Sunday, 28 July 2013

Come And See Now.

Got some new ink done by Joseph at his Lost Souls studio. He had also got some astonishing work recently which he had traveled to Russia to get done. At the hands of someone he respected. Who does watch the Watchmen indeed. The hands that have decorated his skin are some of the best in the world. He knows this. He works very hard to pay for the travel and the expertise. It as though the canvas of his time on this earth is right there in front of you. I had something done which has haunted my imagination since childhood. I do not remember its origins or why it should have affected my imagination as it did. I read a book recently which suggests the origins of such notions but it was a series of explanations I am not altogether comfortable with. The book dealt with the insights of one Cesare Lombrosso and I do not wish to take on board the broad associations his theories bring to the surface. I found some of his ideas deeply repellant and have since learned in later life he believed in even goofier things if that is even possible. Lombrosso suggests a desire for tattoos is indicative of a criminal pathology. A inescapable desire rooted in the very bones of those born to be criminal. That we are not shaped by our experiences or the homes or class we grow up in. We are what we were born to be. It is not even destiny. It is just bone, blood and birth. Lombrosso was an Italian criminologist who held the belief that crime was an inherited trait. Passed on by human nature. THE SEEDS OF MORAL INSANITY AND CRIMINALITY ARE FOUND IN MANS EARLY LIFE. He is considered by many to be the father of modern criminology. FORENSIC MEDICINE SHOULD RECOGNISE THAT IN THE CASE OF THE CRIMINAL MAN WHO IS IN CONSTANT STRUGGLE AGAINST SOCIETY, TATTOOS-LIKE SCARS ARE PROFESSIONAL CHARACTERISTICS. For me it all comes across as a series of Eugenics based sound-bites. Turin in the eighteen hundreds..what a swinging scene. RELIGION, WHICH TENDS TO PRESERVE ANCIENT HABITS AND CUSTOMS, CERTAINLY PERPETUATES THE PRACTICE OF TATTOOING. Oh Cesare, with these insights you are spoiling us.
              Also read three Chuck Palaniuks. Lullaby. Haunted. Damned. Feel like a spring has burst out of the top of my head, with a diseased cuckoo calling the hour, like something out of a Looney Tunes short, only with actual blood and gore and brain and bone matter. He is a powerfully affecting writer of stories that can shock and cause you to despair at the monstrous banality of modern culture and the demons that stoke the engines that drive it. poor man. To see the world as he does even for one day. Must be awful. His hell is right here on earth. Staring back at him from the side of a milk carton. I was brought up a catholic so my vision of hell is your basic Bosch Nightmare with glowing autumnal skies, medieval torture equipment, screaming demons ,fiery wyrms chewing at your go-gos with an ever lasting chorus of wailing and gnashing of the abandoned and forgotten.Hell for him does not seem to be a place of painful retribution but a place where the Damned endure poor lifestyle choices. Ah well, in the scheme of things America is a relatively new thing so it is no suprise a child of that fabled country should see hell as such. A thoroughly modern hell. Something has scrambled his genius so that it spurts out of him in these bookish orgasms. I think he is quite brilliant at times and appalling at others. Reading three of his books back to back made me want to take a a hot shower to wash all the neurotic fear sweat away, only I cannot. My immersion heater is busted. No hot water.
              Three Chuck Palaniuks followed by a cold shower.
              No thank you.
              That is too old school Irish catholic a response even for me.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Kindness Of Strangers

WHOEVER YOU ARE,I HAVE ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. So said Blanche Dubois in the Tenesse Williams play Streetcar Named desire. And poor Blanche was as nutty as a fruit-cake. I myself am something of  a fruitcake. There is no denying it. My own experiences of the random reactions of strangers being along the common lines of WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? or WHY ARE YOU NOT ME? Although I share the ache of fictional characters sadness at the lack of empathy at broad in the world I try not to get too hung up on it. Indeed, every now and again I am pleasantly suprised by the actions of others and when this happens I feel rich with life. Take this for an example. I am not the fastest human being in the world. In fact I am a rambling tangle of uncoordinated limbs that at times seem to act independently of each other. When I tried my hand at waitering my nickname by the other waiters was Lightning. For I was anything but a lightning bolt. These days I am worse than ever, my circus days long behind me. One morning I was ambling along in an attempt to get a bus to work. The driver had seen me but was not prepared to wait and started to pull off leaving me in my usual state of embarrassment and abandonment. I sighed trying to feign indifference. I DID NOT WANT TO GET ON YOUR STUPID BUS ANYWAY. Then it stopped and a figure leaned out and waved me forward. C'MON She said with a wide friendly smile. I speeded up and hobbled forward(part of my brain was saying PLEASE DO NOT SHOUT RUN FORREST RUN as all the bus passengers press their faces against the bus window and howl with laughter. I have history after all)actually managing to get aboard dignity intact. She had kindly asked the driver for a little patience and that is what he demonstrated. I was so grateful and it even caused a ripple of smiles amongst those seated.     
            Anytime we saw each other after that we would always say hello and chat. Just about the ups and downs of life in general and particularly the minefield that is retailing. I learned she was from Poland and that she and her husband were both making the most together of a new life in Northern Ireland.
             I asked her name.
             MAGDALENA she replied.
             I babbled a load of comic related gobblydegook in suprise. A few years back I had worked for an American Comic Book Company called Top Cow. Amongst the things I had done whilst working for them was to create a character called The Magdalena. And this was the first time I had ever met anyone with that name. That is her in the photograph with a copy of the re-released graphic novel of the origin story of the character. I felt she had to have a copy if only to prove I was not some looney she had unwittingly encouraged with a simple act of kindness. I mean it was not as though I had claimed  to have visited the moon (although in truth I have, in all its many phases.)
             MAGDALENA meet THE MAGDALENA.
             The most recent comic I have worked on is about North African Pirates making slaves of Irish people.
              I think if I was running for a bus and a Swarthy Swashbuckler leaned out beckoning me forward I might now pause.
              Wait ten minutes.
              Get the next one.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Woods Are Dark And Deep.

Just look at this tree. Is it not magnificent? I had been down in the country staying with my sister Anne, working on a script for another issue of Noe The Savage Boy. In my mind I felt as though I had spent weeks at sea on a nightmare journey on a North African Pirate Ship called The Issabella. (Not because my sister was mistreating me but because that is what the next part of Noe's story involves.) Feeling a bit stir crazy I decided to go for a hobble around The Black Island. My own Island of Adventure. As a boy I had stumbled across a downed Sontaran war Machine and only just managed to foil its pilot Field Marshall Soldar's attempts to conquer the Earth. I did so by jamming his breathing tube with a Peggy's Leg cola flavored stick of rock. A top tip if you should ever find yourself face to face with a lone Sontaran warrior. Also, it is not widely known but beneath the dark waters of Lake Muckno which surround The Black Island are a Zygon spacecraft (Who's crew rest in suspended animation) as well as a colony of Sea-Devils/Silurians (Who also sleep in suspended animation). Someday both sleeping crews will emerge from their deep sleep and that will truly be squeaky bum time. I feel connected to The Black Island. I always have. Even on the worst of days I have been able to draw some strength from it. I have sat beneath the spreading branches of ancient trees as rain of biblical proportions has fallen to earth. The trees never notice I am there. They rarely notice us as we move through our lives so quickly. To a tree man-time is like the beating of a humming-bird's wings. I have sat with my skinny legs dangling off Lake Muckno Bridge feeling the night draw in. Watching tree tops sway in a breathing motion as the wind explores its branches. Dark water below mirrors the darkening skies above as twilight spreads. Like a curtain falling signalling the end of one act and the beginning of another. A hunting man armed with a shotgun and a brace of Coneys passes me following an excited springer spaniel who's nose vacums the ground. The grass has stories to tell and a good springer can read them all. A sublime night is meant for walking on the water...And a tree like this is why this place is so special to me. I even scrambled about its rooty mossy base looking for a Carroll-like entrance to a world beyond this one. The kind of entrance a waistcoat wearing rabbit with a fob-watch might use. Alas no such Coney showed. No magic rabbit bounded by. No magic entrance or exit revealed itself that day. The day it does will be the last day this world sees me. 
                   ...Now if I can only remember where I found this tree...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Night At the Museum.

I was gifted a copy of this wonderful book by the author whom I had the pleasure of meeting and eating with at dinner the other night. I had been to the Ulster Museum for a talk by the author Jeffrey Deavers. A night organized by David Torrance of the No Alibis Bookstore in Botanic Avenue. It was a lovely evening with the sun splitting the trees and the choice of venues was just great for a talk by the creator of Lincoln Rhyme. I was there by invitation of my boss John Mc Mahon who knows  I always have an appetite for good food and good company. The evening was a sell out, loads of the authors new hardback The Kill Room were shifting and the craic around the dinner table afterwards was as they say up to ninety. We walked from the museum to Connors for a late evening meal. Afterwards we strolled to where John had parked his car, down in the holy Land. It was as I said a really lovely evening and the campus grounds around Queens University were balmy and oddly quiet. Just ambling along with these two fine mystery writers who had travelled so far to entertain their fans. They were obviously good friends who brought out the best in each other conversationally. Jeffrey's voice seemed deep and precise. John's danced for joy. John gave me a copy of his book refusing to personalize the signature as it would devalue the book in the event of his death. A Poe like modesty that endeared him all the more. Anyone who knows me will know that MR James is one of my favorite authors and antiquarian ghost stories one of my favorite genres. I am not keen on pastiche. I like authors to just go for it. To write as though they are the first and only authors to write in this vein. And that is how John Connolly allows this story to unfold. It is a one sitting read that demands an almost immediate reread. Just as I reread A Christmas Carol every December I now think I shall reread the Wanderer in Unknown Realms every...
              ..well,every time I feel like it.
              Special mention must go to Emily Hall for her disturbing black and white plates that punctuate the text. They really are quite haunting. The product of some Ghostly Edwardian nursery.
               My momento of a lovely evening is a book that gave me disturbing dreams.
               Just wonderful.