Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer meltings

This is an important announcement for those of you who haven’t melted yet.

My summer will mostly be spent distributing sweat amongst my black t-shirts as I desperately try to prove wearing black punk band t-shirts is still cool despite the sun melting the Earth to liquid.

Saturday 2nd August I’m compering another Down By The River event at City Screen Basement, these are always lovely showcases of various acts and talents, details here:

I’ll be at Boomtown Fair 8-10th August, performing at 4pm on the Wandering Word stage on the Friday afternoon, which gives me plenty of time the following days to enjoy plenty of ska, reggae, folk, gypsy and The Street Dogs (flatcaps at the ready!)

Tues 19th I’ll be performed at Reclaim The Power.  But that’s hush hush.  So ssshh.

Wed 20th at the Woolpack, I’m launching a new zine featuring interviews with a variety of female musicians from York with ace poet Jenn Hart, musician Chrissy Barnacle, queercore band KINKY and local garage rockers Freaks + Geeks.  More details soon.

Then Fri 22nd-23rd August is the big one:  Galtres Festival where I’ve put together the Spoken word section of the Little Top and the Snapping Turtle stage.  It’s going to be a wicked festival of folk, rock, theatre, comedy and poetry and you should come.  All of you.  We can melt together.

Then I’m finishing off the summer by supporting Chris Clavin in Norwich and York.  Chris founded legendary Plan-It-X Records and plays in Ghost Mice, both hugely influential DIY cornerstones of my life.  Sat 30th sees me saying some words at the Big Gay Bar all-dayer at the Woolpack, where I’m also launching their zine.

All through the month when I get chance, I’ll be adapting The Circle of Chalk/Caucasian Chalk Circle for York Youth Theatre’s 16+ November performance and I promise it’ll be my best play yet.  Ever.

See you around!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Comics & Comix

On Tuesday I managed to pop along to the Comics Unmasked:  Art & Anarchy in the UK at the British Library.  I got there nice and early, and it was pretty quiet as I dipped in and out of the strangely shaped rooms of comics on display from the early satirical publications dating back to Hogarth and jibes at the Napoleonic War through to strange 60s & 70s freaky comix and, of course, endless silent watchful mannequins of what the British Libraries assumes to be protestors adorned with V masks.

I have a deep love for the strange and wonderful world beneath the accessible establishment-sanctioned Beano comics and the American glean of Marvel & DC, though I don’t profess to be an expert by any means.  But as I always understand it, the medium of comics has always fought to be a recognised and respectable genre, and yet there are many comic-writers and artists trying specifically not to be accessible, attempting the spikey and the subversive.

My main issues with the exhibition was the focus on writers and artists like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Pat Mills who inevitable did huge amounts for the genre, but whose creations are well and truly part of the establishment now no matter their humble punky origins.

I wanted a focus on the nerdy, DIY comix being made for zine fairs and Etsy shops, the ones you find in the corner of independent shops like OK Comics in Leeds.  I wanted to thumb through some comics, read up some short stories, feel the story unfold in my hands, as comics are designed for.  Instead they were caged in glass.  I caught a page of a Nemesis The Warlock story which looked interesting, but couldn’t see which collection it was from.  I would have nipped to a comic shop to guy it if I could have peered round the glass to see.

But I suppose my main issue is this question of Anarchy in Comics.  I think there’s a distinct difference between politics in comics and ‘anarchy’ in comics.  Anarchy, for me, means a rejection of the current system of organising, designing, publicising, writing or thinking.  Morrison’s Arkham Asylum:  A Serious House on Serious Earth may have been a revolutionary take on psycho-analysis and artwork for the medium, but was still a massive cashcow for its writer and DC comics.  V For Vendetta is an exciting look at Anarchy vs. Fascism which was turned into a Hollywood star-studded film about Conservatism vs. Liberalism, which wasn’t really unpacked much from where I was standing.

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, or indeed what I’m even looking for, but there’s something saturating about putting comics about politics, LGBTQ, sex and anarchy behind glass in a British institution, there’s a loss of rawness which I feel and love when I visit independent comic shops, zine fairs or get a load of new zines in the post.

Also, where were the mention of Fight The Power, Wild Cat, Anarchy Comics or Breaking Free?  It’s possible I missed them, but those were REAL anarchist comics.

Anyway, I have read a few new comics recently and wanted to quickly shout their praise/shout them down


Me and my girlfriend have been totally hooked on this book, now in it’s 3rd collected volume.  Essentially Romeo & Juliet in space, the booked manages to create a huge and varied cast of soldiers, mercenaries, writers, wizards, Princes and ghosts and, in very carefully crafted writing, I’m totally invested in all of them.  It also has huge possibilities for a whole new world to explore and take the characters across a universe not limited by exiting canon.  Plus, I want to be Lying Cat’s friend.


Another huge universe I can’t wait to explore, the premise is a city overrun by monsters and ghouls relies on a young God, Battling Boy, to defeat the baddies.  Very much a 80s Young Hero Saves The Day style romp (think Karate Kid meets The Never Ending Story).  The art work is really cool and unique, there’s a nice nod to Marvel’s Thor and bizarre cartoon baddies you’d likely see in TMNT, Street Sharks or Biker Mice From Mars.  Can’t wait to give this a re-read.


Very much like Occupy itself, the comics spends a lot of its time trying to justify its existence.  Plenty of heroic and images of people (non-violently) standing their ground, references to the political issues and a strong sense of commendable spirit.  Unfortunately this feels (a bit like Occupy) a bit flimsily and more admirable than inspiring.  Also…where are the people of colour of the LGTBQ  community?  Sometimes I feel like our movement digs its own grave…


I haven’t given this a proper read yet, but I do really like it.  Someone recommended it to me when I was on tour (sorry…can’t remember who you were…but thanks!).  It’s about a couple who can freeze time when they orgasm.  It’s a lot about perceptions of sex growing up, and I think most people will relate to both characters and their awkward-heavy teenage years.  It’s pretty explicit, but has quite a lot of heart actually, and does what good sci-fi should, use the fantastical plotline to explore relationships and love.


Thanks York Library!  I never normally read romance graphic novels but this was a really sweet story about love and the oppression of society on lesbian and queer couples.  Though I ‘ve been told the sex scenes are quite fantastical and unrealistic, overall it’s a touching tale you need to read.


Yeah, I know.  I should have read this year ago.  But I’m getting round to it, honestly.  I have Vol 1-3 and loving it.  Such madcap artwork, it wish that paradoxically messy & sharp style was around a lot more.


Bought this on a whim, don’t know if it’s because I read a negative review but it’s not inspired me all that much.  Feels like it’s cashing in on the Walking Dead-style maxi-series rolling-cast-of-characters style hoping to be commissioned for TV.  Feels a bit more TV-ish than comic, actually.  I feel like it should be better, but characters all seem a bit derivative.  Maybe it’s because all the way through the series, the magical creatures accuse the humans of being evil and monstrous, when I can’t quite see much difference between the humans and Hinterknd, and maybe that’s the point, but that lacks a punch of philosophy.  Compared to Saga, which takes a good dark look at war, this feels the weakest comic I’ve taken a punt on, sorry.


Been out a while now, and I’m eagerly awaiting vol 2, this has a really cool (albeit predictable) premise about a bunch of scientists being turned into super-beings by a plague in space, this pays true to the Fantastic Four but uses the Ultimate Marvel style of sweary grumpy characters, nasty corporate businessmen and secret government agencies to tell a super-hero story with very few heroics.  It could go the Ultimate route (the final chapter is mostly a crash-bang-wallop affair) but what I love is the Watchmen-style background it weaves, with little hints, clues and riddles to secrets behind the scenes.  It’s very much going to be a comic I’m looking forward to re-reading.

Hey, Neil Gaiman, finish Sandman:  Preludes so I can judge it, will ya!?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Nerd Punk Article

For those of you know don’t know me, I love nerdy stuff.  Mainly cartoons.  I never stopped watching cartoons when I hit teens, and I have recently picked up on some ace stuff, finally working through Regular Show, Adventure Time and Gravity Falls.

The first time I learned about Michael Jackson, Citizen Kane & Soviet Russia was watching The Simpsons.  Many children’s first experience with cultural references are through cartoons and film/TV.  Ash Ketchum and Luke Skywalker and the lessons they have taught us mean a lot more to a lot of us than Jesus or the Prime Minister.  So if a programme aimed at children does deal with a politically important subject matter, in this case Trade Unionism, it bears some analysis, because that child’s parents could be striking the following week, or that child could one day be in that position when industrial action is an option placed before them in the battle for worker’s rights.  Plus, y’know, it’s fun to rewatch old cartoons from the early 00s.
That was the essential theme of my first solo show, Letter To The Man (from the boy) and continues to crop up throughout my work.