Tuesday 31 January 2012

Socks do Sherlock (take 1)

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre have a first stab at doing the BBC's Sherlock. Looks like they may have to try again tomorrow.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre play Leicester Comedy Festival Feb 9-11 and Adelaide Fringe Feb-Mar 2012. Spread the word.

Monday 30 January 2012

Socks brand new show - teaser 1

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are preparing their brand new show. It'll open in Edinburgh in August, preview from June, and bits of it will start appearing in their forthcoming shows starting at the Leicester Comedy Festival. But what's it called and what will that all-important poster look like? Here's your first teaser...

Stay tuned for more. The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre play Leicester Comedy Festival Feb 9-11 and Adelaide Fringe Feb-Mar 2012. Spread the word.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Socks at Leicester Comedy Festival - Flog It!

The Scottish Falsetto Socks play Leicester Comedy Festival on Feb 9-11. This is some of what they got up to there last year:

What is the most effective way of publicising a comedy show? After five years of producing The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (and over a decade of The Sitcom Trials) I often feel like I've cracked it (ie flyering at the Edinburgh Fringe, which works a treat and at which I am brilliant) then sometimes I feel like it's all an elusive mystery (eg last year's tour dates in Builth Wells and Milton Keynes whose audiences combined have already been outsold by our forthcoming April gig in Aberdeen though I put no less effort or expense into publicising either).

In the past The Socks' YouTube videos have played a big part in building their audiences and, I'll confess, there's been a bit of a dearth in video production so far this year. But one thing I am experimenting with is Twitter promotion. I've discovered a method by which you can post-date your Tweets. This enables me to plan a regular drip-feed of tweets which will appear at various times of the day and the week between now and the show in question and will, hopefully, catch the eye of the casual reader who might possibly retweet it and the word will find itself spread and we'll end up with bums on seats. Will it work? We'll find out next week in Leicester (where we'll be premiering new work from the Edinburgh show I've started writing, as well as including some favourites).

Here are some of the Tweets that have already been popping up across the past weeks. If you fancy reposting any of these and really annoying the hell out of everyone on your Twitter feed, be our guests...

Ratby? Saddington? Foxton Locks? Everyone's talking 'bout Scottish Falsetto Socks http://bit.ly/vCZxNx In Leicester Feb 9-11 #dlcf

Gallowtree Gate? Can not wait! Everybody's talking 'bout Scottish Falsetto Socks http://bit.ly/vCZxNx In Leicester Feb 9-11 #dlcf

Belton, Bardon, Ellistown, everybody talk about Scottish Falsetto Socks renown http://bit.ly/vCZxNx In Leicester Feb 9-11 @DavesLeicsFest

Your stadium isn't Walkers but your logo's still a fox? Everyone talk about Scottish Falsetto Socks http://bit.ly/vCZxNx Leicester Feb 9-11

In Harby, Hose and Kirby Bellars, everybody says their Socks are smellars http://bit.ly/vCZxNx In Leicester Feb 9-11 @DavesLeicsFest

Abbey Park? Bradgate Park? Woodhouse Eaves? Everyone's talking 'bout Scottish Falsetto Socks http://bit.ly/vCZxNx Leicester Feb 9-11 #dlcf

... there are many more of these, you know where to look out for them. We've also been doing this for forthcoming gigs in Milford Haven & Bridlington:

Comedy-starved in Cilrhedyn, Eglwyswrw, Nevern? http://bit.ly/ecVD2 Scottish Falsetto Socks play Milford Haven Apr 12

- And I'm trying it to promote my Mr Hawk book on Amazon:

Severed hand found in Stoneygate: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006YFFWYE

Mystery of severed hand found in Sileby: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006YFFWYE #leicestershire #crime

etc etc. I'll let you know how well this pans out. The book's sold 3 copies so far, by the way.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Ga Ga Rasputin - Scottish Falsetto Socks

This video, wherein The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do Lady Gaga doing Russian history, was written for their 2010 Edinburgh show but never made the cut. Having had it on YouTube for a while it's suddenly had a peak in viewing, for which many thank. If you've not already seen it, here it is.

Perhaps a reason for its boost in popularity is that it came up in conversation when the Socks did an interview last Sunday with Radio Adelaide's Jon Murch (@radionotes1015, which you can hear here.

Indeed, if you so desire, you can watch it too. But don't get your hopes too high. It looks like this:

Did we mention it's a radio interview?

The Scottish Falsetto Socks play Leicester Comedy Festival Feb 9-11 then Adelaide Fringe Feb 17 - March 19th. Spread the word and let's make this a great big biggie.

PS: We have the title for the Socks' brand new Edinburgh Fringe 2012 show. Want to know it..?

Friday 27 January 2012

Meanwhile over at The Sitcom Trials...

This week I've been very busy doing artwork for advertising clients, drawing superheroes, cavemen, dinosaurs, and filing cabinets with files escaping from them (and no, I can't stick the pictures up here, but trust me they're amazing). I've also spared a few moments to update the blog next door, which has been getting more traffic than this. That's because it's The Sitcom Trials blog and there's a new Sitcom Trials show in the offing. It's on March 30th in Bristol, the script deadline is Feb 29th, and the new producer is Vince Stadon, whose script won one of last year's Manchester Sitcom Trials. As for all that traffic we've been getting...

Thanks to BBC Writers Room who just retweeted the call for scripts for the Bristol Sitcom Trials. As a result, viewings of the blog just went up considerably, I gained a heap of extra Twitter followers, and poor old Vince is about to be deluged with more scripts than he possibly dreamed of. (Details of what The Sitcom Trials wants and how to enter are here). In tribute I've just retweaked the Sitcom Trials poster (because it just wasn't complete without Mrs Browns Boys) and made a Bristol version. Enjoy...

PS: I'm not saying the Trials blog wasn't getting a lot of readers before, but this graph shows the spike in our readership immediately after the retweet by BBC Writers Room:

PPS: And breaking news, it looks like the next Manchester Sitcom Trials is just around the corner. We are looking at dates in July, keep an ear out, you'll be the first to know.

There's also talk of the return of the Trials to London, but isn't there always? As a jog to the memory, and an exciter to the pulse, let's cast our minds back to the start of the last London season. And enjoy again the words of wisdom from Sitcom Trials Judge David "TV Burp" Quantick...

And PPPS: The Sitcom Trials blog just got paid to insert its first ever bit of advertorial. That's right Bill Hicks, yes I just did that.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

The Canon Of Comics on Radio 3

Talking of changing the subject, did anyone hear this radio programme? It's on iPlayer:

The Canon Of Comics

It's called the Canon of Comics and is an essay about continuity and canon, by a new young philosopher, Jon Adams, who knows far too much about Crisis on Infinite Earths. Very interesting listen. (If the link doesn't work go to iPlayer and look for The Essay or New Generation Thinkers or The Canon Of Comics).

And, yes, someone sent me the link. I'm not a full time Radio 3 listener. Maybe I should be if this is what I keep missing.

Kev F

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Situation Murder - comedy to die for

Here's a treat from the bottom drawer that I'd totally forgotten about - Situation Murder.

In 2004, after The Sitcom Trials had done its last Edinburgh Fringe run and was noticeably failing to get a second series, I devised a different show, a series of murder mystery comedies where the audience would interrogate the cast and try and solve a crime. It has two regular characters hosting the story every episode, and a new cast of characters every time.

Now collected up in a book, available on Amazon Kindle (or iPod, iPad etc), are 5 full scripts, complete with the briefing notes given to all the cast members so the reader could, if they wished, stage these murder mysteries for fun or profit.

Of course what I'd really "invented" was the 1970s ITV series Whodunnit, which had itself been reimagined in the 80s as Cleudo. All I'd done was make it funny. And rereading these scripts they really are jolly good fun.

• A celebrity chef on a reality TV show is murdered by a fellow celebrity – but who?
• A death metal rocker is found hung on the back of the dressing room door – by whom?
• Three strangers meet in the airport car park, which one has blood on their hands?
• A body in the car park of a truck stop, but whose?
• The audience of a comedy show join in a seance to solve a murder, but why?

If you're in the slightest bit intrigued, dear reader, you can download a free sample. And by all means upload a review, or how about buying the book. By golly it's worth it.

Oh, and if I've not mentioned it, The Sitcom Trials itself returns to Bristol in March and, if you want, you can enter a script. Details over on the Sitcom Trials website.

Recommended Reading List for Comic Art Masterclasses

Thanks to Amazon, which is my now distracto-hobby, taking over from Twitter and Youtube this last week, I've put together a Recommended Book List for pupils in my Comic Art Masterclasses (click to see it):

It's done through Amazon so it links directly to the books you can buy. I've tried to keep it school-kid friendly, though I've had to include some things for older readers, which I shall try and label accordingly (uh-oh, minefield ahoy). If anyone can think of books that I've overlooked, and there will be lots, give me a shout and I'll see what I can do.

Yours, spreading the good word of comics far and wide

Monday 23 January 2012

I'm a Bestseller - official

Unbelievable as it sounds, one of my books is a bestseller. I had to take a screen grab. Look:

The Immortal Partie, A Mr Hawk Investigation, my murder mystery graphic novel illustrated by the brilliant John Erasmus (by the way does anyone have contact details for John? I can't find him, and in the fullness of time he might need paying some money) stands at number one in the Mystery Graphic Novel charts on Amazon. Which is fantastic.

I know it would be grossly unprofessional to let the cat out of the bag and reveal our actual sales figures. But we've sold 2 copies. I can only deduce that these rankings are established from the number of people who look at your book and download the free sample, or maybe on the level of activity in any given period. Either way I'm more than delighted with this apparent news, and you can be sure that at sometime in the future this screengrab will be used to defend my description of myself as Bestselling Author Kev F.

You'll find all of my books listed on my Amazon Author Page. Sorry, I mean my Amazon Bestselling Author Page.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Ode To A Haggis for Burns Supper, by the Socks

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre have had a wee stab at Rabbie Burns' Ode To A Haggis. If you're organising a Burns Supper, all you have to do is be marginally better than this...

This is from the Socks archive, so apologies for the poor video quality and the total lack of costumes. Amazingly, the Socks performed their first Edinburgh show and much of their second, naked. How did we get away with it?

Socks at Leicester Comedy Festival Feb 9-11
Socks at Adelaide Fringe Feb 17 - March 18

Saturday 21 January 2012

World's Biggest Comic now at British Library (in a cupboard)


In a jam-packed last couple of days during which I've accompanied the Scottish Falsetto Socks to Camden where they played the excellent comedy show Pun Run (10 top comics compered and organised by Bec Hill, actually getting laughter and applause for doing nothing but puns, it's the future of comedy); stayed in a hotel in Hampstead where we got upgraded from the worst view in London (they put us in a room with no windows. Literally. No. Windows) to the best (on the 5th floor, with a view across London from Alexandra Palace to the Telecom Tower. Top tip: complain about your room whenever they try and put you in a room with Literally. No. Windows.); and travelled to Colchester where I gave a talk about comics at the impressively marvellous Firstsite gallery (thanks for having me, you were all lovely); I've got home and remembered that I'd totally forgotten what we did on Friday en route to the gig. We took the World's Biggest Comic to the British Library.*

In a development which had slipped my mind over the New Year period, I've been invited to display the World's Biggest Comic at the British Library in February. It'll be the first opportunity for it to be seen in public since 2002, possibly a star-studded affair, a good networking event. I'll be in Australia. I might not even tell you when it's happening.

* Excuse poor punctuation, it's late I've been busy

Friday 20 January 2012

My publishing empire

Having read an article in the paper exactly a week ago which gave me the misguided impression there was money to be made by publishing books on Amazon Kindle (on a second reading the article makes it quite clear that there's very little money to be made doing this, by the way), I have managed in the last week to publish 10 books. Sorry, got carried away.

I started by putting my comic Hot Rod Cow out there (just 77p, or download a sample for free), and it's been joined by Sinnerhound. Added to those comics, which have been in print for the last year already, I've published two comic-related items for the very first time:

The Tock is a bedtime adventure story for kids which I wrote on New Years Day 2009. I illustrated it over the next couple of days, only in pencil, then showed it to a few people, including publishers an agents whose biggest comment was that it was too long for a kids picture book. It wasn't until a year later that I got round to inking it and, on those folks' advice, edited it down to a smaller page count. But I didn't like it shortened, and it was clearly going to be prohibitively expensive if I published it at its full 64 page length. Well now, thanks to Amazon Kindle, the whole book is available at its full length, the black and white pages looking perfect on a Kindle or iPhone screen and I'd encourage anyone to read the free download I bet you'll want the whole thing.

The Immortal Partie - A Mr Hawk Investigation is a full colour comic strip that I wrote way back in 1994 and which the brilliant artist John Erasmus illustrated in wonderful painted colour. Because it's in full colour it's always been a challenge to publish, with any printed copy being a bit expensive for what was, originally, just a 10 page story. However, redesigning it for the Kindle screen, I found that every single panel of John's artwork, which we'd laid out in a rigid 9-panel-per-page grid, merited filling the screen, giving us a 90 page work of art which reads perfectly on Kindle, iPhone, iPad etc. I've read it on my iPod and it has quite simply never looked so good before. Again I'd urge you to read the free download. I guarantee this story - a murder mystery featuring severed hands popping up all over Leicestershire - will make you want to read it to the end.

Of course my comic strip works are just one side of my publishing empire. I've also published 6 volumes of sitcom scripts, from the archives of The Sitcom Trials. Enjoy...

Breaking News: The Lavender Millbank Mob is currently #66,564 in Amazon's sales ranking. Could do better.

Monday 16 January 2012

Go Wild In The Country - another book on Amazon

Lord help me I've only gone and been and published another book on Amazon. It's Go Wild In The Country, a romantic comedy produced as part of The Sitcom Trials under the pseudonym Jane Simon. Check it out.

You can download a free sample to your iPod, IPhone, Kindle, iPad etc, and why don't you post up a nice review while you're at it? And if you want to see the version of this script that ended up on TV, you'll find it over on the Sitcom Trials blog.

I've started putting quite a few pieces of work out there on Amazon, check out the latest in the Sitcom Trials Bookshop.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Dead Air - sitcom script on Amazon

Inspired by a piece in the Guardian the other day extolling the virtues of publishing books on Amazon Kindle, I've delved into the bottom drawer and started publishing a few of the things I've written. Here's one of the first to climb blinking into the light, a pair of sitcoms called Dead Air and Clarice.

These sitcoms were produced and performed as part of The Sitcom Trials, about which we should all be hearing a lot more soon.

Dead Air is dead cheap. Go on, spoil yourself.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Youtoobling, from Tom Waits to Axis Of Awesome

Last night I treated myself to a bit of late night Youtoobling (I watch videos on Youtube and see what connections come to mind). There is some thread running through all of these, though I confess in the morning it can be a mystery even to me. Here's where last night's ramblings took me, beginning with Tom Waits...

The Piano Has Been Drinking, Tom Waits

Woody Allen Jesus, Tim Minchin

Nirvana on Jonathan Ross @wossy

Peter Kay does John Smith advert they can't show shock

They Might Be Giants on Jonathan Ross 1992 (naff titles, so Graham Norton)

You're Not The Boss Of Me Now, They Might Be Giants

The Impression That I Get, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Knock On Wood, Amii Stewart

Ever Met A Day, Graduate

So Lonely, The Police

Fish slapping dance, Monty Python #teddingtonlock

Squad, camp it up! Monty Python @BoyGeorge

British police are the best in the world Tom Robinson, Glad To Be Gay #youtoobling

I Am What I Am, John Barrowman

Sweet Transvestite, Tim Curry

Walk Like A Man, Divine

You Can't Stop The Beat, Michael Ball

Good morning Baltimore, Hairspray

Goodnight San Diego

Do You Know The Way To San Jose? Dionne Warwick

He had a rifle, oh what a rifle Raquel Welch TV 1967

Bang Bang, BA Robertson

Goodbye Girl, Squeeze

Goodbye, Miley Cyrus

The Four Chords, Axis of Awesome

Friday 13 January 2012

Louise's funeral, the music

Today we had the mixed blessing of attending Louise's funeral. (I've remembered her in an earlier blog full of music).

She died in November in Israel aged way too young (our age, that's always too young) and the funeral was today in Torquay. The first good part of the day was meeting old friends we don't see too often (one I hadn't met for nearly thirty years, that's really far too long); and the second was the music Louise had chosen for her funeral (and don't we wish we'd all had that conversation when there was time? Tip: have that conversation) which comprised just three tracks (I'm guessing they only allow you three, which suggests we should all be working harder to get on Desert Island Discs), all of which were spot on (and the last of which I'd chosen myself in my musical tribute to Lou. Good guess).

Enjoy them and remember Louise. If you didn't know her, then think about the most marvellous of people who you wish was still with us.

Kev F

Thursday 12 January 2012

Who Stole Batman's Potty? - comics by kids

The new year's Comic Art Masterclasses have begun, with me teaching comic art to kids in primary schools in Taunton, Eastleigh and Bristol. Working with two groups a day, with up to 30 in each group, they all go away with a photocopied comic containing a strip written and drawn by every single one of them plus an individual caricature by me. Here are the front covers from my first eight groups of 2012 (click to enlarge)...

If anyone wants me to come and show their kids how to do what I've been doing for a living for the last two decades, drop me a line, a comment, a Twitter, smoke signals, the usual methods. Click below to see more, including video and contact details.

RECOMMENDED COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS for Comic Art Masterclass students, teachers and librarians

2000AD memories

John Freeman of Down The Tubes is compiling a 2000AD birthday celebration piece, so has asked former contributors some questions. Here are my answers:

First memory of 2000AD?

I bought issue 2 then read it on my paper round. As a result it bears the ink smudges of a few dozen Leicester Mercurys as it slid in & out of my bag so is probably worth less than some copies. I was addicted to the weekly Marvel reprints at the time so took a while to start getting 2000AD regularly, only becoming a subscriber when it merged with StarLord.

The 2000AD book that credits me for work I had nothing to do with. Can't hurt

If you worked on 2000AD, do you have an anecdote you'd like to share about your experience of Tharg and his minions?

• My first cheque from 2000AD, for either a Captain Klep script or an illustration in an annual (circa 1980) was made out to the Rev F Sutherland.
• I wrote a Ro-Jaws Robo Tale in the 1981 Sci Fi Special whose credit-box fell off en route to the printers, so no-one ever knew I wrote it. It was the robot with the knife out the bottom story drawn by (equally uncredited) Steve Kyte.
* In recompense, a recent reprint volume of ABC Warriors and Ro-Busters credits me as the author of a story from an early annual which I had nothing to do with.

Favourite Character or Story (if you can't pick one then feel free to mention several)

For a long time it was Dredd, and I'm the reader who still thinks Gerry Finley-Day's Rogue Trooper remains the best version of the character, but once Alan Moore's strips started, nothing else compared. DR & Quinch, Halo Jones and Skizz are pretty unbeatable.

What do you like most about the 2000AD?

In its heyday it quite simply led the world in the quality and originally of its creators and creations. I was privileged to be the right age to live through 2000AD's golden age as a schoolkid and student. At the age of 18, in 1980, I got to visit the 2000AD offices in Kings Reach Tower when Alan Grant and Steve McManus were in charge there. To that date it was probably the most exciting day of my life.

What would you most like to see in 2000AD as it heads to its Forties?

Sadly I have lost touch with 2000AD, drifting from it in the early 2000s, but I hear good things. I look forward to hearing more.

Kev F Sutherland

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Socks at Pun Run London Jan 20

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre play their first London show of 2012 as part of Pun Run in Camden on Jan 20th:

Okay, it probably won't be our longest show of the year, but look at the line-up we're sharing the bill with. Yes, we know. Get on down there.

And if that's not Hard Sell enough for you, check out some of the Socks' more pun-filled videos from the archives:

Saturday 7 January 2012

Socks to Adelaide, and other sales

So, with the first Scottish Falsetto Socks gig of the year under our belt (a cracking slot at the Lyric Rooms in Ashby De La Zouch which earned us a big colour photo in the Leicester Mercury) we look forward to a busy spring season, dominated by a 30-date run at the Adelaide Fringe.

The Leicester Mercury, the Socks' first press of 2012

Adelaide tickets have started selling well, with this particular example being a nice boost. There's a promotional scheme run by BankSA called Support Acts whereby they offer reduced price tickets for a number of shows by new acts (which we are in Australia) and sponsor the rest of the ticket cost. 115 shows are promoted on the scheme and, at time of writing, only 4 shows have sold out of their allocation. 4 shows, including...

Not too shabby. Though as advance sales go, we have to say The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen is taking the biscuit for best pre-sales ever. The show's not until April 27th but has already sold 45 tickets. I know it's hardly Michael McIntyre levels, but if we're perfectly honest that has out-sold a few shows we played in 2011 already.

Other shows whose tickets are now on sale and starting to clock up good figures are:

Feb 9, 10 & ll Leicester Comedy Festival
April 7 Bath Comedy Festival
April 12 The Torch, Milford Haven
May 12 Chorley Little Theatre

And other gigs whose ticket links should be up soon are:
Apr 13 - Exeter Barnfield
Apr 14 2012 - Spa Bridlington
April 25 - Byre Theatre, St Andrews
May 3 - Halifax, Square Chapel
May 4 - Keighley
May 5 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 19/20 Brighton
May 27 - Hereford Courtyard
June 28 & 29 - Harrogate
July 9 - Rondo Bath
July 13 - Beverly Puppet Festival

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