Tuesday 31 October 2017

Elsa Lanchester - this year's Halloween Pumpkin

It's a tradition that I missed last year because I was so busy, so I'm glad that I managed to squeeze in the time to make a Halloween lantern this year. Hev helped by gouging out the innards, which we can look forward to smelling for the rest of the week, and I did the honours by carving the front. Thinking better of anything topical (a Harvey Weinstein lantern was ruled out very early), I went with a classic Bride of Frankenstein, and I think I've got away with it.

And, lest we forget, here are some of my creations from past years. It remains hard to top 2011's.

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 25 October 2017

Mickey Mouse's Monkey Club - comics by kids in Inverclyde & Grangemouth

Three consecutive days in or near Glasgow? That'll do nicely. My thanks to Inverclyde Libraries for lining up a day at Port Glasgow, teaching kids from two local primary schools, then two libraries in a day in Greenock and Gourock. Mickey Mouse's Monkey Club was fun to draw and colour, though I'm not sure that was the visual gag the little darlings had in mind.

It's Halloween season, so it was a treat to get some horror themed covers to draw this week. You'll recognise the Psycho house of course. And when have I ever held back when there's an excuse to do an EC Tales From The Crypt style header? Never, that's when. These two are from Bowhouse Primary in Grangemouth, whose booking I was able to tack onto my Inverclyde visit, making it a three day tour.

The last time I was in Gourock was en route to a Literary Festival in Tarbert when, through bad planning, I found myself taking the ferry to Dunoon, then getting marooned on Argyll & Bute, a five minute swim from Tarbert, having missed the last ferry over, and having to drive the long way round from there. Before that, apart from visiting the library for my classes, my only experience of Gourock had been when Gran took Jude and I on a ferry trip to Dunoon when I was 12. It was horrible. I am better disposed to the old place now.

And on Sunday I found myself driving all the way to Brighton (Hove, actually) to do a 10th birthday party. These are always unpredictable events, and given that this one had 28 nine and ten year old guests, mostly boys, it was likely to be a challenge. So I'm proud to say I kept them all focussed on the job, and they spent two hours designing characters, drawing comic strips, and having their faces drawn. The most surprising thing is that the birthday boy, Ben, hadn't seen me before. Usually kids have me in their school and have so much fun they inflict me on their friends at their party. In this instance Ben is a big Beano fan, and Mum just googled and found me. I'm delighted to say it all worked out, and everyone went for it.

The celebrities these seven groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Donald Trump (twice), Taylor Swift, Simon Cowell (twice), John Cena, and Jackie Chan.

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

Saturday 21 October 2017

Isle Of Wight, Venice, Nottingham - travels with my art

I've only ever been to Venice three times in my life, It was never the plan that two of those visits should be this year, within a month of each other. But that's how it worked out.

You'll remember, back in September, Heather and I went to Venice, just for four days, two of which were taken up with travelling, and squeezed as much Biennale into the two remaining days as was humanly possible. When we returned we'd taken so many photos I assembled them all into a 200 page Blurb photobook, and we had another year's worth of great art memories to be going on with.

At the same time, Hev was hoping to be part of an art thing that was still in the process of applying for funding, and she wasn't getting her hopes up about them getting it. But, only a couple of weeks ago, they did. And so it was that, at short notice, Heather was to be paid to go to Venice as part of ArtEmotion and The Venice Vending Machine (two art projects that overlap in a way I've never quite understood), for some sort of career development and recce-ing work, meeting art curators and galleries, that sort of thing, and exhibiting in and helping with the Vending Machine.

And, since I happened to be free that week (no gigs or school visits, that is) I joined her. Hev was there from Friday to Friday, I joined her from Sunday to Thursday. (For the history books, this happened at the time of the notorious Ryanair pilots scandal of 2017, when flights were being cancelled at short notice. So Hev flew on Easyjet, at 3 times the price, and I flew on Ryanair for £38 return, taking the gamble. It paid off.)

Of course I couldn't go when she did, because first I had to spend two days at the Isle Of Wight Literary Festival where I did two days of classes in schools, took part in a pub quiz (they call it a Fizz Quiz, don't cha know) with my fellow writers, in which our team came 5th, and very briefly met Val McDermid, a long time Socks fan who can now put a face to the footwear. 

Returning from the Isle, Hev was already in Venice, going through interesting times with her fellow artists, about which I was to hear much more in the coming week, and the next day I was up at 5am and driving to the Nottingham Comic Festival where I did a quick Comic Masterclass demonstration, and sold some comics and artwork. I'd hoped, when agreeing to this event, that my Women Of The Bible comicbook would be published by now, but it's stalled at the moment, so I ploughed through some back catalogue and waved goodbye to two pages of Beano art.

On Sunday I journeyed to Venice where I promptly got stuck into two solid days of colouring the CII artwork I'd brought with me, and that I'd been struggling to find time to work on for over a week. meanwhile Heather was having meetings with her artist colleagues who, let's just say, have their own particular ways of working that can become a bit hard going at times. Participating in an artist run project seems to be a cross between The Apprentice and Big Brother, with all that suggests. But Hev's really grateful for the opportunity and has got a lot out of the trip.

Not least was the return of Anubis Other World Tour. The most visually stunning of Heather's work, the Anubis figures haven't had much of an outing for a while. But through the canny technique of dissembling his body and squeezing him into our cabin baggage, Heather and I were able to bring an  Anubis Schoolboy to Venice, and spent a night and day photographing him in various locations. This will form part of her next wave of exhibition work, so frustratingly I'm keeping some great photos under wraps, which is so not me.

Here's Marina, the creator of the Venice Vending Machine, with her creation itself, which sold out of its supply of artists' work on the very first day.

Of course, in the remaining days of our time together, Heather and I got to see tons of artwork, which we'd not managed to see on our visit last month. Truly it takes a week, or more, to do justice to the work in the Venice Biennale. We got "arted up", ie visually and mentally exhausted by the amount of art we were taking in, more times than we could count. At the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, which we were seeing for the first time, we were so arted-up there that, just as we were heading for the door, I had to stop and do a double-take, realising that I was blithely breezing past a Duchamp, a Braque, and a Picasso, just hanging there over a sideboard, acting like they weren't worth tens of millions each.

I returned home Thursday, Hev came back Friday, and here we all are ready to face Hurricane Brian. And on Monday I fly to Glasgow. And so ends just another average week of Travels With My Art.

Oh yeah, there were deer in the road on the way to the airport. And on the way back there was rain, dear. Oh yes, and it was my birthday on Wednesday.

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

Friday 20 October 2017

Biggest piece of artwork ever

Here was a novel job. Thanks to Laurence Smith, who I first met at comic conventions and who works in insurance, I've done a variety of interesting art jobs. I've designed his family's Christmas cards, and drawn caricatures on a moving double decker bus, among other things.

This, though, must be the biggest job. A giant piece of paper, 6 feet tall by nine feet wide, on which I drew cartoons based on the suggestion of 150 members of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Across two days at their impressive offices in the City of London, while they were doing talks and presentations, they each took it in turns to spend two minutes with me, give me their idea of some sort of visual that captured an aspect of the future plans for the company and, by the end of a few hours, we had one big illustration, full of doodles, some of which I think look pretty nifty.

Then Laurence decided it would look better in colour. Which was easier said than done. But, eventually, I did it. 

The line drawing having taken literally 8 hours, done at lightning speed in two four hour sessions, the colouring was a different matter. Have you ever tried colouring a piece of artwork that's 6 feet high and 9 feet wide, in Photoshop at 300dpi? On my laptop? No, you haven't. And it's not impossible, but it took a bit of working out how to do, what with having to keep quitting Photoshop and restarting it because the programme remembers every stage along the way, hogging Gigabytes of memory as it goes. Added to which it came during a busy couple of weeks so I didn't get it finished until we were in Venice, where I spent Monday and Tuesday at the table in our flat completing the job.

Hopefully Laurence, and the folks at the CII, like the finished piece. If I'm lucky, it'll be displayed in pride of place in their new offices. Where, for years to come, people will be wondering quite what the pictures of Dan Ackroyd and Thelma & Louise and a ringmaster herding squirrels have to do with insurance.


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

Thursday 19 October 2017

Adventures Of Balzac Man - new comics by kids

When it comes to inexplicable titles, if there's a contest for that sort of thing when kids are coming up with names for the comic they take away at the end of one of my Comic Art Masterclasses, then The Adventures Of Balzac Man has to be in with a flying chance. The kid who wrote it down had no double entendre in mind, spelled it exactly that way, and (I can guarantee) had never heard of Honore De Balzac. So. Meanwhile, I snuck V For Vendetta into a title with "Guy" in. My class, my rules.

These comics are the fruits of two days at the Isle Of Wight Literary Festival, into which I managed to squeeze four schools. You're right, he has the skills to pay the bills. These from Studio School, at which yr 6 pupils from Holy Cross were the class, and from St Thomas of something RC Primary. The ones above are from the sweetly spelled Hunny Hill and St Francis. 4 schools, 2 days, that's all you need to remember.

And two lovely comics from Widewell primary near Plymouth, where they put Mrs Kerr on the cover last time (memo to self: insert link here) and did the same again today.

The celebrities these classes chose for my demonstration strip were Donald Trump (twice), Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, Cristiano Ronaldo and (most original of the week), Youtuber Jake Paul. Me neither.


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 18 October 2017

Duff beer and duffer sexism - Facebook posts

Oct 19: There's no mention of Matt Groening or The Simpsons on these (new in at Lidl). Do you think they're legit? Well, it says enjoy them while they last. Who am I to refuse?

Oct 3: Just found myself whistling the theme tune to Taxi then a train of thought led me to remembering Mike Post's TV theme tunes and how none of them fitted the shows.
Taxi was too wistful and not comedic at all. Hill St Blues was too whimsical and nothing like a cop show. And Quantum Leap? It's a daytime soap theme, not a science fiction show. It's hard to find one show he wrote the theme tune for where you couldn't have found way more appropriate library music.

So, anyway, RIP Mike Post. (Joke!).

Oct 17: Who's for a game of Things-Guys-Do Bingo using this list, during tomorrow night's Apprentice? Pretty sure I saw all these things last week.

Don’t talk over women.
When you see another guy talk over a woman, say: “Hey, she was saying something.”
Learn to read a fucking room.
Don’t call women “crazy” in a professional setting.
Involve women in your creative projects, then let them have equal part in them.
Don’t make assumptions about a woman’s intelligence, capabilities or desires based on how she dresses.
If a woman tells you that you fucked up, and you feel like shit, don’t put it on that woman to make you feel better. Apologize without qualification and then go away.
Don’t punish women for witnessing your vulnerability.
Don’t get defensive when you get called out.
Don’t expect women to be “nice” or “cute” and don’t get upset when they aren’t those things.
Pay women as much as you pay men.
Don’t need to literally witness a man being horrible in order to believe that he’s horrible. Trust and believe women.
Don’t use your power to get women’s attention/company/sex/etc.
Don’t use your “feminism” as a way to get women to trust you. Show us in your day-to-day life, not in your self-congratulatory social media. *
Don’t make misogynistic jokes.
If you are asked to be on a panel/team and see that it’s all men, say something. Maybe even refuse the spot!
Do you feel that any woman on earth owes you something? She doesn’t. Even if you’re like, “Hm, but what about basic respect?” ask yourself if you’ve shown her the same.
Don’t touch women you don’t know, and honestly, ask yourself why you feel the need to touch women in general.
Be aware of your inherent power in situations and use it to protect women, especially via talking to other men.
Stop thinking that because you’re also marginalized or a survivor that you cannot inflict pain or oppress women.
If you do the right thing, don’t expect praise or payment or a pat on the back or even a “thank you from that woman”. Congratulations, you were baseline decent.
If a woman says no to a date, don’t ask her again.
If women’s pain makes you feel pain, don’t prize your pain above hers, or make that pain her problem.
Don’t read a list like this and think that most of these don’t apply to you.

*I fully realise I just literally did this item off the list.

Oct 17: Re: Point number 3 on this list: "If you are asked to be on a panel/team and see that it’s all men, say something. Maybe even refuse the spot!" Can I once more put in a word for The News Quiz on Radio 4. For at least the third consecutive season, it has never had fewer than 50% women on the teams, and has managed all female teams more than once. HIGNFY has hardly ever done this (hamstrung by always having to have the two male regulars), and Mock The Week (which has no such excuse) has never ever managed to have more than two women - out of its 7 participants - and has had innumerable all-male shows.

Hooray for the News Quiz.

Oct 20: The latest Private Eye is painful reading when it comes to the Weinstein story. We all revel in seeing how hypocritical the 'other' papers are (we expect it of The Sun and The Mail), but reading Weinsteipocrisy in The Guardian is embarrassing for a woolly leftie who always thinks he's on the side of the angels.

Who knew The Guardian writer John Patterson attacked and slightly revealed Weinstein's activities back in 2002, only for the editor to kowtow to Weinstein so as not to lose Miramax's advertising money, banning that writer from covering Weinstein films? And that Weinstein's aggressive PR man at the time is Claudia Winkleman's husband?

As for Marina Hyde savagely dismissing Myleene Klass, when she spoke up about Weinstein back in 2010: "We must merely add this to the mounting pile of questionable Klass-related anecdotes, and await the next one with eyebrows pre-raised." That's Marina Hyde, one of my favourite column writers, basically victim-shaming and calling a woman out for crying wolf.
Street Of Shame indeed.

Oct 17: And the floodgates are open. If we thought popstars and DJs acted inappropriately, just wait till we discover how dictatorial and, yes, mysogynistic movie directors have been since forever. If you've not already stopped watching Hitchcock movies, Tippi Hedren and a dozen others could tell you some #MeToo stories that'll put you off. And he's only in the middle of a very long list.

On the plus side, the 2019 Oscars are shaping up to have way more female directors in contention. Why, by 2020 we may be up to 20%.

Oct 3: You can tell how old someone is by whether they're more disillusioned by the right wing blatherings of John Lydon or the right wing blatherings of Morrissey.

Oct 3: A shame to lose Tom Petty so young. American Girl remains one of my favourite rock singles. A surprising thing for me, reading about him this morning, is that he hardly had a hit single in the UK. American Girl got to number 40 (though it didn't even chart in the States) and the best he ever managed here was I Won't Back Down getting to number 28. Very much an album act, but with such memorable songs you really thought they did better in their own right. I may be the only person who's so hung up on the performance of 45rpm singles in Britain in the 70s and 80s. Can't imagine Tom was that fussed.

Oct 14: By Toutatis. And having read this story I looked up Asterix & The Banquet on Wikipedia. Who knew the characters in the bar were caricatures of actors from the films of Marcel Pagnol? Earliest comic book in-joke? (Probably not).

Oct 18: My genuine Jongleurs story. I did a tryout showcase at Moles in Bath back in 1999 (when I was still doing stand up) in front of Julia Chamberlain. Out of half a dozen new comics, I was the one that got the actual Jongleurs gig (at Camden where I died on my arse and went back to square one). The acts who didn't get the gig? Who I was deemed funnier than, one night in 1999? Shappi Khorsandi, Andy Zaltzman, and Russell Howard. Huh. Where are they now?

Oct 18: Okay Google, that's just creepy. I go to Google, to Google something, and the logo is birthday candles. I figure it's the anniversary of the invention of cakes with candles on, but no. It's my birthday. How do you know that Goo... okay, I know how you know it, but do you have to remind me in such a creepy stalkerish way? You might as well just have a logo with "We also know where you live" written in blood. Ech.

Oct 9: We watched a Dick Van Dyke show this week, from 1962, at the end of which there's an additional scene with Dick & Mary which turns out to be an ad for washing up liquid. How shameful we thought. Then, today, Mike Kaluta posted a link to this great Pinterest page of comic book ads from my childhood. Every single Marvel character, drawn by their actual artist at the time, whoring themselves to sell Twinkies. (NB: What the hell are, or were, Twinkies? They look vile).

Oct 4: Don't get put off by the title of this essay, it's (spoiler alert) deliberately ironic. This chap really has tried to engage fellow Americans who, unlike him, are gun lovers and reaches a dispiriting conclusion.

Gun-love strikes me like religious belief. It transcends reason, and can be held quite genuinely in the minds of people who also believe in rationality, science, and empirical fact. Unlike religion, gun-love revolves around owning objects whose sole purpose is to make holes in things a long way away, and those things are often other people. Religion spends almost all of its time trying to get people not to do that kind of thing.

So I honestly don't believe anyone will ever change the mind of any gun-lover in the USA. All we can hope for is that their mania doesn't spread to any civilized countries.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Don't Shoot Grandpa - new comics by kids

Two days in Newton Poppleford primary produced some lovely comics, working with pretty well the whole school full, year 3 to 6. A return booking, they'd waited two years and grown almost a new school's worth of kids since last time, and what an imaginative bunch they were.

Okay, two comics with Shut Up in the title isn't big or clever, and one cover about shooting and another one about suicide may not be that impressive either. Pah. Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of primary school kids?

Here was a treat, me doing my Comic Art Masterclass at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, arranged very kindly by The Beano, who also organised Beanos galore to be given to the kids free. I did a class in the morning, followed by an hour long talk in the afternoon, after which I signed over 200 Beanos. Which, by the way, didn't have anything by me in!

I could do more of this talking from a stage lark. They'd sold more than 200 tickets for this baby, with me doing the best of my workshop spiel, with ad libs, audience questions and a very funny running joke that started with a toddler in the balcony appearing to keep shouting "bear" at random moments. Hev pointed out afterwards that it lacked structure, and if I get the chance again I could shape this much more into a talk with a purpose, rather than a workshop with the work taken out.

And of course the fact that it sold 200 tickets is more down to The Beano and the Cheltenham Literary Festival than to me. But it would be worth investigating whether this is something that we could offer again. Let us see.

The six celebrities chosen by these 5 groups and one talk audience were Donald Trump (three times), Taylor Swift, and then two most original suggestions: from Year 4 Adam West; and from a pupil in Year 3 (then voted for by the rest of the class) Kojak! I know.

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 4 October 2017



For the attention of Socks fans who weren't able to pick these up at our recent tour dates, we have Socks Do Shakespeare t-shirts left in every size except Small and Ladyfit Small. So we have M, L, XL, XXL and Ladyfit M. All for £15 inc P&P to UK, £20 inc P&P to US and rest of world. Paypal to sockpuppets@sitcomtrials.co.uk (remembering to give your address & the size you want)

I also have, in the Socks vault, the following t-shirts from previous shows:

Minging Detectives in S, M and L (one of each left)

Socks In Space  UPDATE - all sizes now sold out (6pm 6/10/17) 

Boo Lingerie in L, Ladyfit M and Ladyfit L (we obviously thought we had a lot of larger female fans back in 2012, I have 3 of each left over)

Classic design in Ladyfit M

*2010 "On The Telly" in XXXL only* (it's the design where one sock has a lightsabre and the other is reading the paper. I clearly thought we had one giant-sized fan more than we do)
*UPDATE: This has now gone (as of 5/10/17) sorry

*2007 earliest design in XL and Kids age 9-10 (yes, we printed kids sizes one year and, amazingly, got rid of all but one of them. This is the very first Sock logo, before they had costumes or even a kilt)
*UPDATE: This has now gone (as of 6/10/17) sorry

You can have any of these for £15 inc P&P (£20 US). Any 2 shirts will be £25 inc P&P (£30 US). Anyone wanting more than 3 shirts is mad, but ask me and I'll calculate the postage. As ever, Paypal to sockpuppets@sitcomtrials.co.uk

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.
Read more at http://kevfcomicart.blogspot.com/#c8u0td1AcMJ3P18B.99

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