Thursday, June 28, 2007

This is how the cover of the John Bagnall BD Zine issue will look. The front illustration is of two teenage characters I call The Fairfield Prodigies. These have previously appeared in the Winter 2004 edition of Fantagraphics Comics Journal Special and a couple of my recent self-published chap-books. I usually avoid autobiography as I believe its the un-imaginative bane of "indie" comics but will admit the Prodigies are the nearest I will comfortably get to that self-indulgent genre. The urban 70s background you see is how things looked to me while growing up in Liverpool, England and the nylon anorak wearing fellow to the right is myself, while the school blazer wearing youth on the left is my school-friend Graham, who is now a prominent Labour Councillor.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I mentioned in June 7th's post that I was drawing a strip for French mag BD Zine as a centre spread for an issue devoted to my comics. So here it is, in about 98% French! This series of strips is usually titled Two Up Two Down (re. the common phrase for a British terraced house) but I was told the French wouldn't recognise the concept so I altered it to One Up One Down re. the dialogue with the cheeky kid in the window and Polytechnical Derek.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Disappearing Concrete. Well, it was inevitable I suppose, but Owen Luder's 1967 brutalist masterpiece that is the Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead (better known as the Get Carter Car Park) will very soon be demolished to make way for an expanded Tesco Extra Store. See the first picture for a record of this fine edifice when it was in a better state of repair...
I'll certainly pay a few last visits to Gateshead to mourn this Car Park skyline icon. However, down the road in Hartlepool is another distinguished concrete 1960s construction which I've always liked as much as the Get Carter Car Park. Hartlepool's zig-zag shaped Market Hall isn't really in the same league as Owen Luder's late Modernist creation but is surely of the same spirit and vintage. The above photo was taken by myself during one happy Saturday afternoon visit to this coastal town (which is often mentioned in Clement & Le Frenais' Likely Lads BBC TV Series.) Whenever I wander around Hartlepool's Market Hall interior I'm reminded of simple 60s optimism before it degraded into the cynical creation of today's inter-changeable malls.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Neumann Press in the USA have been reprinting Catholic childrens books from the 50s, some in quite elaborate editions. Above are examples of colouring books for "little catholics" which appeal to me because I'm a big fan of this super-saccharine style of retro illustration. However the Neumann Press have loftier aims than nostalgia, these reprints are intended for home-schooling use. I'm all for Christianity being counter-cultural but surely these home schooled kids are in for a shock when they eventually discover 21st Century America is not filled with bobby socks, cute pups and friendly guardian angels?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Last Saturday afternoon in Spennymoor:

I was driving back from a couple of hour's walking around Bishop Auckland (a favourite market town with some well-stocked charity shops) when I noticed that Spennymoor, a satellite village of Durham, was only a minor left detour on my way back home.

I remembered that an old-fashioned ironmongers called Defty's was situated on Spennymoor's main street, with a rather nice faded beige and red fascia (see above.) I was happy to see this was still intact and that Defty's dimly lit shop interior still smelled of oil, damp sawdust and turps. I took a photo, and walked further on, noticing that many of Spennymoor's shops had already closed at 1pm. Surly gangs of track-suited Charva youths roamed the depressing precinct beyond a boarded up Kwiksave supermarket. Where was evidence of the current thriving economy here? On my way back to the car I caught sight of a British National Party poster blatantly displayed in the main window of a large pub and had to take a photo of it. Its message "We're voting for change, we're voting BNP" reminded me not to over-romanticise the places I record in this blog...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

French mag BD Zine have generously offered to devote one of their next issues to my pleasantly musty comics. This has so far involved an email interview and I've been raking through my library of colour illustrations to choose some representative examples. But since this particular journal is only available in France, Belgium and the Netherlands I thought I ought to draw something in French. All credit to my sister Sue for translating this Two Up Two Down strip. Merci Beaucoup!

Will post the full page when I've done the colouring...