Monday, February 26, 2007

Things are going to change

I'm back from the lakes and undrowned. I did experience some adverse cambers, mushy clay and treacherous scree but that is the nature of the wilds and we must all do our part. Also there were some witches and ghosts.

New news: I am growing an extra inch on my sideburns in preparation for the UK Webcomix Thing in two-and-a-bit weeks. It's a race against time, because if the sidewall annexe looks too ratty, I will remove it before facing my public. But I feel I need extra strength for this marathon of front-facing, gladhanding and power-sales mesmerism. I will keep you posted on "Project Samson".

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I am going to the Lake District this weekend, so if I am destroyed by a lake, you know what to do. Ululation, tearing of vestments, brass statue of me outside the Cobden View Arms in Crookes, Sheffield. Statue should be wearing a crown.

You may think that being destroyed by a lake is improbable and weird, but you would be Dr Wrong, ministering to the needs of the inhabitants of Mistakentown. Lakes contain fierce otters, bony cichlids and kraken. At any point I could be seized by a tentacle and drawn under, thereby ending a life dedicated to amusing people in 30 second bursts every weekday.

I'll be on my guard, but I'm warning you - be ready.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Enormodome comes crashing down

Well, I failed to win any Web-cartoonists' Choice Awards this time around. It's probably for the best. I usually respond to winning a prize by suffering a seismic crisis of confidence and, as a result, plunging over the creative cliff "on fire".

In all honesty, I think I've done very well to be nominated so many years in a row for "Outstanding Comic". I'm never going to beat Nicholas Gurewitch of Perry Bible Fellowship at that, he is a genius at what he does. Though if quality was not an issue and quantity was placed front and centre, I would be officially five times better than him. Yes, take THAT and put it on the shelf with all your prizes, sir! When you're shining up your trophies and crowns, remember that for every one time you put a piece of paper in the scanner, I put FIVE in there. And I have to scan each of them twice because my scanner refuses to scan the bottom centimetre of my A4 paper. So that's TEN scans for every one of yours. Who's laughing now?

Here are all the sounds I witnessed in the last week with short, pithy reviews, so I can look back in future times and see exactly how and when I went deaf.

Tuesday Feb 13th: THE HOLD STEADY + The Checks + Former Bullies

How exciting to see the Hold Steady, the main band in America for hollering about all sorts of things over a right bar-room racket, on UK soil. They were brilliant. The Checks were choogling boogie of the kind that might have impressed a Faces fan in 1973, and Former Bullies have been haunting the Manchester scene for years and will never triumph unless they learn to face front and address the audience clearly, confidently and directly.

Saturday Feb 16th: KLAXONS + CSS + Sunshine Underground + New Young Pony Club

This was the NME New Rave tour, and as someone old enough to remember old rave, I have to say that if you are going to start a new movement, don't make it exactly the same as the dance punk movement of TWO YEARS AGO (except with glowsticks). In any case, CSS are brilliant (full marks for coming on stage in makeshift burkas), Klaxons are rubbish, Sunshine and My Little Pony Club are promising. I counteracted any ennui created by the deadbeat headliners with improvisational rave dancing and some handsome badges I made (including "NEW DAVE") which prospective new ravists can buy from me in London next month.

Sunday Feb 17th: LONG BLONDES + Lodger + Navvy

75% of people at this gig were 5ft tall girls in footless leggings and shirt dresses. I thought I was going to get the vapours. The diminutive and petite stature of many of the audience made for comfortable viewing of another fine rock outing. Navvy tried hard and had a lead (LEED not LED) cowbell, Lodger had sweater vests and some decent tunes, and the Long Blondes are a proper pop band with a proper pop star front-lady for people who like Blondie and Pulp equally well. Well done, Long Blondes, well done, you win this week's gig crown.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

This week I have been rocked

Obviously the person of the year is "you" and that is because of Youtube which is because Youtube is where you can watch old pop videos that would otherwise never have been seen again by human eyes. Here are two of my favourite songs with the videos and everything just for people who like my sound decisions, good tunes for the young who grew up in recent years but like, let's say, the idea of the past.

"Beautiful John" by Madder Rose which obviously I like because it is a flagrant overstatement of my virtues and;

"This Is What She's Like" by Dexy's Midnight Runners, which not only showcases a sharp new Ivy league look for the 80s ragamuffins, but is 12 minutes long on the album! Isn't there a new Dexy's live album showcasing the "lost line up"? This is a rhetorical question to which the answer is of course yes.

I hadn't seen this video before today but it is more than I could have hoped for. At one point the issue of "what she's like" is discussed in an office scenario. At one point Kevin Rowland does a kind of street corner bogle. There is also some extremely low-key adherence to the principles of lip-syncing which I find delicious.

Sometimes I have dreams about the ITV Chart Show. They might just be the best dreams I have.

I wrote this post in lieu of reviewing all the bands I went to see this week because no one needs to hear what a great time I had or how new rave is such nonsense or how CSS came on in burkas or how the Hold Steady are attracting an audience mostly from the mid 40s man with son in tow. Just take all these things as read and go about your business.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hopefully not too weird for sale

Thank you for bearing with me! I hope to take this item to the printer next week. I have also spoken to the necessary characters about a short run (probably of ten) on canvas.

Too weird for sale

There are several reasons why this design is too weird to be sold, though for the sake of my fragile ego I ask that you do not name them. I do think it would have a dual purpose though, as it could be worn as a Fish Man mask that would unfortunately render the wearer blind.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

They knew what they were doing

Last night I went to see The Decemberists and Lavender Diamond live "in concert", with the sad memories of Friday night's gig still haunting my thoughts. And there was further disaster afoot because I believe no man there who saw Lavender Diamond is not now in love with and keen to wed singer Becky Stark. Homes have been wrecked all over town and it is her fault. Their sounds were extremely good too, it was a magnificent deal.

Then the Decemberists! They had all the right ideas about pleasing the audience, to the extent of playing some drones, which I noted down in my gilt-edged notebook of drones. This was live music done right for all to see and so I say well done, well done.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Work proceeds apace on print 3! I have put some flat colours on there, now I will seek guidance from my artier friends in the art community on getting this thing looking tip top. Or rather, I will carp on to Kelly Patches and Andy Bell until they tell me what to do (like always).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

You don't know what you're doing

GIG REVIEW: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah + Cold War Kids & Elvis Perkins @ Manchester Academy 2/2/07

On Friday I went to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and they were absolutely terrible. The songs they played from their new album sounded for the most part like a foghorn being blasted into a black hole. When I saw them last year in a smaller venue, they played one new song that was so inferior to the rest of their set that I was a bit nervous for what we old-timers term "the future". That it seemed like a rough gem compared to the rest of their freshly unveiled material at the Academy confirmed my fears. CYHSY have "gone lousy" faster than any act in living memory.

I could continue to moan, wail and spit but I won't. Why stop to drive nails into roadkill? People around me seemed to be enjoying themselves, but it was the kind of enjoying yourself that involves shouting into your mate's ear at a proximity that implies that you are the most intimate of lovers.

To address the positives: Cold War Kids on the other hand were a lot better than their rather one-note radio hit would suggest. At one point trombonists and trumpeters emerged to raise our spirits. Many of their jams were pleasing even to the untutored ear.

In addition, I enjoyed the sight of a be-cardiganed gentleman who spent much of the early part of the gig apparently rooting around in his back passage, then later on unveiled a series of chesty and inappropriate dance moves. This sweaty and faintly threatening rustic was keeping alive the Great British tradition of the village idiot, one spasmodic twitch at a time. He, at the very least, appeared to be trying.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Punching thru


After yesterday's day of futile scrapings, finally I am underway with my print as the grainy photo below reveals. I will try to work a COELACANTH into the picture but I'm not sure where I can put it to give it maximum impact.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


After a day of frantic artistic activity, all I managed to produce was a Scary Go Round sticker (the first!) I don't think I'll actually put them up for sale, that would of course be NUTS. I guess you'll get a couple when you order something else.

Manly, ain't it? Stick that on your Trans Am!

Print making

I'm working on a new print! I meant to do one every three months but the last one was... July? That's pretty hopeless. Still, I want to at least have one new thing for the UK Webcomix Thing in March so I'd better crack on.

As opinion leant that way, I decided to hand draw my new print rather than doing in in Illustrator like the last two. But it's proving tricky so far to make something I like when I can't tweak it to oblivion there after.

The only idea I finished, I ended up liking nothing about other than its title "The Greatest Lover In Micronesia". So wooden and stiff! But there's grist enough for several mills below.

The thing below seems a bit too cutesy pie. It's a good Yeti though, good and furious.

Lots of ideas! I thought Shelley could fight a giant robot, that might be kind of a good deal. But perhaps it is just plain ludicrous. My other ideas all involved either fish or stupidity.

It's hard to make something that people will look at for more than ten seconds. But I will keep trying because I know bloodymindedness is the quality in me that people most admire (or least loathe).