Something for the Weakened

Archive for December, 2005

Year in Review

December 31st, 2005 by

Well, as 2005 draws itself to it’s inevitable conclusion and the people of the world behave in the same excited way that one does when a mileometer rolls over to the next thousand, it’s time for reflection. A chance to look back over the past twelve months, to notice the subtle changes, the major differences, the combined experiences that we’ve all shared as a group as well as the little personal epiphanies we might have experienced. Yes, as a whole ‘nother year is mopped into the jizz rag of history, it’s time to review the past year. So here we go!

2005 – it was alright. Bit cold.

Join me in 2006 for more earth shattering revelations into the human condition and the collective world psyche! If you want. I don’t need your love. Wait! Come back…

Weak in Review

December 30th, 2005 by

Right, this’ll probably be the last one afore new year, so shut your traps ‘n’ I’ll get on with it. Almost half one in the morning and I’m sober as a judge (not literally of course – if I could only get that far down the road toward gout I’d be a happy man). No, it’s like every other night this week. No work = stay up late. Not usually for any reason, other than watching shite television or DVDs (I am about six hours into the twenty nine that constitute the Comic Strip Presents box set, which is a good thing, but I’d probably have been better off saving them for a reasonable hour on a rainy day). Because of this I’ve not been rising much before midday and have achieved nothing I’d hoped too. I thought that I might attempt to write a hasty play or draw a while or write some letters or something. Instead I’ve stayed in bed, squandering my time on this Earth, just like I always do. Ladies and gentlemen, it is I who am the weakened one.

Show. Me. The. Monkey.

December 28th, 2005 by

And relax. Yes, yuletide is over once more. Just the inevitably dissapointing rigmarole of New Year to get out of the way before we can return to some sense of normality. Not that normality’s that much better, but at least you know where you are. Not that I’ve spent much of the festive season uncertain of my own location, though that has been the case on some occasions. Erm, I might have had a point when I started this, but it’s completely eluded me now. Actually, that’s a lie. I felt I had to get something down here, but couldn’t for the life of me think of anything remotely interesting. As you see. I’ll leave you alone now. Sorry.

Alastair’s Christmas Message

December 24th, 2005 by

I and I welcome you all, my friends, subjects and common members for your wealth. I never watch the Queen’s speech, so don’t actually have any more weak puns on phrases she tends to use (and I’m not stooping to ‘anus horriblus’ gags – it’s Christmas for Christ’s sake). It also seems to early to do any kind of review of the year. I would wish you happy holidays of some description, but realise that no one’s likely to read this until after the twenty fifth. As such, I’ll just say that I hope you all had a wonderful time worshipping the deity of your choice.

Oh, and one last humbug of the year. Humbug. Thank you and good night.

Status Report

December 21st, 2005 by

Lungs shot. Stomach confused. Brain befuddled. Pants mucky. Need sleep.

Waffly Unversatile

December 18th, 2005 by

Evenin’ all. I was going to knock out yet more collecting exploits today, but frankly nothing exciting has occurred to me. As I might have a bit of spare time over Christmas week, maybe I’ll attempt an entire week of them, just as an attempt to kill off the last four people reading this tat. I’d also vaguely planned another poll, following the ‘enormous’ success of the last one, but might keep that on the back burner for the time being too.

Another reason for my current apathy (as opposed to the vast quantities that I exibit over the rest of the year) is due to the fact that nearly every minute of next week is already pre planned and my time already booked in advance. This has led to my desire to lock myself in a room and do as little as possible over the past two days, which I’ve been reasonably successful at. Unlike most weekends. Hmmm . . .

Anyhoo, next week’s socialite head may prevent anything going up here until Christmas. If so, humbug to you all now. If not, further humbuggings will follow shortly.

Reading

December 15th, 2005 by

Whenever I see the word reading written down, I’ve started saying Reading in my head. Don’t quite know why, but having Reading in my head seems more fulfilling than just having reading. So, next time you’re reading reading, think Reading. Go on. Just for me.

Hmm, this probably works better when you can hear the pronunciation. Probably better than if I’d been talking about how doing sounds so much more pleasant as doing.

Woolf at the Doors

December 11th, 2005 by

Few weeks ago, I finally got round to seeing the film version of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, free from my parent’s copy of the Torygraph no less. Now, this is a film I’ve wanted to see for many years. I first became aware of it as a trailer on some video I probably have lying around the place. Having no idea about the novel on which it’s based (which I confess, I still haven’t read), the story appealed to me with it’s fantastical and bizarre conceits. For those of you not in the know, it concerns an immortal born in Elizabethan times, who accidentally switches gender at some point. There’s more to it than that, but those were the details that caught my eye almost ten years ago. Since then, I often kept an eye out for it in sales or second hand shops, only coming close once, but then pissing my money away on some Chow Yun Fat nonsense instead.

Anyhow, couple of weeks ago, finally got to see it. You how you build things up in your mind . . . Well, shall we say I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be. The film does have it’s moments, I can’t deny that, but it does have some execrable tat in amongst it. Tilda Swinton’s very good in both the male and female roles of the title character. Would have worked better had I not known she was a woman, but ten years ago I probably wouldn’t have been so sure. Quentin Crisp makes for an oddly believable Elizabeth I, second only to Miranda Richardson in terms of credibility. Being a shifting period piece, the film as a whole looks utterly beautiful, the scenes on ice with Dudley Sutton (Tinker out of Lovejoy – could have done with seeing more of him) being particularly striking. Then there’s the site of Ned Sherrin trying to act. Well, it amused me.

But there are as many wrong steps in there as right. Obviously Orlando him/herself isn’t supposed to age throughout the film, but none of the other characters ever do either. One bloke appeared to be in his early fifties for the entire course of a century! I know it’s a fairy tale of sorts, but an ounce of credibility being given to the ‘real’ world around the fantasy would have helped. Or how about the choice to end it in the present day? Woolf presumably ended her novel near the turn of the twentieth century, which is when it would have felt right for the film to climax. Instead, we have thirty seconds of Swinton running pregnantly through both world wars and then come crashing back to the plot in late eighties yuppiedom. It feels wrong, though not as wrong as the very last shot of the film. Jimmy Somerville. Flying. Dressed as a cheap, tinselly angel. Fucking singing. It’s painful, really it is. My advice to anyone planning to watch it would be to stop just after Billy Zane leaves, go out, have a cup of tea and a biscuit, come back ten minutes later and watch the rest as if it were a different film. You’d be doing yourself a favour. Then decide to slaughter Somerville. Then you’d be doing us all a favour.

A History of Collecting – Part Twenty Three – Referee

December 11th, 2005 by

Nerr nerr nerr nerr. You know the drill.

Let’s take a step back from the continuity again for a minute. I’d love to say that the vast well of comic based knowledge encased in my skull comes from reading everything ever to have come out in the medium from all corners of the earth. If only it did. To manage that would probably taken every second of my life so far, far more cash than I’m ever likely to see and the ability to comprehend almost every language the world has ever produced instinctively (I wouldn’t have had the time to learn them if I’d spent every second . . . oh, you got it). In fact a great deal of it comes from a few of the many reference books available upon the subject.

I think it all started with the Encyclopedia of Comic Characters by the late, great Denis Gifford. Reading Denis’ biography inside the book, it was clear to me that we were on a similar wave length. Here was a true inspiration to the true collector. He must have been in his fifties when he wrote this particular book, but had been collecting comics for at least forty five of those years. Following his death, at some point within the last two years, there was some question as to what would be done with this enormous wealth of paper. Slightly unsurprisingly, a single man, the archive that he had amassed through his life defies belief. Rooms packed from floor to ceiling with stacks of four coloured pamphlets so large and diverse that it boggles my mind. From all four corners of the world, dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century and beyond, the fate of this beautiful resource is unknown to me now. I can only hope that it wasn’t split up and scattered between collectors and bin men around the country.

The book was something I came upon by mistake. Rooting around a book case in a second hand shop in Banbury (I think), the chunky hardback fell into my hands. My fascination with the medium was a long way into it’s full swing by this time, I presume I must have been around eleven or twelve at this time. Not sure that it was actually second hand, more likely to just have been remaindered by it’s publishers, but thanks to it’s being cheap, it wasn’t hard to afford it. Or convince my parents that I needed it, whichever of the two it actually was. Home, I pored over the pages, fascinated by all the information it contained – a listing for almost every comic character to have appeared regularly in a British comic since Ally Sloper, the first character to appear regularly anywhere in the world, preceding the Yellow Kid by at least twenty years American readers (yeah, there aren’t any, but one day maybe . . .).

I spent the next few weeks going through the whole book. It’s listings of the characters creators was the thing that possibly intrigued me the most. Cross referencing names and artistic styles to comics already in my collection, the fascination with so many titles that had long since passed into history, characters who had clearly changed artists in their long or short histories. There were some frustrations too; the lack of writer credits (admittedly the majority probably had been devised by artists or writer/artists, but those that hadn’t been would probably have been near impossible to track down. Far easier to recognize an artist’s style and name them), the brevity of some entries, the occasional insistency in the index (which I scoured and, on a few occasions, corrected) but for the most part the book became an invaluable resource to me. Inevitably I became intrigued to find more.

First stop was the library. Being only a small district branch in a market town, I shouldn’t have expected much, but was rather disheartened by the lack of material available. Eventually I did manage to track down another of Gifford’s books, whose actual name escapes me. Something along the lines of The World Book of Comics, but I’m not entirely sure. Again, the focus was primarily on works that came out in the UK, but there was a quantity of, as the title suggested, world comics’ history on display as well. This was probably my first experience of manga, the first time I saw work by Crumb, the first time I got a vague feeling of the vast wealth of material that was available around the planet. I didn’t scour the book in as much depth as the Encyclopedia, though must have kept it out from the library for a good couple of months.

The only other available title was a book by Alan McKenzie. Probably around the same time as the book came out, McKenzie became the new Tharg – fictional editor of 2000AD. The period he presided over is considered one of the weakest periods the magazine ever experienced in terms of material. This presumably wasn’t helped by his printing a number of stories he had written himself. His writing was utterly appalling in my opinion, though as an editor he did still manage to break a few names into the big time. But again, another tale for another day. McKenzie’s book was all about how to write and draw a comic. This interested me (don’t worry – I’m planning a horribly detailed trawl through my own attempts at comic creation soon, chums!), but for some reason the book didn’t. Perhaps it was McKenzie’s style of writing (did I mention how poor it was?), maybe I just wasn’t as interested as I thought, but over the two or three months of continued renewing I can’t have ever read much more than twenty pages. Could be because there weren’t enough pictures.

The final major reference tome that came into my possession was, I believe, the Penguin Book of Comics. The authors or editors names escape me, but I seem to recall that it was an English edition of what was originally an American book. Thus, like dear old Denis, their focus was very much on the of the pond their bread was buttered (ungh! Mix that metaphor, baby!). This was given to me as a Christmas present one year, and I think I spent a great deal of time flicking through it while the rest of the family were engrossed in a Bond film or some such. That was until I came to part of the section on French comics. Many of you are probably unaware that Barbarella was originally a comic. The editors here were. I decided not to mention the images, though assume that the book would still open on that exact page if dropped today.

I didn’t buy or read many more books about the medium after that. I had gleaned a great deal of information from these smatterings and was of course willing to learn more. That more turned up sometime later, when I accidentally happened upon an advert. For, of all things, a magazine? About comics? But there couldn’t be a market for that. Could there?

Muldoon?

December 11th, 2005 by

I appear to have developed considerably more acne this weekend than I had originally planned. Something must be done. Perhaps washing.