Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Polarity In A Spin.

That Missy was up to no good as usual. She had loaded Napoleons Nose above the Cavehill in Belfast with a legion of flesh eating nano-bots! One sneeze from that stoney orifice and the greater part of Belfast would be dinner for swarms of little man eating robots. For Rassilon's sake what ever happened to straight forward extinction level invasions by Daleks and Cybermen. Its like the universe is ruled over by Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Fatal Tree.

Jake Arnott's latest book is set in the skanky underworld of London in the 1700s, a world where degradation and brutality seemed the order of the day.A bone deep world-weariness is the common bond shared by every man, woman and child born in this era. Life in the inner city seemed like a deadly spiderweb bedded in misery. There has never been an easy priod in human history for the poor but some eras are worse than others( Sounds like a song by Ye Olde Smiths.). Jake Arnott has picked at the scabs of history and drawn forth a flaky tale of The Fallen and the depths we can sink to when surrounded by the right and wrong friends.
               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.

                                     (From my notebook;Jack Sheppard in his Newgate cell.)
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.

Lady Stardust.

Must be something in the zeitgeist( Not that I would be tuned it to gestalt thinking.) but here is another nostalgia tinged glimpse into past times. This is not a magazine I would normally pick up. By my own thinking it was too arcane with regard to its particular field. Yet I have discovered since reading it what a rich vein of enthusiasm and information it contains. Amazing is an appropriate description.

From TC to TC.

                                                   A special request from TC tor a TC.
                                                   You know, for some daft reason Top
                                                 Cat was called Boss Cat in this country.
                                                                 Was TC not PC?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Jerusalem By Donkey.

  (From my sketch book) Oscar Wilde Enters Jerusalem One Easter Sunday On A Donkey(Color Version.)

The Mouldy.

The Mouldy is an intruder in The Great Garden Of The world, bringing Anarchy, Mayhem and Fear. From his palace The King warns;"Hear the worst.Mouldy intends to spoil The Great Garden and leave it lost and wild." The King sends the bold Soldiers Of The Thistle, to no avail. Talitha, the wily and brave daughter of The King decides to take matters into her own hands and the story unfolds above and beneath the mulchy and fertile soil of The Great Garden.
            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.

Killing Time In The Seventies.

The New Issue of Doctor Who monthly is focusing on a very rich vein in the history and lore of Doctor Who history( Are'nt they all?) It comes from a time when storytelling, exploration and running down corridors towards and from dangers and monsters really counted for something. After a long period of exile and internment in one space and time (Southern England in the Seventies.) The Doctor finally regained control(Well, almost control..) of The Tardis and whenever that amazing blue box faded from view you never knew where it was going to end up.
                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

The Order Of The Daleks.

One of the November releases from Big Finish was the Sixth Doctor story The Order Of The Daleks which introduced a wonderfully original Dalek er, "Paradigm" .A stunning creation arrived at through the collaborative efforts of writer Mike Tuckers, director Jamie Anderson and CG designer Chris Thompson. Just take a look at the finished article, a delightful fusion of stain glass, lead piping and striking interior lighting. If this thing came trundling out of a darkened crypt screaming its interminable hate speech (The only language a Dalek truly speaks.) it would turn fifty years of Dalek history on its head. Think about a creature like a Dalek driven by a moral certainty and you discover a new depth of cruelty and madness they have not, til now, plumbed. Consider the most evil acts in human history and how many of them were driven by an absolute belief in the righteousness of insane acts. Imagine a Dalek with a faith,a monster that believes in something. Things just got a whole lot more horrible.
              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

Road Goes On Forver.

I do not find a fist thumping air pumping moment coming along very often in Doctor Who comics (Or in any comics for that matter.) but the recent issue of The Eleventh Doctor Adventures Yeat Two #15 was as close to having just such a moment. I am not one who is inclined to air pumping gestures of any kind. I have just never been comfortable with the historic precedent for such things and what they usually signify. Salutes of any form usually end in some one getting hurt.
              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.
                                                             (From my sketch book.)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Different Drummer.

Quick drum roll ladies and gentlemen. 2016 just came to a dramatic close and 2017 beckons like a clean page waiting to be scribbled on. Put your booby babble on it.
                'Cause if its your booby babble it will be some one elses.

A Knight To Remember.

Ken Dodd has been knighted!. A funny wonderful man who never let his fans down and has made generations laugh over the  years.Its an old thing left over from Empire I know but it is quite the honour for quite the honourable gentleman. In the old school sense of the word. I suspect this will mean the world to Doddy and I hope he gets the message he means the world to so many.
            Well done Doddy!
            You are not just a Knight you are a Prince amongst men.
            There will be some partying tonight in Knotty Ash.