shewhomust: (watchmen)
  • Intrigued by remarks on my friends' page, and elsewhere, we tracked down Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on The One Show. Which was fine, but not as interesting as a short film from the European Stone Stacking Championship (don't miss the picture gallery).



  • We spent last Saturday at Wonderlands, a perfect mini comics / graphic novels con. Went to several panels, wandered round the hall, talked to lots of people, had a great time - there ought to be more to say about it, but no. Take the title of this post as an indication of my esteem. And have a quote from Martin Rowson, on the primacy of drawing: "Writing is just a by-product of accountancy."


  • It was at Wonderlands that Mel Gibson told us about her late father, Jeff Johnson: I hadn't heard of him, or seen his work, but I rather like the painting reproduced in that obituary.


  • On Saturday evening we went to The Dragon and the Bone Queen, half performance, half illustrated lecture based on the work of Records of Early English Drama North-East: there was a procession led by the Boy Bishop (Durham always has to be different, and marked Whitsuntide with not one but two Boy Bishops, one for Durham itself and one for Elvet), there was music, both singing and instrumental, there was a dragon, there was the Dance of Death, as represented by the Bone Queen and her attendants:

    The Bone Queen and her attendants


  • It was a beautiful evening, as you can see from the light flooding in through the window and fogging the photo. We walked home from the Music School by the scenic route, and admired the evening light on the Cathedral, not to mention the moon...

    Moon and stone
shewhomust: (watchmen)
- three times, it seems, is Brian K. Vaughan.

No, I don't regard him as enemy action, so perhaps I'd better unpack that. I came home from the Graphic Novels Reading Group with the big hardback of Runaways, loaned to me by a fellow-member of the group, full of praise and enthusiasm for the title. I spotted a trade paperback of Saga, waiting to be written up for my book diary, and a single issue of Paper Girls, which had just arrived with my comics order. If you asked me to list my favourite comics authors, you'd be waiting a long time for me to reach the name of Brian K. Vaughan. Yet somehow three of his titles have converged on my reading list, and of those Saga (fabulous art by Fiona Staples) certainly is on my list of the best comics currently being published (if only the gaps between the collections weren't so long). How did that happen without my noticing it?

Let me try to answer that question. )
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
1. Hull...
The Guardian offers an insider's guide to the City of Culture, including a hotel recommendation. Not that I'm planning a cultural jaunt to Hull, but it might be worth a stopover if we were, say, taking the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge. And we might be planning something of the kind. First, though, I need to renew my passport.


2. ...and high water
It's been raining, and when we crossed the river on the way to the pool yesterday morning we were both impressed by how fast the water was flowing. Also, vacation is over, and the student swimmers are back, occupying a third of the pool and making waves.


3. ...with gently smiling jaws
The press report as good news Donald Trumps statement that he'll be only too happy to do business with a post-Brexit Britain, and none of this nonsense about delay or going to the back of the queue. Folks, when a businessman tells you that he's only to happy to make this deal, and don't you worry your little head about those pesky details - well, maybe that's the time to slow down.


4. From Hartlepool...
The Reading Group has been discussion comics set in England, and as always, relying heavily on members contributing items from our own collections - but this week I've been reading a book from the library's collection, The Hartlepool Monkey by Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau. This is a first in the current discussion, I think, a French perspective on an aspect of England - though publisher Knockabout are very discreet about that origin: only a little sticker on the cover, saying "Winner of the Rendez-vous de l'histoire Award 2013 gives the game away. Identifying the book as historical BD, a mainstream genre in France, makes a lot of sense, and the story - that during the Napoleonic wars the people of Hartlepool hanged a monkey as a French spy, earning themselves the nickname 'monkey-hangers' - has become more widely known since the electoral success of Stuart Drummond.

Lupano's narrative is carefully pitched: there's just enough pathos to season the farce. The people of Hartlepool don't come out of it well, though to be fair, nor does the French captain who appears briefly in the opening scenes; Moreau's art has a scratchy, cartoony quality that reminds me of Ronald Searle, and his scribbled landscapes give a fair impression of Hartlepool's Headland (there are some samples in this review).

There's a sting in the tail in the closing pages, with the identification of the doctor who has involuntarily broken his journey in the town and witnessed the grotesque events, accompanied by his young son. I'm ambivalent about this: as far as I can discover it has no historical basis, and the respect with which he is treated (visually, in his clear lines and blocks of colour, as well as verbally) suggests what while the poor are fair game for satire, the wealthy are exempt. It's a neat little twist, though, to close the story which otherwise does just what it says on the tin.


5. ...to La La Land
To the cinema yesterday, for La La Land, accompanied by J. who did not like it At All. This may have cast a dampener on my own reaction, best summarised as:Fun movie, what's all the fuss about? We both enjoyed the references to classic films, but we both thought it went on too long. And really, if you're going to remind me of Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris, you risk me feeling that that was very nice, but actually I'd rather be watching Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
We were out every evening of the week just finished, Monday to Friday. Mostly early evening engagements - in fact, I'd been mentally composing a post about our four eveings out, and then realised that I was overlooking the only actual late night of the lot! Nothing exciting or unusual, except to be doing something every night of the week, so:

  • On Monday, there was the monthly meeting of the local residents' association. Not the most entertaining evening, but useful and necessary.


  • On Tuesday I went to the Graphic Novels Reading Group: we are discussing 'comics set in England', which produced a much longer reading list than we expected, and there are strands to be followed about stories which are to some extent about the part of England in which they are set (Rivers of London, Big Numbers, Alice in Sunderland), stories which just happen to be set (in whole or in part) in England because they have to be set somewhere, and not to mention such confections as Marvel's Captain Britain (as originally conceived and before it fell into the hands of British writers)... Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler went to a talk about Fountains Abbey and Stusley Royal (and returned saying "we should visit again..." which is fine by me).


  • Wednesday is pub quiz night! I almost forgot! Our once-a-week late night has become such a part of our routine, and we find ourselves protecting our Wednesday evenings so we don't miss it.


  • On Thursday the local Green Party organised a meeting about what they are calling The Durham Future City Plan: which is a good idea, and I was interested to hear Caroline Lucas speak - but I was disappointed not to hear more specific proposals about what such a plan might contain. Long on questions, short on answers.


  • Friday night is party night: the MP's pre-Christmas drinks reception. That sounds much more formal than it was - a scrum of people in the corridor outside Roberta's office (since her office is in the Miners' Hall at Redhills, it's quite a good corridor), the best of the conversation always seeming to be in the kitchen, people milling about urging you to eat or drink, that sort of party. Then home to a Chinese takeaway and what's on television?
shewhomust: (watchmen)
I deliberately hadn't visited the sales areas in the Clocktower before Sunday: shops in town would be closed, these wouldn't, and there'd be plenty of time before our one event of the day. After a leisurely breakfast we plunged in. I was - um - reasonably restrained: I bought a number of comics, and a poster, but I resisted the puffin mug and the hand-knitted mythical mice:

Mythical mice


I had planned to buy a copy of The Red Virgin, but Page 45 had sold out: there might be some available after the talk that afternoon. We'd heard Bryan and Mary talking about the book the previous year, but would probably have gone to hear it again, if it hadn't clashed with Dave McKean's performance. I'm not regretting that choice: Black Dog - The Dreams of Paul Nash is a sound-and-vision rendering of McKean's new book, an extraordinary fusion of McKean's voice and art with that of Paul Nash. I hadn't planned to buy the book, but now I want to (having been launched the previous day, it was already sold out, which was probably just as well as far as my budget is concerned). I see they are repeating the performance alongside the exhibition at the Tate. and I recommend it (also see that the exhibtion will in due vourse come to the Laing, which is more good news). Still dazed and overwhelmed, we trotted back to the Clocktower, bought our copy of The Red Virgin and had it signed, chatted briefly to Kate Charlesworth about the event we had just shared, and how it was sparking thoughts about her work-in-progress -

- and that's it for another year. Not quite all - with pictures. )
shewhomust: (watchmen)
As a PS to yesterday's post, not exactly part of the Windows Trail, but from the streets of Kendal, Martin Rowson's brand new mural - the staff of Ruskins Bar were still busy mopping drips of paint from the wall below:

Heroes and Villains


Note that the inclusion of LibDem leader Tim Farron is more than a piece of three-party even-handedness - he is the local MP and the mural is within a minute's walk of his constituency offices. Ouch!
shewhomust: (watchmen)
I think it's just luck of the draw that our selection of events at this year's festival has been weighted toward the visual artists.

First up, Duncan Fegredo, working on an image of Hellboy while conversing with Sean Phillips. Im always interested to hear artists talking about their process, and the ability to turn a camera on the drawing board so that I can see it happening at the same time - well, that's a great bonus for me. I'm a great admirer of Fegredo's work - I wasn't surprised when a closer examination revealed that this particularly eye-catching reinterpretation of Beatrix Potter was his - although (and I was already saying this when we came to the first Lakes Festival) Hellboy I can take or leave. Still, Fegredo seems to be enjoying working on it, and we take what we can get. And for once the format of two pals chatting actually worked: it doesn't always, but this time it paid off.

Lunch break, in the bar at the Brewery, because the restaurant area where we ate last year had been turned into a guests-only green room. But all the cool kids were in the bar, honest. The man at the table next to ours had a stylish hat, and a notebook in which he was both writing and sketching, and I was so curious. I recommend the Festival beer (dry and seriously hoppy) and the vegetarian pizza of the day (spinach,artichoke and blue cheese), but the timing failed, and [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler was denied his dessert. He helped me out with my ice cream (liquorice good, 'thunder and lightning' a bit nondescript) but it's not the same. Over by the door, three young men with beards were discussing the his-and-hers matching tattoos of a couple of their acquantance (was one of them'him'? Don't know). I won't say what the image was, because evidently one of them had passed on information which was supposed to be secret, and another of them had been telling everyone, because he thought it was cool and didn't know it was supposed to be secret. Oh, dear...

Gilbert Shelton in conversation with Warren Bernard was a fun ramble through the life and high times of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: it wasn't long on introspection, but turned up some unexpected facts and connections. I would never have guessed that the Brothers started out in Texas, for example. I was tempted to title this post 'I sang with Janis Joplin', because Shelton did, apparently, back when she was a folk singer (he claims to have tried to turn her on to the blues, but she wasn't interested...). The session ended with Gilbert Shelton quoting T.S. Eliot (in answer, of course, to the question "Does Fat Freddy's cat have a name?")

A quick visit to Knockabout's kingdom in the Maltroom, just long enough to take Tony Bennet's aadvice about which edition of Jerusalem to buy (I went for the three slipcased volumes, which is allegedly easier to read), then on to the final session of the day, Martin Rowson ("in confrontation", it says here, with John McShane - but McShane's job was mostly to keep the slide show in sync while Rowson held forth). I don't think I had a mental image of Martin Rowson, but I hadn't expected him to be tall, urbane, suited: I thought of a young George Melly. Otherwise, much like his cartoons, only funnier (I find his cartoons angry rather than funny, and it's hard to find fault with that).

We had a short walk round town to look at the comics-themed shop windows, but we didn't really have the energy to do much more than come home for the evening.
shewhomust: (watchmen)
The gala opening event of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival was a battle for supremacy between Asterix and Tintin - that 'Toon Titans' phrasing is not mine.

If I thought Durham Book Festival had put a lot of effort into staging (last week's panel sat in front of a mock-rustic fence, its planking festooned with garlands of greenery and fairy lights), it was as nothing to the staging of last night's debate. Team Tintin (Benoît Peeters, Leah Moore and Stewart Medley) sat on deeply buttoned leather sofas, surrounded by period furnishings - a desk, a potted plants, a blue and white vase; Team Asterix (Peter Kessler, Charlie Adlard and Graham Dury of Viz) were protected by a stockade of sharpened stakes on which hung a couple of Roman helmets. Charlie Adlard also wore a helmet, whose Viking origins were betrayed by its horns and its golden plaits, but still, full marks for effort. The podium carried the mascots of the opposing sides, two fluffy white dods, and Hannah Berry kept order, more or less. As if this weren't enough, each speaker's contribution was summarised by on-the-spot cartoons from Luke and Steve McGarry.

It was a genuine debate, with good contributions from both sides. I thought that on the whole, Team Tintin had the better arguments, and I'd be happy to hear Benoît Peeters lecture on the subject some time. Te am Asterix were funnier. When it came to the final show of hands, the vote went 99 for Asterix, 98 for Tintin. Which suits me fine, as I'm pretty much team Asterix myself - I admire Hergé's visual art, but the books have never held me. Asterix is all about the words, and so am I. (Ah, but whose words? Two names missing from the conversation were those of Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.)

The session also included the handover of the post of Comics Laureate from Dave Gibbons to Charlie Adlard, and what with one thing and another ended quite late:

Moon over Kendal


What will today bring?
shewhomust: (watchmen)
I have just read three "graphic novels" in a row. I didn't select them to prove any sort of point, I just read what was to hand at the time; but if I'd had to pick three texts to demonstrate that comics are not a genre but a medium, I couldn't have made a better choice. Three narratives told in words and pictures and collected between covers: glowing colours and scratchy black and white; the sublime, the ridiculous and the tragic; fact and fantasy; truth and fiction. I'm not (honestly I'm not!) as hung up on definitions and terminology as what follows may suggest. I didn't, as I read these three books, constantly ask myself: does this meet this or that pre-set criterion? But as I write about them now, patterns emerge...

The Sandman: Overture
Neil Gaiman / J.H. Williams III

I don't often buy graphic novels in hardback, but this is the one to make an exception for: whatever else it is, it is a truly gorgeous object. Visually, it does live up to the hype. But "A tale two decades in the making" (as the back jacket claims)? I don't think so. It's entirely readable, better than readable, and I was glad not to be having to wait the lengthy periods between publication of the single issues. But Neil Gaiman has not been perfecting this story through all the twenty years since he completed The Sandman, he has been doing other things. It's not exactly the contract compliance album, but it's not exactly not, either.

It is, as it says, an overture to the Sandman epic, whose action it immediately precedes: why were a bunch of would-be magicians able to capture and imprison one of the Endless? Because Morpheus was returning exhausted from an adventure that had taken all his strength. As a result of his past actions, the universe is in danger, and he must - or at least, he decides to - save it. Part of my problem with this book is a recurring one for me: the greater the scale of what is at stake, the less I can believe in it, and the less I care. I care less about whether the Universe is about to end (quite apart from the fact that I already know it isn't, because this is a prequel and I know what comes next) than I do about whether Rose will find her brother, and what will happen to Wanda, or why Delight became Delirium (there's a teasing glimpse of that process, just to remind us what we are missing).


Silver Surfer: Worlds Apart
Dan Slott / Mike Allred

I brought this home from the Graphic Novels Reading Group, where we had first dibs on a pile of graphic novels recently purchased by the library. It's a "graphic novels" in the sense that it collects five single issues into one square bound volume with slightly heavier covers - which is to say, not at all, it's just several comics in one convenient handful. It doesn't even - and I hadn't realised this until I started to read - start at the beginning: it's the second collection of this iteration of the Silver Surfer.

This is intended less as a grouch than as a disclaimer: it's a perfectly good jumping on point, but I wasn't entirely clear what I had jumped onto. The problem wasn't in following the story: there's a handy one page introdction "Together, The Silver Surfer and Dawn conquered cosmic villainy and saved the day!" Now they surf the cosmos together, like Doctor Who and his companion. This starts out pure fun: he gets irritated by her need for food and rest, he buys her the greatest ice cream in the universe and removes her tonsils. Allred's madcap art reinforces the humour, so I was completely wrong-footed when, without a missed step, or a change of tone, the narrative reminded me just who the Silver Surfer is and how he came to be so, and things got darker and sadder.

Perhaps if I'd read volume one I'd have been expecting that? Is this a change in the overall tone, or was a I misled by a single issue interlude of pure fun in the middle of a serious narrative? Does it matter? Well, I'd like to know - and now I want to read both what came before and what comes after. Which I suppose is a recommendation.

Then I'd also know whether it is ever explained why Dawn addresses the board as 'Toomie'? I'm hoping not - I rather liked having to work it out.


Rosalie Lightning
Tom Hart

Property of the person with whom I make a joint comics order, and sneaked out of his pile awaiting collection. I think this is completely in order: call it administrator's perks. Rosalie Lightning is the odd one out of the sample in being a big, serious book, and in that sense more graphic novel than comics, while being non-fiction and therefore not any kind of novel at all. Paradoxically, as a personal account of an intensely lived experience, it falls neatly into one of the most fruitful branches of the graphic medium, the autobiograpical "graphic novel".

Tom Hart's infant daughter Rosalie Lightning died suddenly, without warning and without apparent cause: I deleted the word 'tragically' because how could this not be tragic? The book is both an account of that devastating period of his life and part of the process by which he survived it: writing and drawing, keeping a diary of events, emotions, memories, is as much a part of his grieving as the events, emotions and memories it describes. It is not artless, but it is very raw, and I feel as if a stranger had walked up to me and poured out all this grief. How do you react to something like that?

Well, not by writing a review.


shewhomust: (watchmen)
After skipping a year, we returned to Kendal for the third Lakes Comic Art Festival. We rented the Marketplace Hideaway: hidden away indeed, to the extent that, when we arrived yesterday evening, after road closures leaving Barnard Castle, after a scenic drive through scenic Cumbria, with sun and clouds (mostly clouds) making patterns on the hillsides, after twice round Kendal's one way system, and braving signs saying "No Entry Except Deliveries", because we were delivering ourselves and our belongings, weren't we? - when, after all this, we identified our landmarks between which we would allegedly find our path, we still couldn't see it. Closer still, though, and all was as described, and we have a choice of bedrooms, a small but perfectly adequate kitchen, a bathroom and a downstairs lounge. (TripAdvisor has some photos.) There was no wifi - which is to say that if you stood outside in the garden, Kendal Wifi was intermittent, and [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler connected with the Cloud, probably via Caffe Nero next door. So I wrote this a bit at a time over the weekend, and am uploading it now with (I hope) a minimum of editing - I'd rather put my time into adding pictures and links than fretting about tenses.

It's all about the crabs )

Revolution in the Council Chamber )

Lunch at the Castle Dairy )

Vinyl is not dead. )

It's all about the yards )

From the pub to here - via the Sydney Opera House )

Why we didn't make the McKean treble )

Coda in Elephant Yard. )
shewhomust: (watchmen)
We spent Saturday at the Wonderlands Graphic Novels Expo in Sunderland. I had a great time, and [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler enjoyed it too: having retained the option of leaving when he'd had enough, he stayed until the end, when they were closing the venue around us. There was a full - maybe even overfull! - programme of talks: I didn't want to miss any of them, but I did also want to visit all the exhibitors, and simply take a breather. I had some great conversations - as I'd suspected, wearing my very old Swamp Thing t-shirt was a good icebreaker (my excuse is that it was our first day home from holiday, and I'd barely started on the laundry, but yes, there may have been a touch of showing off, too).

I was very restrained about buying things, and came away with just three purchases: Bryan Talbot's Grandville Noël, which I had been waiting to buy where Bryan could sign it for me; Darryl Cunningham's Supercrash, because I asked [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler which of the graphic novels recommended by Paul Gravett he would be most likely to read (thinking there was a good chance he'd choose something that I already had, and if I didn't have it, [livejournal.com profile] samarcand probably would) and this is what he chose, without hestitating; and an animal print by Jenn Begley just because.

I didn't take a notebook: I didn't expect to need one. Instead, I scribbled all over the back of the page on which I had printed out instructions for finding the event:
  • Paul Gravett, having trouble timing his talk: "Is someone going to stop me? I am the Ken Dodd of comics..."

  • and on the first graphic novel, Rodolphe Töpffer's Histoire de M. Vieux Bois published, as a book, in 1837 (meaning that the very first comic was actually a graphic novel): "We should celebrate Comics Day on his birthday" (it's January 31st). Goethe wrote him a fan letter, which makes him the first fanboy.

  • Dylan Horrocks: "Comics is always a collaboration, even when you're doing it by yourself."

  • SHE LIVES: Woodrow Phoenix and his impossible giant book.

  • Posy Simmonds on the joys of overheard dialogue: "I love queues - In fact, I often join queues..." (which reminds me of Ann Cleeves talking about what she overhears on trains).

  • on receiving letters pointing out errors: "I am never going to draw a train again."

  • and "What I like about comics is, they're so democratic."

  • Al Davison on an unexpected connection with Sally Heathcote Suffragette: "Emily Wilding Davison was my great-aunt."

  • on the meaning of the title Spiral Cage, a phrase he had used to describe the way society limits the disabled person with shifting restrictions: you overcome one aspect, and the cage changes, so that you are still trapped. But once Alan Moore pointed out, in his introduction, that DNA is a spiral cage, how could this not be the true meaning?

  • and on the difficulties of explainig to bookshops that although this was a comic, it was also an autobiography. Turning up to a signing in Waterstones, he found himself directed to the SF section.

  • The last event of the schedule, a panel of publishers discussing the current state of graphic novels - and the future! - was the most cheerful view of publishing I have seen in a long time. Then again, it didn't have too much to say about the future...

  • The best selling graphic novel in Japan which is not manga: Möbius and Jodorovsky's L'Incal.

Wonderlands was part of the 'Alice is 150' celebrations - but I hope they do it again next year, when Alice is 151!

ETA the final two points, discovered on a separate piece of paper!

Eurovision

May. 24th, 2015 05:50 pm
shewhomust: (guitars)
Specially for [livejournal.com profile] athenais, the Scandinavia and the World version.

Why yes, we were watching: I baled after the songs, but [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler stayed up until the bitter end of the voting. I thought the songs themselves were unmemorable, but there were some interesting themes in there. Anyone who elected to sing in their own language gets bonus points from me, but the stand-out WTF Eurovision moment was surely Serbia's entry, "Let it Go" from Frozen as it would have been if Elsa had been played by Meat Loaf.
shewhomust: (watchmen)
The massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is one of those horrible events about which it feels wrong to remain silent, and yet about which I have nothing helpful to say. I've been trying and failing to put my thoughts in order. Then this morning brought the news that the Mayor of Paris had called a special council meeting to declare Charlie Hebdo an Honorary Citizen of Paris. I don't know what to say about this, either, but if Charlie Hebdo doesn't have something rude to say about this well-intentioned mark of respect from the establishment - well, then it isn't the magazine I thought it was!

It's true that when I think of Charlie Hebdo, I think first of all of its predecessor Hara-Kiri, whose masthead declared it a journal bête et méchant. The story goes that the editors received a letter from an disgruntled reader, saying in effect that "you are stupid, and what's more, you're nasty, too" and, delighted with the accuracy of this summary, they made it their rallying cry. This, surely, is the spirit in which Charlie Hebdo (re)published the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Salman Rushdie puts it in measured terms when he says: "I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. 'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion'. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

On this basis I, too, stand with Charlie Hebdo; but I've never bought a copy, nor of Hara-Kiri, either. My disrespect is not as fearless as theirs, but I don't enjoy their satirical savagery either. I was, during the year I spent in France, in the early 70s, a regular purchaser of the monthly Charlie magazine (which didn't yet need to identify itself by adding the distinction 'mensuel' in the title, because the weekly magazine had not yet become Charlie Hebdo). This was a comics magazine, an eclectic mixture of strips in which translations of Andy Capp and Peanuts (from which it took its title) sat alongside the rather sleazy eroticism of Paulette, drawn by Georges Pichard and scripted by Wolinski, who was also at the time the editor in chief. I think there were also some of Wolinski's own cartoons - I have a vague memory of some rather scribbly little drawings with a cynical sense of humour, but they didn't appeal to me enough to stay clearly in my memory, and the internet is not being helpful. That's just my taste: Wolinski was well enough regarded in the comics world to be given the Grand prix de la ville d'Angoulême - a sort of lifetime achievement award - by the annual comics festival. He was enough part of my mental furniture that my first reaction on learning he was among the dead on Wednesday was that I hadn't realised he was still alive. He was 80.

The widely reposted affirmation Je suis Charlie has been echoing in my mind with the soixante-huitard slogan Je suis Marxiste (tendance Groucho), and that's the riff I've taken for my title. But the truth is that I am not really Charlie at all. Je suis Pilote: Pilote was my publication of choice, the magazine of Astérix and Obélix, among so many other great strips. And that's where I met Cabu, another of the victims of Wednesday's attack: which is why I was surprised to find him classified among the pitiless satirists, because I associate him with Le Grand Duduche, a gangling teenage schoolboy. I refer you, with apologies, to the Telegraph obituary, because I can't find anything in the Guardian.

In other words, someone else will have to write tributes to all those killed, and what great people they were, and what talented artists - and fortunately the internet is full of people doing just that. All I have is: wait, I know these people! These are comics people! File under No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind... except that perversely, humanly, I am the less because the manor that has been washed away is my friends'.
shewhomust: (watchmen)
Buying the Top Shelf edition of The Bojeffries Saga makes the third time I have bought some of these stories: I already own many of them in Warrior, and the 1992 collection from Tundra. And I don't care - they still make me laugh. Words by Alan Moore, from those golden days when he still thought writing comics was worth doing, pitch-perfect art by Steve Parkhouse - and since there is no separate lettering credit, presumably Steve Parkhouse did that, too, and it's worth saying so, because it is wonderful.

I've always had a soft spot for Ginda Bojeffries, the daughter of the family. How could you not love someone who yells at the unwary stranger who has addressed her as 'young lady': "I am NOT a 'young lady'! I am a PERSON! - I have thoughts and feelings TOO, you know! - You find the idea of a female who can cause nuclear explosions by squinting up one eye threatening to your manhood, DON'T you?" and ends up slamming the door in his face with a cry of "And don't come back until you're PROPERLY EVOLVED!"

As you see, this isn't a review. I know my limitations, and the nearest I could come to a review would be quoting all my favourite bits - and that's not fair to anyone.

Yesterday I read a friend's copy of Nemo: The Roses of Berlin, the latest bulletin from the world of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Kevin O'Neill's artwork is gorgeous (if you can look at the scarlet pages and see the glorious colours rather than the blood and flames) and the book itself is a handsome object. But the story is a grotesque parody of a Boys Own yarn, a prop for all the clever allusions, not so much a story as a crossword puzzle. It's a challenge to the reader: can you stomach the violence? well, then, can you recognise all these cultural allusions? Think you're so clever, do you? All right, then, can you read German? Yes, I can, up to a point, and I did, but I didn't get much out of it.

The one new story in the Bojeffries collection, After They Were Famous, also requires the reader to decipher some of the speech, as accents are rendered phonetically (hyper-phonetically? and how would Moore's own voice look, given this treatment?). I didn't like it very much. It has some funny moments, but not enough of them or funny enough. Its depiction of the modern day reminded me of the end of LOEG: Century, which I didn't like either, finding it petty and mean-spirited. Or perhaps I just don't like who Ginda Bojeffries has turned into.

But that's not what I set out to say. The good stuff is still good, that's the main thing. In fact, I had forgotten just how good it is.
shewhomust: (watchmen)
This post has been on the simmer for a while: now it's time to wash its face and send it out into the world:

What we did on Sunday )

The South Lakes Comic Art Festival - What we think of it so far )

And then it was all over, and we drove twice around the town trying to find our way into Booths, which is a very superior supermarket, and provided us with some promising bottles of wine and a few treats for our tea. And home through showers: one side of the road all tattered rainbows pinned to dark clouds, the other golden sunshine. Barnard Castle glowed above the Tees as we waited at the lights to cross the bridge. And home...
shewhomust: (watchmen)
Or, since he is the driver, he took me. We have come for the Comics Festival, crossing the Pennines in cloud so low there was no view at all, and then getting completely lost in Kendal because we relied on our satnav to guide us to our hotel. We found it eventually, right opposite this building:

VBridge Mills


Disappointingly, it's an office block.

We found the Clock Tower at the Town Hall, finally got our hands on a paper copy of the programme, found the Brewery Arts Center where we picked up our tickets (and gave the exhibition of Sean Phillips' arts a quick once over). Then we found somewhere to eat (Pumpkins Bistro, recommended) and worked out our schedule for tomorrow.
shewhomust: (watchmen)
In haste, so I apologise for just linking to images, and leaving the reader to do the hard work of comparison.

The current issue of comics catalogue Previews promotes a new comic called Velvet: The story focuses on Velvet Templeton, a personal assistant to world's largest intelligence agency in the vein of Moneypenny from the James Bond films. She has to leave desk job to go back into the field, on the run from her own agents in the new series. Here's the cover image, featuring the eponymous Velvet.

Er, that's June Tabor, isn't it?

So that's what she's been up to...
shewhomust: (watchmen)
I spent today at the Canny Comic Con, a free mini-convention held at Newcastle City Library. A room full of stalls, a strand of talks through the day, the odd storm-trooper wandering around to add visual interest but a tight focus on actual comics, from the smallest of small presses up: the first people I saw when I walked in were Mary and Bryan Talbot (that's Costa Biography Prize shortlisted Mary and Bryan Talbot), then I saw Mel Gibson, and then [livejournal.com profile] samarcand. I enjoyed Mel Gibson's talk on "Bunty and her pals" - a stroll down memory lane for women (and men) of a variety of ages, and a look at how comics for girls had a wider remit than you might have expected - and Bryan Talbot's description of his working process. A panel on "Pictures of Me - comics and autobiography" sent me off to find out more about the participants, especially Ingi Jensson and Lydia Wysocki - my only complaint is that a few illustrations would really have enriched this session. And the closing quiz, with Stacey Whittle channeling Sandi Toksvig was so much fun that [livejournal.com profile] samarcand and I had to be told to hush in the front row for fear of giving the answers away (mostly [livejournal.com profile] samarcand explaining things to me). There were some good conversations with friends from the Readers of the Lost Art and elsewhere, and I may even have snuck out at lunch-time and done a little Christmas shopping...

Back home over pizza and a bottle of 2006 Vacqueyras which managed to be fruity and delicious despite being only half an hour out of the cold cellar, reading the Guardian's books pages, I found Bryan again, selecting the illustration which meant most to him (from Doré's Dante, and I can't find it in the online edition).

Only downside to the day, my back is playing up. I've been sitting down with great caution, and standing up with even greater. Time to go to bed, and see if lying down helps.

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