Here we see the fruits of the labours of classes of schoolkids from Birmingham to Devon to Alton in Hampshire. Two days apiece in primary schools in Bournville and Newton Poppleford, and a day at Wessex Arts in Alton, and we have 9 beautiful covers, with names dreamed up by the kids, containing a strip be every one of them and an individual caricature by me.
Only nine you say? But surely you do two classes in a day? True, I usually do. But on Monday in Bournville I had an interestingly different morning spent drawing a goat.
The school's badge features a goat which they've included in such things as a stained glass window, and so the thought was that I could draw a goat in various positions, in illustrations that could be used in promotional and educational materials. They got some pretty good value for money from me, I must say. Half a dozen illustrations rattled off in the library in the course of a morning and coloured at home that night for no extra charge. I do hope no other schools are reading this, cos I can't promise to offer such a bonus service for everyone who asks.
The celebrities the kids in my classes chose for my now-legendary "treads on a worm" demonstration strip were Meghan Trainor, Olly Murs, Simon Cowell (of course, twice), Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift (twice), Dec out of Ant & Dec, and most original of the week Martin Luther King.
Thanks to the wonderful folks of Wessex Arts at Alton College, here's me on the front page of the Alton Herald. I'm honoured and flattered (and can only assume last week was a quiet news week in Alton).
Comic book lovers converge on centre
Friday, 27 February 2015
AROUND 60 comic book lovers from as far afield at Bentley and
Oakhanger visited Wessex Arts Centre at Alton College last Friday to
take part in two separate workshops with Marvel and Beano illustrator
Mr Sutherland’s engaging and bombastic style had the children, aged from six to 15 years, inspired for two hours.
Each young person left with a comic book made from the session’s
individual comic strips, the title of which was chosen by group vote –
the morning session was Invasion of the Rubber Ducks! – plus a
caricature of themselves drawn by Mr Sutherland who said he was really
impressed with the drawing skills and creative ideas of the young people
he had worked with.
Have I really been delivering Comic Art Masterclasses in schools for ten years now? It would appear so. I just had a shuffle-round of stuff on the shelves of my office and took the opportunity to lay out the volumes of comics my pupils and I have produced over that time and snap them, as you can see above.
It looked at first glance like I had comics here dating back to 2004, but on closer examination I'd dated that first one, "Whizz-Crash" wrongly. It says May 2004 in the Marvel-style date box in the top left hand corner (from the start I was modelling these photocopy comics on the weekly Marvel reprints I got as a kid), but the clues point to it very clearly coming from a year later. Can you spot the obvious giveaway?*
That error aside, there's a pile here for every year, 2005 to the present (having just filled a volume, I'm onto my second of 2015). For the recent busiest years I've been
filling four volumes a year to overflowing, plus stacking away
less-impressive comics in plastic bags. Oh the British Library and the
museums of Britain will be fighting over this little lot when I'm gone.
The two examples above from 2005 are from schools in Kentisbeare and South Tawton in Devon, both of whom have just had me back. My god, I've been there longer than half the teachers. And the first pupils I taught there are now at University. Reading comics, I can only hope. The other comics are from Dorset (06), Oxford (07), Inverness (08), Chippenham (09), Maidenhead (10), Dublin (11), Newham (12), Worle (13), Morningside (14) and Coventry (the cover of the 2015 volume, is sneakily from December 14).
I'm pleased to see how well I've mastered the skill of producing a half-decent cover design in no time at all. The better covers usually come from morning classes in schools, where I've had 15 minutes of break time to give them a bit more attention. But half of them must come from afternoon sessions, where I have just two hours to do the whole class, including drawing the cover, logo and all from their suggestions, as well as teaching them how to do my job, and drawing a caricature of every one of them. Yes, I even amaze myself sometimes.
* The obvious clue that "Whizz-Crash" is from 2005? It has Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who on the front cover, which would have been a marvellous act of clairvoyance 12 months before the show went out. (Even if he was announced that early, and I don't think he was, I doubt I could have convinced a class of schoolkids to put him on the cover of a comic, let alone correctly guess his costume, hairstyle and sonic screwdriver). Oh yes, and I've put the correct date beside my signature in the bottom right hand corner. How I managed to get the date a year out in May is anyone's guess.
The video demonstrating my caricaturing skills is now updated on YouTube. I hadn't looked at it in a while, but in its original form it was one of those videos that was so lo-res that it was appearing as a miniature picture within a picture, which isn't a good look.
It dates back to 2007 and shows me drawing a face in under a minute, and now gives my proper contact details rather than ending with my MySpace address! It also shows me doing the caricatures with a bullet-tipped felt tip pen which I haven't done in years (a chisel tip gives a much better line).
I remain available for parties, should you want everybody caricatured in a minute each, you know where to find me.
There is no mention of us in the video itself and, apart from the appearance of their own sock puppets as part of the video, no connection. The title they've lifted is that of one of our own vids from 2013 which was quite a high rater, getting 12,000 views, while Rooster Teeth's own has only had 85 hits, despite them having half a million followers.
If we ever get an explanation as to why they've done this bizarre title-lifting thing, and whether we benefit from it in any way, I'll let you know.
A brand new song and video from the Socks, intended as audience-in music for the new show Minging Detectives, a tribute to Cannon and Ball (albeit a slightly backhanded one) with video to match. I'm quite pleased with this one, I hope it's not just me. Do please click to play, and enjoy.
This week I've also written and recorded the Police Reggae medley, Coppers Cabana, and Delilah, all intended for the soundtrack to welcome the audience into the show. One of these tracks might actually find its way into the show itself, the rest will eventually emerge on Youtube. Though it's only right that something will be kept for the audience's ears only.
The Socks will be debuting new material from Minging Detectives, and the best of their recent satire, on tour
If you want to bring the nutters out of the woodwork, post up a video about UKIP. Here are the Socks, live in Leicester this past weekend, getting a riotous response for their ever popular Song For UKIP. Comments in so far include:
Here's me, gurning all over the North Somerset Times. I can only apologise for ruining the day of anyone who stumbles across this photo by accident. It's a nice memento of the Comic Art Masterclass I gave at Books On The Hill last weekend.
Beano Artist Kev Sutherland drawing pictures , Liam, Matthew, Evie and Rosie, Books on the Hill, Clevedon.
Kev Sutherland, whose illustrations have appeared in comics including
The Beano, gave tips on comic book drawing to 22 children at the Hill
Road store which was so jam-packed that it had to be closed for the
duration of Kev’s visit.
Alistair Sims, store owner, said: “The children were brilliant and everyone enjoyed themselves.”
Thanks to John Shaw in the front row for snapping these photos of the Socks sellout show last night at the Leicester Comedy Festival. You'll also find a short video clip he took, over on one of the Socks Facebook groups. And what an enjoyable show it was.
An incredible enthusiastic audience, who I guess we have to think of as a home crowd after nearly a decade of the Socks playing at the Leicester Comedy Festival every year since (gasp) 2006, gave a phenomenal response to the material from last year's And So Am I, which will now be staples of the touring show. Then we tried out a string of new pieces, some of which went very well, and some of which need some work, but all show great promise. If I may indulge myself with a few notes...
Right at the start we asked who'd seen the Socks before, and it was a resounding more-than-half. This meant I'm A Sock got a slightly more muted response than the chit-chat before it (which I would have called banter, had that word not achieved some inexplicable pariah status in the past year, for reasons I can't quite fathom).
The politics gags were hit after hit, then the first song was Song For UKIP which got its loudest reception yet, starting with a near standing ovation for the Nigel Farage costume. Noah went well, as did the Generalistion routine, the Baby In The Corner running gag, and the War On Terror song (see the burka costume, above). So after a very strong first half I gambled on the Minging Detectives material.
Audience ad libs on their fave TV Cop shows - v good Dixon of Dock Green (not on Youtube) - okay, some good bits Z Cars/Brian Blessed (not on Youtube) - brilliant. First guaranteed smash bit of material Black & White Minstrels song (not on Youtube) - very good in parts, will benefit from editing The Sweary - quite good, might improve Hello Muddah - er, okay. This brought the room to a hushed silence. Too soon? The costume choice, which was the burka from War On Terror, wasn't good. And the fact that we'd already done a lot of dark material, and that this came amidst sketches which weren't as funny as the first half, meant there was no audible laughter for this song, though people came up afterwards and singled it out for praise. I'll keep trying it, but it's Marmite. Danish crime drama (not on Youtube) - I think this might be going on Youtube soon and leaving the show, because most people, me included, found it difficult to follow. We certainly needed something much funnier to follow Hello Muddah. Chelsea Tractor - Again, had this come amidst funnier material, it might have gone better. It hardly died, but after the laughter we'd been getting in the first half, these pieces were getting a mild reaction. Ian Rankin - Not bad, though I was by now getting worried that we have too many jokes for old people. The audience responded that many of them did indeed remember The Beat and Ranking Roger, but frankly I think this will have to go just because of its demographic target audience.
We then brought the show back to comedy safeground by rounding up the Baby In The Corner running gag from And So Am I, with its musical climax, and closed the show with Sweary Poppins. We were, I am told, dangerously close to a standing ovation at the end. They were a wonderful and supportive crowd, which was just as well given the 20 minutes of variable new material that the hour included.
Behind-the-set selfie. No, they're not easy to take, now you ask.
But Minging Detectives has definitely found itself some good material to begin with, and I look forward to building on that over the coming months. At time of writing (midday Saturday) I've just written a brand new song for the show, which might get a Youtube outing in the coming week. Look out for anything with a Barry Manilow influence. Yes, still going for the youth vote.
The Socks will be debuting new material from Minging Detectives, and the best of their recent satire, on tour
Commemorating a week in schools in Denny (it's near Falkirk) and Malvern (it's in Malvern), these are the covers of the comics by the kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses. All works of genius, I'm sure you agree, from years 3, 4, 5, and 6 (and Primary 5 and Primary 7, to compare parallel universes of the education systems of England and Scotland).
The flipchart I produced this week for a class teaching Newly Qualified Teachers in Birmingham
The celebs they chose for the demonstration strip were Simon Cowell (of course, he's still suggested in 75% of classes and ends up on the highest proportion of strips), The Queen, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and Sam Smith. Possibly the most unremarkable selection of the year, more than made up for by the wonderful diversity of their comic strips, character creations and comic title ideas.
The Socks have recorded a new show sketch - Restaurant Sketch - which stands alone but also acts as a trailer for Minging Detectives. And a story comes with it. This gag is one that Kev F wrote and drew for Oink comic way back in the dawns of time.
However I can't find the copy of Oink with it in, which is now no doubt deep in a long-unopened box in my office. I'll put the shout out and see if anyone can unearth it. Since doing this gag (in, most likely, 1988) the same punchline appeared in, I think, Spitting Image or some other sketch show. However I still lay claim to publishing it first, and the Socks are quite confident that it's my own gag they're covering.
Brand new from the house of Socks, a banner ad for Minging Detectives, and a Youtube trailer, undoubtedly the first of many. Do please enjoy. The Socks will be debuting new material from Minging Detectives, and the best of their recent satire, at the Leicester Comedy Festival on Feb 13th. Book now.
This week I've done a little bit of everything, some of which are represented by photos, all of which necessitate the caveat you had to be there. For example, above, you can see me and Dennis The Menace. Dennis is on the side of the exhibition stand at which I was working, at Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, an event so vast that no photo can capture it. I was drawing caricatures on the stand of Rubies Masquerade, a company that sells character costumes, including the new Beano range, hence my presence there for two days. The stand itself is so big it has an upstairs.
It was one of the the hundreds of stands in Hall 3 alone, which housed licensed products. There were similarly vast halls full of such things as greeting cards, decorations, tableware - there is one hall devoted entirely to Christmas products that goes on longer than Christmas. An overwhelming experience and fun to be part of, but I wouldn't want to live there.
I also did drawings on request, these being just a few. And the stripes are interesting aren't they? That's what happened when I used the panoramic setting on my iPhone, showing the strobing that was happening in the lights above us. If everyone who spends four full days working at the NEC comes out with an almighty headache or having their first epileptic fit, those lights might be why.
If you can tell me what's happening in these photos, well done. It's a woman called Frankie doing the dance of the two eclairs, one of which she's about to shove in the face of my good friend Darren Hoskins, with whom I performed some sketches he'd written, at a scratch night at the Southbank Centre (not the one in London but the one in Bedminster) inbetween performances like the above, and poems about cats, the menopause and ketomine. You had to be there.
And here's me doing a caricature at Books On The Hill, the new bookshop in Clevedon, where I spent Saturday afternoon teaching kids how to draw comics. A novel experience, squeezing my class into a shop, but it worked. Many Beanos were signed, many more comic strips produced, and a good few copies of Captain Clevedon and Hot Rod Cow sold. I'll continue to big up the shop on my newly-found favourite Facebook group Everything Clevedon, about which I heard at a dinner party to celebrate Felicity's birthday last weekend (which looked like this...)
And from which group I discovered local pop star Luke Spiller of The Struts, who made this cracking video in Clevedon before he set off for musical superstardom...
Added to which I've been at my desk drawing a little bit of Samson (three version of his face later we found the one that worked, stay tuned for that revelation later in the year) and writing as much of the Socks' new show Minging Detectives as I'll be able to test out next Friday in Leicester. The new song (about which I can't give too much away, but it's the one that includes Old Man River and Alexander's Ragtime Band) has gone through three versions and days of editing, and I still won't know whether it's funny till next week, but I think parts of it are excellent.
I've also been reading the fab and addictive Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, getting drawn into scrolling down screeds of Everything Clevedon (it really is irresistible, if you've lived here as long as we have), and on Thursday managed to remember to book, at the shortest notice, tomorrow's flights to Edinburgh in order to do classes at a school in Denny. A busy week of classes looms.
The Socks have been busy writing and trying things out on video over the past couple of weeks. Some of these you've seen (and I hope you're enjoying Minging Detectives works in progress like The Sweary, Broadchurch, Ian Rankin & Reservoir Dogs), but most of the videos they've produced are not for public consumption.
We're in the middle of writing a series of health and safety films that, if the client likes them, could be used for training purposes. In the past week we've produced 10 demos, ranging from Hazards In The Workplace to Bribery While Working Overseas. They're fun to do and a challenge too. If they like the direction we're taking, we'll do more as the job progresses. And you never know, someday you might get to see them. It depend who you go to work for and what training films they happen to show you. (We've also written some cracking crime skits which aren't going on Youtube and will get their first airings on stage, starting next week).
See the Scottish Falsetto Socks Live In Leicester Feb 13 - first glimpse of brand new material, and the best bits of And So Am I.