Sunday 31 July 2022

Book Sales July

The sales of my books roll along pretty steadily. Nothing taking off amazingly, thought the Eurovision book sells 10 times as many as its rivals, still nothing that'll make me my fortune. June's Amazon royalties are a non-plussing £120.

July Sales (Amazon)

Eurovision vol 1 - 15

1980s Pop - 8

Eurovision vol 2 - 7

Doctors Who - 6

1970s Pop - 4

Tales From The Bible - 4

Punk - 4

2020s Pop - 3 (now deleted, following copyright challenge from Amazon, no idea why)

1970s old version - 2

1990s Pop - 1

Pop Star Annual - 1

Tops 20 80s - 1

Midsummer Nights Dream Team (Kindle) - 2

Findlay Macbeth (Kindle) - 1

And as this graphic shows, May and June were better selling months than July. Royalties for this period £530. Top 10 best sellers:

Eurovision vol 1 - 111
1980s Pop - 25
Eurovision vol 2 - 16
Tales From The Bible - 13
2020s Pop  - 13
Punk - 11
1970s Pop - 10
Doctors Who - 10
Findlay Macbeth - 10
1990s Pop - 8

This year's sales to date show how big a month May was. Total royalties for this period £1112. Top 15 best sellers:

Eurovision vol 1 - 191
1980s Pop - 62
Book Of Esther - 33
2020s Pop  - 26
Punk - 24
Tales From The Bible - 23
1970s Pop - 22
1990s Pop - 19
Scottish Pop - 18
Top 20 80s - 18
1970s old - 17
Eurovision vol 2 - 16
Bowie - 12
1960s Pop - 10
Doctors Who - 10

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass - make a comic in a couple of hours. Suitable for kids age 7 and older, Taking bookings now

Saturday 30 July 2022

Socks Eurovision Edinburgh Previews - a summary

This year’s Edinburgh show has had a thorough road testing, demonstrating more than any year I can remember how variable audiences can be. In essence, if the audience are with you from the start, you come away thinking you’ve got a perfect show, and if they’re a bit more of a challenge, you come away doubting yourself. This must be what every show goes through.

Eurovision Sock Contest is different from our previous shows, being a string of new musical numbers, connected by sketches, in the format of a song contest where the audience vote for the winner. 

In previous years we have tended to have a developing story of sorts, culminating in, usually, the Socks falling out then reuniting for the finale. This format was established with our debut in 2007 (we sang Close To You, then reunited for Romeo & Juliet), and has included such “break up” songs as 2008’s All By Masel’ (used again for 2018’s Superheroes), 2010’s Always A Bastard To Me, 2012’s Boo Lingerie’s Some Bugger That I Used To Know, 2016’s Shakespeare’s Love Story, and 2014’s Time Of My Life. Even 2015’s Minging Detectives managed to pull itself together for a version of I Know Him So Well. Some shows have varied this, 2013’s In Space having the Bowie Song, and 2019’s Roll Up having The Brexit Song at that point. 

All of which is apropos of nothing much, just that this year’s show is less story, more song. We got very plot-heavy with 2018’s Superheroes (inc the Racist Brother and a record number of costume changes), and 2019’s Roll Up (Nicole Kidman and a serial killer clown anyone?), so it was good to keep this show simple and, if anything, sillier. 

And I’ve been delighted with the reception. Let’s have a look at how all those previews went.

Feb, Leicester - 3 shows, much rewriting, giving us the structure we’ve kept since

May: Komedia - Only 2 in the audience, amazingly good reception

June: Otley - bonus gig, crowd had no idea what to expect, and loved us. Came away with notes about Deep C Diva appearing transphobic, so edited song

June: Neath - another bonus gig, to a local crowd who’d never seen the Socks. Totally went with it and loved it

June: Notts Stuff Fest - another bonus, to students as part of their theatre festival. Again, no-one had seen the Socks before, and again they loved Eurovision. In settings like the above 3 gigs, we’d expect to have to fall back on the ‘safe’ club set, so were delighted to get them on board with an all new hour.

June: Grassington - a brilliant preview gig. A sellout crowd were with us from the start and made us feel we had the best show ever. Some inspired writing followed, having done good adlibs on the night.

June: Camberley -  this wasn’t a Eurovision preview, it was a 30 min headline set in a comedy club, but a reminder of how odd audiences can be. They were cold and unreceptive throughout, and we even got a complaint afterwards! (For mentioning paedophile in the Michael Jackson routine). They got the ‘safe’ club set and never ‘got’ us, which just shows ta go ya.

July: Derby -  a trad, annual, preview slot. Following the brilliant Ian Stone. The audience were with us from the start, but an afternoon slot is a good test of material. If it’s not killer funny, you really become aware of those sagging moments. Some rewriting followed.

July: Beverley Puppet Festival - another sellout and another killer. If the crowd have paid to see you, and you’re making a welcome return after some years away (see also Grassington) it seems to be the recipe for a perfect show.

July: Sheffield - following Glenn Moore (the best preview show I’ve seen in years, it really is award-winning writing) put the quality of our show in context, and it was another afternoon slot. But the audience were with us and we had some inspired adlibbing. When we can keep the mood that good, the adlibs lift us over any sags in the core material. A tiny bit of rewriting followed. 

July: Bedfringe - another sellout and another home crowd, we’ve played there every year since 2007. Beautifully supportive, a feel good show.

July: Splendour Fest Notts - not a Eurovision preview, just a 20 minute slot on an open air festival stage. But, by god, we absolutely rocked. A stunning contrast to that awful Camberley gig who got, literally, the same set. All festival crowds should be as good as this.

July: Belladrum Inverness - er, yes. This is how I expected a festival crowd to be. Only 20 people, scattered round a massive tent. Every word we uttered turned to dust, and felt as flat as ink. When you can’t hear laughter (unless you listen really hard) you’re left concentrating on every flaw in every line, wishing your script was full of gags that would make even a crowd like this laugh. Definitely the least inspiring preview show of the lot. Could be worse, it could be the last one before we head to Edinburgh tomorrow!

In conclusion, audiences have loved Eurovision, whether they’ve been Socks fans or totally new to us, Festival gigs turn out to be completely unpredictable, and I have no idea what the next two weeks hold. Let’s find out.


Aug 3 - 13 - Gilded Balloon Billiard Room 4.30pm  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Tiktok  Youtube 

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99

Friday 29 July 2022

Gerbils, Pancakes, & Will Byers - yet more comics by kids

More comics by kids? Yes, that's pretty much been what I've been doing this month. This batch has seen me scooting between Basingstoke, Oxford, and Backwell. Very much a travel-lite week, by my standards.

Viables Basingstoke is a lovely looking art centre, based in old houses and barns on a hidden stretch of road with tons of history. Always nice to discover a new part of the world. I'd agreed to do this class as a doorsplit, based on my share of the tickets, pitched at £10 a time. Sadly this meant I ended up only taking £222 for the two classes. A worthwhile experiment, but a reminder that I need art centres to subsidise these classes to make it, er, viable.

It was quite an honour to be invited to do my classes at the Story Museum in Oxford, where all the greats have played (lots of photo of famous authors line the corridors). To accompany a comics exhibition they have a series of classes by comics folk this summer, including Laura Howell and myself. Went swimmingly, apart from the worrying moment when a child impaled his hand on a pencil during he first class (don't worry, not as bad as it sounds, but not what you want to happen).

Backwell school has been having me in to do my comic art masterclassesas part of their Summer School activities for at least the last decade, usually for a few days. This year, because of my packed diary, I could only do one day. So they squeezed three classes into one day, and by golly I managed it.

Backwell was just one of the many groups of kids who shared this summer's obsession with Stranger Things. These were year 6s, about to be year 7s, and among the many groups who've asked me  how to draw Vecna (above) and Demogorgons. Last week Noah Schapps was chosen as a celebrity for the demo strip, and this week his character Will became the title of the last comic of the season.

The celebrities these seven groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rick Astley, Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Mr Tumble, and Ariana Grande.

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass - make a comic in a couple of hours. Suitable for kids age 7 and older, Taking bookings now

Friday 22 July 2022

Minions & Demogorgons - comics by kids in Northern Ireland

A week of classes at the art centres of Northern Ireland was a bit of scheduling that worked out quite well, though I say so myself. A little zig-zagging across the country was called for, but a lot of happy faces and splendid comic produced at the end of the process. 

If it's Tuesday, it must be Burnavon Arts in Cookstown. Back home it was the hottest day for forty years, up here it was bearable, and two sellout classes produced these fine items.

Wednesday was Ards Arts in Newtownards, where I'd last been with the Socks way back in 2016 (it remains the only place where I saw people on the street campaigning for Remain in the EU debate, and we all remember how well that panned out for Northern Ireland). The Peppa Pig cover is one that came out particularly well. The Demogorgon cover is testament to just how phenomenally popular Stranger Things is with primary school kids this season.

Strule Arts in Omagh, where I've played a good few times over the years (including the Socks coming here once, maybe as long ago as 2010 on a double bill with Kevin the magician) was happy to have me back. Another pair of sellout classes (we've had full houses all week so far) included the most amusingly mundane title of the week. A child gave up, uninspired, having just written "The". Which, when read out in the knockout process by which we choose the favourite suggestion, was the funniest thing they'd heard. So it won.

Ardhowen Arts in Enniskillen, where I'd been as recently as last year (it was my first post-pandemic flight), had the only small class of the week, with only 7 making it to the afternoon session. That said, it gave me time to draw a particularly nifty Minions cover. So, time well spent.

The celebrities these eight groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Mr Beast, Billie Eilish, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Noah Schnapp (Will out of Stranger Things), Jeff Bezos, Danny DeVito, Kim Kardashian, and Tom Holland.

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass - make a comic in a couple of hours. Suitable for kids age 7 and older, Taking bookings now

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Constipated Kids In My Basement - more comics by kids

My busy season, at the end of term, when no one can figure out what the hell to do with these kids now that half the school have done their exams, or Activities Week as it's more commonly known, trundles on. These comics, blissfully, come mostly from schools within a short distance of our house. Except for the ones that don't.

We started the week with a local school which was cheekily pushing its luck. Instead of the usual two groups, with whom I can work in a day and produce a comic, they'd lined up three groups. And they were mostly big groups too. And whaddayaknow, I did it. Two out of the three groups got their caricatures drawn, and all three went away with a comic we'd produced together.

Here is that unprecedented third comic, and the flipchart I drew for them. Other schools, don't get any ideas. It's two classes a day, maximum of 30 in each group, and don't you forget it!

From one extreme to the other. Following the three-groups-in-a-day squeeze of Gordano School, I then had the very different challenge, presented by Churchill School, of making one group last all day. Now, as I've said, I have about two hours of brilliantly entertaining stuff I can do with kids, guaranteed to keep any group interested and busy no matter what. But spinning that out to five whole hours, that was daunting. And, guess what, once more I managed it. The extra time gave me the opportunity to spend much more time taking their actual story ideas and brainstorming them on the flipchart, as you can probably see on the back of the comics (above). That way, the usual two hour class spread out to fill four hours. Then in the final hour we played Comic Consequences, where you draw one panel then pass it to the next person to draw the next. This was so successful I was able to take those strips and print an extra supplement to add to the comic they'd made earlier. Very pleased with myself.

Having ended up with such a travel-light week, with Gordano and Churchill schools each being less than half an hour's journey away, we then came to a most unfortunate bit of scheduling. I had two days at Churchill, but they weren't able to do those consecutively. Meaning my itinerary ran: Tuesday Churchill, Wednesday Bradford, Thursday Churchill again. Bradford is, if you weren't aware, a four hour drive away. However the kids, at Oastlers School which deals which pupils with special educational needs, many of whom have been removed from other schools, were great, and their comics were well worth the journey.

Then it was back to Churchill for another all-day class, and once more I spun my theadbare measly one-trick pony sideshow material out for a whole five hours. I must be some kind of genius.

The celebrities these 7 groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson (twice), Warwick Davis, Kanye West, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, and Zac Gold (which turned out just to be one of the kids themselves. They had me convinced he'd been in a thing on Netflix, but I don't think he had). To that list, we'll add Tom Cruise who was suggested by the mini-masterclass group at the London Film & Comic Convention at the weekend, who didn't produce a comic.

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass - make a comic in a couple of hours. Suitable for kids age 7 and older, Taking bookings now

Sunday 3 July 2022

There's A Single Man Down My Toilet - 9 new comics by kids

 What a busy month June has been. Nine comics in a montage is a sign of me squeezing a lot of Comic Art Masterclasses in (Ooh. Apropos of nothing, I just had a deja vu as I'm typing this, in a cafe called The Chakra Lounge in Buxton in Derbyshire, inbetween yesterday's Macc Pow comics day in Macclesfield and ahead of tonight's Socks preview in Derby. The table is quite high, so my laptop keyboard is at chest height. Deja vu has passed as I've been typing)

Inscape House in Cheadle teaches kids with special educational needs, so I was working with two small groups, mostly on the autistic spectrum and with ADHD or other interesting ways. I think we were all pleased with the results I got from them.

(Curiously, as I type in this same cafe in Buxton, I note that the music they're playing is the same that BT were playing when they kept me on hold for all those phone calls back in March to May while we were trying to get broadband connected. I couldn't tell you the name of any of the songs or artists, but I do know that the last 3 songs they've just played here were on that same playlist. One line hoes "Can I get an A... all I do is sit around and wait for better days". Anyone know?*)

Comics Salopia in Shrewsbury was fun, for a second year running. I did a Comic Art Masterclass on the Saturday morning (waking up at 5am, not having got to bed till after midnight, following a Socks gig in Camberley on the Friday night) then went to a drinks and drawing event in the evening, and on Sunday stood behind a table of my comics all day. A quiet Sunday, I did about £55 of sales on the Zettle (plus some more in cash). 

Then it was the 4 hour drive to Leeds to do, totally unconnectedly, my second day of Leeds-based Shakespeare themed comics. Last time was at Leeds Playhouse for the British Library on a Macbeth theme, this time was Trinity Academy on a Romeo and Juliet theme.

From Leeds it was off to Solihull, to Arden school, whose name had me thinking it was going to be Shakespeare again. But no, it turned out to be largely a toilet-themed day with the Year 7s.

Then I had a last-minute booking, which had come by phone and I'd forgotten about. If the head hadn't mentioned it on Twitter I might have missed this booking! As it was I was caricaturing for a couple of hours at the Year 11s prom, at Clevedon school (after a day in Solihull). Then the next day I did classes with two groups of kids in Pupil Support, meaning there were some kids with a few challenges, but all of them delightful, after which I was caricaturing for a few more hours at the Year 13s prom (for the pupils who'd missed out on their original prom because it was in lockdown year).

The celebrities these groups chose to star in my demonstration strip (the Leeds Shakespeare groups didn't do this bit) were Elon Musk, Adam Sandler, Ryan Reynolds (twice), Barack Obama, Mr Beast, and Boris Johnson.

*Apparently that song is Better Days by Mae Muller and Neiked. So now I know

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass - make a comic in a couple of hours. Suitable for kids age 7 and older, Taking bookings now
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