Monday, 28 March 2016

Your First/Best/Worst Batman/Superman/Doctor Who etc?

A lot of people don't like Batman v Superman, that's pretty clear. And one thing that comes up in a lot of comments are comparisons. Ben Affleck's Batman is compared favourably with his predecessors, while Zack Snyder's direction is compared favou.. no, no it isn't. And that made me think, who was my first, and was it my favourite? I've gone through the list thinking of my First, Best & Worst, cos it's a Bank Holiday and I don't have to get on with my work if I don't have to. You might care to offer yours so we can compare.

BATMAN
First? Adam West (saw the TV show before I'd ever seen the comic)
Best? Neal Adams & Dennis O'Neill (early 70s comic strips, defines the image of the character for me. Though Frank Miller's stories have lasted better, his designs less so)
Worst? Christian Bale. I know the films are well told, but I find the over-self-seriousness too much. you've got pointy ears and you wear your pants outside your trousers, you're not Dostoevsky.



SUPERMAN
First? Superman v Spider-Man (1976 team-up comic. I was a Marvel reader so this was the first DC comic I'd ever bought. Found the Superman characters less interesting than the Marvel ones)
Best? Christopher Reeve (especially in Superman 2 which I spent 1981 raving about)
Worst? Every film since Superman 3, and every comic since that Alan Moore one 30 years ago. Turns out I don't find Superman very interesting.

SPIDER-MAN
First? Steve Ditko & Stan Lee, reprinted in Pow comic.
Best? Gil Kane, my favourite Spidey artist, from the 70s.
Worst? Todd McFarlane. Style over basic figure-drawing ability.

DOCTOR WHO
First? Jon Pertwee
Best? David Tennant
Worst? Every fan video I've ever seen where the writer/director/star plays the Doctor. (Except for that Hillywood Show one, that's brilliant)

JAMES BOND
First? Roger Moore (Man With The Golden Gun, for Frazer Newell's birthday party)
Best? Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager (way better than any Bond I've seen)
Worst? Woody Allen in Casino Royale

SHERLOCK HOLMES
First? Tom Baker, on the telly in 1979
Best? Benedict Cumberbatch
Worst? I've only read a few of the Conan Doyle short stories and thought they were a bit meh.





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 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

New Comic Art Masterclass promo video


A brand new video promoting my Comic Art Masterclasses, how do you like the sound of that? Produced for the two reasons that a) I had a new video clip of me working in a school that I wanted to utilise, and b) I've long disliked my hairstyle in the most recent video, this is now the fourth time I've made a video saying the same basic thing, and the third making garish use of green screen.

This is the most Better Call Saul-ish video I've done so far, though when I showed it to Hev her first comment was "Cillit Bang". So, I'm going for cheesy. I hope everyone likes it.



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 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Book of Esther script finished


After an inordinately long wait I finally delivered the script for my comic strip adaptation of the Book of Esther to Bible Society yesterday (the day before Good Friday, which seemed like a good deadline to meet. Purim itself just ended. How perfectly timed is that?*).

My adaptation, laid out in rough drawing form (as you see above and below) on a 9 panel grid, runs to 26 pages. I'm rather pleased with it, though I say so myself, and am keeping fingers crossed that I now get the commission to draw it.



Because of the slightly over-laborious process I use to "sell" my scripts, laying them out in visual form rather than just delivering a typescript, I have had a good few opportunities to read, re-read and review the script, and already I'm spotting bits I want to change. There are also parts I'd love to expand. If they really thought it worthwhile, I could expand the story to over 40 pages, and give myself the opportunity for some good scene-setting larger panels, and to expand certain scenes. Even at 26 pages we're speeding through some parts, eg how Mordecai occupies the year he spends waiting outside the Palace gates while Esther's inside getting pampered by Eunuchs (the Eunuchs routine is the only musical number I put in, though there is scope for more. But I'm getting carried away here).

It might not seem much, to my Facebook-full of fellow writers who are rattling out novels and year-long comic book story arcs in this length of time (I started work on Esther in January), but it is the longest single comic strip story I've written for five years** and possibly the most satisfying single thing I've written. Let's see what a) my publishers and b) the world thinks.


(*The longest strip in 2015's Socks graphic novel is the 15 page Christmas Carol. Back in 2011 I wrote and co-drew a 28-page Captain Clevedon, and scripted the second issue, still waiting to be drawn, and wrote and drew a 24 page Sinnerhound. My Bananaman stories of 2013/14 add up to a few dozen pages, but the longest serial only amounted to an 8-pager; and everything else I've worked on has been short strips, the Pansy Potter's all being quarter-pagers, and Samson's Philistine Wife only running to four pages. The last time I was full-time occupied writing and drawing long comic strips was my Bash St Adventures run on the Beano, 2004-09, where my strips would regularly be 16 pages long.)

(**Easter may be March 24th, but I notice Passover isn't until April 21st. How does that work?)



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, 23 March 2016

Kev F in action, video from Wanborough School


Click the photo and you'll see a video of me in action doing my Comic Art Masterclass at Wanborough Primary School in Swindon earlier this month. A wonderful and rare 11 minutes of video. Obviously it's hard, if not impossible, for me to video myself doing a class in a school, so my thanks to teacher Mr Woodman who was able to shoot and upload this. Not for wider circulation, naturally. Do please enjoy.





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

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A Rime & A Disaster - two new Socks videos for World Poetry Day


Did you know it was World Poetry Day? neither day I till it was halfway through. But regardless, the Socks took the opportunity to record not one but two new videos to commemorate the event. Above we see their take on Coleridge's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. And as if that weren't enough...



Way back in the earliest earliest days of the Socks, they gave a reading of McGonagall's Tay Bridge Disaster and stuck it on Youtube. That's long lost to the mists of time, but this gives it a fresh lease on life, and jolly good fun it is too. In both instances you just click to play, but you knew that.


Mar 12 - Chorley Little Theatre 
Mar 24 - New Greenham Arts, Newbury 
Apr 9 - Widcombe Social Club, Bath Comedy Festival
May 8 - Derby Comedy Festival 5.30pm
May 19 - Old Joint Stock Birmingham
May 22 - Komedia, Brighton Fringe
May 28 - Ards Puppet Festival, Newtonards
July 3 - Derby Bar One 2pm 
July 8 - Flavel, Dartmouth
July 10 - Tring Festival 
July 21 - Barnes Fringe
July 22 - Bedford Fringe
Aug 3-28 - Edinburgh Fringe

Saturday, 19 March 2016

New website design, and adsense returns


Having finally got back to my desk after more than a week away on the road, and with so much important creative work to do (Book of Esther needs laying out and Socks Shakespeare needs writing), I of course spent the afternoon redesigning part of my website. So now the Comic Art Masterclass pages have a new Wix site design. Let me know if it doesn't work. Hopefully this makes the operation look a little bit slicker.


Ironically I'm unable to add Adsense adverts to this new website, and this is the very week that my Adsense adverts were returned to me after 3 years in the not-earning-anything-from-your-websites-or-videos wilderness. Still I can add them to this blog. Pretty things, ain't they? So far this week I've earned 9p. Ker-ching!




Friday, 18 March 2016

10 new flipcharts from Comic Art Masterclass schools


Sometimes I take the opportunity to pose beside them for a cheesy photograph, sometimes I manage to get a snap of the flipchart itself. But usually, when I'm setting up for a Comic Art Masterclass, I try and draw a flipchart page full of various comic strip characters, to set the tone for the day, give us some reference, and to impress kids. "How are you doing that?" is the most inexplicably common questions I am asked while I am, rather obviously, copying a picture of a superhero out of a comic. Showing them how easy this can be is a revelation to more kids than you would think.


In Hexham I went for Iron Man, though I'm always aware I need to get female characters on there. The chances of kids asking for a female character are extremely rare, but I do my utmost to redress the balance. Also you'll see Homer Simpson wearing a necklace and with eyelashes. This is a fun routine I do with them occasionally. "Who am I drawing?" I ask, as the outline looks really obviously like Bart, then it starts to look like it could be Lisa or Marge, then suddenly it turns into Homer for comedic effect. The fact that all the Simpsons have identical features is news to them.



Here in Amble I went for Wonder Woman, as I do more than most other choices, and they wanted a Darth Vader so they got one. Frustratingly, hardly anyone recognised Minnie The Minx, though a few knew it was "that bloke from Beano".


Crickhowell got the whole Homer-in-a-dress routine, and a dreadful looking Batman, but sadly I seem to have left this one unfinished, as so often happens when the kids can't be kept waiting any longer. Who's the face between Captain America's legs you ask?


As you've probably guessed, that's me I've drawn. In this case, at a class at Allendale near Hexham, I've also tried drawing Iron Man out of my head while talking to the kids at the same time. That rarely looks great.


This unfinished arrangement, from a class at Astley Hall in Chorley, features the Spider-Man pose from the new Captain America Civil War trailer, with which the kids were au fait, and also a Doctor Who pose. If there are Doctor Who fans in the room (and often there are none these days) I give them a choice of a Dalek or the Doctor, then if they choose the latter, I ask which Doctor they want. More often than not it's David Tennant.




And in Gloucester it's a straightforward classic, with Dennis The Menace drawn live while talking (basically if it looks a bit rubbish, I was drawing and trying to talk to kids over my shoulder at the same time), and the Simpson drawing ended up as Marge, while definitely have veered between being Bart and Lisa en route.


All Saints Reading got an Iron Man, clearly from comic book reference, with Dennis, Dalek and Batman drawn live. The 3D title always impresses them, and along the way shows them how easily the effect can be achieved.


World Book Day in Darlington gets the works, with the added indulgence of a Tintin and an Asterix, because we were in a library which had such books to hand, so I like to plug them if I can. Spider-Man and Minnie drawn so live it's painful to look at.


Ooh, I've gone for the generic Comic Art Masterclass title this time, which is a shame cos that means I've no idea where this one comes from. Bart turns into Marge, live, and Spider-Man looks a bit rubbish. And how big do I think my hair is?




Ten flipcharts, and by golly there are plenty more out there. If you want me to come to your school or art centre, teach comics and, as an incidental by product, leave you with a flipchart you can't get rid of, you know where to find me.



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


Big Bum Barry - comics by kids, Northumberland to South Wales


This week's Comic Art Masterclasses have taken me from the north of Northumberland to the valleys of South Wales, via Chorley, with classes of pupils creating the usual diverse bundle of comic characters, strips and comics. Here are the front covers from a school in Hexham and one in nearby Allendale. Oh yes, it's been two schools a day for half the week. Be impressed.


And here are the sort of titles you wait ages for, a chance to draw Kim Jong Un eating KFC and George Washington being a cannibal. These two from Ovingham school, whose art teacher Neil is building a museum to house his collection of memorabilia, which includes a Dalek (there's actually a Dalek and a half in the art room) and an original Sea Devil arm. Again, so much to be impressed by this week.



These comics are from schools in Amble and Newbiggin, which may be as far north as I've taught while still being in England, and both courtesy of the Hexham Book Festival, without whose funding my flight to Newcastle, hire car and three nights in the Holiday Inn would have been prohibitive.


What are the chances of two fat bottom related comic titles coming up in the same week? As always, I get the entire class to write a title down on a piece of paper, then we play a knockout game until we've found the best of the thirty or so options. So these eight comics are the choice selection of over 200 brilliant suggestions. No-one fell into the usual cliches of writing "I Don't Know", "LOL", "YOLO", or "Your Mum".


The celebrities they chose for the Treads On A Worm demonstration strip showed an awareness of topical matters with Donald Trump being chosen three times, alongside Ant McPartlin, Lionel Messi, Justin Bieber, Simon Cowell, and, most original suggestion of the week, Ghandi.



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

Monday, 14 March 2016

Prospero, Mark Anthony & Lear - new from the Socks


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are doing Shakespeare this year, and as well as the brand new funnies, they've had a look at some classic Shakespeare passages and played them straight. Here are their attempts at Prospero, King Lear and Mark Anthony. Normal, funny, service, will be resumed shortly.






Mar 12 - Chorley Little Theatre 
Mar 24 - New Greenham Arts, Newbury 
Apr 9 - Widcombe Social Club, Bath Comedy Festival
May 8 - Derby Comedy Festival 5.30pm
May 19 - Old Joint Stock Birmingham
May 22 - Komedia, Brighton Fringe
May 28 - Ards Puppet Festival, Newtonards
July 3 - Derby Bar One 2pm 
July 8 - Flavel, Dartmouth
July 10 - Tring Festival 
July 21 - Barnes Fringe
July 22 - Bedford Fringe
Aug 3-28 - Edinburgh Fringe

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

My Nan Knows Your Mum - comics by kids for World Book Week (part 2)


Nan / Naan, do you see what I just did there? Those were the year 8 & 9 pupils from Gloucester Academy, getting a couple of Comic Art Masterclasses to round off an over-extended World Book Week, whereby everyone wanted me on World Book Day itself, and settled for a date nearby. They all went home with a comic, containing a strip by every one of them and a caricature by me. And what great titles they came up with.


Wanborough Primary in Swindon must take credit for the best title of the month. Knock Knock Blood Bath! would be a great title for a movie, wouldn't it?



And Revenge Of Sir Bobalob The Noob is another classic. The kids this week were such a delight to work with and full of such novel ideas, there's nothing much to say but to admire their wonderful work.


The celebrities they suggested to Tread On A Worm were Cristiano Ronaldo, Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, Simon Cowell, John Cena and Taylor Swift.



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

Big Bad Bacon Squad - kids comics from World Book Week (part 1)


World Book Day took place on March 3rd this year, and is by far and away the potentially busiest day of my Comic Art Masterclass year, or would be if there was some way of franchising myself out, or perhaps cloning myself so I could do classes in two places at once. Had I been able to accede to every request that came my way I would have been appearing in around two dozen different schools and libraries on that day. As it was, Darlington Library got their bid in nearly a year ago and bagsied me. However the rest of the week, and the surrounding weeks too, were almost as popular. And so it was that I found myself working 6 days a week, three weeks in a row. These comics (above) are from All Saints Juniors in Reading. As are...


... these. Working with all the year 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s across two days, I also managed to do an assembly for the infants and a talk to the parents too. The good pupils of Reading certainly got the best of my attention and, of course, produced some sterling work.



As did the pupils from a few different primary schools who were brought together for a pair of classes at Darlington Library. Yes, Darlington is quite a long drive, now you ask, but worth every mile to end up with an Angry Donald Trump On The Loo. Added to this journey, I then drove to Hull to compere a Sitcom Trials in the evening, after which I drove down to the halfway point of Leicester for a brief overnight sleep, after which it was back to Reading for Day Two. Yes, I do work out this schedule myself.


And as a bonus we have here a selection of kids faces, caricatured by me as per usual, with the extra added spin of them being dressed up in their World Book Day fancy dress. Also Cruns, a comic produced by the girls of St Marys Ascot, to whom I gave a Saturday morning class while also presenting a piece of my original art to the winner of a Bible Society writing competition. And wait for it, there are more World Book Week comics still to come.


The celebrities these various groups chose to Tread On A Worm were: Justin Bieber (twice), The Queen, Elvis Presley, Donald Trump, Adele and Kim Kardashian.



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

Saturday, 5 March 2016

In Praise of The Secret History Of Hollywood


It began with a question asked on Facebook by Michael Legge. He'd listened to lots of comedians' podcasts and wanted recommendations for more. Many suggestions came in. I, for my part, suggested the best of BBC iPlayer Radio, which has formed the bulk of my in-car listening on my travels since I got my new car with its Bluetoothed jiggery-pokery a little over a year ago. (I began by discovering Serial, then being run on 4Extra, then soon discovered the rest of iPlayer radio, so I no longer needed to listen to what was on live. Then I found the archive podcasts including hundreds of Alistair Cooke's Letters From America. And so much more).


Someone, in Michael's replies, recommended The Secret History Of Hollywood so heartily I downloaded it and lined it up to play on my next journey. Having already listened to a few podcasts, I was geared up to expect a programme of between half an hour and an hour. Yet after a two hour car journey, this podcast about the history of Universal Pictures' monster movies, was still going on. As it happened I had another 2 hour car journey at the end of the same day, by the end of which the podcast was still going on.

In the end this single episode of The Secret History Of Hollywood turned out to be four and a half hours long. And four and a half of the best written, most riveting hours, that they made the time fly by as if I were reading a book on a train journey. But, unlike a talking book or a work by someone I'd ever heard of before, this was a podcast. A free podcast, easily the length of a book, and telling the story of this part of Hollywood's history better than I'd heard it told before. Who on earth makes this thing?


The answer is not immediately easy to come by. Even when you read the About page on his own website, which explains how his podcast about movies, Attaboy Clarence, expanded into the full length documentaries I've started listening to, you learn how he has a day job as a chef, that he has three kids and a loving wife. But you don't find his actual name.

However as this article, which he kindly links to, reveals, his name is Adam Roche, and this series of documentaries is a genuine labour of love that's grown from a hobby, and is produced when time allows. I sincerely hope time does allow him to do more because, although I haven't embarked upon listening to the shorter Attaboy Clarence podcasts themselves, the full length documentaries have seen me through some epic car journeys this last month.

Most impressive has been the Adventures of Alfred Hitchcock, which comes in three separate chunks, the first being 5 and a half hours long, the second five hours, and the final part an astonising 9 and a quarter hours. Yes, that's just short of 20 hours of one man reading his book about Alfred Hitchcock. That would be a 6 month long TV series on BBC 4 in old money. In fact I hope it becomes just that, because I can't imagine anyone writing it better.

Individual chapters about, for example, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, or Grace Kelly, are stand alone books in themselves.

Having also got through Hunting Witches With Walt Disney - the story of the Communist Witch Hunts of the 40s and 50s (I now know more about Dalton Trumbo and Dorothy Comingore than I ever did before); Sex In Monochrome (the Hayes committee); Universal Monsters; and The Game Is Afoot - the story of the Rathbone and Bruce Sherlock Holmes series; I only have Bullets and Blood (gangsters) to go and I'm all out of Secret Histories.

It's possible to support Adam's podcasts through Patreon, and I would urge everyone to do so. And to listen to these podcasts if you, like me, spend entire days driving, and love a well written history of the movies.



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