Saturday 27 April 2019

Avengers Endgame thoughts

Well, it wasn’t the final episode of M*A*S*H. If anything it was closer to the final episode of Cheers or Friends. And, not being a Harry Potter fan, it was a first time experience for me, a movie being the final episode of a series. But when you’ve got a name like Endgame, I guess the clues were there.

The things I liked most about it were the fact that it did something the comics haven’t done (or if they have, they’ve quickly undone it) and that is end the lead characters’ stories. If you’ve read this far then you should be ready for the spoiler that Iron Man is dead and Captain America has grown old gracefully. I loved both those endings. If the comics weren’t interminable soap operas, it would be great to have seen them do that, but in the Marvel Comic Universe that’s never been an option, for long.

My favourite bits were the human stories - Tony Stark meeting his dad, Captain America finally getting his date with Agent Carter - and the humour - Thor becoming a comedy character rather than a boring God was the best thing that ever happened to him.

The stories you were supposed to care about - Karen Gillen’s character vs her sister, her dad and herself have never gripped me, and I would have been quite happy if Hawkeye and Black Widow had both fallen off the cliff. They had gone from boring characters to non characters, which was a great shame.

As for the rest of the film, it’s a waste of time to go into the plot holes and time-travel inconsistencies (which Rich Johnston does rather well here, and Screen Rant does in pathological detail here), they were just silly. And they had their cake and ate it by name-dropping every other time-travel movie and then going on to be not-quite-as-good as any of them. Yes, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Back To The Future are way way better stories than Avengers Endgame, which nobody can deny.

And then there is the “who da hell is dat?” problem, that haunts every Marvel universe film. For everyone in the audience who had a) seen every previous movie in the series and b) cared enough to remember the details of what had happened in every one, there were a dozen people who hadn’t. I, for example, haven’t seen Captain Marvel. So her appearance as some kind of Deus Ex Machina with seemingly infinite powers was just disappointing and frustrating. I also haven’t seen the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, so his inclusion in this and Infinity War was just rubbish. He adds nothing to the film other than being meat in the room, and not very interesting meat at that.

He has competition in the not-very-interesting-meat stakes, with at least 20 other characters being there simply so that everyone can say they were there. Benedict Wong must have had fun explaining his day at work filming his non-speaking part, standing there for a few seconds with his hands over his head and warranting a big credit at the end. In fact never have so many done so little for so much and so big a credit. (This topic covered more authoritatively in the New Yorker, here )

I’ll be honest, crossovers and multi-character stories were my least favourite comics as a Marvel-reading kid 40 years ago. When Thanos and the Avengers first teamed up in a big crossover annual by Jim Starlin and (I think) George Perez 45 years ago, I settled for reading my mate Steve’s copy, preferring the small scale intimacy of comics like Howard The Duck, Man Thing, Conan and Master Of Kung Fu. It wasn’t until I’d stopped being a regular Marvel reader that this sort of crossover nonsense got out of hand, in the 1980s, in the series Secret Wars (and its DC equivalent Crisis On Infinite Earths) that read as if it was a cynical effort to shoehorn every character into a series of interlinked comics in order to sell toys. Which, you won’t be surprised to learn, it was.

So Endgame is a pleasant coda to the series of films that have led here, some of which have been truly great pieces of light entertainment. I love two out of three Iron Man films, loved the first Captain America, love Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Thor Ragnaraok, Avengers Assemble, and Ant Man, and have a lot of time for Black Panther. I’ll get round to seeing the ones I’ve missed eventually, cos none of them was a bad film (and all knock spots off the DC movies to date). But I’m glad it’s all over and I hope it’s an experiment no-one will feel the need to attempt again for a while. Or, if they do, I hope they screw it up and the audience gets bored of it, cos the novelty deserves to wear off soon.

PS: And another thing - five years was too long. The film leaps forward to five years after the “snap”, yet everyone is mourning and moping like they would six months after such an event. Five years is a long time and people have moved on and got positive by then. Look at 1950 as an example. We’re planning the Festival Of Britain, America’s all shiny cars and the birth of rock and roll, and someone in Japan’s starting work on Godzilla. Nobody’s moping around as if World War 2 just finished, and it lasted 6 years not just one day. See also 2006, five years after 9/11. 

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here

Friday 26 April 2019

Saying goodbye to PO Box 48

I'm changing my address. Not that it'll bother many people, but I've suddenly realised I don't need a PO Box any more. So, after nearly 30 years of having the address "PO Box 48, Clevedon" I'll be going back to using my home address (available on request). Why I didn't do it before now I can't think.

Way back in 1991 I first found I needed a PO Box because I was starting to edit magazines. And back in those days, that meant a whole load of artwork delivered on A3 paper, far too big to fit through a letterbox. It also meant dealing with writers and artists all desperate to be in your publication (they were called UT, Gag, Kack and Bloody Hell, what do you mean you don't remember them?), and who wanted that sort being able to turn up at your door out of the blue?

So a PO Box, where they would hang onto my mail and I would collect it in person, was the ideal arrangement. For a few years I worked in a studio on Sixways in Clevedon, which overlooked the Post Office, and was directly above the bank. All my working world was on that one roundabout, and all a 5 minute walk from home.

In more recent years, not only have I long since stopped editing comics, but the world's stopped sending things by mail. If they do post things, more stuff is likely to come by courier than by Royal Mail anyway, in which case it has to come to the house not the PO Box, so the thing's next to obsolete.

There are a few people I'll need to update. For example the one school in fifty that still pays me by cheque instead of BACS. But that's a pretty straightforward matter of amending my letter heading.

So farewell then, PO Box 48, it's been nice making that pleasant but increasingly fruitless visit to the Post Office sorting office every other day, but in the spirit of moving on that I've been doing a lot of in the last 6 months, I'll manage.

Oh yeah, I also discovered the PO Box costs over £250 a year. Forget that.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here

Thursday 25 April 2019

Valuable Vulcans - a month of eBay sales

Who knew Vulcan was the one the 'kids' would be clamouring for? Check out the list of things I've sold on eBay in the last month. Most valuable comics are Vulcan. Which no-one's ever heard of, and which was all reprint!

Sold Mar 27 - April 24

3 x Vulcan (final 3) £36.00
13 x Look-In (x 4 batches) £29.71
3 x Vulcan (23-25) £26.00
3 x Vulcan (20-22) £26.00
What If No 1  £20.00
3 x Vulcan (17-19) £14.61
3 x Vulcan (5-7) £12.50
6 x Valiant 73 - 75 (x 3 batches) £12.00
3 x Vulcan (14-16) £11.50
3 x Vulcan (11-13) £11.50
3 x Vulcan (8-10) £11.50
3 x Vulcan (2-4) £11.50
11 x Dredd, Jaws various. £17.00
POTA record & comic £10.50
9 x Look-In 1977. £10.50
9 x Look-In 1975. £9.50
10 x Look-In 1975. £9.50

Thor 132 1967. £8.50
11x Howard, Hulk various £8.50
4 x Excalibur (inc 1) £8.00
10 x Look-In 1976  £7.50
8 x Valiant & Lion (x 3 batches) £7.50
10 x Look-In 1975. £7.00
5 x Mad 1976. £5.50
9 x Mad 1977 £5.00
7 x Spawn, Vanguard various £5.00
Dan Dare poster mag 1977  £4.40
6 x Unexpected 77-82 £4.25
4 x Werewolf 1974 £4.20
3 x Deathlok. £4.20
Doomsday + 1 £4.20
Vulcan No 1. £4.20
10 x Look-In 1976. £4.00
9 x Look-In 1975. £4.00
FF Special 3 1965 £3.21
3 x Plastic Man £3.20
9 x Mad 1978  £3.20
8 x Buster & Jet/Cor. £3.20
Thor 139 1967  £3.00
FF 85 1969. £3.00

Cor!! Xmas 1973  £2.50
Smash 22 1966. £2.50
Smash 21 1966  £2.50
Smash 14 1966 £2.50
Robocop  £2.50
Radio Times Dr Who 1996. £2.50
2 x Look-In Annuals. £2.50
2 x Look-In specials. £2.50
2 x TMNT £2.50
2 x Radio Times Dr Who. £2.50
2 x L’Echo Des Savanes  £2.50
Dr Who Bigger On Inside + special. £2.50
4 x Whizzer, Whoopee £2.50
4 x Star Trek annual. £2.50
4 x Doom Patrol £2.50
4 x Warlock 1974 £2.50
4 x Marvel inc CE3K 1978 £2.50
Spider-Man 1975 + 3 £2.50
5 x Radio Times Dr Who. £2.50
5 x Dr Who weekly/monthly. £2.50
5 x Mighty Thor. £2.50
5 x Defenders 76-79. £2.50
7 x ‘W’s (Wulf, Warlord)  £2.50
8 x 2000AD reprints £2.50
8 x Punch 77-83. £2.50
8 x Look-In 1977 £2.50
9 x Look-In 1976. £2.50

Total. £461.88

So once again a month's listing of comics generates about two days worth of earnings, but to be honest it's fun, and think of all that shelf space I'm clearing (for the record the storage unit looks no emptier each time I visit it). And what have we learned about the value of old comics?

Most valuable individual comic - What If..? No 1, going for twenty quid. Not a very good comic, honestly.  The Planet Of The Apes comic with 45rpm single at £10.50 comes a close second and would be the sort of thing I'd have bid for back in the day. (When I paid, I think, 25p for that What If comic, I was splashing out by the standards of the day. Turns out I was quite the shrewd investor.)

Most surprisingly valuable comic - Vulcan. 28 issues went for a total of £165.31, making them worth £5.90 each. I can't see why, but ours not to reason why.

Least valuable comics - the Look-Ins that went for £2.50 for 9, so 27p each. Though the various Punches and Radio Times are less worth per page. There are unsold items still out there. Nobody wants my Q magazines, even now I've doubled the size of the batches from 4 to 8 magazines. And I have enough of them to insulate a roof so I'd better find some way of shifting them.

As for the next month's sales, we are already looking at something that'll outstrip the What Ifs and Vulcans - I've put the X-Men comics up for sale. One's standing at 60 quid, and most haven't had a bid at all. Que sera sera.

Find all my eBay items here, and happy bidding.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Hathaway to Alwright - lots of Roll Up videos

Though I like it, I think this song has to hit the cutting room floor as it doesn't really fit in Roll Up. So, for your pleasure, enjoy Anne Hathaway as recorded at the Britannia in Glasgow.

And this routine, too, went really well at Glasgow, but is too off-topic to remain in the show. If I can write something as good as this to replace it I'll be delighted. It's Matt Alwright v Tiger Woods v Songs Of Praise.

I've also taken a string of one-liners and turned them into clips for Twitter and Facebook:

Eurovision Brexit
Knife Throwing
Debbie McGee
Performance Artist

Whether they get any viewings or put bums on seats, only time will tell. At time of writing we've sold 58 tickets for Edinburgh, which beats all previous years, but that's largely cos we went on sale so much earlier than previous years. The show, however, is now written as a full first draft, with lots of material dropped since the last full previews, and me dying for another preview to try the new stuff out in. Agonising to have a month to wait, but we'll struggle on. Let's make some props.

The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! Previews:

May 24 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
May 30 - Vauxhall Comedy Club
June 1 & 2 - Komedia Brighton Fringe
June 8 - Harlequin in Redhill
July 8 - Barnes Fringe
July 19 - Kings Arms Salford, GM Fringe
July 20 - Bedford Fringe
July 28 - Derby Bar One 

July 31st - August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm. Sexy new venue, sexy new timeslot. 

Sunday 14 April 2019

Superheroes final shows + Roll Up sneak previews

The Racist Brother costume, photographed possibly for the first time, last night backstage at Artrix in Bromsgrove where we performed Superheroes for most likely the last time. Our mini Spring Tour took us to Chorley, Bath, Barton On Humber and Bromsgrove, where they all got a half hour opening set comprising mostly new stuff from Roll Up - effectively half-Previews - then the whole hour of Superheroes. Superheroes has grown from being a show that I felt was in the shadow of its predecessor, Shakespeare, to become a favourite. Laughs like The Joker, Motion Capture and Clark Kent's glasses were really up there with some of our funniest bits, and I'm proud of the structure of the show, with its Racist Brother subplot. Talking of which...

"It was me all along! I used the Motion Capture suit! You don't really have a brother. And racists don't really exist!"

If you never saw the show Superheroes, that will make no sense whatsoever. So, the props and costumes for Superheroes go back into the dressing up box, and we whip out the sewing machine to bring the Roll Up characters to life.

Which brings us (via this lovely backstage shot at Barton In Humber, just lucked in with the lighting there) to Roll Up. What stuff's been working in these tryouts, and what's still to come?

Newest material is Annie The Elephant, which I wrote and recorded between Chorley and Bath, and which has failed to get a laugh every time since. It did best at Bromsgrove, where I didn't do it as the first song (after I'm A Sock). Also its music is a bit thin, needs beefing up.

Anne Hathaway is one I want to drop from the show, but when we've done it it's got better than Annie The Elephant. Come on, we can't have two songs about Annes in the same show, that'd be madness.

Philip Astley and his song get a good laugh, as does Mad Cow bonfire, and all the circus gags - the biggest laughs being from three circus gags I wrote this week just before Barton. Pagliacci and The Doctor is a very good routine, though it fizzles out a bit at the end. The circus act improv has thrown up some good bits - Lion Tamer and Ventriloquist might yet find themselves as permanent fixtures.

Phantom Of The Opera is now dropped from the show which means, following Les Miserables that we tried as the finale in Leicester, we've already tried out and chucked out two different finales. Also the cross-channel TV bit with Matt Allwright has gone (meaning I could put those on Youtube if I wanted, I'll think on't).

Meanwhile I've written a full plot structure for the show (including Nicole Kidman, Lady In Red and Greggs) and a brand new finale* that's yet to be tried out live (Greatest Show On Earth). The plan is that this'll let me slot other, stronger material in as it comes. For example we still have the Eurovision Brexit song in there, which will stay until something better squeezes it out. I'm happy with the structure. The work on more better gags and routines continues.

(*Brand new being the key here, Les Mis and Phantom were both based on scripts that I'd written and done as videos a few years ago.)

The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! Previews:

May 24 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
May 30 - Vauxhall Comedy Club
June 1 & 2 - Komedia Brighton Fringe
June 8 - Harlequin in Redhill
July 8 - Barnes Fringe
July 19 - Kings Arms Salford, GM Fringe
July 20 - Bedford Fringe
July 28 - Derby Bar One 

July 31st - August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm. Sexy new venue, sexy new timeslot, and it's already selling well. 

Saturday 13 April 2019

Black Hole - new video by the Socks

A brand new video from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, commemorating the discovery this week of a Black Hole. Do please enjoy.

I've also made this into a square version for Twitter and Facebook.

Every night at 9.30pm, July 31st - August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose. Sexy new venue, sexy new timeslot, and it's already selling well. Bring on those previews!

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Socks ROLL UP! Preview dates & ads galore

The Socks have got a nice little schedule of Edinburgh Preview dates lined up, and now they have nifty wee Twitter ads to go with them. We start at the Victoria Theatre Halifax on May 24th...

Then we give London their only taste of the show* on May 30th at the Vauxhall Comedy Club (at 6.30 in the evening, so get out of work early everybody) (*apart from Barnes, which is also in London, we are told)

Then it's our two nights in a row at Brighton Fringe on June 1st and 2nd. I say nights, both of these shows are at 6pm, but it's a Saturday and Sunday so you've no excuse.

On June 8th we come to the Harlequin in Redhill, the home of Sajeela Kershi's brilliant Comedy Cottage, one of those rare venues that got in touch and asked us to come out of the blue, which is nice.

And as if the Home Counties weren't rather monopolising us, our next preview (at time of writing) is July 8th in Barnes (which is also in London, by the way).

On July 19th we hit the North again, playing at the Kings Arms in Salford as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe...

Then next stop os Bedford on July 20th for our annual visit to the Bedford Fringe.

Our final preview, at the moment, is Derby Bar One  on July 28th.

We're on the lookout for more previews if we can get them, so please get in touch if you're running any. All of which is building up to the big one...

Every night at 9.30pm, July 31st - August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose. Sexy new venue, sexy new timeslot, and it's already selling well. Bring on those previews!

"...miniature Morecambe and Wise" - ★★★★ Bath Echo

A lovely 4 star review of the Socks Rondo Bath gig in the Bath Echo. Hooray.

Review | The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Superheroes – The Rondo Theatre, Bath

The Socks are now something of a venerable national institution; but if you’ve not seen them before, you should. This act has definitely not run out of steam.

There are one or two old gags in this current incarnation of the disputatious footwear duo, but mostly new ones: about Brexit; about superheroes, obviously; and much more.

The joy of this is mainly in the manic speed with which everything happens, and the constant furious arguments between Sock One and Sock Two.

It’s a sort of miniature Morecambe and Wise on amphetamines; but with constant costume changes (yes, socks can wear costumes) daft songs, and deft ad-libs at every slightest hitch or audience distraction.

The number of laughs that this show can pack into an hour seems inexhaustible, and can leave an audience gasping for breath, as laugh piles on laugh from start to finish.

Punch and Judy could never compete with this. _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Reviewer: John Christopher Wood | Star rating: ****

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre performed at the Rondo Theatre in Bath on Saturday 6th April 2019.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Roll Up! at The Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, July 31st - Aug 25th 2019 at 9.30pm. On sale now!

Moto Moto & Dead Cows, more comics by kids

Two days in a row at West Monkton primary near Taunton, with years 5 and 6, produced some lovely comics. Whatever the appeal of this Moto Moto meme is, it made an appearance for the second time.

Again at West Monkton we got one of the darker titles of the month. I think I managed to lighten it slightly.

And am Easter holiday class at Zion art centre in Bristol produced a nice comic cover (which, there being no photocopier, exists in this form only, they didn't get a copy to take away). And I have a dreadful feeling I forgot to leave them the flipchart page, oops. I'll post it.

A lovely couple of classes at Harpenden Library in Herts threw up these two beauties.

The celebrities these 5 groups chose for my demonstration strip were Gordon Ramsay, Ariana Grande (twice), Stan Lee, LeBron James, Tom Jones and, most original suggestion of the month, John Ratzenberger off of Cheers and the Pixar films.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here

Sunday 7 April 2019

Doctors Whom, Cleese & Jackson - Facebook Trivia roundup

Was I the only person who saw this photo small on their phone and thought “fantastic, Christopher Eccleston’s finally turned up for a line up with fellow Doctor Who’s” ?
In my tired mind I was looking at Capaldi, Pertwee (I know I know), Tom Baker in the hat, Matt Smith, and Eccleston in the flat cap.
I realise now it was only Mark Radcliffe.

Spotted on Newsnight. Best bit of studio lighting this century.

*Mulls over a 'waxes and weans' gag. Gives up*

Jackson family suggest blaming it on a) Sunshine b) Moonlight c) Good Times…

Line Of Duty gets 5 stars in Guardian
You gotta be jokin' me Lucy Mangan! This was (spoiler alert) dreadful. None of the alleged characters had any character, or motivation, or subplot, or way of telling them apart.
Try it. Do the old Script Reader trick of hiding the names of the characters and reading the lines. Could you tell which of these cyphers was delivering the lines in this procedural slew of acronyms? You could not.
Last week we discovered someone had done away with those nice boys who wrote The Missing and delivered a pale imitation with their names on it, and now that poor Jed Mercurio's been nobbled and they've got an AI algorithm to write a cargo cult simulation of a Line Of Duty script. Where the undercover copy is (spoiler alert) obviously going to be either him or her. Wait till next week, it was probably both of them... oh who cares, let's just watch Fleabag again.


I think someone has underestimated how easy it's going to be for me to boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of sodding Brunei.  *Goes back to, decides against The Dorchester and books the Premier Inn Barking as originally planned*'

This is hard to credit, given the amazingly funny stuff he's done in the 30 years since A Fish Called Wanda.

I am a big fan of Comic Swipes, where the originals of many comic images are uncovered. This one, from Asterix & The Soothsayer (one of my favourite books ever) is a revelation to me. I did not know this panel was a homage. Did anyone else?


Finally watched Roma last night, very good. But found I'd been conflating my Mexican film directors. I was watching it thinking "so this is the guy who directed Birdman and Shape Of Water, of course, you can see the similarities". And yes, I'd watched Shape Of Water thinking it was directed by the same guy who directed Birdman. I know now!

So Alfonso Cuaron did Roma and Gravity, but he only produced Pan's Labyrinth which was directed by Guillermo Del Toro who made Shape Of Water. Birdman was done by Alejandro Innaritu who also produced Pan's Labyrinth and who made The Revenant, which I also thought was by the same guy who made Gravity.

I tell you, if one of them would just once make a movie where the shots weren't all pretending to be 10 minute long single takes, I'd be able to tell the buggers apart!


The big mystery is, where have they hidden the two talented blokes who wrote The Missing?
(Spoilers ahead)
This was a repetitive, over-complicated bland procedural which managed to put all its interesting ideas into the first couple of episodes, leaving a finale that was a string of glaring plotholes (what happened to the guy with the cleaver? Why no police sent to the caravan with two dead bodies & a live killer in it?) tied together with dull exposition, stultifying anticlimaxes, and five minutes of padding at the end.

And were we meant to laugh out loud at the denouement of the silly shoot out at the end? I'm guessing not, but I'm betting we weren't alone.

Andrew Ridgley Memoir - a bit on the nose.


March 31.   Don't you hate it when people post pictures of their dead Mums for Mothers Day? Well tough. This is the first Mothers Day my Mum's missed in 57 years and I imagine she's quite annoyed. #HappyMumsiesDay

Mother's Day is an appropriate time to thank everyone who gave to Cancer Research at Mum's funeral. I realise I hadn't shared the figures so, for the record, here's what you all gave:
£905.05 via J Stamp & Sons (Funeral Directors)
£130.00 via online giving
A total of £1035.05 received by Cancer Research, with many many thanks from us all. Mum would be proud of you all.

For Wullieverine by Barry Barmcake, after the Socks show in Chorley

Happiness is watching an old film on Talking Pictures TV, wondering where it was shot, and finding a website that shows you in detail. For the record, the kidnap scene in Hell Is A City (1960) was shot in an alley which is now WH Smith's on Corporation St Manchester 


July 31 - Aug 25 - GILDED BALLOON Patter Hoose Edfringe - On Sale Now

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here
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