Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Monday, 29 March 2010
Sunday, 28 March 2010
True story: When my cousin Jane got married, back in 1978, her and her new husband honeymooned in Tunisia. At some point, when they surfaced from the bridal suite, they were asked by an English film-production-type if they wanted to be extras in a movie that was filming nearby. They, of course, had better things to do and politely declined. It later turned out that this film was Monty Python's Life Of Brian, Python's most successful and controversial movie, and one that frequently tops Funniest Movie Of All-Time polls. Oops!
Life Of Brian is now their daughter's favourite film of all time, but she hasn't as yet convinced her parents to watch it.
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
I've probably mentioned it before, but I'll say it again: the Lee / Kirby Fantastic Four is my all-time favourite comic book series. And FF no. 52, July 1966, "The Black Panther", is a particularly fine example of Stan 'n' Jack's brand of story-telling magic.
To start with, you get what I think is one of the best ever Kirby covers. The tension radiates off the page as Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny navigate the maze of Kirby's techno-jungle. A hunter's moon illuminates the pouncing figure of the Black Panther as he strikes at his victims.
The story itself starts with an impressive, if slightly redundant, splash-page which repeats the cover image but with the emphasis on the Panther. The scene switches to the FF receiving an invitation from "an African chieftain, called... the Black Panther" to be his guests in the kingdom of Wakanda, where he will arrange the greatest hunt of all time in their honour. Reed's answer is "Well, we could use a vacation." Wrong! After stopping off to pick up Johnny and his mate Wyatt Wingfoot ( seriously! ) from college and a brief Inhumans sub-plot, the story proper kicks off as the FF land in Wakanda and are instantly attacked by the Black Panther. He tells them "'Twas I who invited you for the hunt! But, I neglected to tell you one thing... It is you who shall be hunted!" Cheers then!
The Panther lures the FF into his electronic jungle beneath the real jungle canopy of Wakanda, where he has traps galore waiting for them. At first things go the Panther's way as he divides and conquers the fabulous foursome, but then the overlooked Wyatt Wingfoot throws a spanner in the works and frees them to overcome their hunter. The story ends with the Panther unmasking and promising to explain his actions and his origins: "My tale is one of tragedy... and deadly revenge!"
Coming so soon after the Galactus / Silver Surfer trilogy in issues 48-50, this is a change of pace to a smaller scale story, but with plenty of action and intrigue. Who is the Black Panther? What is his motive for luring the FF to Wakanda? Did he really think he could beat them? It's a fascinating introduction to a classic Marvel character who's still going strong after all these years. Stan's dialogue is as portentous ( "Raise the totem! Let the ritual begin!" ) and as goofy ( "I'll itty bitty buddy you, you blue-eyed birdbrain!" ) as ever, and Jack's design sense goes wild in the Panther's "electric nightmare" of a man-made jungle.
The issue concludes with the usual letters page, house ads, and the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page. The main news item here is Steve Ditko's quitting of Marvel and the announcement of John Romita as his replacement on Spider-Man. As well as the front cover, I've also scanned the back cover ( above ) featuring the Famous Artists School advert which seemed to run forever in Marvel mags: "We're looking for people who like to draw" says Norman Rockwell.
Soundtrack: She Said and Stay Too Long by Plan B
Like A Hurricane by Neil Young
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Yet another trailer for Series Five/Thirty-One/Fnarg ( blame Steven Moffatt! ) of Doctor Who. This one is courtesy of MacMachiavelli at the ever-wonderful Planet Gallifrey and is seven flavours of awesome. On toast.
I really am getting ridiculously excited about this new series. Two weeks to go - breathe deeply, relax etc. etc. Keep telling yourself "It's only a TV show."
Oh, yeah, this trailer is from BBC America. Enjoy.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
Casting rumours for Joe Johnston's upcoming movie The First Avenger: Captain America ( hey, snappy title! ) have been all over t'internet recently. The smart money at the moment is on former Human Torch, Chris Evans ( not the ginger DJ ) to play Cap. I can't say I'm too impressed by this choice, but..... let's just wait and see. For the time being, here are some of Steranko's dynamic images of the star-spangled Avenger: a couple of interior pages and 3 covers from his short run on the comic back in 1969 and the beautiful wrap-around cover from the Tales Of Suspense issue of George Olshevsky's Marvel Comics Index.
And for those who've been following the "death and rebirth of Captain America" storyline in recent issues of his comic, Steranko's cover to issue 113 proves, yet again, that there's nothing new under the sun.....
Friday, 19 March 2010
The return of Fave Gig Fri: a two-for-the-price-of-one special starring that archetypal English eccentric, Robyn Hitchcock. I'd first heard Mr. Hitchcock on Annie Nightingale's Radio 1 show, one night in the mid-'80s. The song, of course, was the immortal Brenda's Iron Sledge, a startlingly surreal excursion into Robyn's warped world-view, featuring bursting grasshoppers, iron pistons, icy slush, a possible Thatcher parody and the unforgettable lyric:
"All aboard Brenda's Iron Sledge
Please don't call me Reg
( It's Not My Name )"
OK, Hitchcock's Syd Barrett-esque fantasies can seem a bit contrived in a "I'm mad, me" kind of way, but I thought he was worth checking out.
Robyn turned up at Cheltenham Town Hall in December '86 with his band The Egyptians. By this point I'd bought his Element Of Light album and loved it, so I dragged my mate Paul The Stick Insect ( future DPC drummer ) along with me to see The Man Who Invented Himself. The gig was compered by punk-poet John Cooper-Clarke, whose Mancunian accent was mostly incomprehensible to us yokels, and support came from Principle Connection ( fake jazz in berets ), the bloody awful Vibrators ( or The Vibrators From London as the leopard-skin-wearing throwbacks were billed ), and The Jazz Defektors, a pretty good soul/jazz/r 'n' b band, who at least livened the place up a bit.
The Egyptians appeared and, according to my diary from the time, "churned out a sound that space-warped from garage psychedelia to mutant folk to cabaret pop and back again." All the great songs from Element Of Light were present and correct and Robyn dug into his back catalogue for classics like Uncorrected Personality Traits ( acapella! ) and good ol' Brenda. He rambled on to great surreal effect between songs - God knows what it was all about, but I always remember him introducing one tune like this: "This is a song that was written long before most of you were born, and a long time after the rest of you were dead." Er, yeah.....
Of course, before his solo career, Robyn had been the main man in The Soft Boys along with future Katrina & The Waves guitarist, Kimberley Rew. The band's loopy psychedelia was either out of date or ahead of its time, but was definitely unfashionable in those post-Punk days, and they became a short-lived cult band with one near-hit, Only The Stones Remain, to their name.
The Soft Boys reformed a few times in the '90s and I went down to that there London town in '94 to see the band, with a workmate, Hippy Mark. We met up with some of Mark's family and friends, had a quick drink in a typically packed-out London pub and then went into The Astoria to see The Man With The Lightbulb Head and his mates. The old Astoria was a large, gone-to-seed venue with a Bloody Expensive bar, which kept me provided with medicinal brandy as I was fighting off a stinking cold. The Soft Boys came on to the strains of the instrumental Do The Chisel and proceeded to rip through such old faves ( or new ones, in my case ) as Underwater Moonlight, Old Pervert, The Queen Of Eyes and I Wanna Destroy You, all excellent. Although missing Kimberley Rew the band played well, without quite lapsing into muso-hell, and seemed to feature the late Andy Warhol on maracas (!) - strangely appropriate. Robyn kept the inter-song babbling to a minimum, but did encourage us to ring Cones Hotline for some reason, and explained that the band's name was a merger of Burroughs' The Soft Machine and Warhol's Chelsea Boys. Although we all bellowed for Brenda's Iron Sledge, they didn't play much of Robyn's solo material, but never mind, it was all good fun.
Check out Elektra's blog for some new Robyn Hitchcock music. Tell her cerebus660 sent you.
Soundtrack: Element Of Light and I Often Dream Of Trains by Robyn somebody.
Thursday, 18 March 2010
After a visit last night from our friendly neighbourhood tech guy, my PC seems to be up and running again. I won't get too excited 'cos I've been here before only to be disappointed, but hopefully The Glass Walking-Stick isn't shattered, just glued back together.....
Fingers crossed. Wings flapping.
Monday, 15 March 2010
I've been expecting it for some time and the time-honoured technique of crossing my fingers and hoping it'll go away hasn't worked, so as of now my PC is out of action and blogging activities will cease for a while. I'm posting this at work ( Aaarrgghhh!! Hate it !! ) and, obviously, I'll be able to keep up with what all you lovely Bloggers are doing from here. But my input will be limited for the near future. Who said "Thank God for that"?
Back soon, hopefully.....
Friday, 12 March 2010
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Saturday, 6 March 2010
A very Eisner-esque picture by Jim Steranko, posted in remembrance of Will Eisner's birthday: the cover for Red Tide, the graphic novel formerly known as Chandler.
See the ever-wonderful Drawings Of Steranko site for more artwork and info.
It's the late, great Will Eisner's birthday today, so here are some wonderful Spirit covers and splash-pages as a tribute to one of the true innovators of the comic strip medium. ( At least I've got the date right this year, unlike last time. )
Soundtrack: All My Life by Foo Fighters.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
What to do.....
1. Kill a few Flies *See disclaimer below
2.Put them in the sun to dry for one hour
3. Once they are dry, pick a pencil and paper... and let your imagination flow.
Here are a few examples:
( These pictures were given to me by a colleague whose husband apparently works for a company where this is standard practice. Nice work if you can get it..... )