Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Top 10 TV Shows of 2013


Best TV of 2013

Do I have a favourite TV show of 2013? Back in 2011 I'd watched so  much telly I was able to draft a definitive list, with a Bubbling Under category and some Least Favourites , but thinking back over 2013 I begin by drawing a blank. Then suddenly one show dominates and it comes together. Here we go, my favourite TV of 2013.

Bubbling Under a) Shows We Couldn't See cos Virgin Media don't have Sky Atlantic: Veep and Game Of Thrones. They sound great, but I'm buggered if I'm getting a box set on the off chance.

Bubbling Under b) Not bad but not in the chart. Sherlock, Luther, Vicious, Charlie Brooker's Wipe, Black Mirror, Downton Abbey (lost it this year), Being Human, Fresh Meat, Mr Selfridge, A Young Doctor's Notebook, Spy, Top Of The Pops 1978 (too many holes, thanks to DLT & Savile, but great when it's on), The Fall, Eastenders, The Booth At The End, Mrs Biggs & The Great Train Robbery (good double bill), The Escape Artist, The Walking Dead. There must be more.

10 - Doctor Who. The series gets a mention because, though I have disliked more than I have liked of the new episodes, I have watched more of this show, and read and talked more about it, than any other. Currently enjoying the newly found Enemy Of The World from 1967, and having loved Web Of Fear on Virgin Media (the other recently found old story), I started the year inheriting some VHS tapes from Mark Buckingham and thus saw for the first time ever The Ice Warriors, The Tenth Planet and my favourite of the bunch The Time Monster. Plenty is poor (Power Of Kroll is particularly boring), but so much of the last 50 years worth of Doctor Who is endlessly enjoyable that I will never stop being a fan, obviously. The best new episode of 2013 was An Adventure In Space And Time, with The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot coming a close second.


9 - Only Connect. In a double bill with University Challenge, it defines our Monday nights (when I very rarely have a gig so am usually in). The series appears to have got slightly longer, in direct proportion to Victoria Coren-Mitchell's surname, and long may it reign.

8 - The Wrong Mans. Tom Basden's name has cropped up a lot lately, as a co-writer of Plebs and of Fresh Meat (though this year's series off the latter has lost some of its sparkle so drops from the Top 10), and he was a co-star and co-writer of this too. But given how many people have been trying for so long to dislike James Corden, it's smashing that this collaboration with Matthew Baynton was so good throughout.

7 - The Returned & Broadchurch & Top Of The Lake. They tie in the chart because they had equal merits and similar subject matter (well, on a very creative Venn diagram they did) but all slightly flawed. TOTL's big flaw is that I missed the last episode, being in Edinburgh, so can't judge it fairly. Broadchurch's big plus point was that it was filmed partly in Clevedon, which was very exciting locally obviously, but on the minus side did too much in slow motion for my liking and could have been trimmed. But the Best Of British crime this year by far. And The Returned, I can't help feeling, might have been less impressive had it not been in French. Just a suspicion. As it was, it was the best of the three, and probably my favourite French TV show since The Magic Roundabout. And that's saying something. I also liked The Fall, let's say that's Bubbling Under.

6 - The Daily Show. John Oliver's successful fill-in stint in the summer served to show just how strong this show is, and earned him his own TV show which, I'll bet, we can't see over here. This is the TV news show I watch more than any other (okay I do see a lot of BBC Breakfast and the Wright Stuff, but they're not making the Top 10!) and an ever-reliable voice of sanity. We also have Comedy Central to thank for The Office (not as good as it was but occasionally great) and I ought to mention The Mindy Project which we loved this year. And Community. Was that this year? Ah, too late, it missed the cut.

5 - Mad Men. We watched season 5 on DVD at the start of 2013 and are just starting season 6 (thanks to the whole Sky Atlantic not being on Virgin thing). So we were Zou Bisou Bisou-ing while other viewers were getting into the 1970s. Either way, when it's good it's still amazing.


4 - Bad Education. For a good few years it's been so tempting to just dislike Jack Whitehall on principle, because he's over-privileged and because he's young. But, following his impressive acting debut in Fresh Meat, he's gone and pulled off two drop-dead brilliant series of this, which he co-wrote and stars in and which is fresh, imaginative, and funny throughout. Combining the wit of Community with the visual panache of Green Wing, and a splendid cast of all new look-like-kids-but-most-likely-aren't-anymore actors, this deserves all the acclaim it gets. I hope it's got a lot, I've not been keeping tabs.

3 - Moone Boy. Tucked away on Sky it might have been possible to miss it, but thank goodness we didn't. Chris O'Dowd's semi-autobiographical sitcom, set and made in Ireland, is a treat, with 12 year old David Rawle as Martin Moone being the child star discovery of the year. There have been a lot of great child actors coming up in recent years, which makes it all the more surprising that Doctor Who cast a couple of the worst in its episodes this year (and some pretty poor adults, for good measure).

2 - Plebs. A sitcom on ITV2 being this good is quite the surprise. The shame of it being that so few people know about it. I hope it's a grower with the wider public because it is genuinely excellent in all regards and is thus the best sitcom of 2013

1 - Breaking Bad series 1, 2 and 3. We have just started watching series 4 at time of writing and will undoubtedly have moved onto series 5 before the week's out. It is the most addictive TV show I can remember, a result of the combination of its incredible writing and its total unavailability on broadcast TV which means it's not been rationed in instalments like almost every other show. Would it have retained its addictive allure had we not been consuming DVD box sets (and others, I know, watched it on Netflix and by other online methods)? Who knows. It is the best TV show this decade by far and I'm sorry to be so unoriginal by naming it my number one of the year.


My review of 2013 (in a cartoon)



It has become an annual tradition for me to sum up the past year in a cartoon, and 2013 follows suit. I hope you like it. Here, below, are the stats contained therein...

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre performed 76 full theatre shows (50 theatre, 26 Edinburgh) of which most of the theatres were 90 minute shows + 16 club spots & other events, including two appearances on the BBC stage in Edinburgh. (2012 = 110 shows cos of Adelaide & two a day in Edinburgh, a feat we don't miss repeating, 2011 = 64 with no Edinburgh).

I notched up an impressive 20 days of Caricaturing, which comprised 3 weddings (in South Wales, Edinburgh & Chippenham), 2 Bar Mitzvahs,  2 school fetes, 2 British Legion parties, 2 days doing the public in the streets of Waltham & Chingford, 2 Dr Martens boots stores in Glasgow & Edinburgh, 1 party for hotel staff, 2 kids football squads, 1 public school leavers ball, 1 Beano party, 1 Entertainer store and 1 day at the Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year event in Cardiff where I ended up appearing on screen for 10 seconds, my interview with Frank Skinner never seeing the light of day.

School days 97 doing my Comic Art Masterclasses (2012 82 days, 2011 124, 2010 109, 2009 100, 2008 92, 2007 74, 2006 83) in schools, libraries and art centres from Inverness to the Isle Of Wight, Dublin to Belfast, Wales to Walsall, Lincolnshire to Leicestershire to the Lake District to London, Devon to Doncaster, Ripon to Ramsbury (it's in Wiltshire), Malvern to Manchester, Swindon to Swansea, Falkirk to Corfe Castle and most points inbetween. Not forgetting the South Bank Centre in London, and the legendary Scunthorpe Baths! 3 schools sponsored by Berol pens.

The Sitcom Trials held 6 heats, two semi finals and a final, at which I compered most and attended slightly more (I missed three heats) in Manchester, Bristol, London and Edinburgh.

Nights in hotels 44 + Edinburgh flat 26 nights, Jude 2, Mum 12, Bod 3, a total of 85 nights away from home (2012 = 33 hotels, total 123 nights away)

1 strip for Radio Times (Barry Cryer's First Joke), a dozen or more Bananaman scripts (plus Beano classes and promotions), a couple of corporate Christmas cards, the illustrations for a second volume of Laurence Smith's books on management theory, and the illustrations for Hull Truck's Christmas production The Flame Haired Dynamo.

Flights 18 (Malta, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast) compared to 2012's 12 flights and 2011's 46.

The Scottish Falsetto Socks only posted 55 videos this year, of which the most popular was Top 20 Horse Meat Gags (with 55,000+ viewings, followed by Peter Capaldi as Dr Who on 21,000+, with Song For Mrs Thatcher and The Pope Resigns doing well too), while The Sitcom Trials clocked up an impressive 9 videos in this its big tournament year, and I made a new promo for my Comic Art Masterclasses.

My illustrated review of 2012
...and of 2011
...and of 2010

Monday, 30 December 2013

Doctor Who Christmas Special - new video from the Socks



Brand new from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, and some very special guests, here is their belated look at The Time Of The Doctor, the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Do please enjoy.

The special guests are my nieces Shona and Kirsty for whom the sketch was written, to entertain the family one night over the Christmas period. We didn't quite get round to a fully rehearsed version with our young co-stars, you know how busy these events can be, so the Socks have given their own rendition to record it for posterity.



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour... NOW!

Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath
Jan 25 2014 - Rondo, Bath
Feb 12 - Comedy Den Cardiff
Feb 14 - Leicester Comedy Festival
Feb 22 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Mar 15 - Largs Barrfields Pavilion
Mar 20, 21 - Dram, Glasgow
Mar 22 - Croydon
Mar 29 - Kings Lynn Arts Centre
Apr 3 - Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy
Apr 12 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
May 9 - Exeter Barnfield
May 17 - Brighton Komedia
May 23 - Keighley Exchange
May 31 - Aylesbury Limelight
June 19 - Phoenix Arts, Bordon Hants
June 20 - Derby Live
June 21 - Halifax Square Chapel
June 22 - Derby (family show)
More dates to be announced
August - Edinburgh Fringe 2014 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Predictions for 2014


Last year I never quite got round to trying to predict 2013, but given how successful my Predictions for 2012 turned out perhaps I needn't bother. But bother I shall. Please join in if you so desire. Here come the questions, followed by my stab at a prediction...

1) Which classic TV show will be remade in 2014?
- Kev's guess(es): The Likely Lads, Doomwatch, Catweazle, Crackerjack, The Young Ones.
2) Which TV shows will be cancelled in 2014?
- Doctor Who, The X Factor, Downton Abbey, Hollyoaks, Atlantis.
3) Who will surprise by getting their own hit TV series?
- Justin Lee Collins, Rolf Harris, Bobby Davro, Millicent Martin, Katie Puckrick.
4) What new movie franchise will be announced/made?
- Strontium Dog, Heros The Spartan, Captain Pugwash, Robot Archie, Tales From Tollgate School.
5) How much will litre of petrol cost in Dec '14 (currently approx £1.30)? *
- £1.30 again
6) Who will win Edinburgh Comedy Award 2014?
a) Best act? b) Best newcomer?
a) Posh boy from Cambridge b) Posh girl from Cambridge
7) Celeb on the Slab?
- Piers Morgan
8) Who will win the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest?
- FYR Macedonia
9) Who will put themselves forward to be Mayor of London?
- Rebecca Brooks
10) Who will play The Master in Doctor Who?
- Tom Hiddleston
11) Result of the Scottish Independence vote?
- Stay in. 75%.
12) Who will be Labour leader at end of 2014?
- Chukka Umunna
13) Will any countries leave the Euro? If so who?
- Yes, Portugal, irreconcilable differences.
14) Surprise country to have a revolution/uprising? 
- Yes, Qatar.
15) What will be surprise invention/technicological advance?
- A clamshell smartphone.
16) Will average UK house prices rise or fall by Dec '14?
- Rise.
17) Biggest scandal
- Ted Heath child murderer.
18) Band to split up?
- One Direction.
19) Biggest weather news
- Most average year on record.
20) Christmas Number 1
- Band Aid 30

Those are the predictions from the Kev F jury. What say you?

* UPDATE Jan 3rd: I just bought my first tank of petrol of 2014 at Tescos. The price on the pump was £130.9 a litre but I had a voucher for 5p off per litre so I paid £125.9 a litre. I therefore have no idea how much a litre of petrol costs.

Last night's Doctor Who - what did I say?

Well, I don't know what I said last night after watching The Time Of The Doctor, having a wee drink and going online, but this morning I woke to find...



Blimey. Banned from Gallifrey, what did I say? Well, I'll find out on Saturday when the ban is lifted, if I can bothered to look (knowing I'll only have to write lots of apologies, maybe I'll wait a while). But I can only assume it wasn't good. I probably had a misguided attempt at being ironic or, more likely, used a sweary word. Maybe I was channeling Malcolm Tucker.

I definitely have to apologise to Tony Lee and his friend for an unfortunate reply I posted when I told Tony's friend to "get off Facebook", by which I meant he ought to avoid looking at Facebook until he had watched the episode for fear of spoilers, but it came across as me telling someone I didn't know to "get off Facebook" full stop. Now that is rudeness. (I apologised as soon as this was pointed out to me). The lesson we learn is don't go online when you've had a drink, especially when you have contentious opinions about a TV programme with which other people might disagree. (A lot of people like The Time Of The Doctor, you see).

I didn't like last night's episode of Doctor Who, and I don't think I'm the only one. Certainly here in the Christmas household I was the only one out of four people who watched it through to the end and, going onto Facebook, Twitter, and Gallifrey Base I found many similarly disgruntled commentators too. And my reasons for disliking it are the reasons I've disliked a lot of recent stories: I'm a populist.

I've long been a light entertainer, putting on comedy shows and writing & drawing comic books with the intention, mostly, of making people laugh. There's a light satirical side to what I write, and it's far from bland and uncontroversial. Why we've even had complaints. But the bottom line is that I set out to entertain a broad range of people, and I tend to like entertainment that does the same. That's not to say I don't like the esoteric and the challenging - I went to art college and have a BA in Fine Art, and next year's Socks show is on the subject of modern art, as is this year's new Socks calendar (on sale now Socks fans). I prefer Breaking Bad to Call The Midwife, I prefer Stewart lee to Michael McIntyre, I'm not saying I only like popular audience-pleasing fodder. I've never watched the X Factor for example. But in the case of Doctor Who, I'm a populist.

By which I mean I want everyone to like Doctor Who, young and old, male & female. Which is why I so enjoyed Doctor Who when it returned in 2005 under Russell T Davies. He wrote a show that reached out and entertained a vast new family audience, while staying true to its roots. And I loved Steven Moffat's episodes of that run of the show. At all times the show made sure new viewers were welcomed in, that the story could be explained to newcomers and youngsters, and that it was entertaining. Especially the Christmas Episode. I remember getting lippy & disgruntled with the RTD stories when I thought he was jumping the shark, with The End Of Time which the Socks parodied, and other less successful stories. But ultimately he was always trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience with his Doctor Who stories.

I don't think Steven Moffat has been doing that. He has been indulging himself in long story arcs that are not fun and are hard to follow. And his defence of them seems to be that if you're not clever enough, or interested enough in the arcana of Doctor Who mythology, to follow them, then tough luck. Last night's episode was another example of that. Well, I said enough last night, and if I'm so clever why don't I write better stories myself? Exactly.

Perhaps my New Year resolution should be not to talk about Doctor Who in public. Let's see how well I do.

UPDATE Dec 30th The Reason For The Ban. I have been contacted by a Gallifrey Base moderator who says:

For your information, "It is sweet that so many fans are trying hard to say something nice about this episode. Never have so many Aspergers kids tried to show so much empathy to so little end.", as you posted on the 25th, was beyond the pale. It's not much better than "retards" or "spastics".

Additionally, please don't discuss moderation in public. All you needed to do to find out the reason for the ban was contact a member of staff.


As someone who works in schools and who regularly discusses Degrees Of Empathy in relation to The Autistic Spectrum, my comment about empathy and Aspergers had been what passes in my world for a gag, but I can see how it didn't travel well. Lesson learned, don't post and drink. I'm interested that Aspergers is considered on a par with Retard and Spastic as terms of offence. Is this the generally held opinion? If so, I apologise again and will have to self-moderate in future.

On Regenerations Past

Where were you when the Doctor regenerated? This year I was spending Christmas with my in-laws in North Wales. I was also here for the first half of David Tennant's regeneration story in 2009 (though back home for his actual regeneration on Jan 1st 2010), and here for Christmas 2005 for Tennant's first episode.

When Christopher Eccleston regenerated I was at home in Clevedon in front of the telly, in the same place but with a different telly from when Sylvester McCoy turned into Paul McGann in 1996. When McCoy was spawned, in a truly dreadful episode that made last night's look like Shakespeare, I was living in Leicester watching it happen on the same grainy telly picture that we'd seen Colin Baker emerge on a few year earlier. I seem to remember that, at work the next day, I was the only person who'd watched The Twin Dilemma. One person was surprised to learn that Doctor Who was still on.

Tom Baker's regeneration into Peter Davison happened when I was a student watching it on a shared telly. Some of us had never watched Doctor Who before, and I was the one sat there throughout Logopolis saying "I'm sure it used to be better than this when I was a kid". It was my earliest experience of trying, and failing, to explain the plot of a Doctor Who episode to a normal person. We were watching it because I looked like Peter Davison. This story did not endear me to Doctor Who which I kept watching throughout the 80s, always willing it to be better than it was.

When Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker I was 12 and a big Doctor Who fan. I had already started drawing my own Doctor Who comic strips, I had made a cardboard Dalek costume, and although The Tomorrow People and The Goodies had slightly supplanted the show in my affections, it was still one of my favourites. As a result this was my first experience of not liking the new Doctor because he wasn't "my Doctor". I warmed to Tom Baker, then grew out of him once our band started rehearsing on Saturdays. Once Leela appeared, I only saw about half the episodes, and only saw The Power Of Kroll for the first time this year. It's not very good. But better than Logopolis.

Jon Pertwee's first episode is, to all intents & purposes, my first Doctor Who episode. I remember seeing him being interviewed on Ask Aspel, then I watched his series from then and it was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen on the telly. My former favourite show Batman was history and I was a solid Doctor Who fan for the next four years. Watching episodes from this era since I have found them to be just as good as I remembered. Whether this is a result of good writing, good acting, and big budgets, or rose tinted spectacles, I may never know.

Patrick Troughton I was alive during, but was too young and/or too scared to watch. I was equally frightened by the Cybermen and The Joker out of Adam West's Batman, but collected the toys from the latter show rather than the former. William Hartnell's era was before my time, but if I was in the room during his regeneration then it was an a semi-detached house in Evington in Leicestershire on a road which, some years later, changed its name so as not to be associated with the council estate further down. I lived on a road that regenerated, how neat is that?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Socks Christmas Carol comic book - now on Kindle



At last, just in time for Christmas Day, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's comic strip adaptation of their live version of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol is available now on Kindle. Check out a sample for free and download it for £2.99. And do please let us know what you think. It's 15 glorious full colour pages of brand new comic strip art by that wonderful Kev F out of The Beano, the Socks think you'll like it.



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour... NOW!

Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath
Jan 25 2014 - Rondo, Bath
Feb 12 - Comedy Den Cardiff
Feb 14 - Leicester Comedy Festival
Feb 22 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Mar 15 - Largs Barrfields Pavilion
Mar 20, 21 - Dram, Glasgow
Mar 22 - Croydon
Mar 29 - Kings Lynn Arts Centre
Apr 3 - Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy
Apr 12 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
May 9 - Exeter Barnfield
May 17 - Brighton Komedia
May 23 - Keighley Exchange
May 31 - Aylesbury Limelight
June 19 - Phoenix Arts, Bordon Hants
June 20 - Derby Live
June 21 - Halifax Square Chapel
June 22 - Derby (family show)
More dates to be announced
August - Edinburgh Fringe 2014 

A Christmas Carol - new video from the Socks



Just in time for Christmas, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre have recorded their version of A Christmas Carol, which they hope you'll enjoy (and which you can look forward to being heavily plugged this time next year).

Two lucky audiences in London and Bath had the pleasure of seeing this sketch live in our two Christmas Specials earlier in the month, which were shows I dearly wish I'd filmed. But one is always nagged by the fear that videoing a show will jinx it, and I erred on the side of having a good show rather than getting it on tape. As a result both shows went marvellously, and I think the Bath audience's reaction to A Christmas Carol would have been the ideal one to capture for posterity (though their laughter did manage to stretch the routine out to a good twenty minutes, so you very much had to be there to get the best out of it).

All of which suggests we really have to line up more Christmas Specials for December 2014. In the meantime here's a bit of seasonal fun for you all. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes.



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour... NOW!

Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath
Jan 25 2014 - Rondo, Bath
Feb 12 - Comedy Den Cardiff
Feb 14 - Leicester Comedy Festival
Feb 22 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Mar 15 - Largs Barrfields Pavilion
Mar 20, 21 - Dram, Glasgow
Mar 22 - Croydon
Mar 29 - Kings Lynn Arts Centre
Apr 3 - Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy
Apr 12 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
May 9 - Exeter Barnfield
May 17 - Brighton Komedia
May 23 - Keighley Exchange
May 31 - Aylesbury Limelight
June 19 - Phoenix Arts, Bordon Hants
June 20 - Derby Live
June 21 - Halifax Square Chapel
June 22 - Derby (family show)
More dates to be announced
August - Edinburgh Fringe 2014 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Merry Christmas to all my schools



A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year when it comes, to all the wonderful schools, libraries, art centres and organisers who've welcomed Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass into their venues. It's been a busy year and I hope the kids (and they are mostly kids) have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Here's to a 2014 with more kids learning how to do what it is I do for a living. Feel free to enjoy again the front covers of the comics they created, sprinkled liberally throughout this blog.



Slap The Teacher - kids comics from Nov 2013
One Direction vs The Doom Monster - more Nov 13 comics
Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - Oct 13
I Borrowed Hitler's Brain - Sept 2013
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
Free Cheese For Sale & Oh Poo Zeus On The Loose - June 2013
The Story Of Susan Boyle - June 2013
That Peanut Stole My Bedroom - May 2013
Who On Earth Is Elvis - May 2013
Ouch The Chilli Sauce Is In My Eye! - April 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Kids favourite celebrity 2013 is..?

Most popular celebrities in Kev F's Comic Art Masterclasses 2013



As a fun part of my Comic Art Masterclasses in schools and libraries, in which I teach kids how to write and draw comics, and send them home after a morning or afternoon clutching a comic containing a strip by every single one of them plus an individual caricature by me, I do a demonstration strip in which a famous celebrity treads on a worm.

(Now you ask, this part of the session covers close-ups, wide shots, enlarging and reducing artwork, composition, detail, perspective, shadow, foreshortening and probably a dozen other key bits of visual storytelling and lasts around 10 minutes. And it makes kids laugh, which is reason enough to keep doing it).

I ask them to suggest celebs, take the first four suggestion from hands up around the room, get them to choose their fave from the four and that winner becomes the character in the demonstration strip. In those first 4 suggestion, one name is mentioned about 80% of the time, can you guess who? Answer below*.

Here, then, are the names suggested by the pupils in my classes this year, who age from 7 (the youngest I work with) up to year 10 and the occasional 6th former or adult. The average age of the kids I've worked with this year would be 10. Their favourite celebrities are:

Runners up, getting drawn and mentioned just the once:
Andy Murray, Angelina Jolie, Ariana Grande, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bear Grylls, Bradley Wiggins, Christopher Lee, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, George Lucas, Gok Wan, Ke$ha, Michael McIntyre, Nicolas Cage, Peter Gabriel, Rita Ora, Rowan Atinson, Robert Downey Jr, Russell Brand, Tulisa, and Usain Bolt.

These included the most entertainingly obscure suggestions of the year:
Slash out of Guns & Roses
Jon Fruscanti of Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a footballer
Richard Armitage out of Robin Hood (the uncle of one of the pupils)
Nidge from Love Hate (very big TV show in Ireland)
Barry Scott from the Cillit Bang adverts

Slightly-closer runners up, these got drawn once but suggested a few times:
Adele, Barack Obama, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, David Walliams, Emilie Sande, 50 Cent, Gary Barlow, Jimi Hendrix, Justin Bieber, Matt Smith, Megan Fox. Niall from One Direction, Olly Murs, Prince William, and Rihanna

Drawn twice were:
Daniel Radcliffe, Ed Sheeran, Elvis Presley, Joey Essex, Lady Gaga, Lionel Messi, Miley Cyrus, Miranda Hart, Nicki Minaj, Psy, Richard Hammond, Robbie Williams, Rolf Harris, Susan Boyle, and Will Smith

Drawn three times we have:
Bob Marley, Boris Johnson, Jesse J, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Will I Am, and Winston Churchill

And the Top Eight are

Cheryl Cole drawn 4 times
Johnny Depp 5 times
Harry Hill 6 times
The Queen 6 times
Harry Styles 7 times
Keith Lemon 7 times
Michael Jackson 7 times

And the outright winner...

Simon Cowell drawn treading on a worm an amazing 25 times, and *suggested in almost every class of the year.

Here's to a 2014 with more kids learning how to do what it is I do for a living. Feel free to enjoy again the front covers of the comics they created, sprinkled liberally throughout this blog.



Slap The Teacher - kids comics from Nov 2013
One Direction vs The Doom Monster - more Nov 13 comics
Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - Oct 13
I Borrowed Hitler's Brain - Sept 2013
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
Free Cheese For Sale & Oh Poo Zeus On The Loose - June 2013
The Story Of Susan Boyle - June 2013
That Peanut Stole My Bedroom - May 2013
Who On Earth Is Elvis - May 2013
Ouch The Chilli Sauce Is In My Eye! - April 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013


The Banned Comic of Wimbledon

For the first time in all the years I've been doing my Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, this week I had one banned. But which one? See if you can guess...



Here we see the four comics produced over two days at a primary school in Wimbledon, a school that's had me back four times so they know my work well. As usual, most of the kids have gone home with a comic containing a strip by every one of them and an individual caricature, the titles of the overall comicbook being chosen by the group.

However one group ended up going home without their comics. I'd completed, printed it, delivered it and everyone seemed happy. Then, at the end of the day, I was told the pupils weren't going to be given their comic, because of what's on the cover. So which of the above comics do you think was the offender?

a) 4C The Menace - Featuring the homophone 4C, referred to by Lionel Messi, and with a big image of Teacher & Dennis from The Beano.

b) Eltro Santy Mushroom - The pupil's mis-spelling of Electro gave us an amusing title which I illustrated with Christmas trimmings, also featuring Johnny Depp.

c) Gangsta Granny & The Pineapple Police - My version of a gangsta granny (cos I forgot the David Walliams version existed), with Simon Cowell in the background.

d) Fat Lady Who Had A Fat Tummy - With an illustration that does what it says on the tin, a fat lady saying "Don't Be Rude".

Guess which one was not allowed to go home to the parents. Have a guess on the comments here, or Facebook or Twitter, the answer appears at the very foot of the post.

If anyone wants my Comic Art Masterclass for 2014, you know where to find me. Merry Christmas all, and a Happy New Year when it comes.



Slap The Teacher - kids comics from Nov 2013
One Direction vs The Doom Monster - more Nov 13 comics
Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - Oct 13
I Borrowed Hitler's Brain - Sept 2013
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
Free Cheese For Sale & Oh Poo Zeus On The Loose - June 2013
The Story Of Susan Boyle - June 2013
That Peanut Stole My Bedroom - May 2013
Who On Earth Is Elvis - May 2013
Ouch The Chilli Sauce Is In My Eye! - April 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013



And the answer is..?

And the answer was, as has been guessed by more people than not, Fat Lady Who Had A Fat Tummy. I was working with Year 2s (6 year olds), which I always refuse to do and shall from now on refuse to do again, and they have a policy of not referring to peoples weight or appearance, which other years are much more laissez faire about. It wasn't flagged up during the class, and didn't even enter my mind. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Grandpa From The North Goes Fudge Cake Berserk - comics by kids


Fresh from Pitton Primary near Salisbury and Portland Place School in London, six new comics with titles dreamed up by the kids, containing strips by every single one of them, with caricatures of all of their faces on the back. Four of these are by Year 9 pupils (who I absent-mindedly wrote as 3rd Years on one of the covers, having spent so long teaching in Scotland and Ireland lately), hence the inexplicability of some of the titles.

When it came to naming a celebrity for that 'worm' thing that I do, they chose Johnny Depp, Simon Cowell, Richard Hammond, Andy Murray, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nicolas Cage. I look forward to totting up the kids celebrities of the year when I've finished my final classes next week.

Slap The Teacher - kids comics from Nov 2013
One Direction vs The Doom Monster - more Nov 13 comics
Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - Oct 13
I Borrowed Hitler's Brain - Sept 2013
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
Free Cheese For Sale & Oh Poo Zeus On The Loose - June 2013
The Story Of Susan Boyle - June 2013
That Peanut Stole My Bedroom - May 2013
Who On Earth Is Elvis - May 2013
Ouch The Chilli Sauce Is In My Eye! - April 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013

Monday, 9 December 2013

Socks on tour - a year in review



And so, with a sweetly silly gig in the Royal Hotel in Weston, on the bill with three comics and promoter Alan Holloway entertaining 20 non-paying punters and getting away with it, the Socks brought their 2013 gigging schedule to an end (okay, there is a  local private party still to play before Christmas, but that won't be one for the gig listings). A fine gigging year and no mistake.

Starting in Malta in February and including a very successful month at Edinburgh ("at Edinburgh" means at the Fringe, as opposed to "in Edinburgh" which just means.. er.. it means in Edinburgh) 2013 has seen the Socks play 76 full length solo shows (35 Spring tour, 26 Edinburgh, 15 Autumn tour) and a further 16 spots on comedy bills including two shows on the BBC stage at Edinburgh and two heats of the Musical Comedy Awards (we didn't win). Most of the touring shows were 90 minuters, as were the two Christmas Specials, and we've also written a pilot episode of a telly show about which you might hear more. If not, it'll be ploughed into next year's new live show, on which we've already started work.

Among the more novel venues we have to mention The Black Pearl in Malta (Errol Flynn's old boat) for which we need to thank Erin & James for giving us an excellent working holiday in a beautiful place we might not have visited otherwise; The Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate (a former coach house, now the country's second smallest working theatre); and the Lass O'Gowrie in Manchester for being the venue we'll miss the most, (the show with the highest hand-count of home-made fan Socks for starters) thanks to the damn fool brewery who own it closing it down and wiping out the award-winning pub theatre which has been home to the Socks and the Sitcom Trials for the last five years.


One of the Socks prettier looking venues, not even on the touring schedule, on a comedy bill in Hertfordshire in October

And, though every audience has been marvellous - this year we've had almost universal love and support from our crowds (okay, there was a slot on a bill at a boarding school in Dorset where a hall full of posh 15 year olds were determined not to laugh at anyone or anything, but they were a really weird exception to the rule) - The Socks would particularly like to sing the praises of:
-  the good folk of the Larmer Tree Festival for giving us two tents full of audience in one day
- the punters of Canterbury for selling out the Spiegeltent for our very first appearance in town
- the lovely people of Bath for giving us our first 5 star review of the year for our two April shows, then having us back for Helen of the Natural Theatre's party, then selling out our Christmas Special, and already booking us for two more shows next spring. The award for Not Being Able To Get Enough Of The Socks is yours
- those venues who keep having us back and back again like the Birmingham Old Joint Stock (sellout again) and the Barton Ropewalk (another sellout), and Exeter Barnfield and Chorley Little Theatre and the festivals in Glasgow and Brighton and of course Edinburgh and ...

And now, looking at the list, I find myself wanting to praise so many audiences and so many venues, can I just thank you all. Why, I feel like drawing a map...

(tries to draw Google map of all venues, linked with arrows, finds it too difficult, gives up)



TOUR DATES  2013

Feb 2, 3 - The Black Pearl, Malta
Feb 8, 9, 10 - Leicester Comedy Festival, Kayal
Mar 9 - Flavel, Dartmouth
Mar 21, 22, 23 - Glasgow Comedy Festival, The Dram
Mar 30, April 5 - Bath Comedy Festival, Ring O'Bells
April 12 - Plough Arts, Torrington, Devon
April 13 - Barnfield, Exeter
April 27 - Gardyne Theatre, Dundee
April 28 - Eden Court, Inverness
May 1 - Swindon Arts Centre
May 9, 10 - Komedia, Brighton Fringe
May 25, 26 - Inverness Happy-Ness Festival
May 29 - Theatr Mwdlan, Cardigan
May 31 - Exchange Arts, Keighley
June 1 - Junction, Goole
June 2 - Barnsley Civic
June 8 - Warwick Arts Centre
June 25 - Leicester Square Theatre, London
June 27 - Victoria Theatre, Halifax
June 28 - Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
July 2, July 9 - Leicester Square Theatre, London
July 5 - The Lord Nelson, Norton Sub Hamden, Somerset
July 13 - Chapter Arts, Cardiff Comedy Festival
July 14 - Sheffield, New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Bristol Comedy Box at the Hen & Chickens
July 18 - Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
July 20 - Bedford Fringe
July 21 - Derby Funhouse 3.25pm
+ Mimetic Festival, Enfield 8.30pm
July 22 - Clowns Pocket, Neath
July 26 - Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
July 31 - Aug 25 - Gilded Balloon, 10.15pm, Edinburgh Fringe
July 31 - Aug 25 - Gilded Balloon, 10.15pm, Edinburgh Fringe
Sept 4 - Belfast Black Box
Sept 5 - Derry Waterside
Sept 21 - Braintree Arts Theatre
Sept 22 4pm - Nottingham Comedy Festival
Oct 5 - Farnham Maltings
Oct 11 - Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham
Oct 24 - The Capitol, Horsham
Oct 25 - Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
Oct 26 - Canterbury Festival
Nov 1 - Ace Centre, Nelson
Nov 2 - Leeds Carriageworks
Nov 14 - Hull Comedy Festival
Nov 15 - Ropewalk, Barton On Humber
Nov 16 - Chorley Little Theatre
Nov 17 - Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
Nov 30 - Christmas Special, Camden Head, London
Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath


 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Bananaman: Queen in this week's Beano

This week's Beano contains a Bananaman two-pager written by me and drawn by Wayne Thompson, in which Dr Gloom creates a Trojan Queen. Here's a taste of Wayne's art and my original biro-layout script.



Sadly our credits have mysteriously disappeared from the published version. But you know it's by us, don't you. So when they write the history books....




Thursday, 5 December 2013

December in the Socks calendar - Blade Runner



And to round off 2013 in style, December in the Socks' official 2013 sci fi calendar is Blade Runner. We do hope you've enjoyed these 12 specially created images on the science fiction theme (click the pic to enjoy them all again). And now brace yourself for the great news...

Yes, ring out the old, ring in the new, cos the Socks 2014 Art Calendar - 100% official 100% brand new is out now! The subject is art, from Hirst and Emin through Christo and Kahlo and Warhol and Bacon to Lichtenstein and Gilbert & George and... there's 13 of them squeezed into 12 months of fab full colour calendar. Buy it now, treasure it forever. Or fill it full of crap that you need to do every day, it's a calendar after all. The choice really is yours.







The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour... NOW!

Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath
Jan 25 2014 - Rondo, Bath
Feb 12 - Comedy Den Cardiff
Feb 14 - Leicester Comedy Festival
Feb 22 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Mar 15 - Largs Barrfields Pavilion
Mar 20, 21 - Dram, Glasgow
Mar 22 - Croydon
Mar 29 - Kings Lynn Arts Centre
Apr 3 - Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy
Apr 12 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
May 9 - Exeter Barnfield
May 17 - Brighton Komedia
May 23 - Keighley Exchange
May 31 - Aylesbury Limelight
June 19 - Phoenix Arts, Bordon Hants
June 20 - Derby Live
June 21 - Halifax Square Chapel
June 22 - Derby (family show)
More dates to be announced
August - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sky Arts Portrait Artist - view from the cutting room floor



Sadly my contribution to Sky Arts' excellent Portrait Artist of the Year series, which we filmed back in the summer and which included me doing a fun interview with Frank Skinner talking about comics - he's a fan and knows his stuff - and me doing a mini Comic Art Masterclass and loads of caricatures, didn't make much of an appearance in the final show. Pity, though, the photographers who staged the excellent Marriage Of The Arnolfini portraits, whose work didn't even get a glimpse on screen.



You see a tiny bit of my workshop in the show, and the trailer, but none of the rest of it. Of all the surrounding artists on the day, ie those other than the main artists in competition on whom the show concentrates, only the man who paints portraits on toast with Marmite (has to be seen to be believed) got his interview shown. It's a credit to the show, which has been eminently watchable, that they planned it well, including a wide variety of artists like myself at each event, just in case the competing portait painters didn't give them enough to work with. But, as has been the case in all the episodes so far, from Glasgow, London, Dublin and Cardiff, the core artists are more than interesting enough to fill the whole show. Indeed there are a lot of the competing artists who don't even get heard on screen, with only a handful getting shown in detail. One can only marvel at the footage that must have been shot and gone unused, with 21 competing artists in each heat all getting cutaway interviews at various stages of their progress, then only the 9 semi-finalists getting their interviews used.



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

One Direction Vs The Doom Monster - new comics by kids


My travels with my Comic Art Masterclasses have taken me, in the last week, from Guildford to Walsall and thence to Scotland where I taught at a school and a community centre in Mayfield near Edinburgh, then at schools in Falkirk, Balerno and Grangemouth, including a special school for kids excluded from regular school and with behavioural problems, then I rounded it all off with a day in a sweet wee primary school near Ripon. I've worked with everyone from 7 year olds to 17 year olds, and here's the variety of comics they've come up with. Geniuses all.



When asked to come up with a celebrity to tread on a worm (it's a drawing demonstration thing, you really have to be there) they ended up with Joey Essex (twice), Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Boris Johnson, Robbie Williams, Niall from One Direction, Harry Styles, Barack Obama, Cheryl Cole, Johnny Depp, and one I failed to record.

I am, as ever, ready willing and able to come to your school, library or art centre to teach my far famed comic art masterclass (though I will really have to work out whether quite this much travelling is either cost-effective or good for my health!), so get me while you can.

Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - comics by kids Oct 13
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013
Aquatic Owls vs The Moon - Dec 2012
Kid Afro Spaghetti - June 2012 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Are You My T-Shirt? My Doctor Who design revisited

Recognise this?



It's one of the new range of official Doctor Who t-shirts available from a company called 8 Ball. And it bears a striking resemblance to a t-shirt some of you might have in your collection, if you were a Doctor Who fan back in 2005...



As soon as the Christopher Eccleston story The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances had finished on Saturday night in May 2005, I was inspired to design a t shirt. I wanted to do it as a fun item which I would wear myself and, in order that I could afford to print them, I put the word out online. If ten people ordered a shirt, at a tenner each, then I could afford to print them. I ended up selling 300 shirts, which was a little more than I'd originally planned. A good few orders came from the staff at the BBC in Cardiff. Steven Moffat bought three.

Since I wasn't producing them officially, it was only right that, by the autumn of 2005, I'd stopped printing them. So anyone who owns one is in possession of a valuable limited edition. And now here's someone with a design which is possibly inspired by mine, but who can really say? As Steven Moffat said when he bought some original Gasmask shirts from me and I said "I hope you don't think I'm ripping you off?": "I didn't invent gasmasks, or motherhood, I just think it's a cool shirt."

 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Flame Haired Dynamo at Hull Truck, art by Kev F

Guess who's making his debut on stage with Hull Truck Theatre tonight?



I'm delighted honoured and flattered to have been asked to produce the drawings that are projected as part of The Flame Haired Dynamo, Hull Truck's brand new Christmas play, opening tonight in Hull. It's a cracking comedy by Mick Martin, directed by Nick Lane, which features at the heart of the story the football comics of the 1970s.

Which is why, for the last month, I've had my nose buried in piles of Scorcher and Roy Of The Rovers comics, of which I happen to have a few, trying to emulate the style, and the hairstyles, of those fascinating comics. I've tweaked the colouring in a Lichtensteinian pastiche style, and the lettering is big enough for you to read, but at its heart the art is a homage to that genre of comics.

I inherited a boxload of Scorcher comics years ago, from a neighbour in Kibworth I think, dating from 1972 to 1974, and looking at them now I find they have a range of storytelling that I don't think I really appreciated as a kid. Well, I didn't read football comics, I was busier reading funny books and then Marvel comics. So I missed out on tales like Raven On The Wing - a gypsy boy ostracised by society who is redeemed by his ability to play football, Hot Shot Hamish an oversized Scottish farm hand ostracised by society who is redeemed by his ability to play football, Legs Eleven a team of ex-prisoners ostracised by society who are redeemed by... well, you get the picture.



The Flame Haired Dynamo, with pictures in the background by Kev F (and co-starring Dave McCready, as seen in The Manchester Sitcom Trials), is on at Hull Truck Theatre until the New Year. Book now - make it your GOAALLLL!!!!

"Ingenious and ambitious" - a 4 star review for the Flame Haired Dynamo, with a mention for me, in What's On Stage.
"A lovely nod to the transforming power of fiction" - another good review, and namecheck, in The Stage.



Friday, 22 November 2013

Slap The Teacher - new comics by kids


How's this for a bumper bundle of comics produced by pupils in my Comic Art Masterclasses in Dublin, Scunthorpe, Corfe Castle and Bradford On Avon in the last fortnight? They range in age from primary year 3 to 6th formers, the difference in age probably showing in some of the titles they've come up with. Gavin's Dad Takes It Up The Pacific Ring Of Fire? Those weren't the year 3 kids.



Elmo, I discovered after he'd come up twice in the week in Ireland, was not the character from Sesame Street but is from Love Hate an Irish crime drama which is a major hit with 11-15 year olds in at least two schools in Dublin. The celebrities they came up with for the 'treads on a worm' demonstration were pleasantly Simon Cowell-light (in Ireland at least where, sadly, Doctor Who also can't get arrested and was never mentioned) were Susan Boyle, George Lucas, Cheryl Cole, Nidge (also from Love Hate), Harry Hill, Richard Hammond, Barry Scott (from the Cillit Bang adverts), Elvis Presley, Robbie Williams and newest name to my old ears Ariana Grande.

As always I'm available to come and teach kids at your school, library or art centre how to do what I've been doing for a living for the last 25 years, and as you can see distance is no object (next week Guildford and Falkirk. I know). Haven't you seen the new video promoting my classes? Well since you asked so nicely...


Don't Believe Everything You See In A Comic Done By A Child - comics by kids Oct 13
The Dog Did It - Aug 2013
Bunny Dood Defeats King Lettis - July 2013
I Flushed My Magical Penguin Down The Toilet - Mar 2013
The Bean Men - Feb 2013
Aquatic Owls vs The Moon - Dec 2012
Kid Afro Spaghetti - June 2012 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Ultimate Argument Against Scottish Independence

If you ever wanted a good argument against Scottish independence, all you need to do is spend a night in a hotel room in Ireland and try and watch the telly...



I'm currently in Dublin for three day's teaching comics in schools, and Hev's with me celebrating her birthday with her first trip to the fair city, and so far we're loving it. But who doesn't like to watch a bit of telly when you get back to the room? Well, don't get your hopes up when you're in Ireland because, even if your choice isn't as limited as the Charles Stewart Guesthouse which has managed to dodge the digital switchover and is offering us three TV channels (four if you count the gaelic one), one of which is a grainy and barely perceptible RTE2.

Suddenly it strikes me, this is what it will be like if Scotland votes for independence. No BBC!!!!

Check out BBC iPLayer (above). Well tough, you can't. And the same goes for ITVplayer. Yes, you might be in a country that's right next door to the one you're used to, one that supplies half the comedians and most of the musicians, but you try watching Doctor Who The Ultimate Guide or (tomorrow night) An Adventure In Time & Space, and you can forget it. Once Scotland cuts itself off from the BBC it can wave goodbye to all the great TV you get to make when you have 60 million punters' licence fees to draw on. We'll have to get used to the level of telly you can afford to make with 5 million peoples' money. Ever watched Australian TV? Or RTE? Well, it'll be like that, but with more White Heather Club.

And do you know I didn't have an opinion on the Independence debate till now. Well now I do. Lord Reith was Scottish, think on't.

(Here's Mitch Benn's Proud Of The BBC song again. Now imagine it with every non-Scottish programme taken out. Shudder. Oh and did I mention Doctor Who can't get arrested in Ireland?)

Update (Tuesday): Courtesy of Ian Ellery on Facebook I have been alerted to Hola.org which enables you to unblock sites from foreign countries, so now I can watch BBC iPlayer. I take it all back. Scotland may vote freely knowing they're not going to lose the BBC after all, they can always sneak under the fence and nick it. It won't mention Scotland ever, and you'll never see another Scottish MSP on Question Time, but at least it'll be there. Tonight we shall catch up on Only Connect and University Challenge, yes that's how exciting my life is.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Last O'Gowrie


Here, courtesy of Gareth & Sara at the Lass, we see Waris Hussein, the very first director of Doctor Who, and his partner posing with the Socks after our last ever show at the Lass O'Gowrie.

So it was that the Lass O'Gowrie was home to the last date of the Socks' Autumn 2014 Socks In Space tour. We have a couple more dates still to go, including two Christmas specials and some private parties, but the main bulk of our shows, those in which the Socks perform a 60 or 90 minute show, including this year's new Edinburgh sci-fi themed show, have come to a close. When we resume in the new year, with dates to be announced, we'll be presenting material from the new show, Art, along with a fresh assortments of tried and tested favourites.

This weekend's gigs saw us go from Hull's New Clarence (part of the Hull Comedy Festival) Thursday, to Barton On Humber's Ropewalk (pronounce it Rurp-walk, they like that) Friday, to Chorley Little Theatre Saturday and finally - with a slight Doctor Who special (as part of their Who At 50 celebrations) - to Manchester's Lass O'Gowrie.



And what a momentous but sad occasion the Lass show turned to be. For, just before a sellout show, which went a treat by the way, I discovered from Gareth (Kavanagh, the former manager) that the Lass as we know it is about to close. The brewery, Greene King, is seemingly unimpressed by the Lass's winning of the Pub Of The Year Award last year, and by Lassfest - the team's year-round assortment of live entertainment which has included the best in pub theatre and comedy, and is getting rid of its current tenants.

Gone will be the home of The Sitcom Trials in Manchester -  it being The Lass O'Gowrie who chose to revive The Sitcom Trials in 2010 leading to the revived Bristol, London and Edinburgh shows -  and a venue that the Socks have graced every year without fail for longer than we can remember (that is to say I can't remember whether it was 2008, but let's say it probably was). We have been the tiniest part of this fantastic venue's unique menu of events and it's change of use will be a dreadful loss to Manchester's entertainment scene.

I look forward to Gareth, Lisa and their colleagues bouncing back in other venues soon. But for the meantime I mourn the passing of a favourite venue which has done us proud and without which the last few years of my work would be very different.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bananaman by me in this week's Beano



With the greatest pleasure I find today that I'm back in The Beano after a short while away from its pages. It's my script for Bananaman, the first of a few, drawn by the wonderful Wayne Thompson, and since Wayne is happy for his work to go unsigned, my script appears anonymously. (Anyone who knows how vain I am will know I usually plaster my name all over my own artwork and I'm hoping my script credit will be appearing on future strips).

If anyone's interested in how I work, I've shown a snippet of the printed strip and, below it, my original script. I deliver my scripts in the form of a biro layout, an it's fun to see how another artist improves upon my original scribble. If you want to see the rest of the strip and its twist ending, buy The Beano. Still only 2 quid, and full of top notch stuff (my current fave is Jamie Smart's Roger The Dodger, which we all strive to be as good as).

Keep an eye out for more scripts from me, on Bananaman and Biffo The Bear, and if I get a moment I'll be seeing if I can't draw something too.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Downton Abbey does The Walking Dead - new Socks video



Following the last episode of the latest series of Downton Abbey, the Socks couldn't resist looking at how that programme might depict a zombie invasion. They hope you enjoy it.

 

SOCKS IN SPACE - The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour...NOW!
Nov 14 - Hull Comedy Festival
Nov 15 - Ropewalk, Barton On Humber
Nov 16 - Chorley Little Theatre
Nov 17 - Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester 
Nov 30 - Christmas Special, Camden Head, London
Dec 6 - Christmas Special, Ring O'Bells, Bath
Feb 2014 - Leicester, Stirling, Aberystwyth
Mar  - Largs, Croydon, Harrogate, Glasgow
Apr - Bath, Kirkcaldy, Stroud
May - Exeter, Keighley, Aylesbury, Brighton
June - Derby, Halifax
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