Thursday, 24 December 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

It's the cat's meow #100

Hey, the 100th Cat's Meow! Amazing. I was going to do a strip about it being the 100th strip, but the only idea I came up with was that anniversary episodes of long running stories tend to be disappointing which, in itself, would make for a disappointing strip. But, yeah. I done a hundred. Not bad.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Come to Bristol

Where even the bus stops say "hello"...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Sunday, 29 November 2009

It's the cat's meow #98

Oh, wait. I do have one thing to post...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

No news and good news

Well, I took a week off writing comic strips so there's nothing to post, but there is a bit of news on the sequel to Rocket Sciene - an animated short I co-wrote with Sam Morrison that was nominated for Best Comedy in the 2008 British Animation Awards.

Although I didn't have a hand in writing the new animated episode, I'm chipping in with the comic strips. They're too small to read on this page, but I'll be sure to link to the Grime City site when it's up.

These comic strips also made their public debut the other week at an art gallery in Bristol, called Centrespace. They were doing a show of work from all the artists that rent studios there, and Sam decided to show an animation and put up some of out comic strips. As such I spent the evening hovering within view of them, trying to guage the reactions of anyone who read them. I think people liked them.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Tiny Manu doing sums

It seems odd to complain about writer's block when I'm writing as much as I ever did, and especially on a day when I put up three posts, but the fact is that I'm writing fewer comic strips these days. It's been perhaps a month or more since I wrote a six-frame Tiny Manu strip, and my backlog is more or less all used up. However, I'm not abandoning her completely, and here's a little look at something more educational that I've been working on recently. It's still in it's early stages, but I like it.

On the street

Now the evenings are getting darker, as I walk home I can again see my favourite piece of simulacra - a shadow of a street sign that falls on a half built wall, forming the image of a man, bent over, hand outstretched.

For Armistice Day

Years ago I wrote a novel called "Travelling Desperately", which used the format of a diary to tell the tale of everyday slacker life in small town England. Occasionally, though, I'd include a bit that was directly taken from my life. This was one of those occasions.

Sunday 12th November

I get up, and it's a sharp crisp morning. It's half past ten, so I wash, get dressed and go out for a paper. It's quite cold, but the sun just takes the edge off it, so I'm in a good mood, when I notice that everyone in town is walking in the same direction. I'm about to get the paper, but curiosity gets the better of me, and I start to walk the same way. I end up in a park by a housing estate, where there's a crowd around the war memorial. Ah, remembrance Sunday. That'll be it. Okay, puzzle solved, time to get my paper. Except my curiosity is piqued. I decide to stick around, and see what goes on at these things. There's a battalion of soldiers waiting nearby in formation. I wonder where they came from. Can you hire them out for special occasions?

I take my place in the crowd, and look around at the other people. Not many people my age here. Well, none, actually. I find this quite depressing - I'm only here by accident. There's a married couple with their young (seven year old?) son. He keeps looking around, bored, and asking if he can go on the swings. He father is quite abrupt in saying no.

Just besides me is an old couple, who, I guess, must have seen the war. Suddenly the gulf between our generations seems immense. For me this whole memorial thing is a bit of an oddity: something that's worthy and even necessary, but still a bit abstract. For them it's the real thing. They really are remembering lost friends. She shivers a little and crosses her arms, and without any prompting he takes off his coat and places it on her shoulders. I'm quite moved, and the service hasn't even started yet!

It soon does, though. The soldiers march in rank up to the memorial and stand to attention. A local clergyman gives a brief introduction to a woman from the UN. She does a speech which, despite the PA system, I can barely hear. Meanwhile, in the crowd some guy - in his forties - wearing a leather jacket and jeans has turned up. He's smiling, and looking around, nodding to himself. He tries listening to the speech, but gets bored, so starts talking to someone next to him. "Look at them, eh?" he's referring to the soldiers, "best soldiers in the world, they are. Have to be... have you seen The Dambusters?" The person doesn't reply so the man walks away a little. He then takes a small bottle of whisky from his pocket and drinks from it, bending his knees when he lifts the bottle. I suppose he thinks if he stays the same overall height, no one will notice his drinking. Then the clergyman comes back up to the mike, and does a sermon. He man sighs loudly and shifts from foot to foot. When the sermon finishes, and the clergyman says 'Amen', the man mutters loudly 'Amen. Hallelujah. Thank fuck that's over.' He gets a few disapproving looks, even from a couple of soldiers (good hearing!). The old couple near me seem oblivious. I hope they didn't hear him.

Then comes the minute’s silence. I wonder if the man will stay quite, and thankfully he does - although he needs a couple of slugs from his bottle to see him through. Trouble is, I'm so preoccupied with what he's doing, that I don't take the chance to reflect on the two wars, which is what I'm here for. Still, the silence was nice.

After that, there's another speaker. I don't catch his name because our friend has seen someone he knows, and called out his name (a lot more angry looks, especially from the battalion. Good job this isn't an army town - he'd be lynched by evening). His friend looks embarrassed. The man says "A bit boring here, isn't it? The Coach and Horses will be open soon. I'll see you there shall I?" His friend smiles and nods, while the man leaves us to our remembering. Some wreathes are laid at the memorial, but to tell the truth I'm having a hard time following the plot.

I look around the crowd again, and notice that the small boy is equally restless. He keeps looking over towards the swings and slides. His father notices, and puts his hand on the boy's head and turns it back to face the memorial service. He then (Guiltily? Affectionately?) strokes the boys hair.

The service ends and the crowds disperses. The boy is allowed to go on the swings, and the old couple walks away in silence. The drunkard must have already left, since I can't see him anywhere. He's probably already in the pub. Anyway, walk home, mulling all of this over, and it's not until I've got myself a nice cup of tea and have put some music on the stereo that I realise I still haven't got myself a newspaper. Bollocks.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Thursday, 22 October 2009

It's the cat's meow #94

But seriously though, kettles are louder than they used to be... aren't they?

Tiny Manu #70

Words that do not rhyme but they should

A poem by Tiny Manu

The time was nearly half past one
And I was feeling all alone.

Then I thought “It’s time for food”
And this is very, very good.

First I thought, “I’ll have some fruit
And then, perhaps, a nice biscuit.”

I decided on an apple for now
And I looked for one, both high and low.

There was a banana, orange and a pear
But I could see no apple near.

I was sad, because apples are great
And it would be a tasty treat.

Then I found an apple where it should
Not be. Under the sofa, covered in mould.

The dust down there made me cough
And I told mummy, even though

I knew she’d be angry to find an apple there
I said “It wasn’t me, I don’t sit here!”

Mummy said I was very brave
To be so honest, so I could have

A meal from the cooking book I like to read.
So I had sausage soup and crusty bread.

The Strip That Writes Itself #12

Having just gone through quite a long spell of writer's block, this is one of the few strips I came up with in the last few weeks.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Quick news about getting published

Ages ago I mentioned, at least I think I did, that the Institute for Knowing Things had been accepted by the UK subscription-only magazine The Skeptic for their redesign and relaunch.

Well, the relaunch is finally out and at TAM London, I was able to get hold of a copy and admire my work.

Tiny Manu #69

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Thursday, 8 October 2009

It's the cat's meow #92

TAM London

So last weekend I went the The Amazing Meeting London - a conference of skeptics and scientists arranged by the James Randi Educational Organisation. It was very good, and I learnt a lot, and I posted as much on the JREF forums the next chance I got. Then, some time later, another guy posted about it saying that there were too many people not talking to each other. I looked on his blog to see if he'd written anything else and I saw that he'd put up a few photos from the event. I looked and I saw that in the queue to get in, the guy standing in front of him was me! And it was true: I didn't speak to him. I didn't know he wanted me to. I feel bad now - like I let the whole side down. If only I'd spoken to him, he would've had a whole different attitude to the event. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Tiny Manu #68

Friday, 2 October 2009

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Tiny Manu #66

Just thinking about, if Tiny Manu should ever be published, what the first few strips would be like...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Sunday, 20 September 2009

It's the cat's meow #89

Torino: passion lives here

While walking across a bridge in Turin, I noticed that someone had attached some padlocks to the railings. On closer inspection, they had initials written on them in marker pen.

Before too long I worked out that these were signs of affection - a long-lasting declaration of love that will remain until the bridge falls down or the local council decides to go out of their way to remove them. A bit sentimental, but I liked it.

EDIT: I've since learnt that this practice is based on a book (or the film of the book) and it first appeared in Rome. So there you go. Rome: passion lives there, too.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Tiny Manu #65

Torino: looking up

So, I’m back from a week in Turin, or Torino (call it what you want: they’ll just be happy that someone mentioned them) and when I was there I was more determined to treat it like a tourist, rather than as someone who used to live there. To that end, I decided to look up more often, like tourists do. In doing so, I noticed a lot of fake or bricked in windows I hadn’t seen before. I found this quite peculiar, so I used my crappy mobile phone to take some pictures.

This mixture of real window frame and lintel and fake window kind of sums up Torino. Famous for its industrial output more than any cultural reasons, and kind of dismissed by other Italians as grey and unfriendly, but it definitely warrants a closer look, since it seems like there’s always something that you missed at first glance and there’s another story around every corner.

I told my friend about me looking up more as we were walking through town, and she took me to a nearby church, where it is said if you look up, you can see the face of the devil staring down at you.

Makes a change, I suppose...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Google Night View

Well, it’s all gone a bit Twin Peaks on Google Street View, with this night-time trip down several country roads in Alaska. The fact that it’s fragmented – one bit here, one bit there - gives it a weird accidental feel as if they didn’t mean this to be here. Perhaps the driver kept nudging the camera on and off as they drove home. Why this should be uploaded, I’ve no idea, but I’m glad that it has. It has a certain claustrophobic beauty. As you move along the road, you do get the feeling that you’re about to go past a parked pick-up truck with all the lights on, but no one inside.

Edit: nope, they've replaced it with some ordinary daytime views. How dull.

View Larger Map

Or you can muck about in Google Maps here.

Edit again: thanks to Google Maps new history option, it's back if you click on the clock icon in the top left hand corner. This is what it looked (looks) like.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A zero-sum game #1

Between flat-sitting and visiting family, not much time for cartooning this week, so I'll show something that I'm working on at the mo'.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tiny Manu #62

The Strip That Writes Itself #10 and #11

As a budding comic strip writer, I admit to being grimly fascinated by bad comic strips. Like picking a scab, I find myself drawn towards them day after day once I’ve found one. The idea that people either (a) think this is funny, or (b) think that other people think it’s funny amazes me.

The pinnacle of this was a comic strip called “Reliable Sources” which ran in the Metro in its first month or so. This strip was almost entirely without merit, such that I thought it might be a clever meta-comic strip, mocking other comic strips by using the same form in an unfunny, uninspiring way, it drew attention to the idea that perhaps all comic strips were like this. Then they dropped it, so perhaps it wasn’t.

These days, I like to torture myself by reading “As If”, a long-running strip in the Independent. Written by Sally Ann Lasson, this piece of work is breath-taking in its tiny set of pre-occupations, revolving entirely around the differences between men and women, delivered in two distinct formats with almost no concern for actually being funny. Like naive art scorns the more formal expectations of the art establishment, perhaps As If should be applauded for doing the same regarding humour.