Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive Blog

My one concession to the midwinter season is THIS

Bah wotsitbug. It's been a very busy and long time since I last blogged and I suppose the biggest news is that I've decided to go freelance - so I've been busying away on commissions and suchlike. On a completely unrelated note this is probably the most impoverished I've ever been at Christmas so I'll be eating coal and giving the gift of laughter. Huzzah!

Flaubert St Cloud XXVI by crazyfoxmachine

This is the latest part of Flaubert St Cloud (Goat) a sprawling saga that will likely go on until the end of the world. It is written by my partner in crime Geoffery Crescent and you can see the whole thing HERE.

Commission for Neil - featuring the UNLIKELIEST SUPERHERO TEAM.Karl Marx, Dredd, Neil’s brother & g/f, Batman, Grimes (Rick) and Omar Rodriguez Lopez of the Mars Volta

One of the aforementioned commissions for a Mr Neil. It features an unlikely superhero team composed of (L-R): Karl Marx, Dredd, Neil's brother & girlfriend, Batman, Rick Grimes & Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta. I'd actually very much read a comic based on this team's exploits. I can't even imagine what their base would look like... would it be a caravan?

A similarly odd roster is that of the Great Lakes Avengers which I drew for TAB. The idea is from Geoffery and they are an odd bunch. L-R: Mr Impossible, Dinah Soar, Flatman, Big Bertha, Doorman & Squirrel Girl. There have been a few comics with these fellahs in, and doubtless they are marvellous. 

Above is one of the most amazing things I've been involved with: Colouring Mick McMahon. The 2000ad legend did these images as pencils and Neil "Bhuna" Roche took it on himself to ink them and requested I give 'em colour. We decided to do them as a treat for the 2000ad forum advent calendar - where the boardfolk present creative outpourings every day of December. It's one of the best things about the forum and is always mind-blowingly brilliant. With McMahon's blessing we put them up and all was well - it also got shared about by 2000ad itself which is a bit magic :D All in all - one of the more satisfying things I've done recently!
Sadly this month saw the demise of Blam - a local comic networking group that I started in the early summer of 2012. We regularly met at a good local pub and we had many many larks. Much was doodled and drunkenly discussed. Out of the boozy ashes will spring a new thing in early 2014 but that's still in development. It will take the form of, initially at least, an art centric jammy type drawing thing in my favourite ever Bristol drinking establishment - but more of that later. For now... farewell sweet Blam.

Above are the latest Dreddheads : Barnabas Collins from the cult soap Dark Shadows and the bard of Ayrshire Rabbie Burns who is my first ever "Cal-Hab" judge - without the fabulous stony helmets that they have in the comics and... uh, I was going to put a union jack beneath the lion like the Brit-Cit armour but I think I'll keep from rustling that hot haggis topic. Next Dreddhead CLUE.

Everything has slowed down since going freelance - and my ever-neglected "to read" pile of small press comics remains as lofty as ever. It seriously towers. If that thing collapsed on me I'd be a goner. Anyway - I did manage to get my chops around two of them in the last month. The first is my last from Cardiff 2013 (so... like, March) and the second from just after. 

Zarjaz #17 (Futurequake Press) Various
The most appealing element of any anthology is variety - and although this March 2013 issue of Zarjaz is mostly concerned with a four-part Flesh Extinction story this is stretched between some of the most striking one-offs I've ever seen in the legendary fanzine.
Cover (Nigel Dobbyn)
I'm a huge fan of Mr Dobbyn, and the brilliantly relevant Robo-Hunter wraparound cover is a knockout. I love the sharp colours on it, and the spectacular rendering of interior characters is brilliant. Zarjaz's covers are easily the best in the small press and this fits easily alongside their amazing others.
Judge Dredd: All the Wrong Moves (John A Short, Alex Paterson & Bolt-01)
It's a bit of a cliche in a Zarjaz review to say "this could easily be in the prog" but this fun and absurdly well-illustrated Dredd tale wouldn't bat a reader's eye if it they found this in there. Alex Paterson's art is phenomenally good although there is a slight problem with the reduction on it - some of the more intricate details of the artwork are fuzzy or pixellated. Which is irritating, because otherwise I'd say it was the best in the issue!
Flesh Extinction: Extinctionville (M.J. Howard & Chris Geary)
I'm a huge fan of the idea of Flesh Extinction (Flesh's Transtime head forward to the distant ravaged future Earth rather than backwards) although apart from Claw Carver I don't recall any of the characters from before so a lot of this was lost on me. Chris Geary's art is nicely sparse, some of the action scenes are confusing but the copious character moments work well,  the intriguing "porpo sapiens" look quite silly and the colouring on the center-spread is very basic. Geary's lettering throughout is exceptionally good - some of the bigger FX looking absurdly impressive. Extinctionville is not terrible but it lacks the immediate context to justify filling the majority of the issue with a big finale - perhaps the interesting "found material" collage on the first page could've been a big simple "previously on Flesh Extinction" type thing. Either way I'll endeavour to go through my back issues and re-read this.
Shakara: Loose Ends (David Withers, Matt Herbert & Bolt-01)
Easily the best story in the issue, the excellent Matt Herbert draws up a storm and for a six pager it is packed with iconic moments - a one-page fight is extraordinarily well rendered and the whole thing really needs to be seen to be believed. It's not easy to give an actual thrill a run for its money but Withers & Herbert have managed it here!
Robo Hunter: The Best Man (Paul Thompson, Cuttlefish & Bolt-01)
Quite a weak story here, accompanied by cartoony art that misses the mark. It's an enjoyable enough caper and nice to see Sam Slade in the issue, but it doesn't really have a proper ending. The art doesn't help, being confusing and far too blocky. Stogie in particular is distractingly off model - it's an admirable gamble giving Robo Hunter to such a stylistically bold artist but it doesn't pay off.
Artie Gruber's Electric Dream (Don Franco)
A nice bit of art and a solid little story - really good to see Harlem Heroes making an appearance although a strong bit of sequential is always preferrable. 

Ladies & Gentlemen #1 (Water Closet Press) Richard Worth & Jordan Collver
I bought a copy of the first and second issues off of artist Jordan Collver at a Bristol creators event in Spring '13 and since then Water Closet Press have been busy compiling a weighty anthology of in-universe stories which I bought at the most recent Thought Bubble (so I'll  get around to reading it in March 2091 most likely). Ladies & Gentlemen is a essentially a penny-dreadful. What helps enormously in this illusion is the lavishly physical artwork and lettering of Mr Collver. It is beautifully kinetic and sells the book instantly - I could go on about it for hours. In terms of story there is a nice group dynamic between the central protagonists although most of the issue is wisely dedicated to progressing the story rather than giving general exposition. Here's hoping the aforementioned anthology fleshes them out further and adds more weight to the world and characters. My only complaint really is some jarring advert placement towards the end of the book that disrupt the flow of the story somewhat. So - in conclusion - Ladies & Gentlemen #1 is a solid piece of Victoriana that, thanks largely to the unique and stunning artwork of Mr Collver and an interesting cast of characters, stands out in the saturated small press steampunky market.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Aces Weekly, Bruce Lee, A Dwarf & Razarhawk

The biggest news in the past few weeks is that I've got the immense privilege of colouring the fantastic Santa Claus vs the Nazis for David Lloyd's Aces Weekly. I've taken over from the hugely talented Miroslav Mrva who's coloured the majority of the book. It's a brilliantly fun tale that does what it says on the tin AND HOW - written and lettered by the amazing Ben Dickson and illustrated by bonafide artgod Gavin Mitchell. It's currenly running THIS VERY MOMENT over in the seventh volume of Aces Weekly which is cheap as chips and chock full of hits -

Above is my Bruce Lee Dreddhead - the first (that I know of) "Sino-Cit" version of the Judge uniform. Based on this bit of Dredd continuity cake. *Shudder* Apologies for the Millar, not sure if the look was designed by artist Paul Marshall or whether Millar in a fit of stereotyping madness scrawled it on the back of a greasy napkin. Either way, canon it be. I hope I get the chance to adapt some more world judge uniforms soon, the next one will hail from Collinsport.

I have drawn a dwarf - needless to say the central idea came from confirmed fantasynut Geoffery Crescent - but the theme was "weaponry" so a heavily-armed dwarf was called for!  This will show up as a print at Thought Bubble and beyond so if you fancy this on a bit of card then hunt me down and harpoon me through the face with coins. Over half a year ago 'twas the mighty Cardiff con - that sadly it was recently announced wouldn't return in 2014. Which is a shame and it'll be a much-missed date on the calendar. Either way - I'm still working my way through the small press stash I got there so here's another review...

There was a lot of buzz already surrounding Razarhawk before it launched at Cardiff '13 - the story having been in development and teased long beforehand. I snapped it up without hesitation. What you get is a solid bit of likeably punchy small pressery - that is deceptively simple on the surface. It manages to tell an engaging story without filling you in on any background details whatsoever, which is a difficult trapeze to walk but Razarhawk #1 manages it admirably. The action is well-handled and it rattles along at a brilliant pace, but here's hoping Issue 2 (still deep in my to-read pile) fills in some of the gaps and gives this fun and open start a bit more weight. It's not perfect however; Dean's constant use of "shit" falls on the wrong side of funny repetition and becomes irritating quickly - also a few irksome memey manga moments aren't to my taste like using action words in asterisks in dialogue *cringe*. Abram's art is a great fit, being refreshingly straightforward and also brilliantly emotive at once - the sense of movement and expression seems effortless and make it clear there's an animator at work here. There is a problem with line-thickness though that make some locations particularly look a little too clumpy but nothing is unreadable or unclear which is an enviable skill. The colouring ranges from the subtly shaded to the flat, and I much preferred the panels with shading than without - the most striking images being the ones with harsh or bold lighting. Dani's lettering is solid, managing a range of effects smartly and using a neat squarish box for dialogue although SFX instead of boxes for the screams of some pedestrians may have fitted better. It's printed with a nice thick cover and there's tons of space on the inside front, inside back and back that could've been used for exposition or explanation but instead leaves three nice big canvases for Dani to doodle on at conventions! A solid and likeable read from Matthews and Abram - I'm greatly looking forward to getting further into Kitty Hawk's world.

Friday, 25 October 2013

October Goings-On

Pictured above are my two latest Dreddheads - Maurice Moss of the IT Crowd and a rather bruised and unconvincing looking Gene Hunt from the BBC's time-travelling-cop-turned-sappy-romantic-supernatural series. Can't win them all! Here's a clue to the next one. Apologies for the Millar.

It was the Lakes Comic Art Festival last weekend in Kendal and very memorable it was to - I'll do a full report on it and who was there and what we did etc etc on the Psychedelic Journal blog in the next few days. I will say this though - the legendary Carlos Ezquerra did say "ciao" to me which is probably the highlight of my life. I've also added to my teetering pile of comics to read - the two reviews below mark the tail end of my Thought Bubble '12 stash and the beginning of my Cardiff haul from earlier this year. So we're getting through it - very, very slowly.

Zarjaz #16 (Futurequake Press) Various

2000ad is the best anthology comic on the mainsteam market - and its fanzine Zarjaz is the best anthology comic in the small press. This issue is another worthy addition to their absurdly consistent canon and although it isn't their latest it'd be worth seeking out alone for it's nice roster of unique stories. It manages the fanzine art of telling nice one-off stories that could easily slot into 2000ad's world whilst still maintaining a unique difference from the prog itself. Richmond Clements & Dave Evans are worthy small press avatars for the Mighty Tharg!

The Slaine-ified logo is perfectly done - :EDIT: Mr Clements has informed me that it is the fabulously talent Michael Carroll who designed this. I can also vouch first-hand for his logo-making talents as the Dr WTF logo was by him The Haward wraparound cover is amazingly good - due in part to the wonderful shine of one of my favourite colourists Nigel Dobbyn. A striking image and a perfect cover - TMO should get these guys on a prog cover together!

Slaine: Night Moves (Richmond Clements, Jon Haward & Bolt-01)
A fun little Slaine battle penned by the ever-lovin' editorial Clements and although Haward is a bonafide droid and could easily relax in the small press setting his art here is more intense and detailed than I've ever seen it. The splash page warp spasm is breathtaking. This could be in the prog easily - with the exception of a spelling mistake or two in Bolt's otherwise brilliant lettering.

Judge Dredd: Sleepers Awake (Tom Proudfoot, David Broughton & Bolt-01)
Split into two over the issue (not sure why) - this Dredd tale has got some nice continuity cake and some solid visuals from the small press ninja that is David Broughton. The splash page of Mayor Ambrose block exploding is brilliant. Was nice to see the now-absent murderous Megmayor appear in Zarjaz. 

Bad Company: Krool Intentions (Mark Pexton & James Newell)
A nicely manic Bad Company story - with dark and complex art from James Newell. The lettering is tiny - but adds to the claustrophobic feel nicely. An effective strip.

The Hills of Hellfire, My Love (Mick Cassidy)
Perhaps the highlight of the issue for me - Mick Cassidy weaves a spellbinding Helltrekkers tale that's evocative and irresistible. His art is loose, cartoony and utterly perfect. I'll remember this for a long while after putting the issue down.

Flesh: Future Shock (Andrew Cheverton & Dave Frankum)
A fun nostalgic tale that fits perfectly into Fleshlore (perhaps a little neater than recent excursions to that realm in the prog itself). The art by Dave Frankum is hypnotic, even the smallest panels containing mountains of detail. It's unique and enthralling - and gives the story a brilliant clarity.

Tales of the Genetic Infantry: In the Zone Part 3 (Michael Carroll & Bolt-01)
Doing multi-part stories in small press anthologies is always a risky business but the script from bonafide droid and Dreddgenius Carroll is sharp and the art solid and ::UPDATE:: I've been informed by Bolt that you can find the first and second parts online here and here

Sinister Dexter: Doctor Maybe's Museum of Death (Tony McVeigh, Chris Askham & Bolt-01)
A neat SinDex story that perhaps could've been a little cleverer (I was expecting there to be a twist but there wasn't) but the stylish and stark Askhamart is grand.

Anderson PSI Division: I, Death (Lee Robson, Dunk Nimmo & Bolt-01)
The most easily progworthy of the lot in terms of both art & story - a very solid Anderson caper (I haven't seen one of those in a long time - I'd almost forgotten she could be in good stories) flawlessly drawn by Dunk Nimmo whose confidence with solid blacks is astounding. More of this sort of thing. And I don't just mean in Zarjaz!

Whatever Happened to Sancho Panzer? (The Emperor, David Broughton & Bolt-01)
I've not actually ever read the original Sancho Panzer - which is one of those rare and basically unforgivable gaps in my progknowledge - so this tale's context and deeper meaning is lost on me. I miss the Emperor though - where did he go?! Broughton is on amazing form here I don't think I've ever seen him this inspired - everything crackles with energy and detail. It's not easy to follow on from the Living God of Art that is Henry Flint but Broughton gives it an admirably good shot.

Copperopolis #1 (Swansea Comics Collective) Various

A remarkable achievement from the absurdly well-organised Swansea Comics Collective - having run a city-based comic group I know how difficult it would be to get something like this off the ground with a group of mates and it's amazing that this volume is as coherent as it is. Ricky Webber & Adam Wilmot's story is compelling although less mythologising and more general world/character-building would have benefited it enormously. The two pages written by Kevin Rahman-Daultrey in the middle is a little jarring and not hilarious - but when the story resumes afterwards it seems more together and rattles along sharply to a nice cliffhanger. The epic beginning is served well by the bold-if-not-a-little-rough art of Lee Phillips although it screamed for colour in certain points. The general story art by Taylor & Trantor is solid and cartoony - perfect for the funny bits, maybe a bit much for the more serious segments. Artwise I longed for a bit more of Mark Hughes who draws the fun 3-page separate story "Bard Ass" scripted by Pete Taylor. The lettering throughout by artists Taylor & Trantor is solid and serves the story well - with a good use of blambot fonts which is a damned good resource that a surprising amount of small pressers unwisely ignore. A strong and admirable effort for a comic collective and a bold comic in its own right - I hope it's not too long before #2 appears!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Summarizing September

Above are a yearworth of Dreddheads - A lot of good requests and I've still got mountains more to do! I've done a bit of a redesign on the basic look and the second year of it is going to have more detail and the size of the heads is going to be far more consistent. Hurrah. 
New template for year 2 - slightly more detailed :S

Here's the new template with the first of Year 2's lot - Arnie. Next up - a redesigned Brit-Cit uniform and the first ever Sino-Cit judge - ! Remember all the doings go on most visibly on the Dreddhead tumblr.

Here's the latest page of Geoffery Crescent and I's Flaubert St Cloud (Goat) saga - now on it's twenty-fifth page. I hope that while the journey is slow moving it's also worthwhile. It has an end, there is a plan and more bizarre and unsettling characters litter the purgatory trail ahead... You can read all of it up to now here.

Announced recently at New Haven Comics - this manga webcomic I've been colouring called Smitten is coming very soon. Co-written and pencilled by Sergio Apodaca - co-written by New Haven honcho Aaron Walther - inked by Jesus Salas and coloured by me. There's some Kaiju there's battle suits and explosions and it's been very fun to colour - !

Above is "Flight of the Ostrich" written by Geoffery Crescent and featured in the sixth issue of the Bear Pit Zine - a local Bristol comix featuring the great and good (not including myself) of the local area. You can find out more and buy copies online here -

The last weekend gone was the Bear Pit Zine Fair in the centre of Bristol and Geoffery and I went along to peddle our wares - the above photograph was taken by Ruth Garner at the very beginning of the show when we were fresh-faced and happy. I'll write more about it who else was there and other matters over on the Psychedelic Journal blog shortly. But first... some comic reviews and *ahem* yes they're both still from my Thought Bubble haul nearly a year ago!

Western (Cinebook Ltd) Rosinski/Van Hamme
Dark and melancholic self-contained western tale beautifully drawn by Grzegorz Rosinski and written by Jean Van Hamme - the duo behind Thorgal. Interspersed by stunningly beautiful paintings by the artist.

Who on Earth Was Thaddeus Mist? (Accent UK) Various
Compiled and edited by Owen Michael Johnson this is an absurdly entertaining and darkly engrossing Victoriana anthology of interconnected tales. Each separate encounter with the titular character is told by a different artist/writer team and they vary from dashing adventure to dark melancholy. Each artist's style is unique but it hangs together very consistently due in no small part to the solidly brilliant lettering of Jim Campbell, the incredibly intricate editing of Owen Michael Johnson and the in-between tales reappearance of the sparse and beautiful art of Conor Boyle. For fans of gothic Victoriana and intelligently laid-out themed anthologies. A unique and unforgettable volume.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Late August

Well it's been a very hectic fortnight - jobhunting, conventioneering and generally buzzing like some manner of busy bee. Here are some recent things -

This gentleman is a bastard. Pure and simple - for encouraging a growing violent anti-LGBT movement in Russia by enforcing nonsensical hate laws. Boycott the winter Olympics, the companies that sponsor it and encourage our unelected Dave when he's not warmongering to actually ask Vladimir what the fuck he thinks he's doing. *breathe* Pride and peace.


So my Dreddheads have been getting a bizarre amount of press recently. Most alarmingly from Comic Book Resources of all things! Whilst I was at Melksham someone saw a Dreddhead on my table and accused me of plagiarising myself which is a first... The one above is of course LeBrock from Bryan Talbot's amazing Grandville series. I've heard the magnificent Mr Talbot himself liked it, even so that's my decade made. Remember if you like them to support the petition for another Dredd film and keep yer eyes out for a continuation of the film in the Judge Dredd Megazine this month.

Here's the latest and last page of the fifth part of Crabcake. You can catch up with the whole long saga here - now we're going to get deep into the continuity waltz and I'm going to wrap up the series by weaving it into a short story I wrote a decade ago. Why? Because why the balls not. 

Here's another off my to-read list which is only getting bigger and bigger thanks to glorious cons like Melksham (keep an eye on the Psychedelic Journal blog for stash dissection and coverage). Nearly at the end of last year's Thought Bubble hoard - and it's nearly time for Thought Bubble again :O 

Thorgal 1 - Child of the Stars (Cinebook Ltd) Rosinski/Van Hamme
Engrossing collection of short strips revolving around the youth of Thorgal - borrows heavily from mythology and reads much like a great historical fiction itself. Beautifully drawn - another gem from Cinebooks - a company whose back catalogue alone I could spend forever in.


Sunday, 11 August 2013


It's been a crazily hectic few weeks since the last blog - partially because of the build-up to the release of the second Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel and partially because of REDUNDANCY. But these are matters for other blogs and other days - FIRSTLY

I've changed the order in which I do Dreddheads so hopefully we'll have a lot more of them and the long list of requests can be cut down. In the last couple of weeks Rebellion have officially endorsed the campaign for a Dredd sequel which is enormous - hopefully it's not the last we've seen of these uniforms on screen! The most recent one, above, is Kitty Hawk from small press book "Razarhawk" by Dani Abram & Ian Matthews.

Here is the TWENTY FOURTH page of goat-in-purgatory webcomic epic "Flaubert St Cloud" written by the formidable Geoffery Crescent and drawn by me. You can catch up on the whole saga on the Crazy Fox Machine Webcomics FB Page - not the most updated page on the internet but the most Goatlike.

For The Bag of Nails a Bristol pub - based on the Bristol coat of arms

Recently drew this sort of vague representation of the Bristol city coat of arms for local pub The Bag of Nails - I gave them several variations and above is the most OTT one - the final poster was more minimalistic:

All words and colours and the like on the final poster were designed by pub landlord Luke.

El Bigote. Drawn by SKD coloured by me
Another recent thing I did was the colouring on this El Bigote pin-up - the original art is by the faultless SKD - check out the Facebook page for further detalles.

Above is a page from Final Death Race a comic I'm lettering that's due out soon from Bluewater productions - this and a lot of other pages were shared in an intereview with writer Paul H Birch and artistic director Gary Crutchley recently on IndieComix.  

Now, back to the job hunt - 


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Glastonbury etc.

It's been a good while now since we hosed off the mud (figuratively anyway) and our sore and burnt skin has healed over. All we have left to remember Glastonbury '13 is some loo roll, a battered list of bands, two disposable cameras worth of images (still being processed) and a very pretty dress which is Jasmine's not mine. Although I'd look fabulous if it fit me.


I owe everything to the Lloyds who kindly tented for us in the frenzied ruckus that has become Wednesday morning. Previous years the keenest would get in midday and set up their tent to avoid palaver, but since '11 when they let people sleep in the car parks it's become a bit of a piranah feeding frenzy. The Lloyds and co were up at three or thereabouts - just to get a tolerable spot in the Big Ground. Absolute madness really and I see why a lot of folk just plump for working there, getting a secure spot without the fuss seems like a fine exchange for shifts and free entry. Either way we were fortunate enough to have folk looking out for us and managed to get in fairly scot free. Needless to say the majority of our burden comprised of liquid rewards for our saviours - I mean, not a wheelbarrow full, but a large quantity.

Wednesday day normally gets swept aside by shell-shock and Burrow Hill - although we'd bought plenty with us it wasn't long until I saw those famed yellow cups saunter into view. Off we went to one of my favourite bits on site - The Avalon Inn which is a old-style two-story carven wooden pub wot do local ales and cider. It was heaving. Everywhere was heaving. On leaving in the morning we heard the radio say that the site was at sixty percent capacity "and growing". A side effect of the new Wednesdayscrum and I predict that it won't be too long before Glastonbury applies for the relevant permits and becomes a full five-dayer. As it was, Wednesday the site was heaving, all the bars and food places were open but the only stages fully playing music were in Green Futures.

The best of these was Small World - where in the afternoon of Wednesday we caught De Fuego a neat flamenco duo. This was actually the set we saw but we didn't record it - I'll try and find relevant videos for everyone. In terms of solid reviews Jazz has done a load of them here - I'll just gab around that. Green futures also holds the tin village which is a sustainable eco-community thing that is just a quiet and lovely place to sit in. We spend the majority of the first evening in there - suppin' cider and waiting for Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin who do slide guitar/fiddle blues folk stuff. They didn't end up showing up for whatever reason be we did catch the end of a furious Balkan gyspy group that had a bonafide mosh pit going on. For all Glastonbury's eclecticism there were a shit ton of "Balkan gypsy punk" bands on - it's the popular festival thing I suppose. That, native American headresses and endless moustaches. Moustache umbrellas, moustache suits, fake moustaches, real moustaches. Maybe I wouldn't mind the meme so much if I could grow one...


Sleep in the Pyramid field is rarely uninterrupted - and there was such a saga of woe that went on early Thursday morning that I can't avoid relating it. I was awoken around four or so by the righteous shriek "MY WALLET'S GONE" from a woman in the tent behind. Tent robbery is a bit of a thing at any festival and never pleasant. I felt sorry for her and expressed this by returning to sleep. Not for long, as the police were fetched and she related the tale to them "IT'S GONE" she yowled, over and over. They reassured her that more than likely the thief would dump it and just take the cash but she wasn't to be silenced. She was righteously angry now, it didn't matter that it was half five everyone had to know she'd had something terrible happen to her. "WHO THE FUCK WOULD DO THIS" She bellowed "WHO THE FUCK WOULD TAKE SOMEONE'S WALLET AT A FESTIVAL?!" Then logic kicked in and she began to think about her missing bank cards. Nearing six "IS THIS BARCLAY'S? YES I'VE HAD MY FUCKING WALLET STOLEN. NO I DON'T KNOW MY SORT CODE. YES I DO MY ACCOUNT NUMBER IT'S 71561-" At this point her friend interrupted saying that the whole campsite could hear her number. It wasn't the number I was annoyed about overhearing, but this whole sorry saga. Now well over an hour in it was losing it's drama. Finally things subsided and sleep was painstakingly re-achieved. Then less than twenty minutes later sleep was shooed off for good with an ear-shattering yelp of "...OH WAIT HERE'S MY WALLET - !"

We had a great many veggie breakfasts at Glasto, Jazz and I. She runs a blog of meatfree majesty called 500 Things to Do With Facon where she talks extensively about what we had for breakfast at the festival so I won't go into it here. Our mission on Thursday post breakfast involved heading up to The Park - the festival was truly heaving as we wound our way up there - we witnessed a procession of Alice in Wonderlandesque characters which seemed alarmingly impromptu and found ourselves a wooden iron throne which Jazz managed to get on with surprisingly little bloodshed.

Our first band of the day was Plucky Purcell, a SHOCK HORROR actual bonafide rock band who were very funky and seemed to have their own version of Bez who shook a maraca for the whole set. They gave out moustaches (there's that word again) and were quite energetic. Lawdy mama they were repetitive - though good fun and there are few venues as intoxicatingly batty as the Rabbit Hole. 

THEN THE RAINS CAME. Now to be fair to the rains, they didn't come back after they'd gone and they didn't bugger up the site but for twelve hours solid it rained. I was unprepared. I had to buy one of those crappy cellophane poncho things that cost four quid and you never use again. We retreated back to the tin village and under dripping corrugated iron watched the afternoon roll away with cider in hand. Not unpleasant but we couldn't stay as we went to seek Seven Little Sisters, a hyperactive folk rock band who were due to be on in the Rocket Lounge. It wasn't open, and drenched we decided to flee. 

'twas a soggy evening and not the best time to explore the new layout of the south east corner but we did it anyway - drifting through the new Glasto Latino bit with its churros stands, seeing that cave thing with the waterfall in The Common, and through "heaven and hell" which is what Shangri La has become. Quite extraordinarily detailed as ever - on one side the gleaming padded nightclub of heaven - and the other a twisted blackened forest of spikes that is hell. We perched next to the Hell Stage and waited for Asakusa Jinta a Japanese gypsy punk band who were energetic and fun but as you can see from their on-stage photos they were playing to a sopping audience and I was getting the blues. We opted out of seeing Kangaroo Moon - a space rock band who were a decidedly cosmic-seeming distance away back in Green Futures and rolled back around to The Common to see Bristolian slide guitarist John Fairhurst who I adore. Unfortunately the sound in The Rum Shack was fucking appalling. We were hanging around with a lovely sound engineer named Darrell and I turned and saw the rain on his face. Not rain. Tears. THE RUM SHACK'S SOUND WAS SO BAD IT MADE DARRELL WEEP. Unless that was rain.
It had killed the day for us really - all the rain and the sound and the trudging and my crappy poncho and instead of hanging around to see 3 Daft Monkeys, Duncan Disorderly and the Scallywags and The John Langan Band we retreated to the tents. We felt genuinely folking cut up about missing them all (see what I did there) then on returning to reality we discovered that two of them were playing quite soon in Bristol. Hurrah.


No wallets were lost or not lost or anti-lost or underlost that night and it was all spectacularly peaceful. First order of Friday was Amanda Palmer who Jazz is a huge fan of. I'm new to Palmerworld and although she has a habit of wanting artists to work for nowt she is spectacularly and profoundly open as her post-Glastonbury Maildebate has showed. We had seen Mr Gaiman do a talk in Bath only weeks before and as a couple they must be two of the most blisteringly earnest people on the planet. Which is either grating or heavily endearing depending on how you view it.

Then Goat on West Holts whose heavy psychedelic stuff was probably the most appealing noise of the festival. We were far off consuming things at the Brothers bar - so unfortunately didn't take it in as much as maybe we could have done but the above hour-long vid shows what we were missing. We also caught them purely by chance on the Hell Stage later in the day - which their demented stage show suited beautifully. It must be the vague world music schtick that allows this Swedish psych rock group a place above its contemporaries at Glasto. Grateful for it - but more acts with this kind of riffage would be grand on the Glasto bill. NO. MORE DUBSTEP AND INDIE ELECTRONIC. SHUT UP.

We then went and saw a bit of Craig Charles DJ'ing funk and soul which he's assuredly good at although he'd been playing for a few hours at that point and seem a little woofed. A nice atmosphere and a dryer Hell stage meant for a larkful boogie. The next afternoon we saw him in the Avalon Inn and I said I liked his set and he said "ROBOTS ACTIVATE" and bit my spine.

Next was Tame Impala which again was uncharacteristically riffy for Glasto and the tiny amount we scooped in was great. Also look at the size of that guy's guitar. It's bigger than Saturn. We then trekked up to Acoustic and caught a fair chunk of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings which was pleasantly old fashioned rock 'n' roll and played host to the largest audience of olds I'd ever seen at Glastonbury. Not complaining it was rather reassuring that folk of that boogying vintage come to Glasto and dance themselves into a frenzy. I can see it now - 2053's Glasto's Golden Oldies stage serving up Indie Electronic, Brostep and Twee Folk Pop to a room of swaying greying hips...

Next we whipped back to West Holts and saw the evergreen Seasick Steve now slightly star-tinged (and dare I say it a little convoluted) by the inclusion of the living legend that is John Paul Jones. His voice still rings true and his songs still have heart and weight. Lovely to see him at Glasto again - seems moons since I first saw him hop off the Pyramid stage to shake people's hands in the rain...

After this we wandered up and had a gander at a friend's reggae rock band Hot Sister who had an extraordinary amount of energy although they accidentally walked into a trope pointed out in the little Glasto guide around everyone's neck by ending on a Jefferson Airplane cover...

We managed to see maybe the first half an our of Portishead on the Other Stage and it was revelatory - extremely atmospheric and quite captivating... but we had a queue to join for the South-East corner. Cattled up a corridor and up to the Rocket Lounge were former Crystal Maze and Tenpole Tudor man Ed Tudor-Pole was playing a furious acoustic set. As detailed on Jazz's review blog Bez was there and Jazz danced with him. Which most people pay good money for - ! On an unrelated note good sir Bez later broke his teeth on a doughnut. I'm not saying blame Jazz...


...but I did see her buying a load of doughnuts. On the Saturday we'd made grand ambitious plans to see a bearded wonder called Ben Caplan. In this day and age where beards are more of a marketing tool or a hipster accessory I'm uncomfortable just defining a musical artist as bearded. However go and look at that beard. THAT IS A BEARD. 'Neath the beard there is also a hell of a voice as well - so if it were to ever burn off in a fire he'll be alright. We wandered down to cabaret thinking that we might sneak into the Infinite Monkey Cage recording with the power of blasé. Didn't work though, the thing was rammed as it had been in 2011. So off we buggered to Bob Malone at Croissant Neuf - gloriously out of place a sort of Gary-Moore lookin' blues piano feller who was like some manner of ivory wizard. Midday on a sunny Saturday he found himself irritatingly bereft of audience though. Which is an arse of a shame.
Then it was time for the thing I ALWAYS see - Stephen Frost's Improv Allstars - which is essentially Whose Line but a thousand times swearier and a billion times more festival frazzled. I've seen it every festival since time immemorial when a younger improv obsessed O stumbled into Astrolabe and was blinded by it. Phill Jupitus was part of the line-up again and did some quite impressive on-the-spot songwriting.

We didn't know but afterwards he was headed in the same direction as us because at our next thing: Billy Bragg's Radical Round-Up Mr Jupitus showed up and sang the above hilariously nasty song. We were there to peek at Amanda Palmer again and didn't expect it in the least. The radical round-up was just several singer/songwriters doing their own tunes - Bragg, Palmer and some other Bragglites.

We wanted to but just couldn't fit in Gypsy Hill (another Balkan band) and went straight to West Holts to see BadBadNotGood a sort of jazzy instrumental hip-hop band that are marvellous. Unfortunately like most bands on during a sunny day in West Holts they served largely as background music to a really fantastic couple of pints of Brothers. Brilliant background music though. After that was the relentless and hilarious Kevin Eldon in cabaret whose thunderously quick surreal material didn't translate so well to the screen this year. His stand up DVD from GoFasterStripe is worth a gander though.

Next was Alabama Shakes - good southern rock 'n' soul with incredible vocals and good wailing guitars. Perfect on a sunny afternoon and a really vibrant festival memory.

The intention was to next see the reassuringly bonkers Correspondents which looked to be brilliant fun but a hog roll and a large cider got in the way and we ended up just moving straight on to MC5 LEGEND Wayne Kramer who performed to frustratingly empty Left Field. He was sweet and very game but needed a backing band I think. Then, my friend, some jams would've been kicked out. As with all the videos I didn't film this, but you can see me and Jazz down the front at the end of it. I look like someone's draped a purple shirt over a boulder.

Then on to see the final few songs of the everglorious Steve Winwood who never seems to be anything less than the ultimate chap. After that back to the tents which proved to be the perfect vantage point for the Rolling Stones who did a nice Glastonbury song and seemed good enough but a lot of people thought it was far too quiet. It was predictably as busy as a very busy thing and some harsh methods were in place to keep folk "out of the arena" once they'd deemed it full. A long wall of security and just constant constant fights, didn't seem worth it really! S'only rock 'n' roll, like. Anyway our day finished up in the Dance Village witnessing the full force of funk fury that is The Family Stone - a fantabulous and uplifting performance recorded seemingly by no one but it'll not leave my noggin' for a while. We'd intended to see Otway: The Movie which was screening at the Pilton Palais cinema but our minds had deserted us and demanded we sleep...


...which I would of done if not for some drugruined ballbag of a man who spend the entire night yelling and whelping outside our tent. Fie and arse to him. 

Blearily then Sunday began with the truly filthy Cassetteboy at Spirit of 71 - which was brilliant really but the sound came out of synch towards the end. Which was a trifle embarrassing - so we buggered off.

Although we missed out on Otway: The Movie we did catch THE MAN HIMSELF on cabaret - who, as you can see from the video above is a force of nature. A very silly force of nature. He's probably the single most endearing cult figure in all of music - and there are a lot of them. A bloody lot.

We only caught a tiny bit of them but JJ Grey & Mofro were again, one of those rare good 'n riffy rock bands playing. Southern style with some soul and blues mixed in - very tight and very groovy. Want to see more of them for damned sure. But the Professor was calling... Professor Elemental that is. Despite seeing him a thousand times before it's always lovely and he seemed in particularly furious form in the sweaty afternoon sun. His fanbase were all there in force as well which warms my cockles. Then my heart. Then my cockles again. Then Simon Munnery - cult comedian extraordinare who I've seen supporting the mighty Stew Lee before now. His set seemed very dashed-out though which was irritating, how many comedians do I have to hear talking about what it's like to be a fucking parent? Hmm - get your free ticket in another way Mr Munnery - !

Then... that was it. We hauled up our rucksacks and made our way back out into reality - but not before seeing The Smashing Pumpkins whom Jazz is a massive fan of. I lay and watched the rucksacks and the clouds and it was all rather peaceful. A very positive year it was - lots of sunshine and good music - lots of larks and good folk. Here's to 2014 and beyond - !

Monday, 24 June 2013

Pre Glasto

I wrote a blog entry back in 2010 about Glastonbury - it was a magic year that one. In only a MATTER of hours I'll be back in that place and I can't say it better than I did three years ago...

"Mostly it is known for being host to hordes of corporate-approved superbands and flash-in-the-pans that attract thousands upon thousands of musical fucks who think Scouting for Girls are the best thing that happened since MOZART FUCKING DIED - which makes it appear to unknowers as just a fatter corporate shindig like Reading or Leeds. Which it clearly isn't. Those who dollop their betrilby'd forms exclusively in front of the main pop stages are depriving themselves of what makes me love Glastonbury festival. I love it so utterly that were I to cop it at this moment I could think of no better place to summarise the happiest days of my existence than that sprawling valley - the dust and the mud and the moments and the people. I'm always happy there. The dicks swarm - the terrible bands play - and I grin on, knowing that for a week out of the year I am home."

Although I probably would use a different example than Scouting for Girls now.

Anyway. More about that next blog - what's been happening up until this point?

Well as you all know Rory Kinnear has been officially announced as the new Doctor. 

Ahaha. No he hasn't. But did you think it for a minute then? No? Oh well. This is what it'd look like and it would be marvellous. Who do I really think will be the next Doctor? I don't care, I just want it to be written by people who are actually capable of telling stories that aren't shit.

Flaubert Page 23 - Written by Geoffery CrescentMore here

Here's the twenty third page of Flaubert written by Geoffery Crescent - here revealing the origin of Laura Dora and her Siamese pig. The whole thing before now can be seen here.

My Dreddheads aren't as frequent as they once were but hopefully they still have their value - I have a request list longer than the written-out human genome so it'll probably be actual Dredd timeline by the year I've finished. 

My reading pile is still FIRMLY stuck in all the things I bought at Thought Bubble last November...

Lilly MacKenzie & The Mines of Charybdis (Self Published) Simon Fraser
I'd previously read this serialised as a webcomic Judge Dredd Megazine but in one lump it's eminently readable and brilliantly structured. Fraser, one of my favourite artists of all time, delivers a solid sci fi tale with many a twist and turn. Accompanied by the gracefully subtle colours of Gary Caldwell (who collaborated so brilliantly with Fraser on the majority of Nikolai Dante) and the progworthy lettering of 2000ad's Simon Bowland. Here's hoping the follow-up gets a similar physical tome that I can plop next to this 'un on the shelf.

The Lovecraft Anthology Volume II (Selfmade Hero) Various
Despite being unfamiliar with Lovecraft's work this anthology is absorbing, unsettling and almost infinitely readable. If not for the stories then for the sheer mind-buggering wealth of talent on show. Particular highlights being Spurrier & Timson, Lockwood & WJC, Mills & Futaki and a collosally amazing turn from McMahon & Ben Dickson. Worth getting, worth reading - worth eating. I mean... well, don't eat it. I get the feeling tentacle'd beasts might start spawning from ye.

MOA-192B (Self Published) Tesemberidis
I saw premier art droid Dave Taylor flicking through Stathis Tsemberlidis' pile of comics at Thought Bubble which was a bit of an indicator - they're really weird. Moebius like. Crammed with detail and mind-buggering but gloriously drawn. Recommended.

Rainbow Orchid, The Complete (Egmont) Garen Ewing
Thick with detail and remarkably well told - a ripping yarn and easily one of the best adventure comics I've ever read. Like his style of art the story is simple, edible yet deceptively dense. Every character, no matter how briefly they appear, are brilliantly rounded. Hugely fabulous.

The Scorpion 1 - The Devil's Mark (Cinebook) Marini/Desberg 
Despite some unnecessary censorship, The Scorpion is a rollicking tale - recommended to me by the redoubtable Bolt-01 I'd heard of this long before I'd even investigated Cinebooks. It is pure swashbuckle with Vatican conspiracies and heaving bosoms - damned men and thrilling setpieces. Marini's artwork is enthralling - every bit the model of French sequential excellence - his environments and archicture in particular are breathtaking. I long for more.

Stiffs # 1 (Formerly Dead Star) Davies/Montgomery/Glass/Mitchell/Cadwell
Smartly told fresh zombie story featuring talking monkeys and some foul-mouthed Welshmen. It's well paced and manages to introduce quite a lot without seeming overwhelming. Mitchell's artwork is irrestiably expressive as always and Cadwell's flat colours suit it well. A confident and fun book.