Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Side Wins

The removal of Top Of the Pops from its original Thursday night slot through to its eventual cancellation was one of the greatest pieces of cultural vandalism ever perpetuated in the UK. I believe that it should be reinstituted immediately.

"Kids watch videos on Youtube now," goes the old saw. But look at the UK pop charts. A democratic yet moribund parade of played-out album tracks, TV-promoted groaners and club-ready trifles. So what is new? Was it not ever thus? It was. But that wasn't all it was.

The disappearance of Top Of The Pops has removed a large section of the record-buying public as-was from the conversation. Music was tribal. You approved, or disapproved, of the horrors before you. The suspects were lined up in numerical order. A side wins.

When Top Of The Pops was moved from Thursday to Friday, everyone still in the pub after work, or already out for the night, was gone. Their votes were spoiled. When it was moved from BBC1 to BBC2, its place in the national living room was lost. Its move to Sunday nights to be more "relevant" to the chart "as it happens" missed the point by a country mile. Top Of The Pops was music TV for people who didn't care about relevance. People who cared about that were listening to Radio 1 on a Sunday night pressing record and play.

The British pop institutions withered in the wake of TOTP's abdication. Smash Hits crumbled. The NME could neither feed on young bands' prime-time exposure nor build new heroes and now operates a kind of ghost-town faux scene of lillywhite young men that almost no one has ever heard, to diminishing returns. The charts are more teenage now than they were in the early sixties. "Popularity" exists in a vacuum.

The Internet changed everything, of course it did. Everything is splintered. There are proliferate niches. There is a "long tail". But in an age of too much information, surely a digest is needed now more than ever. With the iPlayer, it would be there for a whole week, a half hour window into whatever the hell is going on in the charts.

UK music needs the natural selection of the charts, vital, red in tooth and claw. It has become a shop with no window. Top Of The Pops was frequently awful. But in its original form, I would argue that it was also essential.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Pencils to play with!


No comic today, so i thought I'd post up some pencils for artists to play with. They're both from comics in this current story. Ink them, colour them, then post up what you did in the comments for this post. If you work traditionally, it might be a nice idea to tweak them into bluelines in Photoshop then print them out at your preferred size. They're 600dpi and A4 size, so there's plenty of room to blow them up.

Download pencils

Download pencils

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bad Machinery Books

I'm very excited to be putting out Bad Machinery books through Oni Press, starting in 2013. At the moment I'm working on fixing up some of the artork, before adding new pages and making these books less a series of webcomics and more of a coherent piece. Wrestling with that dilemma has been an ongoing thing since 2009.

Looking at these old pages closely for the first time since they originally ran was interesting. They're pretty good, if sometimes a bit dense. There are only a few pages where I was obviously having an off day that need careful revision. It's usually a case of fixing the top of an eye or a head or a chin.

Where I do greater revision, I never know if people even notice. Why not play spot the difference with the page below. The hardest thing when redrawing figures is keeping them on-model - in the very first Bad Machinery story, the kids were all whippet-like little adventure sprats.