Tuesday 31 March 2015

More travels with my art, Torquay to Southampton

Sometimes my days are so full I find no time to write my diary, and such has been the case with my recent travels. So let's have a glance back over March and see what I've forgotten to record. Here's me in Southampton, in my guise as Kevin Sutherland, doing drawings and selling a few comics at Nerdaggedon, a sweet little comic convention in the suburb of Totton, where some of the more unusual caricatures included people wanting to be drawn while wearing Planet of the Apes and Silence masks. And who am I to refuse?

The previous night I was in Torquay, where the Socks played to an audience of 7 (we were opening on a comedy bill, it wasn't our own show) and Hev & I stayed over. The photos of that are fairly naff, so here are backstage selfies from the Socks a few days later at a cracking gig in Maesteg Town Hall, South Wales.

Most of the month has been taken up with travelling (a week in London, a week travelling North to South), so let's see if I've made any comments of note on Facebook or Twitter.

Back reading my new favourite website*, this was a fun discovery. Who knew? http://www.jewornotjew.com/profile.jsp?ID=1589 (*This is a Jewish website btw, though I realise at first glance some might take it the wrong way. As this article points out, the French authorities took the site down in France for possibly being anti-semitic. It's totally the opposite).

Kev F Sutherland, as well as doing Bananaman, Pansy Potter et al in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the new promo video here

Saturday 28 March 2015

The Pop Up Hot Rod Cow Class - a school in Kent

Here we see two new comics by kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, both groups of year 3s from a school in Rainham in Kent. But no ordinary classes these because, unique among pupils I've taught, they are all familiar with and well read in one particular comic of mine - Hot Rod Cow. This never happens. Check this lot out...

Before I'd even arrived, the whole class had drawn their own versions of Hot Rod Cow and had read his sole published comic from cover to cover. But how, you ask? This all came about as a result of an organisation called Pop-Up who are arranging educational programmes in schools in Kent, organising school visits by authors, as part of which they supply the schools with examples of the author's work. And unlike other authors, who very sensibly have books in shops which you can order from Amazon, all I have is a few Beano annuals and unobtainable copies of weekly comics. However I do have my print-on-demand comics which can be ordered from Ka-Blam, and suitable for year 3 is Hot Rod Cow.


(I can find Hot Rod Cow on Kindle, but for the life of me can't find it on Ka-Blam / Indyplanet, whose last link for the comic seems to have vanished. God knows how the school found it to order copies.)

And so it was that two schools were sent copies of my Minimum Opus and were prepared for me to come in and give a one hour talk on the subject. Of course, having travelled all the way from Clevedon to Kent (the best part of 4 hours each way) I'm blowed if I'm just going to talk for a couple of hours then head off, so instead I made sure both classes got the full Comic Art Masterclass and went away with a comic each and an individual caricature. And a flipchart, of course.

(They'd also been visited this wek by the marvellous Gary Northfield and had read his, rather more extensive and elaborate, Gary's Garden. So I included a character from that on the flipchart.) This day was an unexpected bonus for me as I'd failed to read an email I'd been sent, and didn't realise I was supposed to be there on Tuesday, when I was already booked to go to a school in Hertfordshire. A few frantic phone calls and emails later and we got me rescheduled and everyone was happy. Yes, that's how exciting this diary entry is.

NB The two classes picked celebrities to tread on a worm (see blogs passim) and with textbook predictability one group chose Pixie Lott and the other chose (can you guess? Can you? Go on, go on...) Simon Cowell.

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

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The Teacher Who Eats Children - new comics by kids

Here are more comics produced by pupils in schools as diverse as a prep school near Elstree, a primary school in the West Midlands, and a secondary school in West London. The year 3 and 4s at Aldenham (the school that gave us Karren Brady and Dale Winton, among others) came up with the two treats above. While Wednesbury, whose diaspora includes a lot of famous footballers as well as Radio 2's Alex Lester, came up with these babies...

And the secondary school in Ealing, which was formerly called after the fictional area of London invented by Eastenders, has year 7s and 8s capable of dreaming up nonsense like this...

The celebrities they chose, when asked to name a famous person who I could put into my "treads on a worm" demonstration strip, were Simon Cowell (twice, in the same school), Danny Dyer, Michael Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Lemon.

And, yes, given the opportunity, I also left them with a heavily decorated flipchart full of comic strip images. Notably, whenever asked which Doctor Who they'd like me to draw, 60% ask for Matt Smith, 40% ask for David Tennant, and none asks for Peter Capaldi (or indeed earlier). Yesterday it was year 3s asking for David Tennant, who left the job when they were 2 years old. Madness.

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

Saturday 21 March 2015

Bart Simpson Doodling On A Poodle Eating Noodles - a week of comics by kids

My thanks go this week to New City Academy in Upton Park, or is is West Ham, or is it East Ham, or is it just plain Newham E13 (I never quite worked out where my school would describe itself as being, but I walked past the Boleyn Ground en route to work every day) for inviting me in to teach my Comic Art Masterclasses for four whole days this week. During which time I managed to produce comics with a record breaking ten classfuls of kids - that's about 300 caricatures drawn, and as many individual comic strips drawn by the kids, from year 3 to year 6. These are the comics the various classes produced.

When I add a bit of colour to these comics after the fact, I often have trouble deciding what colours to slap on. Not so this week, when the individual classes did the job for me, being name Scarlet, Jade, Emerald, Saffron, Aqua, Crimson, Magenta, Lilac, Turquoise and Purple. My apologies have to go to Crimson class, whose comic I've mistakenly labelled Scarlet (but, to be fair, the difference between the two is too subtle even for me, as you can probably tell).

As I show each group's comics to the other groups at the school, and each group plays the game whereby we come up with a title for the comic book, certain memes recur. In this week's case, including the name of the teacher in the title became a thing, beginning with Mr Kennedy's Lunch. Luckily we avoided too many cliches and, as always, they were overflowing with genius ideas. In each case 30 titles are written down on bits of paper and selected in a knockout competition, so you're looking at the best out of 240 top notch suggestions.

Tha Cat Tgurk was a result of that syndrome whereby a child, usually in year 3 (as was this example), writes as title down which neither I nor they can subsequently decipher. The class almost always vote for this most random of titles.

These two comics are the products of a much rarer beast, which I try to avoid when I can - the Mega Group. I always stipulate that I can only run the Comic Art Masterclasses with a group of up to 30 maximum. As any class teacher will know, you can't teach more than that many kids at a time, especially if you hope to give any of them even a modicum of individual attention. However the logistics of some schools dictate that you're trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, and in this week's instance, where a school had been generous enough to have me in for the best part of a week, we had to do what we could to ensure all 10 classes could get a taste of the Comic Art Masterclass. Hence the Mega Group.

We begin with two classes in the hall (this week's school was fortuitous in having a large central area between each cluster of classrooms) and I give them the introduction demonstration. Then they break into their two individual classrooms to draw their characters. We then return to the hall for the "treads on a worm" how-to-draw-a-comic-strip demonstration, and again back to our classrooms to draw our comic strips. This means that 60 kids get to see the fun demonstration bits. One group then gets me in their class for them to come up with the comic book's title, then the other group gets their caricatures drawn. On Tuesday I was able, beyond even my own expectations, to draw the caricatures of both classes in the Mega Group (60 caricatures in under an hour! I amaze myself). Sadly this wasn't possible for the second mega group, which is frustrating in the extreme, but what can you do?

No, I don't know what was happening with my hair here.

The celebs they chose to tread on a worm were Simon Cowell (of course, though he was suggested less often than usual this week), Kim Kardashian, Samuel L Jackson, The Queen, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Twitter ads for gigs galore - Bath, Bury, Barton, Brighton & Worcester


The Socks have a slew of shows coming up, for which I've drawn up individual ads to run on Twitter. Here we have Bath's Rondo on April 4th, Worcester Swan this coming weekend, Bury Met the week after, Barton On Humber's Ropewalk April 18th and Brighton Komedia May 22 & 23.


Sunday 8 March 2015

Travel notes, Lockerbie to Warminster

It's been quite the week of travelling, starting with a Socks gig in the tiny village of Boreland near Lockerbie. I'd originally booked flights to take me up and back, but had to change that to a long drive when the rest of the week took shape. Cos after Boreland, where I stayed over in a guest house owned by people who ride performing horses...

... I had the opportunity to visit a freezing wet and rainy Glasgow...

.. before jetting to Berwick On Tweed ready for the first of five days in a row in schools (whose end results you can see here). Berwick is beautiful and most photogenic, but for the sake of brevity here's one snap to be getting on with.

In Ripon, before working at the Grammar School and hosting a Battle Of The Books quiz, I had the pleasure of scraping snow off my car for possibly the first and last time this year. I also saw a duck walking through the snowy garden of my hosts. Which was nice.

En route from Tuesday's school in Ripon to an overnight stay with Mum in Kibworth, I passed this fascinating building, which I've stopped at before. Until recently it housed a cafe, and stands beside a service station, but it appears to once have been the gatehouse to a big home. Anyone who knows more about this oddity on the A1, do let me know.

The rest of the week saw me gadding between Kibworth, Peterborough, Harrogate, Clevedon and Warminster, and with fewer sights to snap, I settled for posing cheesily in front of flipcharts. Like so.

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

Saturday 7 March 2015

Dognuts For Fun - 10 new comics by kids from World Book Week

Thursday was World Book Day, apparently, and by extension the whole week was World Book Week. Which, for me and my Comic Art Masterclasses, meant a busy week with a great deal of travelling, but a remarkably well-planned schedule by my standards. Starting off in Saturday in Boreland near Lockerbie for a Socks gig, I then made my way to Berwick On Tweed and started the week at Tweedmouth Middle School where, paid for by Hexham Book Festival, two groups of year 5s, 6s, 7s and 8s (a combination you'll only get at a Middle School) produced the comics you see above. And thence to Ripon...

... where the year 8s of Ripon Grammar School produced these two smashing comics. It was my second trip to RGS, and the second time I've been put up by librarian Sally and her husband Neil, for which many thanks. Indeed I did quite well hotel-wise this week, with Saturday's guest house in Boreland being paid for by the gig I was playing, and being a house guest on both Monday and Tuesday, when I stayed over with my Mum in Kibworth before setting off for Peterborough...

... where the year 5s of Newark Hill Primary produced Dognuts For Fun (somebody couldn't spell doughnuts) and My Undermants Are In The Air (someone inexplicably mis-spelled underpants, to universal amusement). After which I was back up north to Harrogate...

... where the year 7s of St Aidans School came up with my two favourite titles of the week - Somebody Parked Their Car On My Potato, and 11 Ninja Screwdrivers Go Scuba Diving 4 Unicorns. Genius. St Aidans were among the 11 teams from schools across North Yorkshire who took part in an inter-school Battle Of The Books quiz at Ripon Grammar which I had the pleasure of compering on Tuesday night. Turns out I make quite an adequate quiz master, if anyone's short of one.

The final school of the week was Pinecroft Primary in Warminster, which meant I got to go home at last between schools. Their year 4s, 5s and 6s came up with these spiffy titles. And yes, I did a parody of Band On The Run for the cover of Weirdoes That Break Out Of Jail, for the benefit of kids whose parents weren't even born when it came out. More than that, I totally forgot to mention to them that that was what I was doing, so the homage will probably go unrecognised by all concerned.

The ten groups of kids were all asked to suggest a celebrity to appear in my famous "treads on a worm" demonstration strip, and ended up choosing Tom Jones, Simon Cowell twice (he was, as usual, suggested as one of the 4 names we choose from in 75% of classes), Benedict Cumberbatch, Kim Jong-Un, Warwick Davies, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Kim Kardashian and The Queen.

In 7 days I drove from Clevedon to Lockerbie, via Glasgow to Berwick Upon Tweed, to Ripon (where I had to scrape snow off my car in the morning, for the first and possibly last time this winter), to Kibworth, to Peterborough, to Harrogate, back to Clevedon, and to Warminster and back. Which, is, by my reckoning, 1256 miles. And with an average of 25 kids in each class plus teachers, I drew just north of 250 caricatures. You're welcome.

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

Sunday 1 March 2015

Eastenders to Madonna - Facebook & Twitter diary update

When I draw a flipchart from my Kev F's Comic Art Masterclasses I try to draw as many female characters as male. It's not easy, when the kids ask almost universally for male characters. Come on people who were inventing superheroes 50-to-75 years ago, invent more women for them to put in films half a century later!

And while I'm wittering away, surely I've written something worth remembering on Twitter or Facebook?

So the lesson is: Wear Armani and you'll get pulled off.

March 1st. This morning I remembered to say Rabbits Rabbits Rabbits very first thing and, most of my drive, I had a rainbow ahead of me, its foot landing on the bit I was about to drive through. So, if anything goes wrong this month, that's two superstitions scientifically tested right there.

Inspired by David Essex's poems on @5WrightStuff I just wrote one:
When I met John Lennon
He said "nothing rhymes with Lennon"
Then when we were parting he
Said "but even less rhymes with McCartney"

Just bought the new Doctor Who Comic at a motorway services and it's brilliant. The best written and drawn Doctor Who strips I've read in years, perfectly nailing the 3 different styles of the three Doctors. It's £3.99 for 80 odd pages, all comic strip no filler. Isn't that the same price as the much-thinner Doctor Who Adventures? http://downthetubes.net/?p=19768

Paul Gannon: Thanks to Kev Sutherland for his AMAZING artwork - this will be a piece that will be signed by ALL our guests and many of Mark Watson's to auction after the show and raise a little more money! THANKS KEV https://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/geekatorium27podcast

 Currently watching Dirty Dancing for the first time ever. Wondered whatever happened to Jennifer Grey, and the truth is sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Grey The phrase "cut her nose off to spite her face" is the one you're looking for.

Am I being unfair (based on a discussion last night) in saying Mel & Sue are the most famous comedy double act who've never actually been a comedy double act? Presenters, yes, but have they ever done what you'd call a comedy show? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_and_Sue

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