Monday, June 30, 2008


I just drew and half-coloured a comic with Amy wearing completely the wrong outfit. Bare arms instead of sleeves, a dress instead of shorts, ruined, ruined, everything is ruined. What do I do now?

(The answer, quiz fans, is "cry")

Addendum: I fixed the aforementioned issue in 9 minutes. This is why they made me king.

Punch me, Amy Winehouse, punch ME!

I was going to write about the My Bloody Valentine show I went to on Saturday, but what is to say, it was extremely ferocious and that is that.

Instead I wish to discuss the more important issue of who is going to be the new Doctor Who! Well done the Big British Castle for keeping this under wraps, I was genuinely surprised when I watched Saturday's episode. Now, not being ten years old, I don't get the frisson of old watching this show, but once a series it still gets me a bit, and this week was like that! And last night I lay awake for far too long trying to work out who the new Doctor Who would be. It is a starmaking turn after all but you can't turn up and be rubbish. Now let me think let me think who was on my list...

1. Martin Freeman (from off of out of The Office)
I dreamt this one after I had gone to sleep so maybe it is more accurate.

2. Rory (son of Roy) Kinnear.
Rory is a good actor and the right age but maybe not heroic enough to make an action figure of

3. Andrew Lincoln (from off of out of Teachers)
I have a feeling his face is too square

4. Julian Barrett (from off of out of The Mighty Boosh)
Quite intense. Plays "exasperated" well. Can Doctor Who have a moustache though?

5. Someone really dull who has been on Spooks or Waking The Dead or Hustle
I have ruled all these people out on the basis that common sense will prevail

6. James Bolam
A stop gap is required, enter the former Likely Lad. Much too old for stunts, might need a truss

7. Alan Davies
Davies is a thesp but he bit a tramp's ear and that will not be forgotten by his paymasters at the BBC. A note: Stephen Fry sounds good but would be horrible

8. Richard E. Grant
It is ten years too late for this

9. Dave Gorman
From out of left-field selection, baffling all but the cognoscenti

10. Sophie Ellis-Bextor/ Carl Weathers / Tom "Lenk"
Peculiar stunt casting reflecting "the unique way the BBC is funded" is possible, but will not go down well

ADDENDUM: If it is James Nesbitt I am never watching ever, ever again. I am also very ambivalent about Robert Carlysle. If the selection must be regional, I demand Alex Kapranos from off of out of Franz Ferdinand, he can solve some problems in space I am certain.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Proved right more often than is seemly

Having championed the unique stylings of Karrie Fransman earlier in the year, I am delighted to have been personally responsible* for catapulting her to her new position in the Guardian G2 section every friday! If you were to picture my sphere of influence, you would do well to imagine a large planetary body - maybe Saturn, or perhaps a beachball hitting you in the face.

In all seriousness, well done Karrie, you deserve it!

*Not at all responsible

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exile in Gruyèreville

I note with interest that one of my favourite records, Liz Phair's 'Exile In Guyville', has been reissued. She's made some nasty old albums this decade but I can forgive her just about anything. The flurry of new reviews reminded me of a song that she made in about 2001 (which had a video and everything!) This, we were promised, was the brand new thing, but then when the new album came out about two years later, it wasn't on it, and instead there was a song about playing on the Xbox and another one about (forgive me) white wee wee.

Anyway, Youtube is Swahili for "old pop videos never die" so I put this up for my benefit only.

Although I am a firm believer in paying for music, apparently my copy of Exile In Guyville was pirated from Bury Library's own, paid-for disc. It features a sleeve apparently reproduced on a Chromalin digital printer circa 1999. These digital prints used to cost customers £50 a page. Oh wild, brahmin youth!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Oh look what is #6 on a Google search for "Chinese Democracy review". That's right, now everyone expects the beaver thing with eyebrows.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gravy sheets / black sheets of gravy

I can't believe my Guns 'N Roses review hasn't been picked up by a major website or news source. Apparently quality journalism is dead and we all bear its heavy pall.

I've been working on some mug designs for a friend today and I produced one that looked great until I saw the pouring coffee as a giant tongue and couldn't subsequently unsee it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chinese Democracy: First Review

Those of you who pay the minute attention that I do to these things will be aware that Guns 'N Roses long-awaited (15 years!) Chinese Democracy leaked this weekend. I haven't reviewed an album properly since about 2001 but I thought I'd give you a track-by-track praisee and flex some of the old muscles. So Guns 'N Roses are back, back back. And what a journey it's been. Countless band members, a procession of producers, scrapped sessions - but forget that... here's the product.

1. IRS
Seldom has an album's stall been set out so brutally. Over an almost avant-garde string arrangement (strongly reminiscent of Scott Walker's Tilt), Axl essays the making of Chinese Democracy. But after a strong start, 'IRS' degenerates into a laundry list of complaints against various band members, delivered in what seems to be an improvised half-rap. "Buckethead/ his real name's Fred", spits the autocratic frontman. The song ends with the refrain "Dizzy Reed/ you gonna bleed", repeated upwards of thirty times.

2. There Was a Time
On the evidence of Use Your Illusions 1 and 2, Rose's musical palette extended far beyond hard rock. But few would have anticipated 'There Was A Time', a Beatlesque mini-suite delivered in a risible cod-Liverpudlian drawl; "let's all have a spot of tea/ crumpets for you/ scones for me". Paying tribute to an unrecognisable England, the song features yeoman guest work from Ringo Starr and Jeff Lynne.

3. Rhiad & the Bedouins
This minute-long instrumental has been notorious for years, allegedly featuring the (sampled) sound of Axl Rose's wet fist being repeatedly driven into the side of Duff McKagan's head.

4. Better
A return to the classic GNR sound after the free-form experimentation of the first three tracks. Over hot blues licks, Axl announces that he will 'ride a hot train wearing a top hat'. Lyrical references to Oliver North, St Elsewhere and Paula Abdul suggest that the band has been sitting on this one for a while, but a breath of contemporary fresh air comes at 2'40 with a brief sample of 'Because I Got High' by Afroman.

5. Madagascar
Long talked-about as a potential single, the blistering Madagascar (a feature of Guns 'N Roses frequent water-treading tours during the wilderness years) is delivered on record at half-speed with vocals by the (plainly inebriated) bass-player Tommy Stinson. "Madagascar man/ like the movie with the animals/ the beaver thing had eyebrows/ there was a lion". Geffen Records will no doubt be delighted.

6. The Blues
Perhaps the reason that the Chinese Democracy project has continued to fascinate fans and critics is Axl Rose's reputation as a sonic perfectionist. The Blues is a showcase for his obsessive studio work, featuring a reputed 400 tracks of guitars, all playing the exact same blues riff, at the exact same time. And credit to Rose, it really does sound like just one guitar. The lyrics reflect the same combination of simplicity and depth: "I'm mad, I'm sad, I'm feeling bad, he sings. "Later on, I'm gonna get glad."

7. Chinese Democracy
Self-confessed Queen nut Rose has already delivered his own Bohemian Rhapsody in November Rain (which ran at times to almost 20 minutes!). But Brian May's reported appearance on this song flagged it up as the tribute to end all tributes. And so it proves to be. Demonstrating a surprisingly agile knowledge of Far Eastern politics, over a full 23 minutes, Guns 'N Roses attempt to educate, inform and entertain. Ten individual guitar solos are heard, delivered in both western and pentatonic forms. Then, around the 20 minute mark, Brian May steps forward to deliver his 1992 smash, 'Driven By You', played in its entirety on the koto. The koto is a Japanese instrument, but it's impossible not to take his point. An absolute triumph - arguably the best song ever written.

8. If The World
Some of the songs on Chinese Democracy bear evidence of 15 years of shifting musical trends. The full-on rap-rock assault of 'If The World' has all the hallmarks of a very good Korn b-side. But lifting it out of the mire of 1999, the chorus is delivered in the complex barber-shop harmony style of Manhattan Transfer. If this had emerged pre-millennium, it's difficult to imagine that the world would be in the trouble it is today.

9. This I Love
Featuring the trademark 'shredding' style of the great Yngwie Malmsteen, this could feasibly be the last Guns 'N Roses song you ever hear. It's relatively standard fare, but distinguished by Malmsteen stepping up for a solo every 16 bars and being audibly subdued by his infuriated bandmates.

This may be the most important album ever released... or the least important. Either way, it is important that you listen to it if you have the inclination to. Seminal stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer repeats

There are some very weird pictures in my blog images folder.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

From the archives

Reader Chris Paluszek submits the cover of the University of Central Florida Indie from mid ought-four for your consideration. He thinks that the artist may have had one key influence. I leave you to guess who that might have been!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

There's a bug in my mug

Read a new interview with me at Comixtalk! Features a picture of me in an awkward position!

I get the sense from feedback I've been receiving that perhaps two weeks of guest comics was too many. Unfortunately I do have to take a break from time to time or my brain will fail - the recent, somewhat competently plotted stories you've been enjoying require extra work in the planning stages.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mo th frenzy

Apparently moths are the new deal, people are crazy about the inferior butterfly insect thing. Perhaps the time is right... for THIS.