Friday, 31 October 2014

WesterNoir Reviews.

Artwork for the cover of Issue 5.
Travelling Man has reviewed the first three issues of WesterNoir over at I'll drink to that.

London MCM, two great days.

This then was our second London MCM in the same year.
We had no new comics since then last one, and despite Colin's infectious optimism I had my doubts.
We did so well at the last one that I really doubted we could get near selling that number of comics again.
Still, getting half way towards it would still make it a good Con from our perspective so I was more than happy to make that very early trip, with Jemma, to catch the 6.30am train out of Crewe.
Colin and Scott had travelled down the day before and had already had half a day at the Con on Friday, so I really shouldn't grumble. You can get a really good report of how the event went over on Colin's blog, so I'll use that fact to keep mine briefer than normal.
I will say that for two days I stood looking up at the biggest movie poster I've ever seen and by the end of the Con I was desperate to go and watch the final film in the Hobbit trilogy.
I will also say that once again I was stunned by the costumes wandering around and felt at times that I'd wandered into a space port in a far flung part of the galaxy.
And whilst some where obviously works of passion and refinement...
others were simply inspired...

 ...and if you don't know who she is then you're a very lucky person as it'll mean you have yet to enjoy Pulp Fiction for the first time.
We had periods where we were really busy, at one point I was serving three customers (I can't remember where Colin and the others had gone) and other periods when it was really quiet and we could sit and chat.
and all the while the parade of great costumes just continued...
and we found that even Zombies read comics...
...although they only seem to be interested in one title.
And then it was over.
A very tiring but very enjoyable two days.
We hadn't sold as much as last time, but we did pretty well and weren't too far off.
We managed to spend some time with old friends and made some new ones (Colin has listed most people on his blog), but I'll just say that it was great to see Steve Tanner again, Stuart Gould our printer and Jenika Ioffreda with her collected Vampire Free Style, a lovely little book.
Looks like we'll be doing two London MCMs every year from now on then.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A weekend in Whitby.

With all the recent activity at 50th birthday weekend celebrations, Comic Conventions overseas and the Kate Bush event, it was really nice to spend a relaxing weekend with my wife.
We decided on the other side of Britain and booked a hotel room in Whitby, or Dracula fame.
We got very lucky with the weather, which is still unseasonably sunny and warm. Well, it is warmer than the seasons we've grown up with but maybe it'll be the norm for the next few generations.
Whitby is a great little seaside village, with a good history of fishing, a lovely beach and some really nice walks. The beach is a sharp decent from the hotel we were staying at, but this did mean that we had a great sea view from the hotel window.
As usual my photos focus mainly on objects that are rusting, I'm not really sure what is is about decaying metal that draws me to it, I think it's the colours and textures, but drawn I am.
And what with all that salt in the air, the seaside always provides lots of source material.
Jane and I spent Saturday wandering along the beach, popping into a Vintage Fair that happened to be on, and wandering around Antique and Curiosity shops.
Tea was a great Fish and Chips meal for me. I always get some Fish and Chips in when I visit the coast as it's always the best in Britain, with the fish being so fresh.
But I didn't brave the sea.
I think this is probably the first year in a long time that I haven't taken a dip in the waters around the UK. I jut never managed to get to a beach during the summer, and as warm as the sun was last weekend, it was not having the slightest effect on the temperature of the sea. Well, it felt freezing to me anyway.
On the Sunday we took a trip to Robin Hood's Bay, which is glorious but a challenge to get to as it's a steep walk down to and a steep walk back up from. It's well worth the climb though. A beautiful little village with some lovely little restaurants facing out over the coast. Wonderful.
Stopping off at Filey before heading home completed the weekend.
Very relaxing and lovely to get away from it all and just wander around and relax. It's a different pace of life on the sea front. All that energy of the sea never seems to make it beyond the waves breaking on the shore line. The towns and the people in them move at their own pace, a much slower and more relaxing one.
It is infectious.
You don't feel like rushing around.
You just feel like becoming part of it all.
It was a shame to have to leave it.
But it'll be a pleasure to go back to.
To recharge batteries and be able to remember that it is possible to just slow down.
Even if it is only for a short time.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Tales of WesterNoir.

Gary and I decided that we wanted to tell more tales set in and around the events that take place with WesterNoir, but didn't want to take Gary away from his main focus, busy as he is on issue 5 of Westernoir.
So the idea was born that we'd create a comic to accompany it, but this time we'd both write separate stories and get some of our favourite independent comic artists to illustrate them.
And so Tales of WesterNoir was born, and the first issue is now complete, with Andy Bloor once again bringing his design talent to the book to help it stand out from the crowd.
The book will be launched at Thought Bubble on November, with Issue 5 of WesterNoir launching at the first con of 2015.
Art by Gary Crutchley, colours by Matt Soffe
and design by Andy Bloor ...
I'm lucky to get my name on the cover...
You can see the cover's evolution over on Gary's blog.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

An evening with Kate Bush - part two.

My last post has received some feedback, as you'll see from the comments.
Seems I came across as a little selfish...
Keeping, and wanting to keep, too much to myself...
Not sharing.
And I guess the people who posted the comments are right.
So, I'll share more of my Evening with Kate Bush with anyone who wants to hear it...
And yes, I do hope that you all get to sample the crazy genius that is Kate Bush in your living rooms in the not too distant future.
I'd say that I'm quite a visual person, but I also love music. I love strong lyrics but also a good tune.
For me a good film has a good balance of story, cinematography and soundtrack.
A good concert has a good balance of songs, performance and interaction with the audience.
From the moment that Kate Bush lead a line of musicians onto the stage I was captured. Even that simple procession spoke to me that this was all going to be choreographed.
The first few tracks (I forget the number ... was it 5 or 6 ?) that followed were typical concert fodder however and I forgot about anything but Kate, her voice and her presence, Kate standing out there on her own, band behind her and a sea of welcoming fans in front.
And I relaxed.
Her voice is still great.
Her confidence boundless.
And then the whole thing turned on its head as a video was projected onto the back screen. Was this then to turn into a mixture of music videos, interspersed with Kate singing live ? No. The whole thing turned into a... well I don't know what to call it really, a story in song ?
Theatre ?
Theatre centred around a drowning woman, reflecting on the loss and the impact it'll have on loved ones, with The Ninth Wave from her Hounds of Love album carrying us along.
I'm a visual person and my eyes were drawn to the skeletal fish characters that trawled the stage, looking for lost souls maybe ? The huge sheets of material being moved on the stage floor contributing to a feeling of being adrift, at sea with the drowning woman, and the little scene where she almost 'ghosts' her presence in her family home is... well.. it was all quite consuming.
I was completely captivated.
'Hello Earth' indeed.
And then, to a standing ovation Kate announces that there would be a short break.
I remember thinking... 'Wow, there's more'.
I remember exchanging a few words with Colin sat next to me as we both tried to come to terms with what we'd just experienced.
What I should have been doing was clearing my mind for what was to come.
The second 'Act' was inspired by the music from the more recent Aerial album.
The fish were replaced by birds, but mostly projected this time, although a raven's wing does feature.
There's also a life sized (well the size of a young boy) artist's manikin who enters through the biggest pair of doors I ever seen (on stage or elsewhere) and I was completely absorbed once again. The Sky of Honey picks us up and carries us aloft.
There was just so much to take in.
I was fooled at one point, I'll say no more on that as hopefully you all will be too when you watch then video... almost a slight of hand trick .... a magicians misdirection .. and Kate is certainly that, a magician conjuring with words, music and theatre.
And then it ended.
I felt exhausted... so I can only imagine how she felt.
Kate did come on to do an encore, and we were all singing along to Cloudbusting, but by then my mind was full. I was trying to make sense of some of the things I'd seen and was marvelling over others.
So...was this a good concert ?
It was so much more than that.
It felt like I've been to a couple of musical theatrical performances, with some songs at the beginning to introduce you to the performer (not that Kate needed any of course) and a couple at the end to help you get yourself into a state where you could be trusted to be able to walk down stairs and cross busy streets with some awareness of your surroundings.
Even so, people milled around outside the venue, almost reluctant to go home.
Wanting to keep hold of the experience for just a little longer.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

An evening with Kate Bush.

I still remember when, back in 1978, I came across Kate Bush.
I used to watch Top Of The Pops every week in the hope that they'd have something on that I'd like, but I was into bands like Pink Floyd, Rush, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin ... well .. you know the sort of thing, and such occurrences were rare.
I used to watch, with a kind of amusement, that people would buy the stuff that got in the Top 10, and felt somehow superior in that my taste in music was obviously better than the average person's.
So, imagine my surprise when Kate Bush danced strangely around the stage (I was used to Pan's People) and gave a rendition of Wuthering Heights that I just couldn't get my head around. What had I just experienced ? I'd never seen, or heard, anything like it. And, yes, I was 15, and I'll admit that there were things other than her music that attracted me...
I'd never bothered with buying Singles before, I just bought albums, but I headed off to a Record Shop in Sydenham and bought my first 45. I played it quite a few times and was mesmerised. And then came Hammer Horror and I was completely hooked.
The Kick Inside shared my record box with Pink Floyd, Rush and the rest and got as much airplay as any of them.
Over the years Kate has produced records that, to me, have always surprised and delighted. She's one of those artists who seems to reinvent themselves with each record and yet somehow keep their stamp on it. You just know who it is. If I'm honest I never quite got '50 Words For Snow' but that's probably because I've not given it a chance, there're just so many great Kate Bush tracks on my iPod to listen to.
I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I'd get a chance to watch her live, and was as surprised as everyone else when I learned that she was going to do a concert. I was even more surprised when Colin emailed out to say that as a member of her Fan Club, he could get tickets.
Both tickets had Colin's name on them and he had to show a
photo id as we went in as a way to try to prevent tickets touts.
Would I be interested ?
Hell Yes !
Me before going in.
And so, on the 13th September there I was. Sat next to Colin in Hammersmith's Odeon (as was) waiting for the curtain to rise on what was sure to be an experience to remember for the rest of my days; Before The Dawn.
The view of the stage from our seats.
We were asked not to take photos during the performance, which everybody had heard about before they arrived. In a way it was nice to be able to just sit back and enjoy the event and not worry about trying to get that photo that would capture it.
And then the curtain went up.
And so did everybody in the audience at the sight of Kate Bush walking onto the stage.
I've been to a number of concerts in my day but I've never experienced the wave of affection that washed down on Kate. I think that if she'd belted out a few tracks and left we'd have been happy and talked about how good it was for years to come.
The interval ... a curtain came down with a bird's feather on it ... 
What happened though was... well... undefinable.
Kate started with a few well known tracks and I must confess that I settled into my seat thinking that we'd get to sit through her back catalogue... which I'd have enjoyed.
But after 4 tracks the whole event took on a different persona.
It became a stage play... a musical... it mixed the feel of music video with stage musical... it had theatrics... it had crazy creepy costumes... it had holes appearing in the stage floor... it had a huge door... hell it even had a life sized artist's manikin.
During one act a lot of leaf like confetti blew across the lower seats ... 
It was crazy...
It was mesmerizing.
Even the programme has pages that cannot be opened, but the page numbering tells you that this is by design and not error, these pages are to be secret in some way.
And for me the whole event will remain a secret.
It was something that I will talk about for years with anyone else who was lucky enough to be there but you really had to have been there and experienced it to discuss it at all. Any words I try to use just wouldn't capture any of it, and so I'm not going to even try.
It should be a secret kept by those that went.
And I'm sorry about this, but I hope that no DVD of the event is ever produced ... that only those who were there get to experience it... a personal memory to take to our graves with us.
And it was over ... and people milled around...
stunned by what they had just witnessed.
You can see part two of my report on An evening with Kate Bush- Part Two