Something for the Weakened

Archive for June, 2012

The Belated Eurovision Post

June 21st, 2012 by Alastair

I was invited to a birthday party on the day of this year’s Eurovision. Apart from watching the televisual car crash that is the song contest, one of the themes of the evening was that guests were to bring food from one of the competing nations. I’m sure my culinary ineptitude has been mentioned around these parts on more than one occasion, placing me in a bit of a quandary. Should I attempt to rustle up some sort of dish and risk poisoning many of me bestest chums? Or just turn up with some booze and scoff all their grub like I normally do? Or should I try something else?

I tried something else.

The image you will see below is what I created. Possessing no camera as I do, and as no one to my knowledge took a photo of it on the day, the only way to preserve it for posterity was by sticking it on my scanner, covering that with my duvet (it was the middle of the day when the scanning occurred) and hoping for the best. It hasn’t come out too badly, but being raised up from the surface of the scanner has caused it to elongate length-ways ever so slightly. Anyway, this is what it looked like -

That, my friends, is an effigy of the face of Englebert Humperdink, fashioned entirely from Chewits.

Yeah, you heard right.

I’d often thought about trying to sculpt something from Chewits, stemming back to when I must have been eight or nine and spent some time squashing them between my grubby fingers, twisting them, rolling them into balls. The idea of building a column of them and sticking it in the middle of a room so that anyone could take a bite whenever they fancied has long been a fantasy as yet unrealised. Their malleability is similar to damp clay, though they don’t set quite as hard.

Englebert is made from six packs of Chewits, two orange, two fruit salad and two strawberry – blackcurrant would have been better for the hair, but sadly my local vendor had none (should they still be being manufactured). The longest part of the process was probably taken up with removing the individual wrappers from every single sweet. Tip to aspiring candy sculptors -  it might be advisable to acquire a larger taffy bar that has a single wrapping. Chewits unsheathed, it’s then a matter of shoving them together into a single, globular mass. This isn’t too tricky. The heat given off by the hands and the forces being exerted by the pushing soon makes them pretty squidgy and manipulable. I blended the fruit salad and orange flavoured Chewits together pretty haphazardly, in the vague hope that it would give the appearance of mottled, leathery skin. Not sure if that really come across in the scan, but it did sort of in reality. When I had my ‘flesh’ coloured blob, I then fashioned that into a sort of ball (it was far from perfectly spherical), slowly flattened that into a head shaped oval, then stuck it to the bottom of a Tupperware container. Did I mention that it was an unspeakably sticky process? Yeah, unsurprisingly that amount of sugar based gunk could probably be used as an industrial solvent, had one the inkling. It took a couple of attempts to get much of a nose sticking out, without making the cheeks completely hollow, so I eventually settled for what you see above. The eyes were made just using my thumbnails, while most of the other features were achieved using the end of a teaspoon and a small vegetable knife. I’m quite happy with the jowls. Thinking about it, it might have been an idea to use some strawberry fragments for the eyeballs, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. Instead I rolled two small cylinders for the eyebrows and three for the lips, then put the rest into two large cylinders which were arranged into the hair. The longer of the two formed the quiff almost by accident on my first attempt, which was oddly satisfying. The knife was then taken to it to give almost the appearance of hair.

The effigy made it to the party unscathed. Rather than being consumed, it was placed upright next to the television as a mascot. It was a warm night and there were about a dozen people in the room, so it was amusing to see that by the end of the evening the face had slid down its Tupperware, deforming it slightly and the hair drooping from the top like the toupee of a sleeping baldy on a train. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the party’s host didn’t really want to hold onto Englebert (in spite of my repeatedly pointing out that I had washed my hands during the construction), so he came back home with me. I hadn’t lain him flat in my rucksack for my journey home, so when I next looked in on him even more slippage had occurred, the face melting into the contours of it’s container. So what was I to do with this soggy sweet mass on a Sunday afternoon.

Yes, of course I ate him.

In about ten minutes.

He tasted good. Though that amount of sugar did send me a bit funny.

Should anyone wish to commission me to create further sweetie sculptures, please get in contact. Maybe Wham bars next time.

Convention Sketches – Part One

June 17th, 2012 by Alastair

To date, I have attended four comic conventions. The first I forget the name of. The middle two were U.K.C.A.C.s and the most recent was Caption a couple of years ago. We can ignore that last one for this series of posts. The first took place in Alexandra Palace and was at the time of the fascinating clusterfuck that was Tundra, 1990, maybe ‘91. My memories of the event are mostly hazy. Mainly trawling through dealers tables for back issues I needed to fill holes in my collection and picking up more free posters than my walls could ever hold and other bumpf from publishers stalls. I went on my own, not having any friends who shared the interest with me. I didn’t meet anyone because I was too timid an adolescent to start conversations with strangers. I didn’t attend any panels as I doubt I knew such things were taking place and I certainly wasn’t interested in hearing them at that time. I probably only really conversed with retailers during the couple of hours I was present there. The only real event that’s emblazoned on my brain is the bit when Warren Ellis thought I was trying to filch an issue of Lazarus Churchyard (I wasn’t). I returned home with stacks of reading material and numerous bits of paper that mostly failed to get stuck up in my bedroom.

But those weren’t the only things. I have no recollection of the event, but at some point during the day I ended up in the presence of the artist Kev Walker (I think he’s ‘Kevin’ now, but he was mostly credited as Kev then). He drew a sketch for me. It was the first piece of original art that I’d ever possessed that was drawn by someone I hadn’t gone to school with. Unsurpisingly, I was mightily chuffed with it. At the time my Dad was in the process of trying to whip up some extra cash by doing some picture framing, so very kindly put the piece between wood and behind glass for me. I don’t think it ever actually made it onto my bedroom wall, there being so little room between the posters and no one (least of all myself) trusting me to use a hammer and nail. I still kept it safe though, until the glass shattered some years later under circumstances I can’t recall, but probably involved some form of mind altering intoxicant. Where it resides now is uncertain. It was of Nemesis The Warlock.

This post is not about that picture.

In 1993 I attended my first U.K.C.A.C.. Again, I treated the day primarily as an opportunity to purchase comics that had been unavailable from my local suppliers. I went alone. I attended no panels. I made no new friends. I became slightly confused by the fact that the event took place in two seperate buildings. One thing I did do though was get some established artists to draw sketches for me. I don’t think any of them took any of the artists more than five minutes to complete. Some I remember the drawing of and have things that almost resemble anecdotes attached to them. Others I’ve merely appreciated looking at in the book they’ve lived in these past couple of decades. These are what I shall present to you over the next couple of weeks in lieu of any decent self generated content. They come in the order in which they have always sat in the book, which is as far as I’m aware the order in which they were sketched. This is the first.

Judge Death by Peter Doherty – pencil on cartridge paper.

Judge Death was created by John Wagner & Brian Bolland and is copyright 2012 Rebellion.

I’m sad to admit that I have no real memory attached to this first sketch. At the time I was only familiar with Doherty’s work on the Young Death series that he had produced for the first few issues of Judge Dredd: The Megazine (though I may have only been familiar with the tale at the time through the US sized Fleetway Editions reprints that I managed to pick up the first two issues of in a local newsagent, failing to find the third and thereby not reading the end of the self contained tale until I picked up the Megazine back issues as the years ticked by). Thus, my decision to request a Death sketch from him seems to have been a bit of a no brainer (hope he wasn’t too hacked off with everyone asking for one from him). The drawing itself is very much in keeping with the character design he had used on the series, the obvious difference being that it wasn’t lushly painted as the work there had been. I particularly like the way that he’s managed to give the feel of the pterodactyl type thing that perches on Death’s right shoulder with half a dozen pencil strokes (if that).

Doherty continued doing marvelous painted work in 2000AD, The Megazine and in other venues (I was particularly fond of the Grendel Tales series he did with Terry Laban). He later refined his style, doing pencil and ink work for US publishers, his art on the Sandman spin off The Dreaming being the last time I encountered him for a while. These days, more of his time seems to to be devoted to colouring, often over the incredible linework produced by Geoff Darrow – indeed, it was my noticing his name in the credits for Shaolin Cowboy that showed me that he was still in the comic creating business. He is still producing full art as well, I’m pleased to say. The first issue of my return to reading The Megazine (after almost a decade away) saw him providing full art on the lead Dredd story that month. Most recently, he was responsible for the recolouring job on Frank Quitely and Grant Morrison’s long held in legal limbo Flex Mentallo collection. Much as I like the colour work he produces, I’d personally be far more interested to see some more linework from the man. Wikipedia seems to think he’s working on a Devlin Waugh project at the moment (presumably with the character’s creator, John Smith), though I’ve an inkling that that might be some old/dodgy info. Hope not.

A full chronology of Doherty’s work can be found here. His own website is here.

Next time – someone else’s sketch.

Tax Rebate

June 4th, 2012 by Alastair

Slightly later than I’d planned, but here are some results for the sounds quiz I posted up a couple of weeks ago. There were a whole one and a half entries submitted, plus some random cheerleading (which was very much appreciated), which should all now be unhidden in the comments beneath that post, should you desire to see how anyone did. Subjects first, so the interviewees were -

1 – 2 Unlimited

2 – Nick Ross

3 – Slash

4 – Cliff Richard

5 – Gary NuMan

6 – Whigfield

7 – Frankie Valli

8 – Donald Sinden

9 – Max Clifford

10 – Peter Stringfellow

I’ve failed to keep records of who the artists were that did the 8-bit covers, for which I apologise, mainly to the original artists, though primarily to you the readers for my laxness. They’re mainly taken from YouTube anyway, so are pretty easy to track down should you so desire. Here’s what they were covering and who the originals were by.

1 – Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Junior

2 – Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

3 – Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

4 – Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

5 – Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

6 – Song 2 – Blur

7 – Crazy – Gnarls Berkley

8 – Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley

8 – Paradise City – Guns ‘n’ Roses

10 – Pyramid Song – Radiohead

And that’s it really. Well done to Mark for an impressive 18/20 and to Pete for his sterling 9/10 (I will accept “Some Radiohead crap, almost certainly” as you at least had the decency to participate).And many thanks for the whooping Margie.

Next time – content! Probably.