Tuesday, 31 January 2017
The story begins in the wake of the disaster following the South Sea Bubble bursting and the lives that were destoyed when it fell apart. There are no waters more deep nor latitudes more unforgiving than the tempest of financial ruin. It is agreat love story as well, the tale of Jack Sheppard, house breaker and infamous jail escapee, and his whoring pick pocket lover Edgeworth Bess. A proper love story it is too, whatever that may supposed to be. Full of the random insanity love inspires and the cruelties that most noble and inspiring of emotions may bring about. I think love is like a sparkling clean stream running downhill to collect in a clear pool for the thirsty to drink from. Only, when one tracks up stream you find the rotting carcass of a dead sheep through which your sweet drinking water has passed. Mind you, I am no expert when it comes to matters of the heart. Jake Arnott in his past work has demonstrated a great understanding off the complexities of the human heart and its many dark corners. There is no sense of " Oh well, now I am reading the thoughts of the bad man" or "now we get to hear what the good person thinks."He writes about human beings and the appalling contrariness of the human condition as the good and the bad in men and women are just flip sides of the same coin.
"Give no thought for the morrow" they were advised from the pulpit. As the poor and reeking congregation sat quietly but studiously stealing from each other. And boy did they take this advice to heart. Guzzle in the moment for no one knows how many moments one has left. London was a dirty place to live, a hard and unforgiving place to try and build a life of worth, dirty and hard in all senses of the words. A sodden miasma of human waste and desperation where cleanliness was a state of mind and soul and not a state one generally found oneself in. Jake Arnott's work is not for the faint hearted. He tells us of the world and its history as it was and not as we may fancifully hoped it would be. Peter Ackroyd's history of London also covers this period in engaging detail and everything you need to know is bullet pointed with insight and humour and a genuine street wisdom.
Stick on a Tiger Lillies album while you are reading it and fell yourself fall under a spell.
I know I did.
This is a variation of a sketch made of Jack Sheppard while he was incarcerated and awaiting the rope in Newgate prison. The gesture he is making is one that Sheppard himself assumed The gesture
he is making is one that Jack Sheppard himself assumed whilst posing for the drawing. The resulting painting is attributed to Sir James Thornhill circa 1723, after visiting Newgate to do the sketches for the final piece. I wonder if he wore a nose-gay? For every single account of the place suggests it smelled like the deepest darkest cess pit of hell. A punishment in itself.
Thursday, 19 January 2017
I finally picked a copy of this storybook up just this week, having first heard of it over thirty years ago, sometime in the mid eighties I think. It was read aloud by Neill Innes in an episode of a television show called The Book Tower( I did continue to watch this show even after my hero Tom Baker no longer hosted it. I did enjoy it but it never quite felt the same for me.) It was a beautiful and atmospheric reading with a camera moving across the stunning artwork by Nicola Bayley with an enchanting sound suite and a spirited and endearing performance by the very lovely Neill Innes ( He of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band fame. The Urban Spaceman himself.)
You know I think I initially watched the Book Tower with the same degree of impassioned interest I also watched Top Of The Pops(hoping for a performance by Siouxsie And The Banshees or The Cure Or Public Image Or The Skids or The Rezillos or..) It was a great way to discover new books or get excited about new artists and writers.
No wonder people used to laugh at me.
No wonder they still do.
A friendly visitor passed on some amazing issues of TV Action. A British comic publication from that formative decade. The sort of comic you would have been able to pick up in any corner shop or newsagents. British comics of that period were just among the best of the genre ever published. Great heroes and heroines in great stories where an epic could be told in just three pages or even less. In those days I never saw comics as the poor relation of television or cinema. It was just a powerful medium in its own right and a comic in your hand was a valued artifact that could be reviewed and enjoyed again and again.
I cherish having grown up through a period when comic books were at the very top of their game rather than lament the passing of a time when great comics were common place. Things change and time always moves on for good or ill. It is what is and we are what we are.
Even we Mutos.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Saw a very nice article on the work of Jamie Anderson in the recent Doctor Who 2017 Yearbook (And a whole lot of Who related stuff was going on despite the absence of New Who on Saturday night television.)"Return To The Forbidden Planets" is a great article and Jamie Anderson has some interesting stuff to share and tell.I had a nice chance to tell Chris Thompson himself what a wonderful job he has done , saw some other work by this very personable fellow and now look forward to whatever surprises he may have up his creative sleeve.
"..his creative sleeve. What is a creative sleeve? " I hear you ask. A creative sleeve is something like a sorting hat. Only, it is nothing like a sorting hat. More like a boot cupboard. A big giant boot cupboard. With no boots in it. Just surprises.
Thursday, 5 January 2017
No, I am talking about a moment of pure joy that expresses itself in a spontaneous reflex when you cannot but help yourself and think "Boy, They Got That Right.". Such was the case with the creative team of Si Spurrier and Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser with the story Physician, Heal Thyself. The culmination of a complex story arc that literally ends with a bang..and a bang.. and a bang,bang,bang,bang..
Abslom Daak finds himself in Dalek Killer paradise.
Its a pretty twisted idea but then he is a pretty twisted character.
Abslom Daak will also serve as a reminder of just how creative an artist the late Steve Dillon was.Abslom and the Cyberman With A Soul. They are almost mythic characters to readers of a certain vintage.The denouement of this story would surely have made Steve smile and for that reason alone it stands out as being worth completing. The 5oth Anniversary episode of Doctor Who was a perfect celebration of what New Who has come to mean to people. This story arc is also a bridge between the worlds of Doctor Who as it is now and those far off days of a weekly Doctor Who magazine and comic.It seems like such a trivial thing when weighed up against the huge loss of Steve but our days are made up of such trivial things. He was held in such high regard not just for his talent as an artist but also because he was such an exceptional human being. Smart, witty and with a rebel's twinkle in his eye.
The kind of Right Stuff you cannot fake.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Well done Doddy!
You are not just a Knight you are a Prince amongst men.
There will be some partying tonight in Knotty Ash.