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

Socks 2014 Art Calendar - out now



Announcing The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's brand new 2014 calendar, on the theme of Art. If you click on the link you'll be able to check out the 12 pages, featuring thirteen different modern artists' work, all re-appropriated by and starring the Socks (and drawn by that Kev F out of The Beano who'd like everyone to know he's got a degree in Fine Art).

See every artist from Picasso to Christo, Frida Kahlo to Gilbert & George, via Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, Marcel Duchamps, Roy Lichtenstein, Eduardo Paolozzi and more, all with gratuitous Socks. And all for just £9.25 from Lulu.com. Order it now for Christmas, you won't be disappointed.

 

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

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Socks on Art - The YBAs



Brand new from the Socks, a silly little new sketch, partly to air some gags about art, but mostly to tease you all with the images from the brand new Socks calendar for 2014. Can you guess this year's subject, and can you spot all the, er, subjectees hidden in the background of this video?

 

SOCKS IN SPACE - The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour...NOW!
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

Monday, 4 November 2013

Get Socky - new video from the Socks



At last, a video for Get Socky, the Scottish Falsetto Socks' take on Daft Punk's single of the year. We recorded it back in April but never got round to shooting a video. It was hearing the audience's reaction to it when we play it as interval music that reminded me it needed a wider airing. Enjoy.

 

SOCKS IN SPACE - The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour...NOW!
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

Travels with my art, good to be busy


The Socks set on stage at a particularly Halloweeny Ace Centre in Nelson

It's been a very busy week and a bit, both travelling with my art and also sat at my desk.

On the road I've just completed a weekend which saw the Socks play the ACE Centre in Nelson Lancs Friday, then a sellout solo 90 minute Saturday night show at the Carriageworks in Leeds, followed by a day of Comic Art Masterclasses at Sci Fest in the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe (which, newly renovated and fantastically equipped as it is, still brings to mind the classic Jasper Carrot routine Scunthorpe Baths).

This three day excursion, for which Hev joined me for two pleasant overnight stays in Burnley and Leeds, and a lengthy 5 and a half hour drive up on Friday with a lighter 4 hour trip back Sunday night, with that delightful feeling of satisfaction of a job well done that such an exhausting trip can give you. They were all great gigs, with lots of happy punters and the fillip of being reminded one can be pretty good at doing what one does for a living. (This, of course, follows last weekend's Socks tour of Horsham, Margate and Canterbury, which did very much the same.)


A flipchart, Scunthorpe, yesterday

But it was at my desk that the week was completed, with a particularly productive burst of work. As an aside I rattled off two Socks videos, a new sketch BBC Weather Map and a re-recording of Halloween, but those were a cough and a spit. I also began work on illustrations I'm going to be doing for a new play at Hull Truck Theatre, a novel commission which I must get completed in the coming week.

But the best work is the one I can't really talk about yet. I've written a whole load of brand new sketches, on a certain theme, all for the Socks, and assembled them as a first draft of a pilot episode of a TV show. I've met with some people about it and I'm waiting to see what they think. As part of the material I've presented to them, the Socks have recorded a video which, very unusually for me, I haven't immediately stuck on Youtube or the world to see. It's strange for me not to share things as soon as I've done them, and if any interest is shown in this material I'd like to perform it in front of an audience as soon as possible to find out if it's as funny as I think. But even if it goes no further in a hurry telly-wise, and I'm hoping it will, I'm sitting on almost enough scripts and more than enough ideas for next year's Edinburgh show. On which subject I have some money to chase, if you'll excuse me...



Friday, 1 November 2013

November in the Socks calendar - Back To The Future



It's November, and the penultimate image on the Socks' 2013 Sci Fi calendar is Back To The Future, a film which ended up getting a one-line mention in our Socks In Space show, as it appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe and now on tour (blink and you'll miss it, and if we cut the Ding Ding Who's At The Door routine, as we do quote a lot recently, then you'll miss it entirely. Basically don't come to the show expressly for the Back To The Future line, yeah?)

Really must publish that 2014 calendar, mustn't we? Watch this space. In the meantime, you can buy the 2013, 2012 and 2011 calendars whenever you want.


 



SOCKS IN SPACE - The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are on tour... NOW!

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
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