December 8, 2023
[xmas] Christmas Links 2023 … Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting festive links every day.
December 7, 2023
[comics] Best graphic novels of 2023 … Some great comics with mentions of Dan Clowes and Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree. ‘Why Don’t You Love Me? (Drawn & Quarterly) follows a couple struggling through parenthood and blagging their way in baffling jobs. British cartoonist Paul B Rainey builds his story from bleakly humorous page-long strips, while the larger question – how, exactly, did these absurdly underqualified people get to where they are? – slowly moves into focus, giving his inventive drama a real emotional weight.’
December 6, 2023
[books] Remembering Iain Banks: a prolific, terrific talent … A look at the legacy of Iain Banks. ‘Ten long years without a new book from him seems illogical, bizarre. After his rug-pulling debut The Wasp Factory brought him early notoriety in 1984, Banks averaged roughly a novel a year for almost three decades. Though he clearly relished switching up his approach to genre, consistent elements of his often swashbuckling style – notably caustic wit, a weakness for wordplay and unwavering socialist politics – made the annual ritual of catching up with the new Banks feel like an ongoing conversation. I miss it. I miss him.’
December 5, 2023
[comics] Classic 2000AD Covers From Kevin O’Neill … Really vivid colour on these great scans from 2000 AD production art owned by Steve Cook.
December 4, 2023
[comics] The Ditko Version … A comprehensive look at Steve Ditko’s reminiscences of his time at Marvel in the 1960s. ‘Stan’s synopsis to me did not mention any (two) wrist shooters, or hidden belt, or any specific costume or specific spider-like actions. Those are my ideas and creation.”’
December 1, 2023
[london] ianVisits … A great website concentrating on London news, and things to do and visit around the city.
November 29, 2023
[woke] The Official Woke List … ‘AVOCADOS!’
November 28, 2023
[comics] Dave Gibbons – Letterer … Todd Klein provides an in-depth analysis of Dave Gibbons’ approach to lettering comics. ‘WATCHMEN was a groundbreaking project in many ways, including Dave’s suggested storytelling device of making most pages a nine panel grid. Dave also experimented with lettering styles, with Alan Moore’s encouragement. Dave said, “Watchmen was so full, and it was so vital that the lettering read well and didn’t obscure anything important in the pictures, the lettering would be the first thing I would both pencil and ink. Then I would start doing the drawings and make any adjustments so it wouldn’t cut off people’s heads. I really don’t think Watchmen would have been feasible if I hadn’t lettered my own work.”’
November 27, 2023
[comics] Talking to Rick Veitch About Boy Maximortal, Turtles & Swamp Thing … Rich Johnson interviewed Rick Veitch about his latest comic, Boy Maximortal. ‘Over the decades, there have been numerous discussions with, and honest attempts by, DC to not only publish Swamp Thing #88, but to also let me finish my time travel storyline. But something always seemed to derail it. I know there are great people up in DC right now who would love to make it happen. It’s one of those corporate Gordian Knots!’
November 23, 2023
[books] The Composites … A Tumblr page that showcases composite sketches of literary characters created using law enforcement software. Below is Annie Wilkes, from Stephen King’s book Misery.
November 22, 2023
[crime] Burke and Hare… and Knox … Today, I learned about Robert Knox, the anatomist who enabled the murderers Burke and Hare. ‘Edinburgh was then a world center of anatomical study. To meet the demand, a number of anatomists lectured outside the university. The most popular of these was one-eyed Robert Knox, renowned for both his lectures and his scathing criticism of his competitors and society at large. Hundreds attended his lectures. It was his school that purchased the victims of Burke and Hare, some still warm, for £8–10 each. (This was big money for the shilling-scant). Knox’s students actually recognized some of Burke and Hare’s victims, including prostitute Mary Paterson and the amiable street wanderer “Daft Jamie” Wilson. Yet no questions were asked about the bodies.’
November 20, 2023
[tv] Channel 4’s Partygate docudrama is well worth streaming. Review: Partygate review – a giant, exploding grenade of a TV show … ‘Partygate shares one of the key qualities of The Thick of It, which is not just portraying political professionals as unpleasant, interchangeable idiots but showing them playing their own private parlour game, never giving a thought to how policy affects people. Aside from when someone has to reply to the public’s tweets asking if they can have a Christmas party – absolutely not, the wonk responds, struggling to type because he’s hungover from a Downing Street Christmas party – the wellbeing of the masses does not intrude.’
November 17, 2023
[comics] The long and complicated guide to collecting Charley’s War … A thorough guide to the publishing history of Charley’s War. ‘The first world war series (I’m glossing over the second world war series here) originally ran for 293 episodes in Battle from 6th Jan 1979 [issue 200] -26th Jan 1985 (that’s a total of 316 weeks so not many weeks missed) and charted the hellish story of world war one from the perspective, not of an officer and a gentleman, but rather from the viewpoint of an underage working class lad who joined up to ‘do his bit’ for King and country. The story is rightly regarded as both an anti-war classic and a high-water mark in British comics. Let’s start with the most recent reprints and go backwards from there…’
November 16, 2023
[horror] Four things That traumatised me for life as a child… The Omen, The tentacle monster episode from Space: 1999, the vampire kid at the window in Salem’s Lot and the birthday party in The House that Bled to Death.
November 15, 2023
[movies] We Almost Got a Superhero Movie from The Exorcist Director William Friedkin … ‘In 1975, four years after the release of The French Connection, William Friedkin revealed to a reporter the inspiration for the film’s celebrated car chase scene. It was the cover of a comic book: a man runs terrified on elevated tracks, just a few steps ahead of a train. He is handsome and athletic. Save for a domino mask, he is dressed like a classic Hollywood detective, in a blue suit and loose tie; he bears no resemblance to Gene Hackman’s slovenly everyman “Popeye” Doyle. The cover was from The Spirit, a comic that ran as a seven-page newspaper insert throughout the 40s and early 50s. The series, created by Will Eisner, was admired for its black humor, innovative compositions, shocking violence, and its setting in a precisely realized urbanscape. “Look at the dramatic use of montage, of light and sound,” Friedkin told the reporter.’
November 13, 2023
[lovecraft] Phoning It In: 4 Times H.P. Lovecraft Tried To Describe An Unspeakable Cosmic Horror But Basically Just Described A Goose … ‘It walked upright like a man, yet it was clearly a beast. The thing’s leathery feet did not have the normal five toes that we humans have. It had FEWER than that. It had THREE toes. And yet, I hesitate to even call them ‘toes,’ for each digit was connected to each other by some sort of skin-like film. It was like some perverse spider had spun webs between each toe for some inscrutable reason known only to the mad gods that dream their furious dreams on the remotest fringes of forgotten galaxies.’
November 9, 2023
[funny] Antidepressants or Tolkien … Can you guess if a word is an antidepressant drug or a Tolkien character? [via jwz]
November 8, 2023
[internet] Internet Artifacts … A fun, really well put together collection of artifacts from the early internet. Check out: What is Internet Anyway?
November 7, 2023
[jfk] ‘It splintered our sense of reality’: how JFK’s assassination spawned 60 years of conspiracy theories … ‘As well as the birthplace of modern conspiracy, the Kennedy assassination can be seen as the birthplace of the conspiracy theory industry. Within three years of the event, Mark Lane – a lifelong assassination investigator – had published Rush to Judgment, which questioned the Warren commission’s findings. It stayed on the bestseller lists for two years. More than 1,000 books on the subject have been published since. It soon became apparent that there was more money to be made arguing in favour of a conspiracy than the opposite.’
November 1, 2023
[herzog] This Cultural Life – Werner Herzog… Wonderful radio interview with Werner Herzog on the BBC’s This Cultural Life.
October 31, 2023
[moore] Recent two-part Alan Moore interview done after the release of his paperback lluminations…
“The comics medium is perfect. It is sublime. The comics industry is a dysfunctional hellhole. So why did I want to return to it in this story? Like you say, it’s exorcism. As one of the characters finds in ‘Thunderman’ it’s one thing to quit comics, but quitting comics is a different thing to being able to stop thinking about them. Writing this got an awful lot out of my system. It said a lot of the things that I’d always wanted to say but I’d never really had the right context to say them in.”
October 30, 2023
[bse] The Cows Are Mad … An interesting and unsettling BBC Radio podcast on the history of the UK’s BSE epidemic.
October 26, 2023
[tv] The BBC’s Late Night Horror Was Alleged to Be So Terrifying That It Was Destroyed … Atlas Obscura takes a look at a lost BBC horror drama. ‘Two episodes do, however, appear to indulge in some gore. One is “William and Mary,” a darkly comic episode about a brain kept alive in a jar, based on a story by Roald Dahl. The other, as luck would have it, is “The Corpse Can’t Play,” the episode that surfaced in the 1980s, only to disappear again. Whether fear or outrage or dark forces (or indifference) played a role, Late Night Horror was not picked up for additional episodes after its first run. It was shown again in 1970, after which the network’s rights to repeat the series expired. It is believed that the tapes were erased sometime after this broadcast.’
October 25, 2023
[philosophy] Philosophy Bro … The complicated ideas of philosophy explained simply. Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”: A Summary: A Summary: ‘Look, so, nothing matters, right? Shit’s fucking weird. We all want to know how the universe ultimately works or who’s running the show or whatever, and it turns out – TRICK. FUCKING. QUESTION. No one’s running the show, and the world is unreasonable. Ever had some shit happen to you that made you go, “Why the fuck did that happen? There’s no reason for that.” Turns out, you were right. So our attempts to impose reason on the world will fail. Death and taxes, my friend. Death and motherfucking taxes.’
October 23, 2023
[spy] Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite … The true story of a Cold War heist. ‘The American and the Mexican made an odd pairing. Dean stood half a foot taller than Silveti, and, while his Mexican counterpart was something of a party animal, the American enjoyed coaching his son’s little league team and doted on Happy, his family’s miniature dachshund, who was heavily pregnant. Yet they needed to work together to ensure the Soviets wouldn’t notice a missing spacecraft.’
October 19, 2023
[comics] John Constantine, Hellblazer, returns to DC in January 2024 … ‘In one of his finest magic tracks yet, John Constantine is back — and has reunited the creative team of Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell for a new miniseries bringing the character to the U.S. on a mission featuring some very familiar faces for fans of DC’s iconic Vertigo imprint.’
October 18, 2023
[comics] Pen Lettering for Comics … Todd Klein does a deep dive into the traditional ways to letter comics. ‘From the earliest days of creating comics until the advent of all-digital art, the basic tools for artists and letterers remained essentially the same. You need a drawing board with a comfortable chair and an adjustable desk lamp, usually attached to the drawing board with screws or a clamp. You need a T-square to keep things aligned, large and small triangles, masking tape or pins to hold drawing paper, India ink, pens, brushes, pencils, erasers, something to hold clean rinsing water, a rag or paper towels and a wastebasket. There are other useful tools, but those are the basics.’
October 17, 2023
October 10, 2023
[dna] The Gift … I really recommend this BBC Radio podcast about what happens when home DNA tests gives their users big surprises.
October 9, 2023
[comics] The Man Who Knows Fear: Imposter Syndrome and Horror with D.G. Chichester Long interview with the comic editor and writer as he returns to Daredevil. On the Hellraiser comic:‘ I knew the book was going to work both when the John Bolton cover came in, which John Bolton issue looking up painting flames from Hell. It was beautiful and twisted and erotic, and scary and nasty… and it was the story that the editorial group then said, “You’re not running the story in the first issue. It’s too much. You’re coming in too hot. Take it out of the first issue, run a different story. We’ll run it in the subsequent issue.” I dug my heels in and I said, the book is called Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. That’s what it’s called. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. What the hell did you think you’re going to get?’