The chimney in our flat was swept this morning. This was a new experience for me and I was astonished to see our chimney sweep was neither Dick Van Dyke nor a filthy, malnourished urchin, but the well-scrubbed Phil from Forest Hill.
He still used the flat-top brush but these days they have a vacuum cleaner stuck to the end to catch all the soot.
Happily, all was in order with our flue (no birds, skeletons of nannies or obvious structural defects) and I got to see the brush poking out of the top of the chimney pot which was most satisfying. Chim chim cher-oo.
Part of me, if not all of me, was dreading this event. Having heard of the madness of the cosplayer hordes, I was convinced I was going to hate it. However, the tables in the “comic village” were a very reasonable price, and as I live less than an hour away from the Excel Centre it seemed foolish to miss out on a chance to shill, especially as organiser Emma Vieceli had gone to some trouble to fit a load of last minute tables for exhibitors into the hall.
As it turned out, I really enjoyed myself: the ladies, gentlemen and undecideds of the cosplayer community were really nice and entertaining (apart from a fat little Naruto who tried to half-inch all my toffee giveaways) and, considering there was a room full of thousands of youngsters who had queued for literally hours to get in, they were surprisingly well-behaved. But oh, the cruelty of spandex! Herds of camels must have been slaughtered for the number of toes on display.
I enjoyed the taiko drumming displays, though I think I was far enough away from it not to suffer from sonic shock that some of the other exhibitors were having to deal with, and I saw the cosplay dancing demonstration enough times to learn all the moves by heart. Performances on request.
Trade felt slow, as might be expected at a games/manga/films-oriented event, but once I’d cashed up I found that financially I’d actually done better than I had at BICS in 2008. Whilst my comics had not sold so well, sales of prints and badges had made up for it. I guess this demonstrates you have to think about who your potential punters are and target your wares accordingly. The crowd were not likely to risk their pennies on something new and were more likely to go with something familiar: I noticed that most people who bought badges were not much bothered as to what was on them, they just wanted something to collect. It’s definitely a place where those with a more ‘showbiz’ attitude to selling will do well.
The usual small press suspects were all present: particular thanks to Sarah and Dave for minding my table whilst I had a break.
Wonderful table neighbours Gary Erskine (I was really impressed by the time he spent talking to his punters) and lovely Kat Nicholson and friends;
the nice people at Supermonko;
the chaps from D-Con, which looks like it might be fun;
and a gentleman called Joseph who wants to turn my pics into 3-d paper sculptures.
I was briefly interviewed by the Geek Syndicate guys and had a longer chat with Dickon Harris from Panel Borders. I keep having flashbacks to the daft things I was saying so I doubt I’ll be able to listen to them in case I die of The Cringe, but if I get details of the broadcasts I’ll post about it.
A great addition to the regular convention circuit. There are already plenty of pics of the mayhem on Flickr.
A week or so ago I went to the Mariscal retrospective at the Design Museum. These are some doodlings I did on the spot, plus a quote which I think might have come from a children’s workshop run as part of the exhibit.
It was a great little show but then Mariscal is one of my favourite artists. He’s had a go at designing and drawing just about everything from restaurants, logos, packaging, typefaces, magazine covers, comics, textiles and is most famous for the mascot of the Barcelona Olympics, Cobi. He has a wonderful energetic style and bold use of colour and has really left his visual stamp on Barcelona.
Here are a few snaps from the exhibition:
The exhibiton blog is here with many more (better) photos.
I’ve been neglecting my daily drawings. Here’s a few to catch up with.
The Bat Chaps. Robin was eight years old when he joined Batman fighting crime. Have you hung around any eight-year-olds lately? Not much good when it comes to foiling bank robbers I can tell you. Unless you count vomiting up chicken McNuggets as a super power.
I went to the Isle of Wight last week to visit family and had a walk around Carisbrooke Castle. Much fun and excellent views to be had on the battlements.
I drew a couple of Norman chaps having a dust-up after that:
It put me in a bit a of a fantasy mood:
Back on track now, I think!
I feel sorry for all the school kids who have to wear their ties during the hot weather.
I have been drawing every day – honest! I’ve just not been posting…
Here’s the last part of the tea-time epic.
I’ve been out in the garden talking to the tomato plants and observing the local cat politics. I may have mentioned this before but my neighbourhood has an embarrassment of feline riches, and my next-door neighbours have (amongst other animals) NINE cats – a fact I find so astonishing I keep repeating it (NINE cats!).
Here’s a few of them:
The Great Darkness belongs to my upstairs neighbour and is very fat, elderly and possibly the most bad-tempered cat I’ve ever encountered. Do not approach without a big stick.
The Daft Ginger One is the youngest of The Nine and generally harmless. It finds snails totally fascinating.
Bob is the only one of The Nine whose real name I know and is the only friendly one, which is a pity as he’s a complete fleabag. I also suspect mental issues. Will fight with all-comers.
Until I saw The Evil Stripy One I hadn’t realised cats could frown. Possibly the most dangerous of The Nine, though the ‘Incident with the Hose’ probably didn’t help.
Bob’s mate lives a few doors down and is a total ‘fraidy-cat. For some reason Bob tolerates him so they hang out a lot. He reminds me of the cat from Kiki’s Delivery Service so I probably should have drawn him with a bead of manga-sweat or something.
The Ginger One From Across the Street is a player in the politics of the neighbourhood. He occasionally (foolishly) ventures across into the territory of The Nine but soons learns the better of it.
Also I popped into London Underground Comics‘ LUC176 event on Saturday. Ellen Lindner kindly sold some of my comics from her table (you should check out her masterpiece Undertow) so I could go and have a sneaky beer outside with my friend Sam. It was certainly a great venue – I hope the event was a success for everyone.
An artist’s reconstruction of events.
Scott C is one of my favourite cartoonists – quirkily humorous characters in bizarre settings, all drawn with a lovely thick inky line and splashes of paint. He’s currently over in the UK for a show with Jim Mahfood at the London Miles Gallery in Notting Hill. Sarah McIntyre and I went along for the opening night and got a chance to talk to Scott and meet some other interesting and nice people too. We bought Scott’s book which he most graciously drew in for us whilst Sarah took pictures. I’ve interpreted the scene in a Scott C style above (Treehead is a character of Scott’s) – for the photos take a look at Sarah’s blog.
A group of local illustrators got together for some life drawing practice yesterday. Viviane Schwarz was the hostess and made some very fine jumbo chocolate chip cookies to feed the inspiration and Sarah McIntyre, Gary Northfield and myself made up a quartet of models/artists. It’s hard to sit still when you can smell freshly-baked cookies, I can tell you. I’m not proud enough of my drawing efforts to post them here but for some photos take a look at Sarah’s blog.
Gillian Anderson has been starring in a new version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the Donmar Warehouse with Christopher Eccleston, Toby Stephens, Anton Lesser and Tara Fitzgerald. Tickets are completely sold out, but if you are prepared to queue from 8am they are selling a small number of cheapo standby tickets.
As a member of the comics jet-set I obviously don’t get out of bed before 9:30am, so I had one of my people queue for me. And it was worthwhile kicking them from out from their box under the stairs into the cold early morning air, as it was quite a spectacular production.
The critics aren’t very happy in that the original story has been rewritten somewhat, but as I’d never seen the original that was fine by me and nobody cares anyway as we were all there to see Gillian Anderson. Quite possibly the most beautiful woman in the world – all big, glistening eyes and pouty, quivering lips like a character from some romantic manga (but with a nose). Graceful, floaty loveliness …. sigh. And she can certainly act, too. Christopher Eccleston was also excellent doing his fiery, jug-eared Northerner thing (if OK! are reading this we saw him in a bar a couple of nights ago, very drunk indeed) and the rest of the cast were also brilliant.
Although I’d love to see a more faithful adaptation of this play to compare, I’d be quite happy with this production: witty, topical and very powerful.
The Rag-and-Bone man is a character that I thought had long disappeared in these days of local government-sponsored recycling and internet swap shops.
As a child I would run into the street when I heard the distinctive call: “Rag and bone” had merged into “RAAAABOOOOONNNNNE!”, a long plaintive cry that made me think of a lonely, lost animal calling for the herd. Our local man had a long open-backed lorry which he would drive at a majestically slow pace down the road, like a carnival float that had been mugged and robbed of its finery. His mate would sit on the back amongst the broken down washing machines and lead piping, and haul on any junk that householders dragged out for him. If children gave him pieces of scrap metal he would give them a balloon in return.
We later moved house to an area where Rag-and-Bone men were Not The Kind Of People We Want Around Here, but I find I now live in a neighbourhood down-market enough to have its own regular Rag-and-Bone man. True, instead of the lorry he pushes a purloined supermarket trolley, so he could just be an upwardly mobile tramp. But when I heard him give out the call, obviously long-practised and expertly executed, a shiver of recollection went down my spine and I knew he was the genuine article.
The local ukulele club is not the first organisation that comes to mind when looking for pagan good times, but down my way they hold an annual May ball in celebration of Bealtaine. Interestingly, this is held in the local Catholic church hall and whilst I’m not sure what Pope Benedict would have to say about such things, I’d like to compliment him on the excellent bar with which this diocese is blessed.
The evening consisted of a number of sets from some brilliant local bands, including the aformentioned hosts of the event, interspersed by some slightly odd ‘alternative’ morris dancing and the traditional maypole dance. It all threatened to go a little bit ‘wicker man’ at one point but thankfully the glittery glamour of the Actionettes came to the rescue with their synchronised shimmying to 60s classics. They were fabulous in their vintage gear – though it was slightly disconcerting to have what looked like a small herd of Ellen Lindners on stage in front of you!
The impulse buy. It never fails: put me in a shop when I’m tipsy and a completely random purchase will result. As was the case on Saturday when I found myself leaving Smash Bang Wallop in Crystal Palace (after a few plastic cups of fizzy wine) with a clockwork tin robot. He is currently lord of all he surveys (the kitchen) until I find a more fitting home for him. Probably somewhere away from kitchen implements:
Whoa there, boy.
This triple-headed comicbot (or possibly a design for a nerd version of the Charlie’s Angels logo) was inspired by a day spent selling comics at the Alternative Press Fair. Myself, Sarah McIntyre and Wes White shared a table and barely found ourselves with a few minutes of quiet all day thanks to a very busy event.
I knew organiser Jimi Gherkin and team had put a lot of effort in the publicity of the event and it certainly paid off as from the door opening until the end of the day the place was chock-a-block with punters. Everyone seemed to be selling, whatever their style or subject matter and there appeared to be many people new to the comic and creative arts scene.
Jimi’s always keen to have a mix of alternative and applied arts in with the comics at the few events in which he’s been involved. It’s an area I’ve personally found hugely interesting and there was plenty of inspiration for future projects on the handmade books and prints side of things, which I intend to pursue.
Couple of snaps:
I recently had my monthly shearing at the barber’s. My local barber is Turkish, and whilst he doesn’t run an official ‘Turkish barber shop’, he still does the little extras that you might expect, including the flaming taper in the ears for those hard-to-get follicles (although my barber uses his cigarette lighter in place of the taper – this is south London).
I find getting a haircut one of the most relaxing ways to spend a half hour and have been known to nod off whilst in the chair on occasion. Aside from the snip-snip of the scissors and the buzz of the clippers it’s usually very quiet: just old men with the afternoon newspapers and the occasional sulky kiddies bribed into compliance with the promise of a Chupa Chups lollipop.
So handy to have feet that can peel fruit. I’ve been working on a project that I really enjoy but the tight deadline has driven me slightly bananas (hence the above pic). I’m in the home straight now, better get back to it.