Sunday 30 June 2024

Election month - my June Facebook ramblings

June 1: Oh dear. Well, they say no publicity is bad publicity.

I’m experiencing the odd sensation of people walking by seeing me reading a copy of The Telegraph, on Topsham waterfront. (By the way, we’re not in the print edition).

It’s interesting to read the bias in stories and contrast it with my own regular read of The Guardian (obviously also biased, but in the other direction). It is a good chunky paper, and the last surviving broadsheet, so more power to its elbow.


Re: Doctor Who Dot & Bubble

And you know what I’m enjoying most? The fact that there’s half a dozen people here on Facebook, and many more out there, who keep saying how they’re refusing to watch Doctor Who cos it’s not what it used to be, in some way. So they’re missing the best TV of the year, and the best series of Doctor Who for a decade.
Good. Knowing they’re missing out makes it all the more enjoyable.
And seeing them portrayed in tonight’s episode makes it doubly so.


June 2: Well that was an annoying film. Oppen-bloody-heimer. (Which we finally got round to watching last night)
The frantic editing makes it feel like a three hour trailer. There is so much “might ine ask” (the National Theatre of Brent technique where one character sets the other up to give an info dump of exposition), and my god so much exposition.
The casting would have been much better if it had been done as a 6 part TV series, instead of having over-familiar faces doing their party pieces or, in some cases, just pointing their suit at the camera and describing what was going on.
Not a single character or event squeezed the slightest emotion from this viewer, and the script failed to milk any tension or drama from any of the situations.
To be fair, the final hour (of an unnecessary three) features the one good bit of drama, the courtroom twist, which would have made a pretty good TV episode. But as a whole it was a disappointing and grating film.
The gimmicks, and they really do feel like gimmicks, of flashing back and forward through time periods with a puzzling choice of black and white and colour, giving the trailer-like montage experience that leaves you, 45 minutes in, waiting for the movie to settle down and start properly, feel like they’re there to disguise a poor script. Like rich sauce on a shrivelled steak.
And Cillian Murphy is so quiet and downplayed you can almost forget he’s there. His should have been a more impressive bit of casting which, if made for TV, it would have been. I could envisage someone launching their career by making something out of an otherwise underwritten role like this. It’s the sort of part that, forty years ago, the likes of Tom Conti and Gary Oldman made their names with. Murphy wasn’t that.
I’d have cast Jeremy Allen White from The Bear.
I was reminded of Maestro, another over-inflated Oscar-nominated biopic, which slavered pretentious technique over the life story of someone whose life turned out mostly not to be that interesting. I didn’t like Maestro, as I said at the time (it was only a Netflix film, so most people won’t remember it existing) but it was better than Oppenheimer.

A child who has inevitably been called Piloh Shitt her whole life, unsurprisingly wants to change her name. Not news.


Re: Labour v Public Schools

“ The forgoing of one possible purchase for the sake of another is invariably known, in the lexicon of pro-private school coverage, as a sacrifice.”
Interesting to contrast this with the version of the story I read in yesterday’s Telegraph. Then they referred to Labour’s “tax raid” as if they were some kind of fiscal Vikings.
My proposal: Labour should campaign by saying they’ll make the smallest attack on private schools (remove tax breaks), then when they get in they should pitch for the biggest attack (ban private schools), and finally settle for what they wanted in the first place (remove charitable status). Let us see.

Look at us, all over Bedford Today.


June 3: Apropos of nothing, heard The Railway Children on the radio and realised what great band names classic book titles make, and how many had still not been used. Have you heard any of these brilliantly named bands?
Our Mutual Friend
Hard Times
The Old Curiosity Shop
Dombey & Son
Great Expectations
The Chimes
Any other suggestions of great unused book title/ band names?


June 3: Why an idiot like me shouldn't bother with eBay sometimes.
I've been selling off old mags, and it's been going fine. These Vizzes were going for 5 or 10 quid a bundle. What I didn't realise was I'd undercharged for the postage. But, whatever, the small profit from the comics was enough to cover the one quid I'd undercharged, and I corrected it for next listings.
Then I post off the final bundle, which only goes for £2. Plus the £2.70 postage I'd asked for. It actually costs £3.69 to post. And eBay take 92p on the deal.
So, far from me getting the £4.70 that my buyer paid, I get £3.78. So my vast profit on this sale is 9p. Which doesn't cover the cost of the envelope, let alone my time going to the Post Office. Still, I chalk it up to experience (which, after fifty years oing things my Royal Mail, I should pretty well already know by now!)
Then the package comes back, damaged, to me, undelivered to the buyer. What would you do?
My solution: Refund the buyer (he gets £3.78 of the £4.70 he paid, eBay don't give their share back), and put a claim in with the Post Office for the postage.
And I'm stuck with some VIz comics, which the buyer has already said he'll happily pay for again. What a way to try and get some shelf space back, eh?


June 3: Re American Graffiti

This movie is the weirdest thing, in that it's nostalgic for the long ago past of (checks dates) 11 years earlier. A guy in 1973 is dewey-eyed for the lost world of 1962.
Are there people today making movies about how great it used to be in 2015?
(Great Mort Drucker poster, by the way. When was the last time you saw a cartoon poster for a movie that wasn't a cartoon? I remember some crackers by the likes of Jack Davis & Arnaldo Putzu, for everything from Carry On movies to Animal House. See? Nostalgia for fifty years ago. That's proper nostalgia!)

You wait forever for a new graphic novel, and two come along at once. You lucky people.
Space Elain - out now in paperback here - is a collection of strips most of you won't have seen before. Elain herself occupies a pair of interstellar comedy strips that originally appeared in Wallop annual in 2021, Hot Rod Cow is in a series of stories that appeared in his own eponymous comics in 2011 and 2016, and to add to all that we have a selection of Meanwhile strips that first (and last) saw the light of day in Gas and Blag magazines way back in the 1990s.
It's a splendid collection of stories by me, in glorious black and white, in the cosy paperback size we've become used to from my Shakespeare graphic novels, and only £6.99. Be the first to get it hot off the press (probably before I get my copies if you're lucky!) Space Elain Paperback here.
And as if that weren't enough...
Joseph Ruth & Other Stories is a new black and white paperback collection of strips originally commissioned by Bible Society. Some of these appeared, larger and in in colour, in Tales From The Bible (still on sale here). The new collection includes the not-previously-collected Samson, Nativity, Jonah and Loaves & Fishes, alongside the epic Story Of Joseph, Book Of Ruth, and the ever popular Jael Wife Of Heber.
The paperback is on Amazon, ready to pr-order now, for just £8.49, and is out as an ebook for just £1.49
Thanks again for your continued support, I look forward to continuing to spread a little happiness as I go by.


June 5: Re German series of Ghosts

Looks good. No Kitty, and an interesting new 20th Century female ghost (I see she's got an arrow through her neck, so she's the new Pat). A Roman centurion instead of our World War 2 Major, and their pants-off man looks reassuringly creepy again, not like the wholesome American (who, if you've not watched it, has no pants on for a totally different, and much more boring, reason than the British original).
I'd watch this (I give it ein serie).


Is any of my contacts or colleagues a member of the School Librarians Association? I can't join the group, obviously, but I'm aware they pass on details about my Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass and plug me to each other, and I'm not really able to thank them (or indeed to plug there myself).
So, if you are a member, could you tell them I'm grateful for everyone who's said nice things to another librarian, and remind them I'm still coming to schools if they want me.


June 6: Was I the only person who spent the last 5 years not understanding the term Levelling Up?
It comes from games, doesn’t it? Meaning to move up a level? I genuinely didn’t know that. I thought it was about making two points more level, like on a seesaw.
I have been very confused about this term. When the next government project takes its name from a Pok√©mon, I’m out.


June 7: If you fancy hearing me and the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre talking nonsense, and plugging tonight’s show in Newnham, I’ll be on BBC Radio Gloucestershire around 8.45
Oh yeah, I’ve hit the big time.

June 8:

My take on the election: it won’t be the Tory-trounce that so many predict. Why? Two things: Shy Tories and Apathetic Kids.
The more complacent we get about a big vote for the left, the more twenty somethings and students will stay in bed and forget what day it was.
And you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The country is packed to the corners with old reactionary Brexit voting Daily Mail reading nazis who think you can’t say anything any more - BUT - who also don’t like Nigel Farage.
I’m suggesting that some of the predictions I’ve been hearing this week, like The Tories coming third to the Lib Dems, and only getting fifty seats, are nonsense. The shire counties and wealthy heartlands are dyed in the wool, and the coming and going of some fly by night Red Wall will not shake their hundreds of years of tradition.
Also, like I say, lazy kids.
Remember where you read it first.


June 9: Doctor Who Rogue. I have questions. (Spoilers ahead)
Firstly I liked it, though it wasn’t as strong as the previous three and had hints of both Sarah Jane Adventures (silly bird aliens) and (whisper it) the Chibnall era (Haunting of Villa Deodati). But I have questions.
Do Time Lords fall in love that fast? In its favour, I’d say the Doctor’s affection for Rogue was more convincing than anything he ever showed for River Song. But, really, he’s known a guy for literally less than 45 minutes and he’s ready to follow him to the ends of the universe? It shows an interesting vulnerability, but a surprising one.
Is Ncuti Gatwa sometimes a little hard to hear? A few of his lines seem mumbled and indistinct. I’d say he’s the least clear spoken Doctor since Sylvester McCoy.
Wouldn’t the “Bridgerton” reference have been funny once, and once only? Three big mentions, and as many mentions of cosplay, undermined both lines every time and showed clear signs of needing a better writers room.
That Tardis is too big. I preferred Rogue’s ship.
And the crying? Ok Ncuti, we know you can produce tears on demand. Once every series would be good. Once every five minutes is just annoying.
And how many things had we seen done better before? The introduction of Captain Jack, the Family Of Blood?


June 12: The death of book festivals. I’d like to think the slew of festivals being cancelled across the country is because of the bullies of Fossil Free Books threatening the sponsors Baillie Gifford, (who have possibly the smallest investments in fossil fuels) and nothing to do with the fact that I’d started to get lots of bookings for my Comic Art Masterclasses from book festivals.
Yesterdays Osman and Hyde podcast laid into the situation in blistering detail, and the Fossil Free Books gang, whoever they may be, don’t come out of it in a good light.
Even comedians and writers who signed the petition asking book festivals not to take Baillie Gifford sponsorship are taking their names off the petitions, realising the damage it’s done.
But it seems it may be too late. The biggest investors in art sponsorship have now been strong-armed away from supporting the arts, and they won’t be coming back in a hurry.
Meanwhile of course none of them is investing any less in fossil fuels. Which means some philistine campaigners have throttled a series of art events, making the world a slightly worse place to live in, and achieved literally nothing to help the climate change cause. Very annoying.
But, fingers crossed, not my fault.


Re: Download

Oh good, another festival decimated by activists, this time targeting Barclays.
I am reminded of being a student in the 1980s when we would boycott Barclays (I can't remember how we did it, but by golly we boycotted the hell out of them), back then it was because of their connection to South Africa (remember it? It was very much the Israel of the 1980s), and their funding of Rio Tinto Zinc (no, me neither, but they were particularly evil, for some reason).
Anyway, since we boycotted Barclays forty years ago, and undoubtedly taught them the error of their ways, I can't see what the kids today have got left to protest about.
Actually, we probably were the deciding factor that led to the end of apartheid and got Nelson Mandela released ten years later. Well done us. Let's hear it for Devon and Somerset Students Association and their boycott of Barclays.
Of course we didn't end up getting music and arts festivals cancelled, back in the days of 1980s protest, because there weren't any to speak of. And those that there were didn't have corporate sponsorship. Back then Glastonbury's biggest sponsors were CND and the NME (try telling kids today what those were), and Hay On Wye's book festival wasn't even dreamed of yet. And the term Download had literally no meaning.
Anyway, kids will always protest, and good luck to them. Such a shame that their victims should so often be art and artists, and so rarely be the bad guys they're supposed to be attacking.

June 13: Oh dear, we’ve succumbed again. Hev bought an iPad so we got three free months of Apple TV and, as you might have guessed, we’re hooked.
This comes at a time when there’s a bit of a drought of new quality shows on the other streamers, the writers strike meaning lots of shows are delayed or cancelled. So now we have three or four shows that are new, to us, and likely to leap into my TV of the year.
Ted Lasso turns out to be as brilliant as everyone kept saying, and Slow Horses is top stuff. If there are any Apple TV shows we simply must not miss, speak now. We hope to cancel it before the subscription kicks in in three months.
But you know we won’t. Who are we? Rishi Sunak’s parents?


June 15: The Sunak syndrome, described in this excellent piece by Marina Hyde, is something I relate to. “The perfectly well-to-do young man swept up in longing for the world of the infinitely better-to-do”
Trying to pass yourself as a member of the class you think you should belong to, but they all know you don’t.
For my part, it’s been a history of being in businesses (showbiz and publishing) where I feel like an outlier for not being a public schoolboy (most of my actor and producer friends are), not going to Oxbridge (see above), or, in the case of stand up, not being able to talk to normal people like a normal person (this is an autistic spectrum thing that lots of comics share, but the successful ones conquer).
The codes of the class system will always escape me I fear. Does anyone else think they’ve cracked them?
PS: People at home at high table make me feel like I need a high chair. (Just wrote that, felt quite proud of it)


June 15: Was just looking at book festivals I could put myself forward for for next year, and what’s the first thing I see? “Supported by Baillie Gifford”
So, that’s not going to be happening, is it.


June 16: Doctor Who Legend Of Ruby Sunday

Finally saw the latest Doctor Who at 10.45 last night, after a long day trying to avoid spoilers. Well, here’s my spoiler full review for you …
Weakest episode of the series. All standing round talking. Lots of introducing people who then shout exposition at each other. It could really have been a radio episode. Watch it again with your eyes closed, you’ll see how little those expensive visuals mattered.
And where was the drama and tension? The Doctor thinks a woman might be his grand daughter, who’s no threat or anything. This woman is giving a speech about something, which is no threat or anything. And we’re looking back at an old VHS tape which might give some intel, but is no threat or anything.
Then there’s a big blob from nowhere, which we presume is threatening, only because we’re told it is, oh and because Crewman Dispensible gets turned into dust just out of shot.
Then this Susan woman turns out not to be anyone’s grand daughter, and instead someone else, who we’d never seen before, turns out to be the pilot fish for a big evil monster
And the evil monster has got a name. Which you’ve heard before, if you’re a sixty year old nerd, and which means nothing to you yet if you’re a young target audience viewer, so why should we be scared of it? No explanation given. To be continued.
5/10 very poor.

June 17: Am I the only one who thinks a lot of Shakespeare passages are funnier, and intended to be delivered much quicker, than is commonly done? This bit, from As You Like It is, I think , meant to get laughs with every line. But when delivered so slowly and, well, appreciatively as this, it becomes kind of like those slowed down maudlin versions of pop songs they use in John Lewis Christmas adverts.
Just me?


Re: Asterix & The White Iris

Having heard it was a return to form, I bought Asterix and The White Iris at the weekend and have just read it. I can happily say it's the best Asterix book I've read since Goscinny, the original author, died way back in 1979.
I mean, had it not been such a lovely sunny day to read it on, I might have been disposed to be critical of a few things. Like the translation, which labours the poor puns to the disservice of the story, and often gives people dialogue that sounds very awkward and unconvincing; and the story itself which is really just a retreading of a couple of Goscinny classics, Mansions Of The Gods and The Roman Agent (including revisits to characters and scenarios from, and even mention of, Laurel Wreath and Cauldron). But the slightly-satirical comments on society are very much what Goscinny was all about, and a couple of them (eg the Banksy gag) even made me laugh.
I'd recommend this, but with the caveat that you ought really to read all the Goscinny-written books first. You'll thank me.


Re: Tactical Voting

I still caution against wishful thinking, for everyone who thinks a Labour landslide is a foregone conclusion. I’m betting there will be a lot of Tory MPs waking up on July 5th and having to cancel plans they’d made for jobs in Silicon Valley and the City.
I could be wrong, but I think a mix of shy Tory voters, lazy youngsters, and split runners-up will mean a lot of phone calls along the lines of “darling, you know that beach house in LA? Can we withdraw the offer? We’re staying in Slough”


June 18: Re Steve Coogan's The Lost King being sued for libel

Fair do’s, when I watched The Lost King I thought the character played by Lee Ingleby came across as a wrong un and wondered out loud whether he was based on a real person. We’ve become used to such roles being composite characters I thought he had to be one of those. So it doesn’t surprise me the guy has sued and won.
The folk I feel sorry for are dead people. You can say what you like about them, which is of course rather the point of this movie about Ricardians and Richard III
Update: If I was this guy I’d ask for the film to be re-edited so my name was changed throughout. This would affect all future streamed versions, and would make any existing DVD copies super rare and valuable. If there’s such a thing as a film print, and there probably isn’t, it would have to stay in a vault until I was dead. Has this ever been done? If not, you’d become part of Cinema History.


Re: Slabbed comics

Here’s a niche question: Should you hang ‘slabbed’ comics on the wall to display?
I hasten to add I own no slabbed comics, and detest the bread-headed notion of them (which would explain why, if I own so many classic comics, I’m not rich). But a mate showed a photo of some slabbed comics on his wall at home the other day and all I could think was…
Won’t they fade?
Surely the point of slabbing is that you’re preserving a comic so it’ll never decay? But put it in the sunlight, not even direct sun, and it won’t be long till all the reds have gone and it’ll be worth less than it was before you put it in that plastic box.
Am I missing something?

Happiness is: selling my books to kids in schools. Yesterday they bought 27 Richard The Thirds.
Slightly amusing is: the parents who send them in with old defunct pound coins, and euros. These are from yesterday’s haul (not spotted till I opened their sweet little envelopes of cash when I got home).


June 21: In the light of Pyramids Of Mars being rerun, I've just dug out my diary from the day it was first shown, in November 1975
They just reran Doctor Who Pyramids Of Mars on telly (in June 2024) and it occured to me I must have seen it at the time and recorded it in my diary. And lo, I did. Here it is, among a full night's TV, in November 1975.
Those comics I bought on the Saturday afternoon, at one of the three newsagents in Kibworth between my house and Nick's, were published by a short lived company called Atlas, and I still have them.
Despite the prominent image of Freddie Mercury to the top left (drawn by Arnaldo Putzu, clipped from the cover of Look-In, as so many pictures in my diary were, by me), and the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody was well into its run at number one by this point in the year, my Records For The Day were by the Bay City Rollers and, unbelievably, The Band Of The Black Watch.


June 22: Shut up about Doctor Who you spoiler headed idiots! Some of us couldn’t watch it last night and have an early start and a full day today. I won’t see it till I get home tonight.
Literally the first two stories when I opened Facebook this morning were spoilers for “last night’s” episode. The first just dived in with the review.
Worse than avoiding social media, I’m at Macc-Pow today, meeting, greeting, teaching, drawing and chatting to literally hundreds of kids and comic fans.
I can only pray there’s not a big comic fan / Doctor Who fan crossover.

Doctor Who Empire Of Death review - its own blog post


June 23: More complacency fodder and wishful thinking, from my side of the political fence. Never overlook the low turnout and voter apathy.
In my travels in the last month (including this weekends trip to Macclesfield and back, Inc diversions through town centres) I’ve seen next to no party posters, and almost all have been for Lib Dems (who always get their little orange diamonds-on-a-stick out in profusion). It’s like nobody really cares, or worse they think it’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not.
We had a local council election last week, in our ward in Chepstow. There must be a few thousand people eligible to vote. You know how many did? About 900. It was 600-odd for Labour and 300-odd for The Tories. No other party stood.
And in nearby Monmouth they elected a Tory.
That was last week. So I get very worried the more I hear about this “inevitable” Tory trouncing. Get everyone out to vote or this thing will be swung by the minority of nutters who care more than average. Splitters.

To keep up Uncle Kev’s General Message of Cautious Pessimism, here are the voting odds in the constituency I used to live in, North Somerset.
Just like you were surprised by the Brexit result, don’t be caught out by those people who say “ooh I don’t know” (whether in a Mavis Riley voice or not) when asked how they intend to vote.
If they say “I’m not political” it means they’ll be voting Tory like they always have.

Guess who’s got another brand new point of sale display?
After three years with their own display stands, my first three books will now be sharing a stand to make space at my exhibition tables.
Which is more detail than you ever needed, wasn’t it. Sorry.


June 26: How do you know this event is dead serious and academic? It’s about comics, and the ad includes no pictures whatsoever
If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, what is talking about comics without the pictures? (I jest )
In fairness, it looks like a worthwhile event, with good people involved. I’ll be missing it because I’ll be teaching comics to 7 - 12 year old kids at a book festival. We’re each doing our bit in our own way.
PS: Snappy website name or what?


June 27: Quick question: why can’t the Democrats replace Biden? They’ve got five bloody months to go!
We’ve just had an election with six weeks notice, and there was serious talk of replacing Sunak in that time.
The Americans have got the equivalent of four Liz Truss premierships still to go. Surely that’s plenty of time to sort this mess out?

June 30: Here are comic artist Jim Lee's prices for drawing commissions.
Can I just remind everyone that mine aren't even half that.
(See you at #LFCC where I'll be drawing caricatures that are free if you buy something off my table. Yes, Jim Lee and I are in the same business.)

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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