these three songs have in common?

(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang by Heaven 17
Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? by The Ramones
Happy New Year by Abba

A bit of a fiendish thing this, feel free to guess. I'll be amazed if anyone gets it first time. 


All three songs have lyrics that are past their use-by date.

Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? by The Ramones
"It's the end the end of the century, it's the end the end of the 70s"
- out of date for 17 or 38 years, whichever way you look at it

Happy New Year by Abba:
"In another ten years time, Who can say what we'll find, What lies waiting down the line, At the end of '89.."
- out of date for 28 years

(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang by Heaven 17
"Reagan is President Elect"
- this was out of date before it even came out! Reagan was President Elect from November 1980 till February 1981 (after which he was President, obviously). The single was released in March 1981 and the album came out September 81.


Sept 28: Let's see. On Thursday I worked face to face with 75 accountants in London, then on Friday flew in a crowded plane, then on Saturday worked with 60 kids in Northern Ireland, then on Sunday flew in a crowded plane, then on Monday flew on another crowded plane and worked with 60 primary school kids in Stenhousemuir, then on Tuesday I worked with another 60 primary school kids in Falkirk, then flew in another crowded plane. I can't imagine how it happened, but here's today's light reading. Wikipedia on The Common Cold.

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, 28 September 2017

Hefner Quiz

Hugh Hefner turns out to have been a more divisive figure than you imagined. But has he split my Facebook friends cleanly along gender lines? Let's have a fun quiz. Here are quotes about Hefner from my Facebook timeline today. But who said them? A man or a woman?
1) RIP to the legendary Hugh Hefner! I’m so honored to have been a part of the Playboy team! You will be greatly missed! Love you Hef! Xoxo
2) What a horrific, seedy creature he was.
3) Sorry to hear about Hugh Hefner. I've always had a liking for him, and I appreciated his support of cartoonists.
4) I hope someone reads "Stop the cocks" at his funeral.
5) Before any more of you make fun of Hugh Hefner on the day he died could you at least try and READ a copy of Playboy from the 1970's?
We were all blessed to be on earth at the same time as that great man.�Anyone can virtue signal to their friends but that man brought great articles and interviews to the largest collection of wankers this world has ever seen.
6) Hugh Hefner - a man for who money was no object, but women were.
7) NEW COLUMN: Hugh Hefner - my tribute to the King of Sex.
8) Hugh Hefner's funeral is going to have more sad bunnies than the end of Watership Down.
9) Hefner wasn't a legend, he was a prick. Have a word with yourselves.
10) Hugh Hefner is probably the only guy that's died and not gone to a better place.
11) Hugh Hefner....the keeper of the lady petting zoo has died.
12) Hugh Hefner jokes reinforce rape culture. Bad.
13) "Is it in yet?" - Hugh Hefner's grave.
14) So maddening to hear the bull shit today about Hugh heftier been a sexual revolution for woman liberation hahaha .. Women threw them self in front of horses for a revolution to be able to do what they want with their own mind and body ... that's a revolution NOT Hugh Hefner by controlling woman giving them curfews and taking a cut of their money he has done nothing for a sexual revolution for woman , if that's the case every man who lives off immoral earnings and controls woman is not a criminal yet a revolution.
15) From guys: “Rock on, Hef! We’ll miss you!”
From women: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
16) RIP Hugh Hefner, such a shame he won't be around to see his girlfriends grow up.
17) ‪Hugh Hefner has gone to the top shelf in the sky.‬ ‪
18) As per his wishes, Hugh Hefner’s body will be left in a fort in the woods for other kids to find & pass around.
19)  I liked him, I understand why some people didn't. RIP Hugh Hefner.

1) Female. Kim Kardashian
2) Male. Doug Segal
3) Female. Ivy Dennett Thorpe
4) Male. Ed O'Meara
5) Male. Glenn Wool
6) Female. Juliet Meyers
7) Male. Piers Morgan
8) Male. Tony Cowards
9) Male. Martin Walker
10) Female. Rachel E Jay
11) Female. Janey Godley
12) Male. Brian Kuetler
13) Male. Michael Legge
14) Female. Luisa Collina
15) Female. Peri Lyons
16) Male. Paul Tylak
17) Male. Martin Mor
18) Male. Patton Oswalt
19)  Male. Wil Hodgson (later amended to: "Edit: A lot of rather eye opening shit about Hugh Hefner's behaviour has come to my attention since I posted the status below. I have left the post up in the spirit of acknowledging mistakes")

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Potatoes, Cats & Trumps - new comics by kids

This week has been a bumper time for Comic Art Masterclasses and for travelling. Saturday saw me doing two classes at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh doing two sellout classes that produced these wonderful comics you see before me. It's great to be able to fly to these various destinations and to know that, with a combination of hire cars and guest houses - and by flying Friday night and returning Sunday - I can get anywhere within reason. Bring on those international trips I say.

No sooner had I returned from Northern Ireland than I was back on the plane, Monday morning, to Glasgow airport and then to St Bernadettes Primary in Stenhousemuir, where the two classes (the second of which was in fact Primary 6, which I accidentally labelled on their cover as Primary 5, because P6 is the equivalent of the English year 5 and... whatever) had a common theme on their minds. Sigh. Still, always fun to do a Trump drawing, and to add to the vast library of Trump covers that's been building up.

In an unlikely coup of scheduling, I managed to get two days in a row close to each other, spending Tuesday at Victoria Primary in Falkirk. Their covers, both by Primary 6, were food related fun.

Furze Down School in Buckinghamshire is a Special Needs school, and it's a bit of a triumph for me being able to make my class work with kids of all abilities. As with every other group, everyone produced a comic strip page and went away with the A5 photocopied comic containing all of their strips and their individual caricatures.

Another oddity, which I do occasionally, is a Comic Art Masterclass at a party, in this case a 9 year old's birthday party at a church hall in Potters Bar. It's a little harder to keep the kids focussed sometimes, especially if they weren't expecting this as their entertainment, but by golly it worked, and 15 8 and 9 year old girls make a grand comic (and birthday girl went home with the flipchart drawing, as you can see).

The celebrities these nine groups chose for my demonstration strip were Donald Trump (twice), Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Michelle Obama, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and (very much fallen from popularity this year, but hanging in there) Simon Cowell.

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
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