Nasty Tales

Nov 29, 2008

This week I have mostly been reading “Nasty Tales”. The book is an ideal introduction into the murky world of British underground and alternative comics.

The ones I acquired tended to be bought in record shops before shops specifically selling comic books appeared. Although some magazines re-printed the American stuff from Robert Crumb etc many of our great artists like Hunt Emerson and Bryan Talbot began their carreers in odd little comics with low print runs.

Although noted for his adult strips (which often appeared in “adult” publications) Hunt Emerson has now become “respectable” and has a comic strip in “The Beano” that still appears weekly despite now being 70 years old. (thats the Beano comic thats 70…not Hunts strip!!)

I first noticed Bryan Talbot’s artwork in UK Fanzines and then in the underground comic “Brainstorm Comix” in the late 1970s. After periods working for 2000AD and DC comics by way of such influential material as “Luther Arkwright” and “The Story of One Bad Rat” in 2007 he released the ambitious and acclaimed “Alice in Sunderland”.

Mary Coughlan

Nov 26, 2008

“A Leaf from a Tree” could well be the most perfectly crafted song I’ve ever heard. Its available on the album “Uncertain Pleasures” from 1990. I’ve just ordered the CD to replace my tatty LP and single and couldn’t believe how cheap it was from that Amaz(ing)on mega-mail order company.

Incidentally the new CD  “The House of Ill Repute” is now out and, after a period in Australia, Mary will be playing in the UK in March 2009.  

More Bojeffries Saga

Nov 23, 2008

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I wish I was more organised. After much searching I’ve just unearthed Warren’s 1984 issue number 4. A quick glance reveals a fascinating tale about the Martians. H.G.Well’s War of the Worlds actually happened and the Martians have finally returned for a second invasion 80 years later. And I’m looking forward to reading about the further adventures of the beautiful Idi Amin !!

Warren Comics Advert

Nov 18, 2008

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I still think the Warren stuff really ought to be re-issued (in colour).

Down with Skool

Nov 15, 2008

As any fule kno one of the funniest children’s books ever written was this. I only had a tatty paperback reprint until the other day when I found this first edition from the mid 1950s unnoticed and unloved in a local charity shop.

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Other books in the seies are “Whizz for atomms”,”How to be topp” and “Back in the jug agane”. Author and former teacher Geoffrey Willans died in 1958 at the age of 47.

Although I have collected/read/sold/destroyed comics for over 40 years I’ve never made any particular effort to visit blogs and websites run by the comic creators themselves. (Although I did visit Steve Gerber’s blog regularly in the last year of his life and for a time I looked at Mark Evanier’s extensive ouevre and that’s about it.) Quite by chance today I found myself in the middle of Todd Klein’s blog. That is a name I have seen regularly for the last 30 years or so as a letterer of umpteen (how many I wonder) comics. It was nice to find out more about the person and personality that until today was just a name. Amongst Todd’s hobbies and interests is collecting children’s novels. In fact he seems to be an authority on the subject. I wonder if he is familiar with this book? 

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A month of nights, a year of days
Octobers drifting into Mays
I set my sail when the tide comes in
I just cast my fate to the wind.

I shift my course along the breeze
Won’t sail up wind on memories.
The empty sky is my best friend.
I just cast my fate to the wind.

A month of nights, a year of days
Octobers drifting into Mays.
I set my sail when the tide comes in.
I just cast my fate to the wind.

Unusually it was the instrumental version as recorded by Sounds Orchestral that was the biggest hit on both sides of the Atlantic. But I still prefer Shelby’s 1966 short and sweet version of  “Cast your fate to the wind”.

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There were a few more vocal versions of this tune with alternate lyrics.

A month of nights, a year of days.
Octobers drifting into Mays.
You set your sail when the tide comes in.
And you cast your fate to the wind.

You shift your course along the breeze
Won’t sail up wind on memories.
The empty sky is your best friend.
And you cast your fate to the wind.

That time has such a way of changing a man throughout the years
And now you’re rearranging your life through all your tears.
Alone, alone.

There never was, there couldn’t be
A place in time for men to be.
Who’d drink at dark and laugh at day
And let their wildest dreams blow away.

So now you’re old, you’re wise, you’re smart.
You’re just a man with half a heart.
You wonder how it might have been
Had you not cast your fate to the wind…

Lest we Forget

Nov 10, 2008

remembrance

Its 90 years since the “war to end all wars” did no such thing. I was watching a documentary on TV this weekend about the life of Vera Brittain and her “Letters from a Lost Generation”. Her husband-to-be, her brother and all his friends died between 1914 and 1918 whilst still in their very early twenties. What a waste of life. It puts whatever problems you have in your own life into perspective.

My Grandfather fought in WW1. Although he lived to return home, having been exposed to mustard gas he spent much time in convalescence and died whilst still in his early thirties.

As I always do I will pause for a minute’s reflection at 11am on November 11th.

Fave 45s

Nov 8, 2008

Now that I find myself inhabiting the C21st and I don’t play actual records any more I have framed some of my favourites and put them on the wall.They’re not rare or valuable but they just bring back great memories of people and places in my past. The Sex Pistols deserve to be remembered for this storming anthem if nothing else. When they weren’t just trying to be outrageous they were a great rock and roll band. The “b” side shows who they’d been listening to.

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People who say that music in the 1970s was dire and in desperate need of the emergence of punk in 1976/1977 to shake it up evidently weren’t listening to the same stuff as me; The New York Dolls, Iggy and the Stooges and The Tubes (Their first two albums at least.) The 45rpm single of “White Punks on Dope” misses out the swear word that’s on the album version. But considering the subject matter of the whole song did they really think it would ever be played on daytime radio back then anyway? The “b” side contains two more classics.

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I’ve decided that one of the best singles ever released (in my humble opinion) is “You’re History” by Shakespear’s Sister despite my original trepidation that half the group consisted of an ex-Bananarama !! This disc also has a wonderful “b” side containing a live version of “Dirty Mind”. If you haven’t heard these tunes (why not??) I’m sure they are all still easily available from the usual sources and all get a “Highly recommended” from me.

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Lieutenant Lightning

Nov 5, 2008

Here is the worst superhero ever devised. This story seemed ludicrous to me even when I first read it on Xmas day 1968. “Smash Annual 1969” was one of the many Annuals I had cajoled family and relatives to buy for me that Xmas…but of course you couldn’t unwrap them until the 25th.

I was unaware of the developments taking place behind the scenes of my favourite UK comics at the time. IPC had purchased Odhams and “Smash” comic was about to change from its combination of the anarchic humour strips of The Swots and the Blots and Grimly Fiendish along with reprinted American Marvel Comic heroes into just another UK comic like “Valiant” and “Lion” with far more emphasis on War and Football. Pow, Fantastic and Terrific would soon just disappear.

Lieutenant Lightning only ever appeared in this one story to the best of my knowledge. It seems to have a dated feel and yet some of the “quips” shows that the writer had at least seen “Batman” on TV. As usual in UK comics of the time neither artist or writer are credited. The origin of this character was explained away in two whole panels!! The basic red and black colour scheme was common in many UK Annuals. Less than half of the book was in full colour.

Crikey!

Nov 4, 2008

Blimey! The last thing I expected to see back on the newsagent’s shelves in November 2008 was new UK versions of the classic “Classics Illustrated” comics.

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Crikey! Of course you have to go to a “proper” comic shop to find this magazine. The editors have been busy in the “Crikey” shed but still you never know when the next issue will appear. Its not even listed in “Previews”. Therefore comic book fans in the States will find it difficult to locate this magazine all about the numerous bonkers UK comics of the past unless they subscribe. www.crikeyuk.co.uk/ . 

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And you’ll only see this comic if you happen to be in France or Belgium. “Le Max de BD” refers to “bandes dessinee” (drawn strips) which is French shorthand for “comics”.

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There are many more French/Belgian comic book characters besides the few like TinTin, Lucky Luke, The Smurfs and Asterix who have already successfully crossed the English Channel. Although this is only issue No 2 Lanfeust himself has been around for a number of years. A fantasy set on the planet Troy where most of the inhabitants have magical powers it is full of humour and adventure. (Troy is the third planet orbiting the sun in its solar system..hence the “pun” of Troy/trois/three.) The art is quite good too.

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