Friday 29 January 2016

Socks new show - to be revealed Feb 12th

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's brand new show, its title and its subject matter, will be revealed on February 12th at the first of their two Leicester Comedy Festival shows. Book here. 

These are your teasers folks, we do hope you're enjoying them. (Says he, noticing that a bit of the main artwork needs amending. You might spot the not-so-deliberate error in the third teaser.)

Feb 12 Leicester Comedy Festival 
Feb 19 - Lighthouse Poole 
Feb 20 Leicester Comedy Festival 
Mar 12 - Chorley Little Theatre 
Mar 24 - New Greenham Arts, Newbury 
Apr 9 - Widcombe Social Club, Bath Comedy Festival
May 8 - Bean Caffe, Derby Comedy Festival 5.30pm
May 19 - Old Joint Stock Birmingham
May 22 - Komedia, Brighton Fringe
July 3 - Derby Bar One 2pm 
July 10 - Tring Festival (tbc)

Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat - new comics by kids

This week's Comic Art Masterclasses have seen me travelling from Haverfordwest to Glasgow to Kingston On Thames to Burnley, which is about as close to all four points of the compass as anyone could need. And in all the comics produced by my kids these was one recurring theme - fatness. Quite how this happens I'm not sure. I think it's because I show them the comics produced by other recent schools, and once they've spotted something they identify with, they come up with a similar idea themselves. Last term we had repeated incidences of Pigs and Unicorns, and this season it seems Fat is the new Unicorn.

You can blame Haverfordwest for starting it. Their Fatman and the Jelly Of Truth was certainly the first of the bunch. And you don't have to point out to me the grammatical inconsistence of Invade Of The Giant Ninja from Kingston on Thames.

This would be my favourite of the Fat Men of the week, coming from a school in Glasgow on Burns Night Day (do we call it Burns Day?), it gave me the opportunity to turn the eponymous star into Tam O'Shanter. And another Unicorn, you're never far away from a Unicorn in a class of kids. And, appropriately it's our national animal, so that's nice. Oh, and the dodgy sounding Blackey Chan is the name of one of the kids' cats.

And here's an old favourite back again. First cropping up at the end of 2014, the Vine / stroke / meme of My Name Is Jeff, which was popular among secondary school kids, has now come from the mouth of Year 3s. Fascinating.

The celebrities this eight classes chose, for the infamous Treads On A Worm routine, were reassuringly Simon Cowell-free. They chose Ariana Grande (twice), Ant McPartlin, Michael Jackson, Rita Ora, John Cena, Adam Sandler and - making an early bid for best celebrity suggestion of the year - Pope Innocent.

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

Wednesday 27 January 2016

"Glasgow pupils get creative with famous comic artist" - Primary Times

A nice article in Primary Times about my school visits to Glasgow on Monday.

Glasgow pupils get creative with famous comic artist

Comic artist renowned for Beano and Marvel work visits two South Glasgow Schools
The dreams of pupils from two South Glasgow primary schools came true this week when they had the opportunity to draw with renowned comic master, Kev F Sutherland.
Pupils from St Fillan’s Primary in Cathcart and St Bartholomew’s in Castlemilk had the chance to create their very own comic strip with the famous artist, whose work includes drawings and writings for The Beano, Marvel, Star Trek and Doctor Who Adventures, after one lucky pupil from each school won a competition with St. Enoch Centre.
The competition was held as part of the shopping centre’s inaugural SToryfest celebrations in 2015. Designed to encourage reading and creativity amongst local primary schools, the festival featured visits from famous characters including Gruffalo and Dora the Explorer as well as free workshops and author visits from Badger the Mystical Mutt and Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens to name a few.
Schools across Glasgow were tasked with creating a cover and title for a comic book or an action packed story with a winning pupil chosen for each category. Zoe Craig won the workshop for her class (p6c) at St Fillan’s after impressing judges with her aptly named tale ‘so that is why I don’t have my homework’, while 11 year old Lewis Mulheron from St Bartholomew’s (p6/7) was awarded the prize for his fun canine inspired comic cover ‘Pug Thug, Pug Life’.
As part of the masterclass pupils at both schools learnt everything there is to know about making comic strips before getting the opportunity to work directly with Kev on their individual designs. The famous artist also turned each pupil into a caricature during his visit to the Glasgow primary schools.
Commenting on the masterclass, head teacher at St Bartholomew’s Primary, Ms Saunders, said; “The pupils had a wonderful time from designing their entries to taking part in the masterclass and we would like to say a big thank you to St. Enoch Centre and Kev F for making this possible.”
Mrs Penman, head teacher at St Fillan’s, added; “To have this exciting opportunity to draw with an artist who has worked on some of their favourite comics is hugely inspirational for the pupils and I am sure it’ll be talked about for a long time!”
Anne Ledgerwood, general manager of St. Enoch Centre, said; “The comic strip masterclass with Kev F has been a fantastic way for pupils to have fun while finding out about different forms of art – a key aim of our SToryfest celebrations.  The competition received some brilliant entries but the judges particularly enjoyed Zoe’s story; we can only imagine what the teacher would have to say when faced with such a tale!

Also to be found in What's On Glasgow

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

Sunday 17 January 2016

Nanny's In A Bin - the first kids comics of 2016

I know what you're thinking. Okay, you could be thinking one of two things. Alright, to be fair, you could be thinking an infinite number of things, but I'm going to narrow it down to two possibilities, based on the front cover of comics by kids at this week's first Comic Art Masterclasses of the year. And the answers are:

1) John Romita, from the closing splash page of Spider-Man number 50, the classic Spider-Man No More story.*

2) It's pronounced Col-astha Doo-lig

The pupils at Plunket College (above) and Colaiste Dhulaigh (abover) were First and Second years (as we'd say in Ireland or Scotland, that's year 7 and 8 in English money) and as entertainingly challenging as one gets used to with the kids at the JSCP Libraries in Dublin. I spent two days there and they did some great work, getting me into the swing of teaching and travelling. Although before them, I was broken into the year teaching this lot...

Can you begin to guess what age the pupils were who came up with the title Snot Face Strikes Back? That's right, their average age was 24, they were Newly Qualified Teachers. I started the year by teaching them how valuable comic strip can be in schools, and hopefully showing them how easy it is to teach.

Attack Of The Robot Killer Grannies was produced at a class at a 9th birthday party (Happy Birthday Dylan). I always wonder whether kids are going to mind having a two hour art class foisted upon them as their party entertainment, but once again it went brilliantly. And the caricatures you can see are of some of the newly qualified teachers. We're only halfway through January and already I've drawn the best part of 150 caricatures.

The celebs they chose for the famous Treads On A Worm demonstration (which is very much part of the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it tradition, having first emerged in my classes about 10 years ago) were David Beckham (three times, for some reason), Katy Perry, Alan Carr,  Justin Bieber, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

* Here's the story you were thinking of.

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

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Socks Health & Safety videos revealed

A year ago, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre were in discussion to produce a series of Health & Safety induction videos for a company in the offshore oil drilling business. We produced a series of 9 demo videos, trying out the initial ideas for the project. At which point the international oil price plummeted and the oil business had to cut its spending slightly. (Today BP announced major job losses, which is not an unusual thing in the industry at the moment).

So it is that the videos have sat in waiting for the past year. But now that they're not about to be developed any further, not immediately leastways, we're able to share them with you. Above we see the Socks tackling the topic of Bribery (important for representatives of the oil industry working in some countries more than others). Here, for your delight and delectation, is the complete set of videos...

Health & Safety Introduction
H&S - No Business Objective
H&S - Hazards
H&S - Legal
H&S  - Environment
H&S - Responsibility
H&S - Training
H&S - Communications & Targets
H&S - Bribery

They may be a bit subject specific to be of wide entertainment value, but parts of them are good for a laugh. Think of them as The Socks' equivalent of John Cleese's Video Arts training films from back in the day.

David Bowie week

It seems, at the moment, that everyone will remember where they were on January 11th when they heard that David Bowie had died. It's by far the most commemorated celebrity death I can think of since Princess Di and before that John Lennon. This may, of course, be a phenomenon much more significant to my generation than others. Certainly all the many talking heads on TV and radio and all the DJs playing Bowie music have been about my age.

6 Music played a 6 hour Bowie tribute without repeating a track, then true to form Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s plays the most obvious hits as if it's a local radio show. Everyone else has picked out something inbetween, and there are always treats turning up. I finally managed to put a string of Bowie videos on the TV one night, while Heather was in the backroom holding a fan heater up to the ceiling to dry some plaster (a leak from Ian's flat meant we've had our back room ceiling re-plastered, but it's taking a devil of an age to dry). Here are the videos I string together in my kind of "which Bowie video can you think of next" tribute:

Laurel and Hardy dance to Rebel Rebel by David BowieDavid Bowie - Time Will CrawlDavid Bowie - Loving The AlienDavid Bowie - Let Me Sleep Beside You - sub titulada españolDavid Bowie - The Heart's Filthy LessonDavid Bowie - Love You til Teusday David Bowie Golden Years Soul Train David Bowie - D.J.Flight of the Conchords - "Bowie's In Space" [HQ]David Bowie - Alabama SongDavid Bowie - Absolute BeginnersPeter Noone - Oh You Pretty Things (1971)"The Laughing Gnome" by David Bowie 
Look Back in Anger - David Bowie
David Bowie - Boys Keep Swinging
Be My Wife - David BowieDavid Bowie Modern Love David Bowie- Young Americans

...and there would have been hundreds more, and I'm sure there will be, in the months to come. I'm heartened to see that, in my usual Youtoobling searches, Bowie tracks come up pretty well every night. I cannot think of anyone whose back catalogue contains so much variety and so much stuff that I like, and that is unquestionably great.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Small flood, #BBCphop, Sitcom Trials, eBay, the year begins

2016 has begun for lots of the country with devastating floods. Touchwood, that wasn't us. We had some water leak in from Ian's flat upstairs when his builders drilled through a pipe. We're getting a new printer, it's not the end of the world.

The BBC People's History of Pop is something for which I did a radio interview at the BBC in Bristol this week, and for which I should be doing a TV interview next week. They've picked up on My Childhood Diaries (which have their own blog), in particular my Records For The Day. So I've been talking about the music I liked as a kid, if indeed I ever shut up about that.

The Sitcom Trials 2016 is starting to take shape. I've spoken to Karen about having the final at the Gilded Balloon in August, and I've got a thumbs up from the teams in Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow, with a hopeful new showrunner for London and even talk of a show in Dublin. So there's that to look forward to.

And the Socks Do Shakespeare will be the Edinburgh show, which is starting to take shape but slowly. I have started artworking the promo logo, which will be going into the listings for Bath Comedy Festival and Brighton, and so far it's taken me two days to get anywhere with it because, no sooner had I started doodling it, the water came through the ceiling, which kind of wiped out a day, and had a knock on effect. That would be why my scripts and art for Bible Society, which were the way I was going to actually earn money this week, are also behind schedule. Oh and this didn't help...

At the same time as the water came through the ceiling, Hev was taking down the Christmas tree, and I was taking a moment to look through stuff in my office and see if I could make more room. And you know how sometimes you get into this stuff and do more than you planned? Well, three visits to the tip and umpteen trips to the charity shops later, we've made quite a bit of space in the cupboard above the bathroom, largely through getting rid of old Christmas cards we'd been hoarding for decades, and material and curtains we were never going to need again; and my office has a tiny bit more space in it, thanks to me getting rid of a few years worth of Private Eyes (I realised they're just newspapers, and I'm not the only person who has them). I also put some stuff on eBay - four Doctor Who box sets and some Scorcher & Score comics. The Scorchers were going to go on as a job lot, until I saw someone was getting £3 a pop for copies identical to mine. So either that box contains £300 worth of Scorchers, which would be worth eBay-time, or it's lucky old charity shop again.

So, there's not a lot to show creatively for the first week of the year, but I have been working solidly doing something. Honest.


Saturday 2 January 2016

Predictions for 2016 (+ how'd I do predicting last year?)

 I do this every year. Badly. Try my hand at futurology and miss the mark my a wide margin. Here are my predictions for 2015 made a year ago, and how badly I fared. Following that, let's all have a guess at what'll happen in 2016 shall we?

On Jan 1st 2015 I guessed...

1) Which classic TV show remake will be announced in 2015?
The Avengers
 - WRONG. Though there are plans to remake dozens of shows including Space 1999,  X Files, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and a half dozen classic sitcoms inc The Good Life, Porridge, Up Pompeii, Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances.  And there's the Dads Army movie. I predicted not a one of these.

2) Which TV show will be cancelled in 2015?
- WRONG. Though now the BBC1 news at ten is getting extended so the two shows overlap, that could happen this year.

3) Who will surprise by getting their own hit TV series?
Selina Scott
- WRONG. Where did I pull that random idea from?

4) What new movie franchise will be announced/made?
Ally Sloper
- WRONG. In previous years I've had a stab at old comic characters I like and punted them for big screen glory. I am never right, though if I'd suggested The Numskulls I would have been spot on.

5) How much will litre of petrol cost in Dec '15 (currently approx £1.15)? 
Up to £1.30 
- WRONG. Down to 99p.

6) Who will win Edinburgh Comedy Award 2015?
a) Best act? b) Best newcomer?
a) Funz and Gamez  b) A Cambridge Footlighter
a) - WRONG, it was Sam Simmons
b) - WRONG, it was Sofie Hagen

7) Celeb on the Slab?
Prince Philip, doing Top Gear's Star In A Reasonably Priced Car
Ha ha ha ha - WRONG

8) Who will win the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest?
- WRONG. Sweden.

9) Who will put themselves forward to be Mayor of London?
Mike Read
- WRONG. So far we have Zac Goldsmith & Sadiq Khan to choose between.

10) Who will be confirmed as showrunner for season 10 of Doctor Who?
Still Steven Moffat
- Looks like I'm RIGHT on this one, though I'd have been happy not to be.

11) Who will be a surprise candidate in the 2016 US Presidential Election?
 Oprah Winfrey
- WRONG. Donald Trump would have been a better guess.

12) Who will be Labour leader at end of 2015?
Still Ed Miliband (or, wild card guess, Ed is assassinated before the election so Chuka Umuna becomes new leader and Labour win by a sympathetic landslide)
- Soooooo WRONG. And anybody who predicted Jeremy Corbyn this time last year wins Futurology hands down.

13) Result of the 2015 UK General Election?
Labour party in coalition with SNP, Greens, Sinn Fein and Liberals
- Oh dear, so so so WRONG again. But, given that all broadcasters and pollsters had it wrong right up until the polls closed on the day, I'll forgive myself.

14) Surprise country to have a revolution/uprising?
-  WRONG. Were there new revolutions in 2015 or just the same ones going on? I forget.

15) What will be surprise invention/technicological advance?
Silicone chips inside our heads that switch to overload
- WRONG. I seem to have been taking neither the questions nor the answers seriously.

16) Will average UK house prices rise or fall by Dec '15?
Rise by 5%
- Approximately RIGHT. The BBC in September said it looked like it was going to be 6%, beating predictions of 3%. So nobody knows, by the sound of it.

17) Biggest scandal
The Guardian turns out to have conspired in big cover-up in the 1980s
- WRONG. Unless you can find otherwise. All I get when I google the subject is the Grauniad reporting other newspapers conspiring in big cover ups in the 80s.

18) Band to split up?
- WRONG. Should've said One Direction.

19) Biggest weather news
Wettest summer in 20 years
- WRONG (but not far out, it was the wettest in 3 years, and that last one had been the wettest in 100) 

20) Christmas Number 1
The last ever X Factor winner
- WRONG again. This year's X Factor winner, from the least-watched final ever, whose name no-one can remember already, got to number 9 in the charts and was down to number 12 by Christmas. I may be right about it being the last ever X Factor, but we await that announcement still.

So, I got around 2 out of 20 right. Pathetic, but pretty much par for the course.

Here, should you be interested, is how well I did predicting 2014how well I did in predicting 2012, and here's the same for 2011

So, what does 2016 hold? Instead of the list from above, here are Ten Things I Would Like To See In 2016:

1 - Donald Trump gets excommunicated by the Republican Party so has to stand as an independent and loses humiliatingly.
2 - Jeremy Corbyn becomes increasingly popular, winning byelection after byelection and the support of the entire country.
3 - Steven Moffat passes on the role of Doctor Who showrunner, amicably, and carries on writing new episodes.
4 - Drones get strictly regulated following a fatal accident (due, probably, to someone doing something like this).
5 - ISIS become unpopular among their supporters and just, kind of, fizzle out.
6 - BBC Four runs out of 1970s pop groups to make documentaries about.
7 - Eastenders goes a whole year with no-one dying.
8 - Marvel superhero movies go all unpopular and plans are announced not to make any more (for a while).
9 - There won't be a referendum or general election of any sort in the UK.
10 - Fingers crossed 2016 will be less terroristy than 2015, and we're all happy and bright by the end of it.

Happy New Year

Scottish Falsetto Socks On Tour
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