Saturday, 28 February 2015

December 1976 All Over Again.

Thworp,Thworp,Thworp...Here is a lovely wee gem, a fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane story from the TV Comic annual 1977( which off course meant it turned up in many a Christmas stocking in December 1976.That is the way it was back in the day.) It a lovely wee five page story set in Cornwall and features The Doctor as he was in that first Tom Baker story Robot. Just look at him whizzing about in the lovely yellow roadster Bessie with the lovely Sarah Jane( Who seems to have based her dress sense on recent 1976 issues of Jackie.) I think the artwork may have been by John Canning but I do not know if he wrote it or perhaps some one else did. Maybe it was even a redrawn Jon Pertwee script as The Doctor mentions the cottage where he lives and I do remember the TV Comic Third Doctor did live in a quaint English cottage.
             Is it not beautiful all the same?Hope it is okay to share it . I just thought many fans of this period of the show may not have even been aware of the Doctor's adventures between the pages of the much loved TV Comic and would like to see it. It being so in keeping with the previous post.
              Thworp,Thworp,Thworp...Thats me dematerialising that is..

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Thing Of Beauty And A Joy Forever.

Truly a thing of beauty and The Doctor remains a joy forever. Some of the figures produced by this magazine publisher have been exquisite. The latest special is the tragic and timeless Robot of Tom Baker's debut story. It really is a fine design and has not dated at all . It stands on a bookshelf in my house towering above my Fourth Doctor figure(Although we all know no one towers above Baker.) The Robot design is a flawlessly crafted work of art. Imposingly symmetrical and terrifying functional. Although mechanical it has an architectural resonance, its cranial arch almost art noveaux. There is a silvery retro feel to it which is really a gift endowed by the passing decades. Time can add as well as take away.
               Mind you it really reminded me of a robot King Kong when it grew to giant size and started waving a handful of Sarah Jane around in a Fay Wray Stylee.
               Not something you see every day.

Five Rounds,Rapid!

UNIT troops are really just the best men to have at hand when it comes to alien incursions. There is not a situation they are not equipped to deal with and that extends to their fine taste in comic books. Witness this young trooper's choice Noe issue one!
                Adapt, improvise and overcome.
                Oh and do not forget your acid free backing board and comic bag.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

CSI Preston 1740.

A truly brutal murder in the medieval charter town of Preston is just the beginning of a series of events that suggest the roots of evil run deep beneath its tranquil surface. Robin Blake, the author of the book A Dark Anatomy, overturns a clod of sleepy English turf to reveal a dark soil teeming with life and humanity itself red in tooth and claw. In the absence of modern investigative and forensic techniques Preston's coroner Titus Clegg must use all his wits to get to the heart of the mystery that threatens to tear apart the peace of his hometown. Aided by his Doctor friend Luke Fedelis he must overcome the medieval beliefs and religous prejudices which litter the path to truth with shards of brutality and ignorance.
                A Dark Anatomy is a defly written and wonderfully atmospheric novel with the principle cast and the whole unwashed humanity of the era coming alive between the covers. Mystery and clues abound, some more obvious to the modern minds of the average reader than the medieval minds of the fictional characters that people the village, most as yet unenlightened by the touch of any form of education. Clues that present themselves to those medieval minds as the footprints of the otherworldly or the supernatural. which in turn leads to greater acts of brutality as the climate of fear escalates.
               Clegg and Fedelis; it has a late smoky autumnal feel to it does it not? From an era when all acts of cruelty reeked of brimstone. At times the atmosphere of the book reminded me of such films as the awesome Blood On Satans Claw or the masterful A Field In England.
                Hellfire and brimstone, wit and wisdom collide in this defly composed and written novel based in a time and a location that would have induced a panic attack in the great Sherlock Holmes.
                The Game Is Afoot.
                Or perhaps a Hoof.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

A Sting In The Tail.

The Green Hornets favorite publication is off course Playboy(He reads it for millionaire playboy lifestyle tips!) But Kato has altogether better taste. Top of his pull list is Noe the Savage Boy. Here is a photo to validate that life style choice. And in the words of the infamous Irish Poet , playwright and pugallist Orlando Dingle;If you cannot believe everything you see why not pretend you do.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Old Sixy Meets Old Yeller.

The coat that will never be lost in a crowd. Ha, Daryl,the guy in the Colin Baker costume told me a funny story how just that day he had lost a bet and the forfeit was he would have to sit through a screening of Fifty Shades Of Grey,on his own, in his sixth doctor outfit. I bet up until that moment the scariest thing he had ever seen was The Terror Of The Vorvoids.
              Gives a whole new meaning to the Baker story Timelash!
              Thankfully his sartorial eloquence allowed him to rise above the tawdry limitations of this peculiar burp in the shared cultural zeitgeist of this part of our century.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Carter Hall Of Thannagar.

                                                             (From my sketch book.)

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Oh The Pain,The Pain.

Famous Monsters magazine #278 carries extensive articles and features and absolutely glorious pics from this beloved television show. This always enjoyable and hugely informative publication hits a high for me with this particular issue. From its small screen hey day to all that followed after for the cast and crew is recorded with affection and insight. Warning Will Robinson!Danger!Danger!Three seasons, eighty odd episodes, these were the voyages of the Star ship Jupiter Two with its crew of the space family Robinson, their loyal Robot and the unforgettable Zachary Smith as they searched for a way home.
             The opening credits with its cartoon cosmonauts drifting through space but tethered together with the electric theme tune really got my young heart racing and also the tone of some of the cliffhangers really left me wondering if I could survive until next time. Some of those episodes may seem quite goofy to more modern eyes but those were alien worlds to me.
              They never did manage to find their way home.
              Never Fear!Smith Is Here!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Queen Is Dead.

In the summer of 1553 fifteen year old Edward V1 from his deathbed named his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor. The day after the young King passed Jane was officially proclaimed The Queen Of England. A short reign followed as she entered the history books as The Nine Day Queen and become a protestant martyr of The Reformation. This new book by Suzannah Dunn examines the period that follows beginning with The Lady Jane's incarceration in the dreaded Tower Of London leading up to a dreadful day on the scaffold of execution. You cannot go into this book without knowing the true end of the lady's life. That knowledge, as well as being historically recorded fact, lends the young witness to these events Elizabeth Tilney's a certain breathlessness. The contrariness of a teenagers thinking, the refusal to accept unfolding events for what they are, an emotional weight that would be lessened slightly if all worked out as she chose to percieve it. It is one of the strengths of Suzannah Dunn's writing that this is felt right up to the turning of the last page. Centuries may have passed since that day in 1554 but teenagers are as complex and perplexing as ever. Yes, the tapestries of history are woven with the illogical longing of the young and the cruel and ambitious plans of the old and power hungry. The young live in the moments their elders try to control.
               Jane Grey is escorted by one Elizabeth Tilney "a good catholic girl" to imprisonment in The Tower Of London. Tilney is not appointed to this position, she volunteers for the duty, requiring for her own reasons a bit of distance from the tangle of her own life. A distance not normally attainable for a girl of her background or station in life. The two young women, barely more than girls, must find a common ground in order to share the space they find themselves thrust into. Catholic Elizabeth and Protestant Jane; not the cliched two sides of the same coin, more different currencies altogether.
                To begin with all expect the young pretender to be released, that all accept in truth she is just a pawn in a struggle for power. This was a time when the game of thrones was played for real the price of failure was to lose ones head. A game where few hands were clean and innocence is a weakness.Suzannah Dunn really gets under the skin and into the contrary heart of Elizabeth Tilney, it is a very real voice that records the events as seen through those young eyes. It feels like an emotional unreliable narration at points built on the instinctive misdirection of a teenagers inflamed passions. In a world where children went from being children to adults in less time than it takes to read a red top newspaper. The author populates the rooms of The Tower Of London with what feels like realistic fictional ghosts, as all recreations of actual people are apt to feel in literature. For those who have been banging on the door of Wolf Hall this is a residence well worth a visit.
                 It is believed that Lady Jane Grey is the only English monarch in the last five hundred years of whom no portrait of proven authenticity exists. Physical descriptions alone remain. That young face existed only in the minds of those who saw her and in the memories of all who knew her.
                  For nine days only she was the Queen of England.
                  For over five hundred years she has looked back at us as if to say
                  I TOO WAS A QUEEN.
                  Yet we will never know her face.

A Vision Of Things To Come.

                                                          " ....Even an android can cry..."
                                                                Stan Lee/Avengers#58

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Dirty Dancing.

Salome, Salome Dance For Me.I pray thee dance for me. I am sad tonight. Yes I am passing sad tonight. Yes, dance for me Salome, and whatsoever thou shalt ask of me I will give thee, even unto half of my kingdom; So begged horny old Herod of his step daughter. Sealing the fate of John The Baptist at the calculated whim of a diseased maniac in this Opera by Richard Strauss adapted around the play by Oscar Wilde.  It was bloody and it was brilliant and everything an opera or a piece of art should be. Northern Ireland Opera shone last night in the first of only two performances in Belfast at the Belfast Grand Opera House with a staggering central role as Salome by Giselle Allen whose voice rolled about the theater aisles with the resonance of a tsunami of sound. The accompaniment of The Ulster Orchestra turning it into a four D experience. It is a play which challenges and is at times both horrible and humanely tragic. Madness and desire and the absolute quality of a perfect faith in the face of brutality are at play in the words of Wilde but it is in the voices of the performers that it soars. It is a most modern looking interpretation of the play with a set that would not look out of place in a David Lynch play or some South American Gothic with Burl Ives as a grisly patriarch. John The Baptist is held not in some cobwebby dungeon in Judea two thousand years ago he is locked in a septic tank. When he emerges he is the very wrath of God. The dance of Salome is one of the highlights of the show.Hayley Chilvers takes over for this segment and she ably demonstrates the erotic assault upon the Court Of Herod and rapidly crumbles the last defenses of the mad ruler and any last ditch grasp of morality slip from his sweaty hands. Yet is even he ready for what follows?
             This evening was a birthday treat for me by a dear friend Noel, a patron of an art form not familiar to me. A night at the opera. An opera based on a play by Wilde that venerates hedonism but also sits like a scarlet blossom in a filthy trench in hell. It is one act long, no interval and no prisoners taken.
              An opera for our times.
              I will not look at things,I will not suffer things to look at me.
              Put out the torches!
              Hide the moon!
              Hide the Stars!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Noblest Romana Of Them All.

Ah The Romance of Crime and The English Way Of Death. Two Doctor Who novels by Gareth Roberts I remember with such fondness(And so well written were they scenes still play out in the theatre of my mind as though I had watched and listened to them rather than read them.) During a great period for new and strong and frankly fantastic Doctor Who literature they managed to stand out. This new range from Big Finish bringing new life to some classic era fiction is another great idea from a company bursting with great ideas. And the standard of the releases, the lovely cover art and interior notes and photos are just a joy. Tom Baker's voice continues to resonate across the years and the lovely Lalla Ward slips back into the character of that period Romana with the ease of popping on a sunday bonnet.I never thought or see or hear this Tardis tea together again. Yet here they are and you can only sigh and think why has it not happened before, like so many of he best of Big Finish projects.The period settings and actual sound design on both stories remain loyal to the season they echo so beautifully.Although their presence is no surprise to anyone who has read the book (or indeed seen the cover art) the Ogrons speech is the clumsy monster speak of The Day Of The Daleks and our street games. The old egg factory in Ardoyne made for a great future world of BBC retro future worlds. Running up and down its haunted corridors pursued by Ogrons. My life has not really changed...


Object In Mirror Is Closer Than It Appears.

                                     (From my sketchbook)Like one that on a lonesome road
                                                          Doth walk in fear and dread.
                                                          And having once turned round walks on,
                                                          And turns no more his head,
                                                          Because he knows, a frightful fiend
                                                          Doth close behind him tread.
                                    Samuel Taylor Coleridge; The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.