Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Holy heck

The blog is closed until the new year. Words do not come easy to me in December. We will meet again in 2006 and lace daisies into one another's hair. Until then:

War is over, if you want it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Crooked grind

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. My many revolting old walls are being skimmed so I can sell my castle. Sadly this has only served to make the house extremely filthy in every way, and rendered most of my possessions inaccessible. Join me in praying that, a week from now, order will have been restored (at massive expense).

I did start work on an SGR skateboard. The idea was suggested to me before Chris Onstad introduced his, but only about two days before. The number of times this has occurred is high, real high, like a beanstalk. Onstad is always one step ahead - like a pixie.

Anyway, here it is, tall in every way:

It's urban, yet rural. Do you see?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Enjoy Christmas the right way

I like Christmas, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I like to pretend that it is the 1950s and I am only going to get a catapult and bag of nuts in my stocking. By the big day I am pretty bored with the season, but in November I get excited about getting my Christmas albums out and just digging the winter feelings on my own terms. So here are some good ones to get:

Brilliantly spare, lovely music by the super-religious indie rock band. I am not much of a theologian but few people could argue with this thing.

PIANO JAZZ PLUS SINGING CHILDREN CHRISTMAS: Vince Guaraldi, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
One of my favourite albums of all time. End to end brilliance that pretty much defines what this kind of record should be.

SIXTIES WALL OF SOUND CHRISTMAS: Beach Boys "Christmas With The Beach Boys"; Phil Spector, "A Christmas Gift For You"
The Beach Boys record is their 60s Christmas album teamed with a rotten, shelved 70s effort that fortunately contains 'Morning Christmas', a heart-stopping Dennis Wilson number. The Phil Spector record is "Sleigh Ride" and all that - peerless 60s pop.

LOOK FOR IT ON THE INTERNET CHRISTMAS: Sufjan Stevens "Hark! Songs For ChristmasVols I-III"
I found these unreleased gems by accident while looking for pictures of pandas on Google Image (lie). The indie folkster loves baby Jesus and delivers in spades.

I quite like the class-of-whatever-year alternative compilations that come out each Christmas. There are dozens of them but Xfm's "Cool Cool Christmas" is the best of a mixed bunch in the last decade. It even has a song by Lauren Laverne. Buyer beware, they always feature a couple of horrible songs (guilty party here: shame on you, the Flaming Lips!)

This year I want to get some good country Christmas albums in, as nobody does it better than Nashville. But since there are 17 million of them, feel free to help in the comments. I realise that country music is a dirty word (two words) in the image-led hipster world of blogs, but be brave.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Back to California where it's warm

The Brighton show was not fantastic. Some really nice people came by, including stalwart supporter Laura Kelsey (who bought a big ticket item), but mostly the show was ill-attended and far far too pricy to get into. Rather than write a show report, I drew a picture that sums up life on my table. My table was opposite the drugged-out hippie bargain book stall and the infernal hated dancing monkey.

In the picture The Duchess is putting a brave face on it but I am not.

Some watercolours still available etc!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I feel kind of nervous!

Here are the other two pictures that you can get in Brighton. Perhaps I will come home defeated with my tail between my legs (in which case you will be able to buy them off the website at a special, shame-face rate).

Wish me luck as I punch the sky on Friday! Air-planes are unnatural! My carbon footprint is huge!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brighton Update

Due to our short-sighted bigamy laws, I am going to have work out which one of Brighton combo The Pipettes I most want to marry. Tune of the year (week)!

Brighton Comic Expo is on Saturday.

Goodness I do hope some people are going to come down and see me at this Brighton thing. Hell, Brighton is the south east's gateway to a watery grave; it's easily accessible by tram, goat and Shanks' Pony from ole London town.

I have finished making my new range of buttons, there are four different designs for people of all different moods. I'll also have some watercolours available (some depicted below) at what I can only describe as a "low" price. £25! Plus I'll have teatowels, all the books I still have in stock, and I will be accompanied by The Duchess, adding a unique flavour of Euro-glamour to my belt-and-braces Yorkshire convention approach.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The print-shop

Amy has a gig! It will be AWFUL! Are you going?

I thought this might make a nice print (on canvas).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The buttonman

I'm working on some new buttons for the Brighton Comic Expo later this month. I have my own button maker, it's a German machine that fills me with innocent joy as I operate its levers and pulleys. The only way it could be improved is if it had a steam whistle on top.

I won't be selling the buttons on the site (too much effort for too litte reward), but if you meet me in person at a show, I usually have all manner of these tiny weapons with which to impale your enemies.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tshirt desperation desk

Sorry that there have been no new posts but I have been very busy trying to be good at drawing. Hopefully improvement is evident with each passing day. Some of next week's comics look pretty nice.

Designing tshirts is a rubbish job, especially when you would, personally, never wear anything with a "snappy" phrase on it - though I do like S Britt's shirts, where the words mean absolutely nothing. But a lack of supply is choking demand, and I must answer the call. Today's work in progress: society's easy little boxes. Finished colours may vary etc etc

Now, you and I both know that the second I can afford to, I will never make another tshirt ever again. That bitter dichotomy helps me keep quality high. But those boxes quite tickled me. One's a little tank!

More soon lest "Secret Scary Friend" enter its 17th year on sale. Feel free to make requests in the comments area of the blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I've got an ad in the next issue of legendary alternative comic Love and Rockets. It's hard to be a huckster for yourself when you're not given to the art. Fortunately, following some consultation with a close ally, a compromise was reached.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Where we take things "nice and Keys-y"

Following my earlier cusses, I will cheer up with the good news that Danny Baker is back on BBC London (weekdays 3-5pm). He has always been the ultimate thing to put in my ears since small times, a shaping influence on the things I enjoy! My world would be infinitely poorer without having embraced his broad cultural brief, from S.J Perelman to Jake Thackray.

Where is my BBC Radio Player? One may "listen again".

Also much respect to Danny Kelly of course.

Webcomics on iPod/PSP/Kodachrome slide

I'm hearing a lot of talk these days about putting webcomics on iPod photos and PSPs to read. Maybe I'm a dangerous lunatic, but wasn't the great thrill of doing comics on the internet that you didn't have to cram them into the tiny space available in the newspaper? Is there some sort of irresistable push to make comics as unreadable (and un-enjoyable) as possible?

I can't believe it only took 29 years for me to become a dinosaur. But unlike the dinosaurs of the past, I have written a couplet to express my utter dismay:

Read your comics at a reasonable size
Then perhaps when you're 70 you'll still have EYES.

I would write more, but I have go and eat my dinner while looking at it through a microscope. I'm sure you understand.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Movie review time

OK, so last night I went to see "Serenity". I'm pretty sure that there are no spoilers in this review so read on unabashed.

Serenity is a movie where the bad priest guy from Buffy the Angel Slayer has somehow got in charge of a spaceship in order to get away from Buffy. The bad guy from the X Files is also in it (not a very popular bad guy) and a girl who is kind of weird in the brain. Anyway! It is like Battlestar Galacticas without Lorne Green. At some point there were bad, scary men who I assume are very disenfranchised because it is the future. Also there was a black man who was a Very Good Actor.

One thing about this movie that annoyed me was that they seemed to have stolen a lot of ideas from "Firefly" off the TV. But don't let that distract you from the fighting.

Watch this movie if: you like bad vicars in space kicking off some excellent fights.
Avoid this movie if: you are no fan of "entertainment".

Serenity: a good movie!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New auction reveals team spirit (steam spirit)

Click the picture for a low cost, fun auction for smile times!

That is all for now.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New ways

In an attempt to compete with the top comics of the internet, such as Questionable Contents and Sam and Fuzzies, all my comics will now be drawn on Pergo with Sharpie.

The day the world changed!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The greatest TV show of all time


Bullseye was a gameshow where people played darts. It was hosted by old-school comedian Jim Bowen. For some reason, a half-hour gameshow on Sunday evening where people play darts is about the most sublime thing in the world. The human drama on the faces of the dart-throwers was so plangent, and it all happens so fast.

We lambast modern television for dumbing down, which as any fule no is nonsense. Bullseye is no intellectual work-out. But somehow, it delivers on every level. From the knuckle-gnawing interchanges between contestants and Mr Bowen to the delicious celebrity round (where underperforming stars would frequently reach into their own pocket to boost the £75 they had raised for charity), not a second is wasted.

I was excited to discover that Challenge TV shows Bullseye - not that I had ever wasted more than 3 consecutive seconds on that channel prior to making the discovery. In fact, the day I found this out, my spirits were at a very low ebb. It's strange to think that 30 minutes of 20-year old light entertainment can be the difference between walking tall and throwing yourself under the wheels of a passing ice cream van. But I digress.

Seen both as a game-show and historical artifact, Bullseye exposes the eighties as a long-abandoned country. Lady contestants (who are probably younger than me) contrive to at least double their ages with high waisted trousers and aspirationally tall hair. The men all work in ironmongery or concrete works! Contestants who appear to have attended university are skittish dart-nerds, yet to drink of the confidence-boosting wealth of the coming information economy.

If you have digital TV, don't hang around, don't wait. Per-second, nothing (and I do not say this lightly) beats a bit of Bully.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

T-shirt request workshop

Several readers (several, not the one I usually upgrade to "several" for the sake of these posts) have written to me asking for an actual "books rule" tshirt. Now, I have never said that anything "rules" out loud, outside of a strictly historical context. But this almost equates to a groundswell of support, so here goes:

Yes, that is a hamster and no, I don't know why. But it's a pretty good hamster.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Eagle revenge

Upon returning home from New York at 7am last wednesday, I should have been delighted to note that there had been no slug incursions in my absence, thereby proving my counter-measures to be wholly successful. If I'd really meant business, I would have coined a catchphrase, such as "slug free since 08/03". But alas, there had been an even more determined intruder than the pernicious garden slug.

When I forced my way past the pile of exciting mail (including: tax disc! Undelivered item notice! Pizza menu!) I witnessed a scene of devestation roughly equivalent to that following a middle-range earthquake. Pictures askew. Unexplained dirt everywhere (the kind that houses hide). Lampshade at a jaunty angle. This can only mean one thing, namely that a bird has flown down the chimney and commited acts of terror on my home.

Now, I don't know about you, but my first thought upon getting into trouble is not to defecate everywhere. That seems to me to be compounding the problem. Not so Mr Bird, who had spattered every available surface with yesterday's brunch. So now, when all my shaking body wanted to do was sleep, I had to try to find this miscreant in my home. The thought of going to sleep only to be awoken by talons raking my face (inevitable, I figured) did not appeal. After two hours of spirited effluvia removal, I gave up and collapsed.

(A note: OF COURSE I cleaned my house before I went away. So that burglars would not think the worst of me).

Later on, i found its sad little body behind a curtain in the spare room. I suppose a true blogger would have taken a photo of this, put it at the top of the post, and reminded us all of the pathos of life and death. Wheels within wheels. I just shoved the (thankfully cohesive) corpse into a shoebox and threw it in the bin. All the while, obviously, praying it would not come back to life in a damaged, screaming way. I don't mind admitting that I poked it with a stick a few times first.

Thank goodness for sticks. Thank goodness for shoeboxes! Thank goodness for Cif cream cleaner. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I am in a secret location in New York city which cannot be revealed at any cost. Already I have hatched some serious schemes and judged this great nation as only the Englishman can. The freedom eagle's belly is ripe for tickling, and I have a feather that is up to the task.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

NME Chart Show

Having grown up with the ITV Chart Show as my only real source of pop videos (that being: one hour a week, slavishly watched no matter how bad it was the previous week), nothing puts me in a cosier frame of mind than a top ten of music videos. Fortune must favour the easily pleased, as every night I can watch the NME Chart Show (MTV 2, 7pm).

Since I haven't read the NME for several years, I am unschooled in what their tastemakers suggest viewers vote for on the MTV2 website. So the chart is generally a nice surprise when I catch it. Indie music invariably marches to one or two different drums at any time, with a few incongruities thrown in to confuse and bemuse (usually foreigners of import). It was like that in 1991, when every song on the indie chart was entitled the "Hypnoflowerlovewheel (Forever) EP", and today of course there is a general leaning toward young men with wiry arms in polo shirts playing their guitars quickly.

The music video is arguably a distraction from a song. In some cases, it improves your view of the music - I doubt anyone would have clasped their hands in rapt joy at the White Stripes' phoned-in "My Doorbell" if the video wasn't a charming period tour de force. On the other hand, the sight of Hard-Fi's eminently slappable singer renders me utterly furious.

What is on the chart this week? I know, i know!

10. Clor – 'Good Stuff'
I was washing up when this was on.

9. Hard-Fi – 'Living For The Weekend'
This is music aimed at the youth market, or as some people call it, "London". Male model fronts faceless shape-formers.

8. Mystery Jets – 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis'
This is brilliant! They are trying to pretend that the old chap in the video isn't in the band, but I saw them live, and he was.

7. The Subways – 'With You'
That chap from the Vines has asperger's syndrome and is too plum crazy to tour. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Subways. Awful.

6. Sigur Ros – 'Glosoli'
This looks like a ringer to me! I can't imagine that the kids are sitting at home, thinking, what I need to vote for is some Icelandic post rock sung in a made up language. These chaps are signed to Parlophone now, who anticipate big returns. Some say "cocaine" is a problem in the music industry!

5. We Are Scientists – 'The Great Escape'
Or rather "We Wish We Were The Killers". I wish the Killers weren't the Killers.

4. Franz Ferdinand – 'Do You Want To'
The best British indie single for years! I can't buy the album because there's no way it can touch this.

3. Editors – 'Bullets'
The best British indie single for years! I can't buy the album because there's no way it can touch this pt 2.

2. Bloc Party – 'Two More Years'
Someone, soon, has to come out and say it: the most boring, pedestrian band plying their trade at the top level today. No melodies, no excitement, flat singing. They look great though!

1. Arctic Monkeys – 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS THING? Video recorded on an audio tape; four lost schoolboys, frightened for their lives. I can't tell whether this is genius on the level of Pavement's early singles or a guileless stumble into a state of musical grace. Something is happening here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A sleever is a straight sided glass.

Quite often people write to me and say that if they meet me, they would like to buy me a drink. It's a really nice thing to say, a gesture of bonhomie in an old-fashioned way.

So why is it that I always want to write back, "please can I just have the money?" What a terrible person I am.

No, but seriously, think about it, that's a lot of money if you add it up, and I'm not going to get any work done later if I have a drink now. My body chemicals will be all out of kilter, I won't be able to concentrate and I'll want to have a nap. That means I won't be able to go to sleep at bedtime and I won't be able to concentrate properly until 5 o'clock the next day, by which point I'll be so frustrated that I won't want to do anything. Do you see the problem? Plus I'll feel sort of obligated to you for the drink.

How about, if you ever meet me, you buy me a postcard from your home town and a button badge you think I might like. That's not too extravagant. It expresses gratitude and pan-continental friendship, a coming together over a rectangle and a circle.

All right, wait, I might be talking myself out of some good times here. How about, if you're a pretty lady on the go*, you buy me the postcard, and the button badge, and a drink, and I'll buy you a drink and write you a poem about orange blossom near an ornamental pond. Here's how it would work:

"Hello John it is me, the cute little doctor lady from House, here are the button badge and postcard and etc".

"Well thank you and how very interesting"

"Is it time for the poem"

"Alas no because the postcard is of a unicorn frolicing with a furry dog woman in a thong and you have a skeleton hand"

"True love dies hard on jagged rocks, Johnny"

"Goodbye House doctor girl, this was a tender and terrifying moment".

* The offer is never from a "pretty lady on the go" but stick with me, I am hitting my stride here

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Google Blog search is powered by aliens

While being self-employed is obviously a. a bed of roses and b. a bowl of cherries, in order to take a week off, you have to do all the work for that week in advance. Or rather, if you are obsessively contientious, you do it all in advance. For this reason, in anticipation of eight days spent mostly scratching my back-side in the land of the free, I am trying to get a lot done. I realised this afternoon that I hadn't spent any time with an actual human being since last Thursday evening (going to the shop doesn't count, going to the garage doesn't count, going to Allied Carpets doesn't count).

Assume the Edvard Munch "Scream" position, I think I might be going mad. Pretty soon, I'll be like Cartilage Head, dancing a Cab Calloway routine of silent despair.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Ashes

I think I started watching cricket in 1992 or '93, pretty much the nadir of the modern era for England's team. In those days, all England players were called Graham. There was Graham Gooch, Graham Hick, dewy-eyed debutant Graham Thorpe, and of course larrikin paceman Graham Trombone*. Even though the standard of Grahams was desperately low, I found the soothing pace of the five-day game very pleasing to my brain. And when the team went overseas to the West Indies or South Africa, you could leave the radio on BBC Radio 4 longwave all night, and wake up from strange dreams to hear what awful deeds tall foreign men had wrought on "our boys". Invariably, someone would be blowing on a conch shell.

So to win the Ashes today was in one sense very exciting. I know people around the country have apparently suddenly discovered that cricket is okay, and that they can watch it and pretend to know what the rules are. I've been watching it for 13 years and I don't know where "silly mid-on" is. It doesn't matter. I don't know which side is "leg" and which one is "off". But I was always pleased that some people didn't get it. Everyone I knew who was worth a shake got it.

You don't need to be a sports bore to watch test cricket, because it all happens so slowly. You get to know the players, and like a soap opera, you get to like them. Shane Warne may be a tubby and boorish Aussie, but he's been coming into my home for more than a decade and he's never stunk the joint out. That's not the Warne way. Cricket is a reality show where you like all the contestants, and they don't outstay their welcome.

When I tired of football's nebbish prima donnas in the late 90s, cricket didn't pall, so while I was happy to win the Ashes, i was sad because it's the end of live cricket on free-to-air TV. Sky Sports' cricket coverage is woeful and I wouldn't pay for the channel just for that. So today marked the end of something I really enjoyed. I doubt I'm the only person who felt like this.

Like George Costanza, I believe in always going out on a high. But for me and the summer game, the high was never really the point.

* Not a real player

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Johnsons Go!

Last night was the Mercury Music Prize, the prize for the most toe-tapping British album. Like all prizes it is kind of meaningless and it is often won by the wrong person. But this year I was gripped by a powerful feeling that it would be won by faux-Britons Antony & The Johnsons. I deduced this by dividing column inches by volume of critical slaver. This was a clear opportunity for me to place a bet.

A bet I then put off making, repeatedly, for weeks.

Fortunately yesterday afternoon I remembered, but then struggled with my drawing so much that I had to have a nap. When I woke up, I was full of artistic fire. So much fire that I forgot to go on the William Hill website and bet.

At about 11pm I discovered that I had every right to be smug, because old Antony and his Nina Simone-style warbling had won. But oh dear, I had done myself out of £150 (I intended to place a £30 stake, because I am a high roller). So, in essence, I worked so hard on comics that I did myself out of £150.

You ask: John, how can I make this right? How can we heal the hurt inside? The answer is, you don't have to, because my Mercury Prize favourite, the Go! Team, already made me feel that everything is right with the world. Here is the video for their single, I showed it to Jeff Rowland and he said it made him want to throw a rock at a dog. You decide.

"Bottlerocket" video.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It is a new golden age

With age comes wisdom, they say, and at 28 i am able to tell that we are in a new musical golden age. Good jams getting recognition. Back in 1994 I thought we would always have it so good: IT DID NOT LAST. I think this week might be the peak of this newfound golden era, my copy of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has arrived in the post, the Arcade Fire have reached the dizzying height of #45 on the UK album chart, and the following picture of Goldfrapp was seen on the Internet:

That is what popular music that is in the charts should look like. Rome is about to fall, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The best news in ages

Yesterday (Saturday) I did not go to the cinema to see Primer because the train was cancelled, I burned myself quite badly on the steam iron, and I went on a night out wherein I took a taxi all the way to my destination, received a text message, then told the driver to turn the car around and take me home.

But today is Sunday and the news is good for the Inglese:

Channel 4 Buys The Daily Show

This means no more CNN Daily Show Global Edition oops we replaced it with Design 360 this week plus four commercial breaks in a half hour advertising "The Kuwait Fund" plus four news tickers and five competing channel ident stamps. A victory for common sense.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

He knows woe

This was going to be a new tshirt but now I think it's a bit too weird. Or R Stevens said it was too weird. Do you think it's too weird?

Maybe it is too weird. I just thought it was fun. Here's another that I like but I don't know if anyone would actually buy:

Monday, August 22, 2005

My album cover

When I make my album, this is roughly what the cover will look like. Before you ask, yes I will have the bubble perm.

1. Just Havin' Fun
2. The Wildest Time
3. Party! Party! Party!
4. Get On That Dancefloor
5. She's The Nicest Lady
6. Moving In The Night
7. Susan
8. Pains In My Heart
9. Dying Inside (Where Did She Go?)

(bonus track)
10. Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)

My internal artistic debate is now over, I have made decisions.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

For God's sake burn it down

I am away for a week a month from now, so I'm going to run a step by step breakdown of how I make the comic rather than actual comics. Is that the sort of thing people might like? If it sounds boring or niche I'll do something else. I'll try to write some fun words to go with it, you know the kind of deal by now!

I realise that this might in some way destroy the mystique of computer-made Illustrator comics, but if I can get some kid to stop sniffing glue and make a comic about a wisecrackin' hog living in a wooded glade, we all win. Right? Right.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Experiments desk returns

I am still contemplating the artistic process but people have written some very kind and supportive things. I'll just do whatever I feel like and let my freak flag fly, things should be okay.

I redrew an old Bobbins strip from 2001 just for practice, I post it here purely for curiosity's sake.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Magic Christian Music

The best and worst idea I ever had during my seven years of comic making was switching from drawing with a pen to drawing with Illustrator. If I'd been drawing five comics a week by hand for the last four-and-a-half years, I'd be pretty good at drawing by now. I do get better at drawing even working in Illustrator, but not very fast.

It was a good idea because I was worn out on the old ways, stuck in a rut, and anything that makes you think in a different way is helpful. But now it's a bit boring, and vector art is so ubiquitous that it'll be passe in a year or two. A man of the future has to move on. Every couple of months now I suffer a powerful urge to permanently go back to the pen and ink, and here is the thought process that follows:

1. Drawing is more fun than computerin'
2. Sitting in front of the computer is horrible
3. Faces, feet and hands so much easier to do well with the old pencil stick thing

1. Colouring on the computer takes ages
2. I am no good at drawing backgrounds compared to, say, other top comic makers of the day
3. No access to the hilarious world of typography (when all else fails)
4. Worried about what the proles will think (leading to bankruptcy)
5. I am no good at all at drawing cars compared to, say, a 5 year old
6. Stage fright means things drawn on purpose only 50% as good as sketchbook jottings
7. I will mess up my book collections in a way that makes people feel weird

It's tricky, because I'm probably looking now at the same stagnation I was scared of in 2001 - in terms of what I'm doing, I've peaked. I may solve this problem by retiring from comics and becoming a shepherd, bookmaker or owl groom.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The weeping continues, then stops

It feels very decadent to bury a project like my pack of cards after working considerable Englishman-hours on it but I think it is kind of dead. Now I think about it, maybe it was a bit ambitious. Or expensive. Expensively ambitious, or ambitiously expensive.

What I have really been putting off is another Scareodeleria book. I'd meant to do four of those a year, and I've managed - oh! - one since January 2004. And four pages in the Skellington book. That's kind of embarrassing, but Scary Go Round is so much more involved artistically (and physically 50% bigger) now than it was in late 2003, so there isn't as much time for side-projects. It's almost impossible to write them, let alone sit down and churn out additional several pages a week.

Part of my brain thinks I should drop to 4 or even 3 comics a week so I can work on the Heavy Metal Hearts/Scareodeleria-style projects. Another part of my brain knows that people would be very unhappy and punch me (via emails). What is best? I do not know what is best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


The cards are post-poned because I have to pay Les the builder to fix the kitchen floor. If I'd put away £10 every week for the five and a half years that I've been putting off having the floor levelled, I could have paid for it twice over. He's going to pour concrete into a hole, it is extremely exciting. Also there will be "screeds". There may be ghosts in the hole, I don't know.

The playing cards are a pricy business to make because I have to produce them in a large number (unlike the tea towels and other such gewgaws). The art is all done, I just have to steady the money ship.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I have been busy

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but I've been working on the playing cards. Now I've made it to 47 (of 54), the psychological process of choosing really does reveal who I like drawing the least. Any fule can do an Amy or an Esther (I've done a few of both along the way), but nothing seems to be able to make my clawlike hands scrawl out a Bentley Quorn for posterity.

Here are a couple of previews (all final ratings for characters remain secret until you buy the set).


The other thing I realised along the way is that I don't remember some of the characters' names. Things are pretty tragic in my brain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Everybody's favourite bagman

The best pop song you can't buy by a band who never made a record is "She's A Study" by TV Eyes. The video is here, what a shame these boys never managed to get it together for a full-length together. And for more videos of beautiful women cut together for maximum effect etc etc.

Scary Go Round playing cards are in progress. I'm working quite hard on the artwork, times 54, so it's going to be a while. Feel free to assist me with peppy feel-good messages. I could do one a day for 54 days, I suppose, but as it says on the right, I'm a man for the "big push".

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I have wasted three and a half hours of my life

a. I have omitted all your favourites and only included my own
b. Gasps! as the Carpenters were pushed out of the number 100 spot at the last minute by the inclusion of The Bangles.
c. All order essentially arbitrary etc
d. Aforementioned rules broken where necessary


1 RACE FOR THE PRIZE - Flaming Lips
2 GRACE - Jeff Buckley
4 ANGEL'S HEAP - Finn Brothers
5 STEREO - Pavement
6 TO HERE KNOWS WHEN - My Bloody Valentine
7 I FEEL FOR YOU - Chaka Khan
8 TURN! TURN! TURN! - The Byrds
9 GOD ONLY KNOWS - The Beach Boys

11 YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE - New Radicals
12 OH LORI - Alessi Brothers
13 THIRTEEN - Big Star
16 CHANGES - Sugar
17 UP WITH PEOPLE - Lambchop
18 PEG - Steely Dan
19 CONFETTI - The Lemonheads
20 CLOSE TO ME - The Cure

21 ANIMAL - Def Leppard
22 NEVER SAID - Liz Phair
23 FANFARE - Eric Matthews
26 NOBODY'S TWISTING YOUR ARM - The Wedding Present
27 THIS IS WHAT SHE'S LIKE - Dexy's Midnight Runners
28 MARQUEE MOON - Television

31 BLUE MONDAY - New Order
33 WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES - The Doobie Brothers
34 I WILL DARE - The Replacements
35 FEED THE TREE - Belly
36 THE CROWN - Gary Byrd
37 I SAW THE LIGHT - Todd Rundgren
38 TUMBLING DICE - Rolling Stones
39 MORE THAN THIS - Roxy Music
40 HIDEAWAY - The Olivia Tremor Control

41 BLUE - The Jayhawks
42 I KNOW YOU GOT SOUL - Eric B & Rakim
43 WICKED GAME - Chris Isaak
44 SHE'S SO YOUNG - The Pursuit of Happiness
45 CARNIVAL 2000 - Prefab Sprout
46 CYBELE'S REVERIE - Stereolab
47 WAIT - Robert Howard and Kym Mazelle
48 KEEP ON MOVIN' - Soul II Soul
49 SWEET CHILD O' MINE - Guns N' Roses
50 PSYCHO KILLER - Talking Heads

51 CANNONBALL - Breeders
52 YOUNG AMERICANS - David Bowie
55 WHERE IT'S AT - Beck
56 DON'T LET'S START - They Might Be Giants
59 LIPGLOSS - Pulp
60 HOT BURRITO #1 - Flying Burrito Brothers

61 LITTLE SISTER - Ry Cooder
62 HOLLAND, 1945 - Neutral Milk Hotel
63 ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK - Badly Drawn Boy
65 IT WAS A GOOD DAY - Ice Cube
66 I WANNA DESTROY YOU - The Soft Boys
67 THIS IS A CALL - Foo Fighters
68 CALIFORNIA LOVE - 2Pac feat Dr Dre + Roger Troutman
69 EVERYTHING FLOWS - Teenage Fanclub
70 MAP REF 41°N 93°W - Wire

73 THE WEIGHT - The Band
74 SUGARCUBE - Yo La Tengo
75 REGULATE - Warren G + Nate Dogg
77 HOMETOWN UNICORN - Super Furry Animals
78 STILL DRE - Dr Dre
79 TAKE A RUN AT THE SUN - Dinosaur Jr
80 YOU AND YOUR SISTER - This Mortal Coil

81 LORELEI - Cocteau Twins
82 NEVER TOO MUCH - Luther Vandross
83 I LOVE THE UNKNOWN - Clem Snide
84 WIRED FOR SOUND - Cliff Richard
86 SON OF SAM - Elliott Smith
87 LEARNING TO FLY - Tom Petty
88 B.O.B - Outkast
89 MAN, I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN - Shania Twain
90 SUGAR KANE - Sonic Youth

92 IN BLOOM - Nirvana
94 GROOVEJET (IF THIS AIN'T LOVE) - Spiller feat Sophie Ellis-Bextor
95 WINTER - Tori Amos
97 INTERGALACTIC - Beastie Boys
99 BREAKOUT - Swing Out Sister
100 THE EAGLE AND ME - Van Dyke Parks

What have I done?

Vera Brosgol asked me what my top ten songs of all time are. Obviously to work this out, I had to do a list of 100. Now things are out of control.

I had to make up some rules:

1. Has to have been a single
2. One song per artist
3. Songs must have achieved a certain vintage (4.5 years, ie 1/6 of my life) to ensure lasting appeal

Thank god the iTunes music store has sound clips or this would take all day.

Recent questions I have asked myself/statements I have made:
"Which is the best Erasure single?"
"It really never got worse than the Wildhearts, did it?"
"Motownphilly back again, with a little bit of east coast swing"
"Gulf War means JESUS JONES"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A poem for wednesday

2003 and all that

Do you remember
Way back in ought-three
We were all a little younger

It was the year that
Everyone lost it
And pretended
That "In An Aeroplane
Over The Sea"
Was the greatest record
Ever released*

We got carried away with
our thoughts and our feelings
Decided the Wrens
Were better than the Beatles*

It was a time to be young,
To be sad
To read Pitchfork

What happened to those days?


* It was pretty good but we had gone crazy
* The Wrens are pretty good but they probably aren't as good as the Beatles

Sunday, July 17, 2005

She has a dark quality

Painted this afternoon, acrylic on canvas, 18"x12".

Painting has a soothing way with me now, after the early disasters (they are in the bin). Unfortunately there are only about 4 months of the year that feature days where I can paint out of doors, so who knows if this will be a summer fling?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Facts about ME

Dear John

you are dark character, constantly pursued by a floating skull in a grainy photo that is the only way that we (the readers) can know you. You soundtrack your life with a selection of very carefully chosen "indie" records by the likes of Jacob's Crumbhammer (Canadian post-rock par excellence) and C86 favourites The Ironing Boards. You let the back of your iPod get all scratched so you wouldn't have to accidentally catch your own gaze. Sometimes you think about a girl you knew and draw her name in a biro tattoo under a unicorn on your arm. John, why is your favourite website Popjustice?

Kind regards
Your readers

Thursday, July 07, 2005


What a great, great day.

Oh, no wait. What I did there was say the exact opposite of the truth.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Horse and hattock, fly!

Here's day 2 of my experimental experimentation. It's just for fun, to look at. They aren't going to print this on bank notes.

Monday, July 04, 2005

More from the experiments desk

I'm still trying to make the brush work. Brushwork. Brushwork work. i figure I'll have to do a few dozen like this before the process is anything like predictable. So here's number 1. Maybe there will be another, it depends on problems.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Children of the devolution

Also yesterday I painted these pictures, simultaneously. At the same time. They're 18 inches tall, the same height as an enraged gnome at full elongation.

It has gone wrong

I doodled on a bit of scrap paper then inked it with a brush for practice. But when I looked at it, i realised that what I had done was give the Feds all the evidence they needed to put me away. Do not link to this image.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Live 8

I'm very excited about Live 8. Music is going to be a wasteland after this. Forty more years of corporate Coldplay rock and it's all we deserve for ragging the hell out of Africa.

I did enjoy Noel Gallagher's (extremely astute) take on Live 8 (from

"The outspoken OASIS guitarist believes rock stars simply don't have the influence needed to affect the G8 decision makers - and believes all their hard work will be in vain.

He says, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15 minute break at Gleneagles (in Scotland) and sees ANNIE LENNOX singing SWEET DREAMS and thinks, 'F**k me, she might have a point there, you know?'

"KEANE doing SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him... we should really f**king drop that debt, you know.'

"It's not going to happen, is it?" "

I laugh every time I think about that article. Well done Noel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


This blog is not getting updated very much, because what I write in it tends towards the irascible. That's not how things should be, in life I'm a happy man. I think that, much like the real-life shut-in basement-dwellers who turn loud and demonstrative on message boards, somehow the internet is inverting my true personality through its crystal prism.

Its crystal prism of EVIL.

I'm working on something new for the blog, something that will bring joy to the small ones. I apologise for the irascibility.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

San Diego 2005

Several people have asked me if I'll be exhibiting at San Diego Comic-con this year, as I have for the last four years. The answer is, no, I will not be there. This is partly because of boring human reasons, like having to pay my tax bill and car insurance, and partly because the Dumbrella booth has become some kind of tshirt-selling mission from God that reminds me a little bit too closely of my days working at Woolworths. When you're on holiday, yet you're working harder than you did for minimum wage in 1994, something is wrong.

Or put more simply, when you've flown halfway round the world at (as we say here in England) "massive expense", you shouldn't have a reason to be furious.

The other men of Dumbrella will be there this year, so of course get down there and see them if you're in the area. I will probably return in 2006, but I may reform in another form that allows me to actually enjoy the experience again.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Back to basics

I think humanity could be helped (as a whole) by people ceasing to ask each other "are you all right" or "how are you doing" as a greeting. Nobody wants to know how another human being is doing if the answer consists of more than three words. So when asked those questions, make sure you answer it properly.

Q. All right, Dave?
A. Well, I'm not sure. I've got two or three pimples on my bottom and I'm worried it might affect my chances of becoming a thong model. Plus, you know, I've always worried that my arms are a bit long. For general use.

A good time to ask if someone is all right is if they have fallen into a ditch, or are crying. Or crying blood. Or crying blood in a ditch.

Here are some alternative greetings to help the human race live better:

"Good morning"
"Good afternoon"
"Good evening"

Sunday, June 19, 2005

NME Chart Mediawatch

Sometimes I like to watch the NME Chart Show, a kind of viewer-voted list of records that is on MTV2. Obviously, I agree with some songs and disagree with others. Whenever I start wondering how anyone could raise their dander for a third generation copy of Interpol*, I stab myself in the arm with a pencil, because not everyone is as OLD and JADED as me.

ROCK FACT: Jack White's new and fancy ginger wife Karen Elson went to school in Chadderton, mere streets away from my house.
ROCK LIE: Jack and Karen are always round my house eating my pies.

* All the rage I feel about the existence of Interpol is dispersed because the Interpol $$$ keep Matador Records in pies.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I have been back on comic duty for a week now and it feels good. There is a white hot flame shooting through my body and the skeleton keeps saying "win!" This is a good sign.

The only bad thing that keeps happening is when I read those Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O'malley and realise that I "must try harder" where "trying harder" is not equal to "copying".

One of the most difficult things about running an international super-web-shop is keeping an eye on the exchange rate. When I appear to be jacking up prices willy-nilly, I'm not - I'm keeping them the same. Please try to remember this as I ruin your pocket-money dreams.

My body is very weak today because I painted the stairway and landing. there were some awkward corners. Awkward like you would not believe with your eyes and senses. I reckon it's going to take three coats because I'm painting on top of the most hideous Laura Ashley wallpaper. I realise that this is a dog rough thing to do but the plaster underneath is ancient.

So if I suddenly disappear from the internet world, don't worry, I've fallen off my ladder down the stairs and am dead. Don't weep for me.

You can help prevent my death by buying a copy of Skellington, my handsome book. Or as I like to fondly think of it, "the financial black hole of Calcutta".

Monday, June 06, 2005

A treatise on diseases

Invariably, when I stop working for any reason (such as Christmas, summer holiday, the Elk Parade), within a few days of relaxing, I get ill. I don't mean that in an old school rap sense, I mean that in a shivering, nose-blowing sense. A week of nebulous illness, characterised by malaise and my own repeated claims that I am going to die.

So when I took two weeks off the comic (two weeks ago), I, like Mr T in Rocky 3, predicted pain. But as the two weeks were filled with nothing but high-octane, high stress business tasks, pestilence never arrived.

Now my two weeks are over, wasted under a pile of shipping materials and tax returns, I have to return to work. Unfortunately though, since I made the classic mistake of relaxing on Thursday and Friday, I am now sick as a dog.

Except of course, now I have to work while ill. I can't really write when I'm sick, so next week's comics are probably going to be pictures of microbes and extrapolations of some of the confusing fever dreams I have experienced in between waking up and feeling hot ten-millionty times a night. It's going to be awful.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Back once again with the renegade master

I have emerged from my eye-topped tax pyramid. It's a good feeling, a feeling that says "success". Unfortunately the feeling of success only lasted about five minutes as I managed to make myself ill by playing GTA: San Andreas too much yesterday. Last night I had fever dreams where I was running around all over the city, and I woke up feeling like a broken clock. Now that ain't right.

For those who want to know (or just miss my stylings), my return to SGR is scheduled for some time during week commencing 13th June. But there is a big treat on Monday and Tuesday, Vera Brosgol has delivered the magic: twice!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Woe is me

I am doing my taxes. Normal service will be resumed when I stop doing my taxes.

In addition to 04/05 taxes, my return for 03/04 was so weird that HM tax inspector wants me to break down last year's expenses. Despite the fact that I did so on my tax return anyway. So I am having to deal with two years' taxes. It's a non-stop tax-a-thon.


Sunday, May 29, 2005


Men are hugging, good times have arrived.

I am composing a special interpretative dance!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I bought a ticket to New York last night. I'd vowed not to punch the sky or visit Freedom Eagle Land again this year, but I felt the demonds near, and the jungle telegraph told me there was a "Small Press Expo" in Bethesda, Maryland, in September. The next thing I knew, I was making "arrangements" with my allies. Also, at some point I am going to hook up with Richard Belzer and solve crimes.

I could probably have done the Belzer thing more economically, as he lives in France.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I have pushed my frame too far this time

Alas! Alack! I am a broken fellow. The only thing keeping me alive is yesterday's unexpected triumph in the field of improvisational soundproofing.

Dear reader, I still have my health. But having taken delivery of my "Skellington" books, I have been forced to package them up for my countrymen (and some Australians). One should never complain about ones own popularity, but I think envelopes and I are going to have a rest from one another for a while after I go to the post office tomorrow morning. Things aren't working out.

PLUS! I have been doing book personalisations. This is a fun job most of the time, except when I have to do forty in a day. By the end of that day I am an unrecognisable cripple, bent over like a young cypress in a gale. In fact, that's what I look like now!

When you are me, this is how things have to be. When there is a large job to do, I have to do it all at once, because until I do, it is like I'm sharing my house with a large, angry bear. I can hear my ears ringing with the pressure of it all!

Also I got crazy with some gravel in the back yard. This is a man's job, where you hope a doe-eyed sweetie-pie will at some point bring you a foaming mug of large (or heavy, if you like heavy). But no large for me. Or heavy!

Join me in wishing for better days, and that I might be a better man. The gravel spread true, but the man is having involuntary spasms all over.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Also, Happy Birthday Jeffrey Rowland. Here's your cake!

This Sunday I present

The Moldy Peaches and the guy from the Spin Doctors doing "Two Princes". (Requires Realplayer)

Lenny Bennett's Punchlines
Old Moldovan Lady With Drum

Wheeltappers and Shunters

Tonight I am going to Preston to see the Super Furry Animals. Do not tell me what happens on 24 or Nip/Tuck, I am taping them. In a sense I already know: in 24 Jack Bauer will snarl and whisper in a furious fashion. In Nip/Tuck, lascivious and decadent acts will take place with a keening moral undertow, but everyone keeps their bra on (even the men).

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A message to a man

Here is a picture I drew to wish my friend Andy Bell good luck, he is leaving the soft and loving arms of Nickelodeon for a dangerous freelance life.

Scant news today as I filled my body with cold liquids at a wedding reception last night. I have a profound sense of regret that I didn't eat anything from the buffet, but you see I had made an omelette earlier and my appetite was sated.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Space Wars, nothing but space wars

After Swami Fridays (terrible) and Cockney Fridays (underwhelming) on the mailing list, on the blog I will bring followers of my musical "lists" special musical Fridays with good sounds. Remember, buy music if you can afford it, don't download it for free from some sweaty dude who doesn't wash.

This week I had a Scott Miller revival, with super-intelligent sounds entering my head via my ears:

Game Theory - "Lolita Nation" (Enigma, 1987)

Loud Family - "Interbabe Concern" (Alias, 1996)

I always believed that the Dismemberment Plan would sound like Pac Man choking on a wasp, but after years of careful avoidance, I found that this just wasn't true:

Dismemberment Plan - "Emergency and I" (De Soto, 1999)

The Hold Steady are 50% Springsteen, 50% Husker Du. Do you see how that could be? A right racket!

The Hold Steady - "Separation Sunday" (French Kiss, 2005)

I will understand if you don't want to hear my sounds and prefer to watch "Space Wars 3", but let's face it, George Lucas is hiding something behind his pompadour and too-neat beard. It may just be your hard earned money spent watching terrible films.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Automotive disasters update

Fans of my ability to wreck my car may be interested to hear how much hitting a gatepost costs. The answer is £1500! My car smells of valeting "fluids", it's like an embalmed zombie car. Its character seems to have changed, it is angry and thirsty for revenge. Tomorrow I will take to the roads in a gate-smashing rampage, incapable of controlling my limbs, brain or (probably) bladder.

Webcomic Firsts Pt 1

I'm not one to toot my own cornet but I have been responsible for several "web-comic firsts" over the years. I was the first person (I think) to have a message board for their comic, back in 19-oh-99, I was the first person to call a fellow comics creator an "extremely rude, upside-down headed bastard", and also the first webcomics creator to have to apologise for the previous comment. I believe I'm also the first person in webcomics to have to be physically restrained from punching another comic's business manager for moving tables around in a restaurant when I was trying to enjoy my dinner.

I'm not absolutely sure I would have punched him, I imagine it would have been more of a flying leap, then some grappling. But I am positive that I am the first. I'm not proud, but I'm pretty sure my red mist was justified.

So today, another webcomics first! When you look at the comic, you'll see. Once again, I'm sorry. I always regret my firsts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Here is my blog, where you can enjoy hearing the the sort of things I think. This is the blog way.

Nothing to say today. Nothing nice anyway. I could unleash a stream of cusses at my many and varied enemies, such as Des Jam-Sandwich, Roger Porkpie and Lord Crispin Hove-Stompington - but what good would it do? I could outline here exactly how their shadowy business dealings and poorly developed morals have cast a blight across not only my life, but that of the orphanage/workhouse I sponsor, but I am not a man for petty, snide asides.

Far be it from me to say that Mr Jam-Sandwich frequently cannot tell the difference between the lavatory and the pantry, that Mr Porkpie has fathered four bastards, none of whose upkeep he pays for, and that Lord Hove-Stompington has twice killed members of the lower classes in his horse and four and gotten away with it, Scot-free!

If you have nothing nice to say, I say, say nothing at all.