Monthly Archives: September 2011

Two months to the day have passed since I wrote this post about books that have sat on my shelf for far too long. And how many of those books have I read since then? None. Zero. Not one.

But I have read a load of other books since then (from Donna Tartt to date I count nine books) and, despite already having too many books to handle, have I’ve also managed to buy these…

It seems I need to buy a book and then read it straight away or it doesn’t get read. Looking at these, top to bottom then left to right, I’ve read Jaws, LondonstaniAbout the Author and both Grandville books. I’m in the middle of Mr Rinyo-Clacton’s Offer and started but not finished Atmospheric DisturbancesMy thoughts on the one’s I’ve read (if I’ve written my thoughts up yet) are here.

The books I’ve still to read are:

TOMAS – saw a very positive mention of this on some Shoreditch hipster website. Bought it, loved the size, loved the cover, but tried a few pages and haven’t gone back to it yet. Not blown away. Say no to impulse buys. Continue reading


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Strongrooms to Moorgate

I left Strongrooms after being there all afternoon, stumbled a bit as I walked out from under the trailing ivy, and turned down Curtain Road. The pavement was dark from rain but the brief downpour that had rolled across London hadn’t cleared the air of the dirty humidity that furred the air.

As the rain had stopped so people had started to move outside of the bars and gather together in twos and threes. I hugged the edge of the pavement to avoid the small groups and rough lines of smokers and thought to myself that I should have gone the other way, up along Rivington Street and out.

There was a man ahead of me walking, slowly, in the same direction. I gained on him a quarter-stride at a time. Two angel wings of sweat stained the grey fabric of his t-shirt and in his left hand he held a white plastic bag, low down by his side. I slowed my pace as I drew close then, unable to pass, timed my walk to his, mimicking his steps as I waited. The angel wings lost their definition at this distance. The plastic bag had a blue and red Chicken Cottage logo printed on it. There was a roll of fat at the back of his neck, visible above the line of his t-shirt. When I did move past I walked too quickly and my leg knocked the bag he held. It bounced and swung in his hand. I said ‘sorry’, but with my earphones in I couldn’t hear myself speak, and I didn’t look across at him.

Ahead of me the pavement ended and cars drifted along the road like cut logs floating down a river. I waited at the bank and watched the logs as they passed, my eyes following their slow unceasing jostle for space. A crowd gathered and I could feel the presence of Angle Wings behind me, close among the mass of assembled bodies. My back was tensed slightly; in my mind Angel Wings had become an avenging angel. I craned my neck upwards and concentrated on the traffic light.

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Bryan Talbot : Grandville and the anthropomorphic tradition

In recent years Bryan Talbot has been feted for his compelling exploration of Sunderland, Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland (Alice in Sunderland), but Talbot has been creating comic books since the 60s and in his time has worked on a variety of projects, including 2000AD, Judge Dredd, Sandman and Hellblazer.

Bryan Talbot is a man passionate about his work, passionate about the research behind his work, and with a huge reservoir of knowledge on which to draw. The talk today, part of The Big Draw campaign launch, was about Grandville – Talbot’s steam punk badger detective series -, and the history of anthropomorphism in comics.

The first half of the talk tackled the history of anthropomorphism. From the bible (the serpent in Genesis), through political cartoon strips of the 1800s, early fairy tales, later day cartoons, 60s counter culture and African legends, Talbot traced an anthropomorphic  linage that ranged far and wide.

The final half of the talk was given over to Grandville. Within the comic series there are a number of sly references to the comic’s influences (artists, television shows, comics, children’s books, cartoons) and, with a bit of audience interaction, Talbot spent an enjoyable half an hour working through these.

One short Q&A later and the talk was over.

The time passed incredibly quickly and, with Talbot doing a signing afterwards as well, it was a fantastic event to have attended.

Talbot’s next going to be appearing at the BD & Comics Passion festival (7-9th October) and will be talking again on the Grandville and anthropomorphism. The festival itself looks great and, if you missed Talbot the first time round, here’s your chance . . .

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Fuck you Chicken Cottage

Oh thou succulent, breaded temptress

You haunt my dreams

Greasy golden goddess

With breasts

A siren singing, your scent your song

Luring me on to the submerged rocks of obesity, heart disease and bad skin

I seek safety in the sand instead

Be gone cruel imitation

You have no power over me

You ain’t the Colonel

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Things found in books – #1 Jaws

I got my copy of Jaws from the Oxfam Books on Portobello Road (2 for 1 on paperback fiction). A battered Pan edition with yellowing pages and iconic Jaws cover; shark swimming up from beneath the waves, mouth a-gaping, row upon row of teeth showing, and on the surface the unsuspecting swimmer.

Jaws was released in 1974 and became a world-wide hit thanks, in part, to the phenomenal success of Spielberg’s same titled film – itself going on to become the archetype of the ‘summer blockbuster’. The paperback copy of Jaws that I bought was printed in  1975 and was already the 19th printing on the book.

Inside the book there was a bookmark, a warranty postcard from British Domestic Appliances. The card was dated 27-10-75 and had been filled in by hand by ’Bishop’ of ’42 Chestnut Avenue, Hampton, Middlesex’.

Which means it’s stayed in that book for the last  36 years.

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Bad Analogies

From one long slow Friday afternoon. Names redacted, because I can.

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Writing man

The man, in his depression, sits at his table and begins to write. As the pencil moves across the page beautiful words begin to tumble out and extraordinarily evocative images fill the blank space in front of him. He writes more and the writing is good, and he is pleased with what he has written. His mood lightens, his happiness grows, but as it does the writing begins to worsen. The words slow, the pencil stutters. He begins to despair that they, the words, are gone forever.  And in that despair he begins once again to write . . . .

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