Sunday 31 May 2020

Prince Of Denmark Street - Kickstarter launched


Announcing The Prince Of Denmark Street, my brand new graphic novel. It's going live on Kickstarter now and I'd love you to take a look.

It's my adaptation of Hamlet, with a twist. Set in 1977 on London's Tin Pan Alley at the height of the punk revolution, it's a 120 page graphic novel paperback, plus you get the full Shakespeare play at the back of the book illustrated by me.

You can simply reserve a signed copy, or a PDF for just £3, over on Kickstarter. And if you'd like to get more involved you can get yourself a specially drawn sketch, and even original art from the book itself.

Thanks for your attention, join me and let's make this a hit - a palpable hit!


Monday 25 May 2020

Prince Of Denmark Street Soundtrack Album

For a bit of fun I've written the tracklisting for the soundtrack album for Prince Of Denmark Street. This might be fun to actually record someday. For the meantime, I've enjoyed dreaming up the back-stories that go with all of these...

Prince Of Denmark Street Original Soundtrack

Side One
1 The Hour Is Almost Come (Prelude)* – King Hamlet
2 Solid Flesh** – The Danes
3 Watchman To My Heart*** – Ophelia
4 Song To A Brother*** – Ophelia
5 Words To The Wise – Polonius Monk
(from the album Tragical Comical Historical Pastoral ©1967 Bongdooby Music)
6 Murder Most Foul* – King Hamlet
7 I Love Dear Ophelia – Prince Hamlet (demo)
8 Lost My Mirth** – The Danes
9 To Be Or Not To Be – Prince Hamlet (demo)

Side Two
10 Sweet Belle – Ophelia Monk (demo)
11 The Mousetrap (To Be Or Not To Be) – Hamlet & The Danes
(single, not on album)
12 Piece Of Work** – The Danes
13 Boast** – The Danes
14 Sweet Belle – The Ophelia Monk Band
(single, not on album)
15 In Youth When I Did Love – The Two Reggies
(from the album Goodnight From Them ©1971 BBC Records)
16 The Quick And The Dead (poem) – Laertes Monk
17 Palpable Hit Medley – Prince Hamlet & Laertes Monk
18 4’33” – John Cage

*from his posthumous album King ©1977 Rich Records
**from their debut album The Danes ©1977 Rich Records
*** from her debut album Sweet Ophelia ©1977 Rich Records


Wednesday 20 May 2020

History of Denmark Street - new video, and work in progress

This weekend I made A Brief History Of Denmark Street, a 15 minute video about the history of the street where my book's set. It's quite good fun, a couple of gags slipped in among and subtle re-writing of wikipedia (there's a little more research, but frankly not that much). Please tell me if you enjoy it.

Meanwhile work goes on on Prince of Denmark Street - catalogued day by day in my virtual worksheet here. At time of writing I've just drawn page 90 of 118, which I calculate, having started drawing on April 16th means that over 34 days that averages out at 2.647 pages per day, a lot slower than its predecessor Findlay Macbeth. Mind you, Findlay Macbeth didn't get drawn in conditions like this...

Yeah, take that, all of you digital artists working on your cintiqs! Let's see you ink 4 pages out in the flaming sunshine. (I have a bit of sunburn now, the truth be told. But did I mention four pages inked?).

And, fingers crossed, my lovely struggling printer may, hopefully hopefully, be able to get my Findlay Macbeth books to me soon. They're two months late, but that's hardly his fault. He has to wait for things like slots at bookbinders, and everyone's suffering lockdown difficulties, so I bet he'll be as relieved as I'll be delighted when he finally gets my job off his hands and into mine. Then I can have the fun of sending them to my patient Kickstarter punters. All fun to look forward to.

Friday 15 May 2020

Miley Cyrus - new video from the Socks

The Socks made their second appearance on Dean Friedman's Live Stream at the weekend (Sunday May 10th) and used the slot as the incentive to record a new song - Miley Cyrus (click to watch).

Dean has asked us to make regular appearances, so we'll be back in a fortnight with another excuse to write and record something. In this instance we wheeled out the Miley song that I've already blogged about, which was actually scribbled down before the Covid crisis started, in the first week of March, and by the start of April felt a bit outdated. However, a month further on, I don't think it sounds that bad.

So I pulled out the keyboard, for, I think, the first time this year, and made me a new Garageband recording. The video is shot from the laptop to be in keeping with the rest of Dean's podcast. The Socks also did a live chat, and popped up to sing along with him on two of his kids songs, Mama Said and This Is Hot. I pre-recorded our musical slot as that was the only way to mime along in synch and not fall foul of the transatlantic delay (and I can only cue a piece of music properly when I have no Socks on my hands, sorry to ruin the illusion).

The whole DeanZine Live Stream is here, and you'll find us back on May 24th.

The Scottish Falsetto Socks full hour-long Superheroes show is available, free, on Youtube here. See more of their videos all over Youtube, follow them on Twitter and Facebook. And, if you're lucky, they'll be performing live again as soon as that's a thing.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Prince Of Denmark Street - work in progress grabs

Every day as I go along drawing Prince Of Denmark Street, I've been making screengrabs of one or two choice panels to post. Whether or not it's building any interest, who can tell? Here are the snippets I've shared so far...

Monday 4 May 2020

Lockdown Film Reviews - Current War, Just Like Heaven, Fantastic 4, Proffesor & Madman

Lockdown film reviews. Has everyone else got to the stage where they’ve watched every must-see and recommended film on Netflix and Amazon and is trawling the unlikelies? Here are 4 we just watched, to compare, contrast and learn from:
The Current War, The Professor and The Madman, Just Like Heaven, and Fantastic Four (2015).
Easily the poorest of these four is Fantastic Four, a superhero film which has no superhero-ing in it, with Marvel’s funniest and most colourful characters rendered humourless, colourless and characterless. To make so many mistakes in a story structure, removing all tension at every opportunity, then to make crazy directing choices like identical spacesuits with the wearer’s face concealed so, in the first action scene (which you’ve waited over half an hour for) you literally can’t tell who’s who, is mind-boggling. 1/5
The best of the four is Just Like Heaven, a rom com from 2005 starring Reece Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. Very 1980s-ish in its style, which isn’t a bad thing, it has a script which hits every beat, balancing humour and drama perfectly. Surprisingly I’d not even heard of this movie, it being the sort of genre that rarely makes a showing at the oscars or gains a cult following, but it’s a solid entertaining comedy drama that serves as a perfect example to anyone studying screenwriting. Also a cracking 90s indies soundtrack. 4/5
Which leaves us to compare and contrast The Current War - period drama based on fact, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison - with The Professor And The Madman - period drama based on fact, with Mel Gibson as the man who started the Oxford English Dictionary and Sean Penn as the murderer in a mental hospital who helped him write it.
The Current War is a triumph of style over content. And, although its script is tight and has lots of great dramatic moments (it might have been an Oscar contender had it not been a Harvey Weinstein production that happened at exactly the same time as the Me Too movement), the director (Alfonso Gomez Rejon) manages to distract from every important moment with camera trickery that serves no purpose other than to draw attention to the existence of the camera. He can’t leave the damn thing still, and has his Steady-cam fly up and down corridors for no good reason, take shots from overhead when we’d really rather see the face of the person talking, and all in all turn what could be a gripping drama into an ignorable pop video. 2/5

The Professor and the Madman, it turns out, was a dream project for Mel Gibson, whose production was so fraught he tried to sue to stop the film’s release, and the director wouldn’t even put his name to it! That learned, it’s not that bad, but all the way through you keep thinking how this bit could have been improved, and how that bit might work better. A shame, as an excellent true story is buried in this film. Sadly it’s buried by some unfortunate Scottish accents done by English and Australian actors, Sean Penn delivering all his lines in a barely audible whisper, and those bits of writing that keep making you realise it’s adapted from a book. When the rights are released again, someone will make this story into a good TV series. 3/5
There you go, Uncle Kev’s lockdown film reviews. What else is left on Netflix or Amazon that we’ve not seen yet?

Friday 1 May 2020

Journal Of The Plague Year - Was That A Month?

Was that really the month of April? Truly that must have been the strangest month for everyone on the planet for longer than any of us can remember. The lockdown began, you might recall, on March 23rd, which means that, at time of writing, we've been staying at home for six weeks now.

To an extent it's been less strange for Hev and me than it must be for many people, as we are used to working at home together (having moved out of my studio at the end of 2018, it's become normal for us). And having lost my school and comedy work, I've spent the lockdown in exactly the same way I spent December and January, namely writing and drawing a graphic novel. But so many other things have been different.

We, like everyone, have missed going out, and socialising. The visiting of towns, galleries, museums, shops, and just new and varied places, has been the biggest thing we've noticed. We count our blessings that, in the first two and a half months of the year, we managed three visits to London (all with my work, and Hev accompanying me), as well as regular jaunts to our usual haunts. Added to which I had my busiest period of travel in the 6 weeks running up to lockdown, taking me to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the North, South East and West of England, so my travel batteries remain well stocked. (Sadly, the work trips I've subsequently cancelled to Hannover, Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the country, look like the sort of thing that'll be last on the list of things to return to normal. Can't see me on a plane again this year, and there's even talk of not travelling more than 50 miles for work, even if schools will be able to have visiting artists in, so I'm looking at re-devising what I do for a living).

Socialising has been spearheaded and masterminded by Felicity, who's organised a couple of excellent quiz nights by Zoom (above). Though, you have to say, it's not like a proper party. The tinny sound, the inability to chat with just one or two people amid the hubbub of the rest of the crowd, is something that technology has yet to master.

Walking has been interesting. Hev and I have walked, if not more, than in a far different way from how we normally would. Obviously I'd be on my feet working in schools all day, and you don't realise how much walking you do on a shopping and town-going day, but traipsing about for four or five hours in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff or wherever would be quite usual. Now that walking is restricted to "going for a walk" starting from home, but we've managed to make that quite the novel experience.

We've discovered bits of Clevedon we've not seen in all of the thirty years we've lived here, and have explored paths and walkways we'd never had the excuse to find before. Finding routes, and times of day, that avoid joggers and cyclists, has been the challenge, and we are so so lucky to live in a place with such an abundance of nearby countryside, and relatively low density of population, that this can be done. I'm constantly feeling sympathy for those in cities and busy towns where such luxury isn't possible.

Talking of which, whisper it, but our neighbours have done a moonlight flit. The upstairs neighbours have been struggling with a two year old and a baby in a tiny flat and, a week last Tuesday night, they suddenly disappeared. They have parents in the Midlands who, inevitably, have a bigger house with a garden, so nobody can blame them for preferring that as a place to sit out the lockdown.

And I furloughed myself, ooh missus. Thanks to the initiative of my accountants (Dart), without whom I wouldn't have known how to pursue things, I'm officially on furlough and have received my first payment from HMRC. Being a limited company, which I thought left me ineligible for these government rescue packages, I'm unable to claim for my turnover or dividends, but am able to claim a proportion of my salary as an employee. A very great boost I must say. On top of which I have to extend my great thanks to the three or four art organisations who've been able to pay me half-fees for cancelled visits (most haven't been able to, and one, tragically, has gone out of business - Artrix). And to the two or three schools and a book festival, who have already booked me provisionally for 2021. My diary for 14 months hence has never been fuller.

Other highpoints of the "can it really be" six weeks were doing the Dean Friedman live show with the Socks, doing an online interview with Steve, and, blimey, is that it? We've walked, we've worked, I've foraged (for the record, 7.30 in the morning is the best time to go to Tesco, and M&S at Cribbs Causeway is pretty quiet every time, though I've avoided it at weekends), and we've watched a lot of TV.

We've watched a couple of the National Theatre Live productions (One Man Two Guvnors and Twelfth Night), which of course need pausing for the 8pm Thursday night clapping (which varies in volume, but still keeps up in our area). We've watched more films than we ever would, most of which we've forgotten, and we keep pegs in the cliff face of time with our work, Hev having made a video of herself talking about one of her historic characters (which will be emerging soon), and me churning out page after page of the new book, Prince Of Denmark Street.

On which subject, I'd better get back to work. 34 pages drawn, 84 still to do. Best get busy.

Happy isolating everyone.

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. Follow Kev on Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here

My debut graphic novel Findlay Macbeth, available on Amazon now:
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