Friday 31 May 2024

What is Manga? - May's Facebook ramblings

 As ever I write more as throwaway remarks on Facebook than I ever put in a blog post. Here are the last month's worth.

May 2: Today I had fun adding a good old fashioned Asterix fight scene to the book I'm drawing, and ruddy good fun it was too. Started the month drawing Romeo & Juliet, the most productive period of the month).

On which subject, May 5: Comics people. This might seem a random question but: who owns Tiger Tim?
Is he out of copyright, being well over 100 years old? Does anyone know?

May 5: Well that was fun. A very silly, kind of old fashioned, slightly flawed and totally enjoyable movie, Unfrosted.
Reminiscent of older comedies like The Jerk, Elf and Airplane, it’s like a cartoon but with humans, and very much the sort of thing a stand up comedian would write when they’re still making their early funny movies.
Also a nice relief from the many “based on a true story” movies that are actually based on a true story. This is loosely based on an actual event, but 99% of it is ridiculously and impossibly untrue.


May 6: Re old Radio 4 show Say The Word: Cronies and chums - did you know the difference?
From this tiresome old radio game show, which is dry and insufferably smug, so don’t bore yourself with it, I learn (though possibly apocryphally) the origin of the words crony and chum.
Did you know? Guess without looking up.


May 6: Joy at the Greens winning Bristol is tempered by the experience of being a driver in Bristol.
Yesterday we discovered another new road you suddenly can’t drive down, which you could last time we looked. Now when you leave the SS Great Britain, or Aardman, you have to turn right and drive the long way round to get into town cos there’s a new bus lane. And no doubt a bike lane. And I’ll bet there’s another of those bus-only roads that you’ve never actually seen a bus on but they’re very popular with graffiti artists, who never get disturbed by traffic.
Could be worse. The Greens could be big fans of that kind of thing.
(Oh god, am I Jeremy Clarkson now?)

May 22: The good news is that, earlier this month, Bristol elected the highest number of Green councillors in the country.
Talking of changing the subject, today the council says it’s looking at a “planning application to knock down the 34-year-old shopping centre and its multi-storey car park and in its place create what will essentially be a new city centre for Bristol”
Seriously? It’s not that bad a shopping centre. What can be the ecological justification of knocking down and rebuilding, rather than modifying and reusing, the biggest concrete buildings in the entire city?

May 6: Bank holiday bank schmoliday! Today I have been blitzing pages of comic strip, and colouring some too, in good old-fashioned spot colour, like I used to back in the day.
(Though back in the days of humour comics, I'd have been cutting Letraset and chromalith to get this effect, which I shan't even bother to explain to the youngsters who can't imagine a world without Photoshop!)


May 3: Often a biography will make you appreciate a person much more than you did before. This one did quite the opposite. I came away thinking what a total arse and awful person Ian Fleming was, and how much I’d dislike him if I ever met him.
James Bond doesn’t come out of it much better. God we like some awful stuff by some dreadful people, don’t we?


May 5: Sad news about Bernard Hill. Here’s him in the only time I saw him live on stage, playing Macbeth at Leicester Haymarket in 1985 opposite Julie Walters’ Lady M.
“Gizza dagger. Go on, gizzit. I could do that.”

In the tributes to Bernard Hill, I didn’t see a mention of his iconic line, as Yosser Hughes: “I’m desperate, Dan”. A gag that every viewer got, because of the universal familiarity of the comic character. I wonder how many viewers would get that gag now.

May 8: Comics folk - what is manga?
I'm putting together a presentation about adapating Shakespeare into comics, and I'm using a few examples, including Classical Comics (I'm using the late Jon Haward's Macbeth as an example of doing it well), Classics Illustrated, my own work, and - and here's where I have a question - manga versions.
The thing is, are they manga? I have a very good manga Romeo & Juliet (not Sonia Leong's excellent version, which I don't have a full copy of, but another version by Crystal Chan and Julien Choy); and a Macbeth by Adam Sexton and Eve Grandt. Both examples are attached below.
The thing is, neither of them is Japanese. One, I believe, is American and the other British. And one is also not very "manga-y" in its drawing style, though it uses manga tropes in its layout and storytelling, and it is entitled "Manga Version".
So, where does manga - meaning Japanese comics - end, and manga - meaning western comics that use manga stylings - begin? Do we simply call them both manga and be done with it?
In which case why do we not call the other examples here (Jon Haward and my own) manga? What makes them very clearly Not Manga?
Where do we draw the line, and do we have to? Over to you.


May 9: Ripley sticks the landing. Splendid final episode watched last night. No spoilers, but good to the end.
It's definitely at the top end of my TV Of The Year chart, jostling for place alongside Fargo, Baby Reindeer, and Mr Bates vs The Post Office.
Do you have any favourite TV from this year that the rest of us mustn't miss?


May 10, re TV awards: Six months in TV is a long time isn’t it? I can’t remember half of these shows, and some I’m sure I was watching in 2022. It describes a disaster movie episode of Black Mirror, and I realise not only can I not remember a disaster movie episode, I can’t remember any episode of the last series of Black Mirror.
Never before has so much money been spent on so much TV that so few people watched, and then forgot so quickly. Whoever thought we’d be nostalgic for repeats and DVDs with a big launch and extras?


May 10: Ralph Ineson announced as Galactus

Galactus looms over the Fantastic Four.
“Right, I will throw anything you choose over this building. If I do it, we win. Right”
Reed Richards looks to camera, gives a resigned look.

Great ID badge photos of our time, No 97 (above)


May 11: Bugger. I can’t look at Facebook till I’ve watched Doctor bloody Who can I?
On behalf of those of us who need to get up for work today and won’t be watching the new eps till tonight, can I just say: the word you’re looking for is “Spoilers”
I’ve already read marks out of ten for both eps, and a few one and two word reviews.
Could be worse. I could have also just learned you could see Aurora Borealis from our garden last night, and we missed that too!


May 11: Well that was naff. Bodkin. A BBC 3 / Channel 5 level of not very well written crime drama that needed more time in the writers room to a) remove the lazy cliches and b) include an actual crime.
Oddest thing is it’s made by Higher Ground, the Obama’s TV company whose remit is to “lift up diverse voices in the entertainment industry”. So we have an all white cast in a show set in Ireland but written by a British writer, with cliches about how primitive rural Ireland is, like you’ve not seen since Ballykissangel.
And just how Irish a place name is Bodkin?*
* I have found that the name was described by McLysaght as the name of one of the ‘Tribes of Galway’ in Ireland. Who knew?


May 12: Eurovision was almost as much fun as the schadenfeude of reading the behind the scenes shenanigans. But the whole spectacle left me with one thought…
It’s a bit blokey isn’t it?
Every cutaway to the crowd just seemed to show hordes of men. And the iPlayer screen shows the three male presenters and the male singer. White men.
Second only to how male dominated the show is, the Swedish presenters aside, was how white it is. Was there even a single black face on stage all night? I didn’t spot them.
Anyway, another triumph for diversity and we enjoyed fast forwarding through most of it, and Hev going to bed before the voting had finished because who actually cares.
We struggled this morning to whistle any of the tunes from the night and could only remember Waterloo and that one by Ace of Base.


Did you watch Bjorn Skifs singing Hooked On A Feeling, at Eurovision last night?
Before you start thinking how wholesome and innocent pop music was back in those days, it's worth remembering that Bjorn's version does the "Ooga chaka ooga ooga" beginning which was not part of the original BJ Thomas song.
The ooga chaka's came from Jonathan King's version.
Yes, every time you're joining in with the Ooga chaka ooga oogas, whether its on Ally McBeal or Guardians Of The Galaxy, you're singing Jonathan King. Just so's you know.

May 12: We didn’t know what we’d found, when this massive thing turned up in our garden yesterday. So we photographed it and let it go about its business.
It’s only this morning we discovered it’s an Asian Hornet, an invasive species that EATS BEES! You’re supposed to report them and kill them.
Sorry bees.
Update: Ours is brown, so may be a European Hornet after all. Asian hornets have black heads.


May 22: Anybody else got snails? I just removed 29 from our lawn (and rehoused them in the wild). Our neighbours have none. Is this weird? What are we doing to attract them?


May 12: With Space Babies in mind, I just rewatched Doctor Who The End Of The World, the 2nd episode from 2005, and I have to say it's a much better episode.
The drama is much tighter, there's jeopardy which Space Babies seemed short of; the relationship between the Doctor and Rose is much better developed, really well written; and the music is in perfect balance with the dialogue, it doesn't swamp everything. And, dare I say it, the two lead actors are, for me, slightly more impressive than their current counterparts.
I liked Space Babies (which I also just rewatched) but...
Russell T Davies could learn a lot from that young writer Russell T Davies.

May 13: Just watched The Devil's Chord for the second time and love it even more than the first time. I wish it hadn't been shown as a double bill, and I wish it hadn't been pre-released on iPlayer, because it deserved to be a Saturday night must-see show for the whole family, not scattered and decimated and not seen by any two people at the same time. (Both shows got the worst ever overnight ratings for Dr Who, because of course they did. Whether the iPlayer figures will signify I really don't know)
I can tell you that in school so far I've only found one pupil who watched Doctor Who this weekend, so if it's going to capture the imagination of a new generation, it's got its work cut out.
But I loved it, and am looking forward to this season of the show being back in my Top Ten Of The Year.

May 15: I just heard the dreadful news that Phil Baber has died.
Fans and alumni of the humour comics of the 90s will remember Phil from his genius strip Funny Bunnies which ran, amongst other magazines, in UT comic.
His was a unique talent that never got the breaks or the exposure he deserved, and I know he had a lot of struggles along the way.
The link below, sent by his daughter Tessa, gives details of his funeral, and a JustGiving page raising funds for Shelter. Among some of Phil’s hardships was time having difficulties with accommodation, including a stretch of time living on a small boat on Bristol’s Harbourside which was found for him by the council. I know he never found that ideal.
Phil Baber was a thoroughly nice bloke and one of the best artists I’ve ever known.


May 17: I can’t help thinking that Memo Arts Barry, formerly the Memorial Hall, where I’ll be at the Collector Con this weekend, needs to update its Wikipedia page:
“… artists as diverse as PJ & Duncan and Len Rawle have performed at the hall.”


May 18: Oh dear, I’ve got to avoid social media until I’ve seen bloody Doctor bloody Who (Boom) again, haven’t I?
I’ve already seen two what I think are quotes from it.
People just post the quote, on its own with no further details, and don’t think that’s a spoiler. It is. It’s a spoiler. It’s a spoiler as much as coming out of Psycho and telling the queue: “You’ll love it, Anthony Perkins is his own mother!”
A moritorium on mentioning Doctor Who till it’s been on BBC at teatime, at least. (Or maybe I should grow up and get off Facebook?)

(Later that night): Boom! Now that’s what I’m talking about! Best Doctor Who episode for a good half dozen years. A classic.

May 19: Last night we watched the funniest film I’ve seen in ages: Minions The Rise Of Gru.
I can’t remember the last film that had us laughing out loud throughout it. Brilliant slapstick, immaculate pacing, joyous characterisation, perfect period detail (except for the Michelle Yo sequence, where the music shifts from being all 1976 or earlier, to including music from 1978-80. I don’t know if that was deliberate, or a mistake by someone who knew no better. Every other bit of period detail nailed 1976 perfectly), and mountains of original visual gags and stunning design. But mostly funny stuff throughout.

Highly recommended. If you like laughing.

May 19: Look at the fantastic drawing Simon Wyatt did of me, and I never got round to doing him! Today at Retromania returns: Barry Collector Con


May 25: Paula Vennels appears at Post Office Scandal Trial

Is anyone else worried that we’re turning into a scapegoating mob?
Giving Paula Vennels, who should I think now be on suicide watch, the ninth degree and a virtual kicking, is all good fun (Ian Hislop certainly enjoyed himself on HIGNFY last night) are we not worried that the many other senior figures, who were much more culpable than Vennels, are getting off lightly?
Are we not worried she’s been thrown to the wolves, cos everyone enjoys punishing a woman more, and that the worse villains are escaping the spotlight?
After all, how many of the guilty blokes can you actually name?

May 20:
Aah bless. Things you get from a class of year 5s, without even asking.
NB: I mean I’m glad it was their flipchart pad. If they’d have wasted a page of mine I’d be spitting feathers. 🙂


May 26 Doctor Who 73 Yards

Brilliant. So this would so far be the best series of Doctor Who since 2008, wouldn’t you say?
Both of us who watch it on a Saturday night seem to agree. I have no idea when everybody else watches it. But, so far, in all the schools I’ve visited since it started , I’ve yet to find half a dozen kids who even know or care it’s on.

May 23:
"Comica" event publicises itself, ostensibly to comic creators, and uses AI art to do it (the clues are there, floating arms, lines that don't go anywhere).
Not cool, Comica. Not cool.

May 26: Happiness is going into an Oxfam bookshop and finding a pile of comics with your stuff in!
Today I’ve come home with Beanos containing The Bash St Zombies, Plug as Rocket Pants, and all 4 episodes of The Bash St Kids in Scary Story, one of my serialised classics from the 2000s.
These are quite a big deal since I can’t imagine they’ll ever be collecting them up in a book, so finding them in the wild is a rare treat.


May 26: In the light of Furiosa’s disappointing opening weekend (which this article explains very well) I wonder again how well Deadpool & Wolverine will do.
It has similar drawbacks: R-rated, male skewing, niche property, with very high breakeven. Let us see.


May 29: How old am I?
The first Mad Max film is called Max Max;
the first Star Wars film is called Star Wars;
and Twitter is called Twitter.
I'm that old.


May 30: The movie box office crisis, about which I’m reading every day, is quite nostalgic for those of us who’ve lived through the death of the cinema already.
In fact when I came into movie-going, as a kid in the 70s, it was already in its death throes. Having been brought to its knees by TV in the sixties, it was being finished off by colour television by the time I was trying to see the latest James Bond in former Odeons, ABCs and Cinecentas that were being converted into bingo halls and carpet warehouses.
By 1983 the final nail was being hammered in, in the form of VHS which was it, the definite end of cinema going as we had known it. And we all know what happened next.
So what will happen when this current bubble-bursting crisis is past? I have no idea. Because, be honest, nobody has. But here are some stab in the dark guesses:
Disney dumps Marvel and Star Wars, ramps up original comedy and drama production;
A new movie distribution model based on lowering ticket prices builds, through a new start up putting screens in new venues, this catches on and overthrows Legacy Cinema and multiplexes;
AI movies become the new big thing, and because major studios refuse to make them, the AI studios buy out all the majors;
BBC and Channel 4 combine and become an officially state funded production and distribution company.
There. Your guesses?

May 28: So, today's question is: what are the rules on political adverts on Youtube? I tuned in to watch some trailers and nonsense about Doctor Who, as usual, and Youtube greeted me with an ad about a Keir Starmer Barbie's Ken type doll.
I came away with two questions. One, are there regulations on political ads on Youtube, cos this definitely wouldn't be allowed on ITV? And two, is it just me or does it seem like a more effective ad for Labour than for the Tories?
Seriously, you come away, after not paying full attention, thinking "That Keir Starmer is a bit like Ken. I like Ryan Gosling, so I'll vote for him."


May 29 Rishi has another go at criticising Mickey Mouse degrees

Hands up who took an underperforming, or Mickey Mouse, degree. My hand is up.
I studied Fine Art which, since it produces graduates hardly one of whom goes on to make a fortune as artists, would be deemed a failure. At an art college, Exeter, which isn’t even there any more (it merged with Plymouth in the 90s and was demolished in the 2000s, leaving Exeter as the biggest city in Britain where you can’t study for a degree in Art).
Ironically studying Classics at Oxford, next to none of whose graduates makes their living as a professional Classicist, would be considered a successful and high-performing degree. Because everyone who goes into it is rich before they start and just as rich when they emerge.
Anyone who think the purpose of further education is purely as a training for industry should not be allowed within a mile of the handling of education.


Re Ireland and Refugees

Can I just say, having made two recent working trips to County Kerry , including driving the width of the country from Dublin, that Ireland is possibly the emptiest bloody country I’ve ever been to!
You get the impression that everyone lives in a massive bungalow with an acre in front of it and a farm out the back.
I’d love to see Ireland turn its refugee situation into a positive, boasting a massive new motivated workforce that could power a new Celtic Tiger economy. For a start, all the business they can do cheaper than the UK cos they’re part of the EU has got to help. (NB: Uncle Kev understands very little of economics. You probably guessed)


My Books and where to get them:

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy - Barnes & Noble - Waterstones
Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy - Kindle
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy - Webtoons
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon Webtoons
Joseph, Ruth & Other Stories - Amazon
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Friday 24 May 2024

No Post Office Scandal at Bedfringe

Lucky old Bedford Fringe, where the Scottish Falsetto Socks have performed every year since it began in 2007, was about to be one of the few festivals this year to enjoy a performance of Post Office Scandal The Musical, on July 19th. But now it won't be.

Post Office Scandal has proved unexpectedly popular since it made its debut at Leicester Comedy Festival in February, and we're really sorry that it won't be coming to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. If you've not seen it yet, you can catch such numbers as Post Office Rhapsody, The Rowland Hill Song, and Paula Sings It Wasn't Me, on Youtube.

But despite it having already sold 75% of its tickets in advance, sadly this week the Socks were suddenly told they can't perform Post Office Scandal The Musical at Bedford Fringe and will be replacing it with a performance of a different show (Superheroes, their award-winning 2018 show).

But why?

The problem is that Bedford Fringe is supported by, and stages its productions at, Bedford School, an independent school that dates back to the 16th Century and has many distinguished names among its alumni, and its governors.

And among those names is Paula Vennels, who was a governor of the school up until 2021, when she resigned her governorship as the real-life Post Office Scandal started to become widely known about.

Obviously having a comedy show all about the Post Office Scandal performed at a school whose governor was a key player in the Post Office Scandal would be embarrassing to the school. Luckily, having nipped it in the bud and, to all intents and purposes, covered it up, there's no danger of anyone making any association between the Post Office Scandal and Bedford School. Phew.

In the meantime, Socks fans will be able to catch the one remaining scheduled performed of Scottish Falsetto Socks' Post Office Scandal The Musical at Ludlow Fringe on June 16th. Tickets are on sale here. 

My Books and where to get them:

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy - Barnes & Noble - Waterstones
Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy - Kindle
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Who Notes - Doctor Who Reviews - Lulu - ebook
Space Elain - Lulu - iBooks - Barnes & Noble 
Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy - Webtoons
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon Webtoons
Joseph, Ruth & Other Stories - Amazon
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

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