Sunday, 20 August 2017

Bloodstock, Camden, Kirkcaldy - Socks do variety

After a quiet month for the Socks, we crammed quite the variety of gigs into a week, giving ourselves a mini Edinburgh Fringe experience to boot.

Last Saturday saw the Socks playing the New Blood stage at Bloodstock, a Heavy Metal festival in Derbyshire. And very heavy metal it is too, the sort where the vocalists scream constantly and the guitars don't stop for breath. Quite how comedy was going to go down there was hard to predict. But what do you know, being the middle of three acts, doing just 20 minutes, we went down brilliantly.

We gave them I'm A Sock, Halloween, Michael Jackson, Walk On The Wild Side and Sweary Poppins, all self-teched by me from my ipod taped to the set, and that was twenty minutes flown by in a blink. Smashing crowd.

The on Wednesday and Thursday the Socks played The Bill Murray pub as part of The Camden Fringe (thanks to Louisa Gummer for the photo). Advance sales were slow, though I have to say I enjoyed having the Red61 ticket sales to check every day, giving me a small taste of the Edinburgh experience that we're missing this year. When it came to it though, Wednesday had about 30 in, and Thursday looked dangerously close to a sellout (the room only holds 50). At time of writing I only know the advance sales and can't see the door sales, but they were both cracking gigs, getting us a 4 star review and being a perfect end to the Socks Do Shakespeare spring tour.

Then on Friday it was off to Kirkcaldy. A booking that I'd agreed to, initially hoping I'd surround it with classes in libraries up there and maybe make a week of it, it ended up with me flying, hiring a car, and staying over in a B&B, all to play a 10 minute slot (shortest slot of the year I think) in a variety show. So not a very profitable gig, but an enjoyable one.

And an interesting one. A young magician called Liam Black had organised it, and put together quite the most diverse bill I've ever been on. The Socks followed a childrens Pipe Band. Liam himself did fifty-year-old gags, some of which hadn't gone through a 21st century filter but the audience seemed to like them, and he did a lot of trad magic tricks, which again the coothy audience warmed to. There was a mind reader, a singer from a kids show called The Singing Kettle which I hadn't heard of but which was apparently massive in Scotland back in the day, and there was Dean Park, who's been in panto for 40 years and who tells The Comedians style of 1960s jokes (luckily racism free) in a cracking professional style, opening and closing with a cheesy song.

My favourite act was stand up David Kay, an actual circuit comic with a unique dry style which only some of the audience got, and with whom I went for a drink afterwards, learning a lot about the working of Scottish TV comedy (he;s had a few TV things, including a sitcom pilot made by the Absolutely guys). 

To round off my whistle stop Scottish tour, I made it into Edinburgh on Saturday morning before anyone was awake (well, from 10 - 11.30, so before any comedians were up) and got to feel a tiny bit of the Edinburgh vibe I've been missing. I smelled the Edinburgh smell! Also revisited our haunts of Bristo Square, seeing its remodelled look, Worlds End Close where we've stayed for two years, up the Royal Mile, down the Mound, past the Assembly Rooms, through Princes St Gardens, up The Vennel where we stayed two years ago, and away. And do you know what, I felt almost like I'd done Edinburgh, without having to form out six thousand quid for the privilege.

In the airport I started writing ideas, and even some bad gags, for what might turn out to be next year's show. I'm starting with Art as the subject, but that could change (art was to be the subject for 2015's show, before it morphed into Minging Detectives, so anything could happen). Best gag so far? "I discovered I could do modern art when I was tracing maps of the Middle East. I couldn’t do a trace of Beirut, I couldn’t do a trace of Egypt, but I could do a good Trace o’Yemen." So, a lot of work to do yet, eh.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax, Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Goole this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

★★★★ "In hysterics from start to finish" - Views From The Gods

A fab ★★★★ 4 star review of Socks Do Shakespeare at the Camden Fringe from Views From The Gods.

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Do Shakespeare needs no introduction - not least because the name explains what the show is about pretty damn well. A concept need not be intricate and lofty (nor particularly sane, for that matter) in order to be successful. Behold Kev F Sutherland, the man who dared put silly eyes on the ends of socks, give them ridiculous voices, dress them up in snazzy outfits and have them celebrate the Immortal Bard.
It seems that everything was thought of. The crowd was engaged even before the show started, with recorded falsetto sock puppet songs playing to warm them up. The buzz of anticipation that it created was tangible - they knew they were in for a good show.
And so it began. Two socks. After a warm-up song introducing our two performers, the pair launch - or try to launch - into the subject matter, only to have it descend repeatedly into arguments and misunderstandings. At once a tribute to the Sweet Swan of Avon and a musical, this show is a laugh a minute - or, to be more precise, a laugh every seven or eight seconds. That's as much as I'm prepared to say of the plot (hint: go and see it).

Did a couple of minor things go wrong? Maybe. If they weren't meant to happen then Sutherland recovered from them brilliantly, and they got a big laugh - so none of it mattered. There may not be any such thing as a perfect show, but keep it moving and the audience on your side, and you've won. The production - even though it was two Scottish sock puppets with high voices doing old theatre, in case you had somehow forgotten – also managed to be relevant to the world around it, with references to the location and a quick-thinking nod to current affairs. All of this serves to bring the piece alive just that little bit more.
What's more, despite crouching behind a screen in a very narrow space, Sutherland managed to bounce off the audience as if he could see them. They responded by remaining in hysterics from start to finish; indeed, one spectator behind me sounded like they were taking off at one point.
Whilst the main point of it is obviously Shakespeare, I hasten to add that this is definitely not just for connoisseurs - far from it, in fact the range of works covered ensures that everyone can relate. It certainly helped to have some well-read spectators there, but a smattering of Blur and some of Taylor Swift's earlier works will put you in just as good stead to enjoy it all. And if all else fails, it's two ridiculous sock puppets with silly voices, for goodness' sake.
In staging this, Sutherland set a considerable challenge with a high bar – don't be fooled, as sock puppetry is no child's play. Especially not when they're also falsetto, and doing Shakespeare. Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Do Shakespeare is equal parts reverent (to the Bard, who no doubt is grateful of the publicity), and irreverent (to miserable puritans who misguidedly believe that argumentative Scottish sock puppets have no place in historical theatre).
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Do Shakespeare opened on 16th August and runs until 17th August 2017 at The Bill Murray, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Socks Do Shakespeare at The Camden Fringe, August 16 & 17

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Nativity line art complete

It's a joy to have had a few days sat at my desk pencilling and inking some artwork old-style, which next week I'll get to colour. I wrote the whole thing, that is to say my 16 page humourous adaptation of The Nativity, last month.

This has been a perfect bit of timing, keeping me busy with desk work during August when normally I'd be up in Edinburgh. As a result, I'll ending up earning more this month than if I'd put an Edinburgh show on. But don't let me hear me say that, you'll put me off going back next year, which remains the plan.

As always, I've come up with some great gags I'm really pleased with in this adaptation for Bible Society, and am so pleased they've kept asking me to do them. I'm enjoying the development of the character of Herod, who I'm now doing for the second time, having created him for last year's Feeding Of The 5000.

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

Columnist? The mystery Private Eye cartoon

On August 11th I posted a question. Even I was surprised by the replies.

Am I being really dense? There's a cartoon in this week's Private Eye and I don't get it. He's got a pencil behind his ear and three ornate columns in his pocket. No caption. Am I going to feel really stupid when someone explains this to me?

Stephen White me.
Kevin Lyons Is a portrait of a 'columnist'?
Chris Okse Oxenbury Load of ariss
Jamie Neil Doric, Ionic & Corinthian...still nope!
Edward Knight Unless they're chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and he's a caricaturist, hence the pencil. ;)
Kev Sutherland Brilliant! I used to use that line (from Bowie's Bewlay Brothers, fact fans) in my stand up routine. I was the only person who ever got it.

Kev Sutherland I thought it might be a 'columnist' gag, but then it doesn't look like what you imagine a columnist to look like. Looks more like a designer to me.
Andrew Ness  I was thinking some sort of workman, with the pencil for his estimates?
Paul Savage It's that he's got a column in his pocket an he's pleased to see you... (I got nothing)
John B Wilkinson Architect, deciding which order to use? Not terribly amusing yet.
Tim Bateman Architect was my thought.

Kate Lennard Funny, I was staring at that for ages this morning thinking the same thing. But the 'Columnist' solution makes me really like it. Maybe they forgot to put in the title?
Johnny Nigma He looks like a fine upstanding pillar of the community who has now decided to pocket it away! :-O

Alistair Robb Private Eye hasn't had anything approaching humorous in decades.
Guy Venables now now
David Leach I beg to differ. They published one of my gags, what the great Will Dawbarn drew.
Dave Kendall I prefer Cow Tools. (Attached Gary Larson cartoon)
David Leach Saul Steinberg would smile at that one.

Will Dawbarn I prefer single column cartoons.
Ewen Macintosh I want to know if someone works it out so I'm just commenting for the notifications
Billy Rumbold ^^^^ I'm with him
Mat Troy Me too

Simon Thorp If you were doing a "columnist" joke, surely he'd be carving one out of a big block of marble and someone would be saying "I saw your latest column" or something. I've not really thought about it very hard.
Maria Burns  These may be his other pencils in his pocket. Still no why. Is there a context ?

Kev Sutherland Thanks to Guy for actually asking Nathan Ariss himself. Waiting with bated breath now. (This referred to someone tagging Nathan Ariss in the post, though that tag subsequently disappeared)
Irene Shettle Having read through all the postings to this point I was wondering if anybody had considered asking. (Embarassing though?)
Stephen White Me too...I like to think I'm pretty good at getting this sort of thing, but I'm stumped.
Melanie Gibson I don't get it. Thought architect, then got confused...
Andrew Dodd Technical drawing, technical pencil, architects
Wes Packer Are they just really fancy pen tops?
Nick Xylas I'm wondering whether there *is* a caption, but it somehow didn't get printed.

Barry Hutchison Beats me, but I want to know!

Jim Scott Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
Will Dawbarn Oh, the iony.
Maria Burns But why?
Jim Scott He's a Third Columnist.
Rik Edwards  Hislop signalling he wants more obscure jokes?

Richard Fitchett I looked at it and I looked at it and...
Will Averill Columnist? Maybe?
Wes Packer Three columns in his pocket, is he a Fourth Columnist, maybe?
Will Averill OOoooo...I like it. Like "I'm a columnist!".  It's a dumb joke tho

Red Redmond Columnist.
Russ Swan  If he was in a top hat and smoking a cigar I'd think he must be a capitalist, but he isn't. No help from me, then
Wendy Wason Hmmm. Columnist. 4th estate... tradesman... hmmm
Stephen White's an anti-ad?!

Simon Spencer Can I be the first to offer Nathan Ariss a hug if he's unfortunate enough to click on his tag? Seriously - this is like clicking on yourself on Goodreads
Tim Read Aren't the columns in his pocket the ends of 3 other pencils which are thus more ornate. Given he has a plain pencil behind his ear, it suggests that this is a simple cartoon. Well, that's my solution :-)
Gordon Rennie Yeah, that's kind of my interpretation. The three unused ornate pens are there for poseur display, and it's the plain pencil behind his ear that actually has a function.
Peter Clack ? πŸ˜•
Ade Brown We've got a right one 'ere.
Is the pencil shaped like a fourth column ?
Is it something about how he's got room in his pocket but prefers to keep the working pen out in the cold?
Is it an HB pencil?

David Bradley  Is it a self portrait?
Stephen White It's very obscure, and downright impossible if you haven't seen them, but after looking at Gordon's link, it would appear that he is choosing a simple pencil over the fancy pens.
AndrΓ© Vincent Is it because if he was an architect and he was to close one eye and lift up his pencil, a thing those clever people do, he would know which column to put there???
Ade Brown As the old proverb goes: the pencil is mightier than the c-word.
Nick Miller Write to Ian Hislop and ask him for an explaination. Don't forget to address him as 'sir', as in "Dear Sir Ian".

Graham Exton There's a Seinfeld episode about this type of thing.
Adam Morris You've caused a 'stir', Nathan Ariss
Louise Fairbairn Looks like they forgot to print the punchline..
Edith Moss Aren't there three 'pillars of democracy'? Something to do with someone having them all in their pocket? :/
Steve Bright Who's for a pillar fight...?

Kev Sutherland I really didn't think I'd trigger such debate, but delighted to find I'm not as dense as I thought. So, most likely option is that a) Nathan's cartoon is riffing on a popular design for pencil tops, which do exist though none of us has ever seen them. Or b) it's a joke about the guy being a columnist. Other brilliant theories, like Andre's architect, and Edith's pillars of democracy, seem no less likely. The mystery continues...
Wait, Gordon's link was pens, not pencils. So that still doesn't work.
Stephen White If I were the artist, I would never tell. Not now anyway!

Andrew Coupe As the cartoon is in the 'Nooks and Corners' section, which is about architecture, I think the joke is that the gentleman depicted is an architectural columnist.
Glenn B Fleming I think the clue is in the signature...
Stuart Hume The three columns seem to be specifically Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, respectively. The next order would be Composite, which is a type of pencil. Composite pencils were used throughout Europe but not England - until we ran out of graphite. 
   I'm not sure I've ever tendered a more tenuous answer to anything than this, but maybe someone here knows about Greek architectural orders and why/if they might be relevant.
Davey Jones This thread is the most chilling thing I've ever seen on the internet, and I follow Donald Trump on Twitter.
John Jackson i dont get it either
Ian Williams I have often been baffled by Private Eye cartoons in recent times. I thought it was just me. "Here's one for the teenagers- George Arliss - 'Rover, woof woof!'" (Tony Hancock with an impression that was decades out of date when he was doing it. He died in 1968.)😜

Kev Sutherland Oh, Andrew's hit on something - the cartoon IS at the foot of the Nooks & Corners column. So it's a drawing of an architectural columnist! Hooray! Solved it!. *Feels great wave of disappointment*
Eddy Brimson Not sure but Silky must be pleased
Tony Husband The three pillars of wisdom ?
John Elson It's hilarious isn't it......?
Hazel Humphreys I spent ten minutes staring at this cartoon. My best guess was that it was depicting an architect. But if that's the meaning it makes Doonesbury or Fred Bassett look funny in comparison
Andrew Birch  It's a delightful visual joke.
Adam Acidophilus  Is his name Collum? And is that a name?
Sally Ann Hamilton Most entertaining watching the pure bewilderment caused πŸ˜‚

Then - at long last, on August 15th, this comment came in:

Nathan Ariss Thanks for the comments and I enjoyed reading them all.

Kev Sutherland Hello Nathan! The most perfect conclusion to this thread. And please put us out of our misery. Was it an architectural columnist?
Ewen Macintosh Was anyone close? πŸ˜‰

At time of writing, Nathan hasn't explained the gag. Thanks everyone for joining in the guessing game.

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, 11 August 2017

Gooey Disease That Made Us Poop Rainbows - comics by kids

It's the summer holidays, so these classes have all had the extra unpredictability of not knowing who, if anyone, will turn up. Luckily for me they've rolled in for my classes and had the usual fab time. And, while they're at it, come up with some top titles for their comics. These, from the Cartoon Museum in London, are a couple of my favourites.

For the summer schools in Walthamstow, working in different schools in the morning and afternoon, we had fun even though the afternoon class boasted my smallest turnout of the year. Ironically the classes at the Cartoon Museum and Andover (below) were ticketed events and did well, while the Walthamstow classes were free and, in the case of the afternoon session, very nearly rained off. Another odd feature of these comics you see is that they remain 'virtual' comics. Usually I run off an A5 comic on the photocopier for everyone to take away, but in Walthamstow's case we had no access to the school copier, so the kids went home with their caricatures and their art - and they get to win the drawings from the flipchart too - but no comic. I add the colour to these covers when I get home.

And here are the comics by the kids at The Lights arts centre in Andover. Highest price ticket, highest turnout. What can I say?

The celebrities these 6 groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Donald Trump (twice), David Walliams, Will I Am, Usain Bolt and, most original of the bunch, Muhammed Ali.

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

This Week London - 3 to see

Check us out, all over This Week London

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Do Shakespeare | The Bill Murray | 16-17 Aug (pictured)
If you are in the mood to laugh your socks off, then spending a bit of time with the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre might well be in order. This act has been wowing our reviewers and their fellow audience members for years up at the old edfringe and if you haven’t ever seen them before it is totally time to put that right. See the venue website here for info.

Socks Do Shakespeare at The Camden Fringe, August 16 & 17 - Book now! 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Best Tour Ever update - even better than we thought

Having already written about how Socks Do Shakespeare was our best tour ever, I was delighted to get my settlement from Komedia Brighton today confirming that, not only did our shows there do better than last year, but the first of the two shows there was our biggest selling show of the tour.

This brings our average for the tour up above our guarantee across the board (average for turnover this is, I haven't calculated profit and loss, bearing in mind some gigs have higher travel and booking costs than others). Our top three shows, turnoverwise, were Brighton show 1, Rondo Bath, and Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Our poorest was The Bill Murray Pub in London (that's the dip you can see on the graph). And guess where we're playing two gigs next week? I am minded not to include them on this graph, cos everything looks so good as it is.

Happiness is writing the 88th invoice of the year, ending ..88, on the 8th of the 8th. Thankyou Komedia.

Socks Do Shakespeare at The Camden Fringe, August 16 & 17 - Book now! 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Missing Edinburgh already

Here are the Socks closing a festival, namely the Comedy Festival in Neath last Saturday, where we were in the middle of a stonking bill at the Gwyn Hall and played a blinder. And now, with the Socks back in their bag for most of the rest of the month, I'm being reminded daily about the Edinburgh Fringe, and missing it something rotten.

Here I am reading another history of 70 years of the Festival, in this weekend's Guardian. And here's me looking back, with the help of Alistair Moffat's book Fringe, bought a couple of years ago.

Having rediscovered Richard Herring's excellent Warming Up blog, which is the best way of feeling you're in Edinburgh without actually being there, I'm now reading about his 2014 Fringe, which was the last time he went. Anyone feeling bad about their experience, and particularly anyone worried about the amount of money they might be losing if the audiences don't turn up, will find some comfort in these diary pages.

It's painful to read lines like "...maybe my last ten shows ever at the Edinburgh Fringe, so don’t miss the anti-climax at the end of a quarter of a century of laughter and disappointment" even when you know he's writing with a bitter sense of humour, and that three years later he has returned. But, blimey, he wasn't a happy bunny at the time. I am reminded of my own Edinburgh Fringe 2002 (Sitcom Trials and solo show, both losing money daily, but I ended up getting a TV show out of it. So every cloud...)

I don't have a diary for those early years, probably just as well, but this blog records my Edinburghs since 2009, and I'm indulging myself in a reread of some of them. This wave of nostalgia was probably helped along by a spring clean I did in the office this week, which uncovered a load of cuttings I'd forgotten existed.

I am already looking forward to making a new show for 2018, with not the faintest idea what it'll be about. I've hardly written a word of Socks material this year, apart from a couple of videos that have been popular, but the Socks Do Shakespeare tour has been so satisfying it's been a reward in itself.

I've also, in the evenings, been "slurping" my 2015 blog into a Blurb book (for posterity, which I perversely think that paper offers more than the ephemeral internet) and rereading the run up to Edinburgh 2015. Hev remembers me as being quite down that year, and I confess I was disappointed with the show itself (Minging Detectives), but nothing compared to poor Richard Herring the previous year.

Of course he was getting broody cos he'd been going up every year since 1987. Hah. We first went to Edinburgh, admittedly as punters, back in 1984. We loved it so much we came back in 85 and 86, then pretty well every other year for the next 15 years until, as if to ruin our favourite holiday, in 2001 I came up and put on a show. Since when we've hardly stayed away

2001 - put on The Sitcom Trials, with Miranda. Made money. Thought I'd cracked Edinburgh.
2002 - put on The Sitcom Trials again, and a solo show. Lost money. Result misery (and a TV show).
2004 - Sitcom Trials again, probably broke even, honestly can't remember.
2007 - Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. Genius. A show that's funny, it sells well, and I don't have to divide the money between 5 people. Result joy.
2008 - 2010, three more Scottish Falsetto Sock shows (Return, Hollywood & On The Telly), each more successful than the last (even won an award one year).
2012 - 2016, five more Scottish Falsetto Sock shows (Boo Lingerie, In Space, And So Am I, Minging Detectives and Shakespeare) all doing almost exactly as well as each other. Result more joy. (And two more Sitcom Trials, in 2013 and 2016, both great fun, both lost money).

But you've got to take a year off sometime. 2011 we took off because someone who owed us money for our 2010 show didn't pay us till the following Spring, so we had little choice. But this year I'd decided to take off a year in advance, and luckily Shakespeare was such a good show that we had our best tour ever and I'm having a deserved break. You do realise most people don't go up to Edinburgh every blooming year! It's probably only Herring and us that are so mad we forgot it's not compulsory.

Socks Do Shakespeare at The Camden Fringe, August 16 & 17 - Book now! 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Trump's Wall Of Fame - 6 months of comics by kids

By the end of last year, the pupils in my Comic Art Masterclasses had come up with 19 Trump-themed comic book covers, out of the hundreds we produced together. This year already, at the halfway mark, they've already come up with a dozen.

Once a Trump title comes up, in the pile of up to 30 titles we chose from (each pupil having written a title on a piece of paper, from which we do a head-to-head knockout contest to find the best, while revelling in their mutual creativity), nothing trumps a Trump. Primary school pupils in particular find him hilarious.

He comes up just as often in my demonstration strip, where I ask them to name a celebrity who I then draw in a simple strip, taking them through the basic techniques of comic strip storytelling. I have developed a nifty and amusing way of drawing Trump's face that gets a laugh every time. I'll show it to you sometime.

These twelve examples come from, left to right, Greenock, Backwell in North Somerset, Woodbridge in Suffolk, Longfleet in Dorset, Ashington in Northumberland, Kings Heath in Birmingham, Southport in Cheshire, Swindon, Swansea, Darlington, Barking and Guernsey. That's pretty well all points of the compass, wouldn't you say?

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

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Flipcharts aplenty - travels with my art

Did I mention I've been doing a good job of turning up early for schools? This is what happens when I turn up far too early (arrived at 8.30, class didn't start till 10). I get a lot of time to indulge myself with a flipchart doodle. Can you spot every character I squeezed in? To put you out of your misery, they are: Minnie The Minx (and some Bash St Kids), Harley Quinn, a badly drawn random Manga character (with Watchmen badge behind), Lisa Simpson, Thor, Desperate Dan, Mike Doonesbury (& Captain America's shield), Asterix The Gaul, Oor Wullie, Princess Bubblegum, Maus, Snoopy, Snowy, Garen Ewing's Rainbow Orchid, Little Nemo In Slumberland, me, Krazy Kat & Ignatz Mouse, Judge Dredd, Jamie Smart's Looshkin, and Garfield. You're welcome.

With the Socks Do Shakespeare tour finished, July was a month of Comic Art Masterclasses. And I can be rather proud of my preparation and timekeeping, as I wasn't late for a single class, be it school, library or art centre, and got to most of them in time to get a nice drawing done on the flipchart, a selection of which you can see here. Above from Woodbridge Library in Suffolk has a fair proportion drawn "live", that is to say drawn while I'm talking to the kids rather than at leisure before they arrive. You'll recognise these "quickie" daubs on a few flipcharts. The Superman in the bottom left hand corner, which begins as circles that the kids can't decipher, then grows into a rudimentary flying figure (sometimes it'll end up as Iron Man). Similarly the Batman figure to the top right begins as "baked beans" floating on the page, before being fleshed out to become Batman or Spider-Man.

The Marge Simpson, which you see here again from The Lights arts centre in Andover, is a fun routine where I've drawn the face and hands and get the kids to say who it is I've drawn. They start by guessing Bart or Homer, then I add eyelashes and a necklace and they guess either Marge or Lisa, and I turn it into whichever the fewest people are guessing. Oh the power to impress children.

Here at St Sidwells Primary in Exeter was where I got my first ever chance to draw Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who. After a week and a half I'd been asked to draw her more often than I think I've ever been asked to draw Peter Capaldi. He just never seemed to be the schoolkids' favourite, I'm afraid. But there's been lots of excitement about the new female Doctor, especially amongst younger kids, which bodes well.

The Comic Art Masterclass tour, June through July, took me to Guildford, Burgess Hill, Manchester, Broadchalke in Wilts, Ludlow, Berkhamsted, Cheltenham, Romsey in Hants, Fordingbridge in Hants, Muswell Hill, Baldock in North Herts, Swindon, Barking, Norwich, Poole, Pill, Burton On Trent, The Latitude Festival in Suffolk, Exeter, Woodbridge in Suffolk, Port Glasgow and Greenock, Backwell, Andover in Hants and Walthamstow. Not a bad bit of travel for two months.

You might think it's a bit repetitive having either Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman in the middle of the flipchart every time, but this is a result of my endeavouring to have strong female role models on the page every time. Name me a female superhero. See? Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn... and then you're struggling. Name a female Marvel superhero? Aha, Scarlett Johanssen doesn't count, she's from the films not the comics, and no kid would recognise the Black Widow from the comics. So, the same few leads on the cover it is.

There you go. For a bit of variety, it's Supergirl. And beside her you see Captain America has shoehorned in the hashtag #MakeMineMilkshake. This is an online thing that came about when trolls started abusing the female editorial staff of Marvel comics for posting a selfie of themselves getting milkshakes. Why this was a thing I don't know, all I've seen is the supportive backlash by which right minded folk have posted pics of themselves, or their characters, with the #MakeMineMilkshake hashtag (a play on the Mike Mine Marvel slogan of old). I tried to explain it to the kids, but since I couldn't get as far as explaining what an editor was, and I didn't need to embark an explanation of what sexist online trolling is, it didn't get far.

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
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