Saturday, 9 November 2019

Phatasmagoria Halloween Special.

I had a story in the Halloween issue of Phantasmagoria magazine(Issue twelve.). Devil's haircut is a story I wrote and did the art for, a spooky rockabilly themed tale which also stars legendary local rockabilly band The Sabrejets, The Rockinist Rock band this side of perdition. Phantasmagoria is a great magazine which seemingly gets better from issue to issue and I am not just saying that because I am in this issue..or am I?It is chockablock with loads of goodies, fascinating interviews and articles and reviews.
             Being able to pick up a magazine like this is so much better than a random dander around the internet (Although that does have its own merits.), and Phantasmagoria has within its pages signs and wonders pointing in the direction you want to go.
                                            (Brian Young signing some original artwork.)
             It was a joy and a pleasure for me to get this opportunity to work briefly with Brian Young and the other guys in the band. To get a look at Brian's wonderful archive of photographs detailing the history of the band and to see his records of the changing face of the music scene over the years. These guys started entertaining people at the height of the troubles, providing Rock N' Roll respite while bits of our home country were being blown to bits and dark events were weighing down the population no matter their age, religion or politics, the Dark Continent of the past was chartless.
              My story is a nod to EC Comics, Famous Monsters and to the spirit of The Sabrejets.
              With the Editor of Phantasmagoria Trevor Kennedy being Northern Ireland's answer to Forrest J Ackerman.
               We are all of us Infamous Monsters.

A Pile Of Old Faces.

                                          Give a man a mask and you will see his true face.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Old Annuals.

One of my earliest memories of going into Belfast City Center as a boy with my da was when he took me to the old Smithfield Market. The original building which sadly was burnt to the ground. I was utterly bewildered, that old market was full of nooks and crannies, there were so many stores with windows filled with exotic worldly goodies and treasures, well, to my wee eyes that is what it looked like. Looking up and into store windows stacked high with objects I had only previously seen on the flickering screen of our television. This was the real world though and I was getting my first glimpse of it..The old Smithfield market itself and a glimpse of the old bus station, which is also long gone. I seem to remember a gated entrance, a huge green gate, ornate and stately. (I could be misremembering, it sounds like the entrance to Arkham Asylum.).It was a cold wet Belfast day, October or November, my da's long overcoat flapping about us as he held onto my hand. Are these memories or ghosts?
              There was a Harry Halls and a Greers bookstore, I remember that. Seeing Harry Halls for the first time and how it was imprinted on me. It became for me the over riding idea for how a bookstore should look. I think every book store I have seen since has been judged against those early impressions.
               One of the things that especially impressed me were the shelves of annuals. The World Distributor annuals that were so much a part of my generation's childhood. So many titles and all so simply but powerfully represented by covers that seem to shout at me" you want to own me, do'nt you?"
               And I did. I wanted so many of them but my da could only afford one.  And the choice I made was The Mighty World Of Marvel. The first annual I ever choose and I can honestly look back and say to that wide eyed kid I used to be and say "good choice,kid. You picked the best one."
               The old Smithfield Market was pretty special. One of those gathering places that seemed to form organically way back in the day rather than be planned for by some architect who would never set foot in it.
               So much more than a building was lost in that fire.

The Witching hour.

Halloween may well be over for another year but the spirit of the October Country lingers on. Have a look at some of these lovely cards sent to me by a chum, Michael, in none other than Salem, Massachusetts.
         Now there is a place where they know a thing or two about witches.

Greetings From The October Country.

Sunday, 3 November 2019


Foundation is a book i have been meaning to read for some time.  the spine of the novel has been staring at me from various locations in my house and I have seen or heard the work referenced so many times over the years at times I felt like I had already read it.  Which is a nonsense off course, that would be owning the sheet music to a song i had never actually heard and claiming it as a favorite. I had been listening to a Youtuber i really respect and he spoke so reverently of the series i just took it off the shelf and began what I should have perhaps done long ago, I began to read Foundation.
             Maybe it was a good thing I waited after all. At least until I was a bit more long in the tooth, if no wiser or more worldly. I do so appreciate the scale of the vision involved, for it is indeed vast in scope and ambition. Dealing as it does with the predictable behaviour of vast groups of people over very long periods of time., or Psychohistory, as the catalyst for the great experiment created by Hari Seldon, as he calls his school of thought. And calls it, he does. Predicting, from the available information, societal and historic, the oncoming chaos , decline and fall, and ultimately a delically balanced but more than possible resurrection. The birth of Foundation.
              Foundation is a sprawling and complex notion of a book, in some ways a string of novellas tethered by a huge story arc, one stretching across thousands of years and millions and millions of miles. Phew, to put it mildly. Like much of Assimov's work it is off course prescient.. The notion that free will within a contained system is but controlled opposition, its allowed for, even encouraged as a form of venting, the trick of liberty, when it is no such thing. One wonders at times if there is anything benign about man made systems of control but arguably anything is better than chaos...
              What would I know. Dare I say it, whole civilizations have been built on less sturdy foundations than Pyscohistory.


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Haunted Bookshelf 2019.

Leaning towards the Vampiric for this years choice of titles. Theres a pulpy quality to the choices with deep red threads of continuity running through them. Bram stoker set in place certain tropes which have trickled down through the ages. Stoker was working as a theatre director during the Whitechapel murders era and all the mores of his time were bound up in the text. It is not even surprising how little has changed today...