22 December 2023
[fun] Brickception … If you’re lucky, it’s the last working Friday of the year so why spend some of it playing this crazy version of Breakout.
21 December 2023
[comics] Ian Gibson, 1946-2023 … Comic artist Ian Gibson’s obituary from the Comics Journal. ‘Always an independent-minded artist, which got him into hot water with more than one publisher, Gibson treated Moore’s scripts with much less reverence than one is used to see, as detailed in Thrill-Power Overload: “I had already got into the habit of deconstructing a script and putting it back together in a way that would be visually more effective. I tended to take Alan’s verbose ramblings with a pinch of salt and do it my own way!” Originally planned for nine ‘books,’ only three were completed before Moore cut ties with 2000 AD over royalty and ownership disputes, never to return. It is a testimony to the sheer quality of these stories that the magazine, even when bought out by video game company Rebellion, resisted the temptation to continue Halo Jones with other creators.’
20 December 2023
 John Crace on the Villains of 2023 … ‘Suella Braverman — First, we had her enthusiastic support of the Rwanda policy. The idea of sending small boats refugees to a country that has been deemed unsafe by the United Nations. So far, no refugee has yet been deported to Rwanda. So that worked well. Then she acquired a barge that turned out to be riddled with legionella. So far, only a handful of people have been housed there. It turns out that Braverman is good at talking about new ways to be unpleasant to foreigners, but less so at turning it into a reality.’
19 December 2023
[cthulhu] Road Closed – Cosmic Horror … Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!
18 December 2023
[xmas] The experts: money gurus’ 20 failsafe, frugal tips to keep Christmas overspend at bay … ‘Don’t throw money at the problem – “Sometimes I buy things just so I can close the tab on my phone,” admits Seal. The increased mental load in December means “there are so many decisions to be made, so much Christmas admin to do” and it can be easy to throw money at the problem so that it is one less thing to worry about. “Quite often, I think we spend money so that we can file things under done,” she says.’
15 December 2023
[comics] Popverse’s best comics of 2023… Some interesting comics in this “Best of” list. ‘If comics could have a ‘great American novelist’ like a Cormac McCarthy, we have that in Emily Carroll. Her 2023 one-shot A Guest in the House paints in broad strokes, being simultaneously deep while also airy – letting me (and you hopefully), find the story for yourself. While some might categorize this as horror, it’s a broader story about the human condition that a label of just ‘horror’ would be limiting.’
14 December 2023
[comics] Born on the Bayou: An Inside Look at the 13 Pre-Flashpoint Eras of Swamp Thing … A great guide to the many different series of Swamp Thing. ‘In a single chapter, writer Alan Moore un-did all that had come before. Readers had followed Alec’s journey for a dozen years, yet Moore—with artists Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala—revealed that Alec could never regain his humanity (Edward’s genius notwithstanding), because he’d never had it to begin with. Alec had been dead since day one, and the creature with his memories was a plant that thought itself a man. That revolutionary change carried Swamp Thing to the stars, introduced occultist John Constantine, and culminated in the game-changing reveal of the Parliament of Trees, providing Swamp Thing with a vast elemental lineage that included the original House of Secrets story.’
13 December 2023
[podcasts] The Banksy Story … A BBC podcast chronicling Banksy’s rise to fame.
12 December 2023
[life] 52 things Tom Whitwell Learned in 2023 A list of TiLs. ‘Scientists in Singapore have developed a tiny flexible battery, powered by the salt in human tears, designed for smart contact lenses.’
11 December 2023
[comics] The Woman in Room 237! … An impressive Shining cover from Matt Talbot’s series of romance-horror comic mashups.
8 December 2023
[xmas] Christmas Links 2023 … Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting festive links every day.
7 December 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.’
6 December 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.’
5 December 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.
4 December 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.”’
1 December 2023
[london] ianVisits … A great website concentrating on London news, and things to do and visit around the city.
29 November 2023
[woke] The Official Woke List … ‘AVOCADOS!’
28 November 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.”’
27 November 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!’
23 November 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.
22 November 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.’
20 November 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.’
17 November 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…’
16 November 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.
15 November 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.’
13 November 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.’
9 November 2023
[funny] Antidepressants or Tolkien … Can you guess if a word is an antidepressant drug or a Tolkien character? [via jwz]
8 November 2023
[internet] Internet Artifacts … A fun, really well put together collection of artifacts from the early internet. Check out: What is Internet Anyway?
7 November 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.’
1 November 2023
[herzog] This Cultural Life – Werner Herzog… Wonderful radio interview with Werner Herzog on the BBC’s This Cultural Life.