Sunday, 31 October 2010

Spooky Sunday

Four superbly spooky illustrations for Hallowe'en, all by Felix Kelly from Haunted Houses by Joseph Braddock, published in 1956.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Saturday Matinee

A couple of classic zombie posters. The bottom one is a Spanish poster for Night of the Living Dead, a much more traditional old-school design than the usual black and white photo montage version you see. The top one is for a 1977 Italian film with the English title The Child. It sounds a hoot, judging from the IMDB plot summary: 'A newly-hired housekeeper in a remote area is alarmed to discover that her boss's eleven-year-old daughter is using her supernatural powers to take revenge on the people she holds responsible for her mother's death, with the aid of her flesh-eating zombie 'friends'...'

Friday, 29 October 2010

Found Friday

If you thought last week's self-portrait was unkind, what about this one from, I'm guessing, about six months earlier? Self-esteem problems by any chance? I found it among some formulae and notes in an old biology exercise book dating from 1981 (which I later used to write scripts and stuff in, which is why I've kept it). I must have doodled it in class. This book, and another from the following year, are full of mad doodles, so I shall scan them for forthcoming Found Fridays. The one below, scribbled in the margin, made me smile. I think it's a kind of mock tattoo, but it clearly shows the bands I was listening to at the time.

Punky doodle in Biology exercise book from 1981

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wordy Thursday - 'Intact'

When I posted my vilanelle a couple of weeks ago I said it was the first poem I'd written since the sixth form. I'd completely forgotten about 'Intact' - a short piece of doggerel that popped unbidden into my head one Friday morning in 2004 while I was making my breakfast before going to work at the Wrexham Mail. I was so pleased as well as surprised by it that I stuck it on my wall in my old house (I don't usually do that sort of thing). Bearing in mind the current situation re Paranormal Magazine, the first four lines both cheer and amuse me.

I will die in poverty
With my pride intact:

Always resigned
Often sacked;

My pen will invent
What my memory lacks,

A friend of fiction
A foe to facts;

And if I should die
Of a heart attack

It shall be through sex
And not by snacks;

For though I may be too old
To join the Brat Pack,
Still they will come
To share my shack.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Found Friday

A biro self-portait about the time of my 18th birthday. I love it. I look like a Mexican pimp.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wordy Thursday - Bum Trouble x 2

The second piece I wrote for this proposed - and possibly still happening - web site about the very human experience of poo and wee. Not as funny as the first one, becasue it's not as personal, nor is it quite as gross, but never mind. By special request from Rob, here is 'Colonic Irrigation'.

Colonic Irrigation – what’s that? It sounds like something you’d learn about in First Year Geography, just after Crop Rotation and before Oxbow Lakes. Colonic Irrigation is when you have great quantities of liquid pumped up your bum to flush out all the unpleasantnesses that have clagged your insides over the years.

I have never seen Colonic Irrigation in action but gather that it involves a number of rubber-gloved nurses, lengths of rubber tubes, a big funnel, and a huge jug of soapy water. The patient is presumably face down and securely strapped to prevent wriggling while the intimate procedure is taking place. If rubber, straps and warm fluid sounds vaguely erotic, that’s because it is – to some, anyway. Certain fetishists crave this sort of thing, and doubtless specialist prostitutes charge top dollar to oblige them. Legitimate health clinics can hardly be expected to charge as much, however, so I imagine this leaves them open to unfair usage by bum and rubber enthusiasts. Perhaps one of the nurses is on hand simply to keep an eye out for any unwarranted genital stirrings; the slightest twitch of arousal and – bam! - they double the price.

But I digress. The proper purpose behind this bizarre, embarrassing and uncomfortable practice is to cleanse you. To remove encrustations of ancient poo from your bowels that have been steadily poisoning your system like a neglected landfill site. Such detritus can hang around for decades apparently. One chap who underwent the procedure over a two week period – while fasting – wrote that shiny nuggets of mercury were recovered from his depths, and these were diagnosed as the dodgy and indigestible ingredient of a medicine taken in childhood. Scary enough, but a colleague at work (always a reliable source – ahem!) told me she had heard that even baby milk has been found on occasions, but this sounds positively supernatural to me, fodder for the Fortean Times [oh, the irnony!].

Colonic Irrigation, then, could answer the fundament-al question: what is it exactly that makes one's farts smell so bad? If they smell like the worst effulgent of some foetid Florida swamp, then here's the answer – the depths of your bowels are no less stagnant and foul.

One question remains, however. After you have been filled up with soapy suds, how exactly do they flush it all out again? Do you have to sit patiently over a bucket for half an hour hoping for the best? Or does some burly nurse clutch you in a crushing embrace and squeeze it out of you? Either way, it must feel like the worst ever case of diarrhoea – even the fact it smells of Dettol would hardly be a comfort. And then there’s the shame of all those people watching ... trained professionals though they may be (and who goes in for a job like that, anyway?)

After you toddle back to your five-star ward, your freshly spring-cleaned innards writhing like boa constrictors, only the thought of a cup of orange juice and a small wholemeal rusk to give you solace, there must come then the distressing thought that doctors are now sifting through your slop, examining in the minutest detail the dinners of past decades and the gastronomic indiscretions of your very early youth (swallowing chewing gum, bits of fluff, the occasional worm etc). The sweetcorn sieve removed from the bucket, they joyfully plunge in their rubber- sheathed arms and fish about with unfeeling fingers.

‘Ah! An especially firm turd here, Dr Carruthers. Yes! A remnant of a barium meal X-ray test taken in adolescence.’

‘I have here the powdered-potato sediment of countless crisps.’

‘Gristle from a Pukka pie...’

‘And what is this – a pubic hair?’

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Weird Wednesday

Two more from Odilon Redon as promised/threatened. I love his stuff. Anyway, here, in glowing colours is 'Winged Old Man With Long White Beard' and, in glorious charcoal, 'The Cactus Man'. Much of Redon's stuff is allegorical but these, judging by the rather self-explanatory titles, are just what they say they are - weird.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Kinder Surprise

Gabba gabba we accept yer, one of us...

Summer Sunday in October

Fred halfway up a mountain (Y Garn) overlooking Llyn-y-Gader not far from his new home in Talysarn, Snowdonia. Last Sunday proved unseasonably warm so a stagger up a hill - followed by beer - was deemed mandatory. I really enjoyed it. Everything was golden and blue.

Monday, 18 October 2010

'The world's greatest airport' in 1929

It makes Easyjet look positively luxurious. The enormous biplanes you see here were used for the regular flights to Paris from what The Strand called in a feature in April 1929 'the world's greatest airport' - Croydon. It's amazing to think how new freight and passenger flights were in 1929. As the breathless correspondent states: 'You could never have believed anything so Wellsian could ever have come into being in your own time. At any moment you expect, half-fearfully, to see Wells's monstrous Martians striding across that Futurist-looking plain, with its pylons, its wireless masts...' etc etc. But then, as he points out, ten years previously those fields had cows grazing on them. By 1929 it had become 'the jumping off place for the airways of Europe, the Near East, and the British Empire'. [Incidentally,when did the Near East become the Middle East? Is the Near East now Norfolk?].

Monstrous Monday

Smiling Spider, one of the best-known graphic works (as opposed to his luminous pastels and watercolours) by Odilon Redon (1840-1916). It was touch and go whether to put this under Monstrous Monday or Weird Wednesday, but Redon is so weird I think I'll put some more of his work up on Wednesday, too.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Found Fridayish

I missed Found Friday (and Weird Wednesday, which is unheard of), so I've been rummaging among my pix again. Here I am in 1987 lurking around a bunch of small boys, hands in pockets, sporting a huge beard and a Fergal Sharkey-style 'snorkel' parka. How creepy do I look? (Answers on a post card). This was actually my first job after leaving uni - working as an historical/researcher and guide for school parties at Bersham Heritage Centre near Wrexham. The guy next to me is Tim Pearce, who did the cover artwork for both Supernatural and Haunted Clwyd. Nice chap, sorry we lost touch.

Saturday Matinee

Somewhat late for a matinee, but ay me, it's been a hell of a week, what with two magazine deadlines to cope with - and I've got more work to do tomorrow. Anyway, in deference to the first enjoyable episode of Mark Gatiss's horror series, here is a cool art deco poster for one of Val Lewton's films, one I've wanted to watch again for a long time - and missed that it was on BBC 4. Bugger.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wordy Thursday

Uh-oh, poetry alert. It's a vilanelle, an archaic verse form I'd never heard of until forced to write on as part of my course at Chester Uni. It involves the repetition of certain refrains. Although the form dates from the 17th century, there are some more recent famous examples, particularly Dylan Thomas's 'Go Not Gentle Into That Good Night'. I'm quite proud of this, actually, because I worked bloody hard on it. I had to. I hadn't written any poetry since I was in the sixth form, and that, needless to say, was shit.

My past loves, poised to poison new love now,
Shout doubts from the shadows to remind me
The demands of love are too much anyhow.

I wonder what time, this time, is allowed
Till old wounds open and you’re forced to see
My past loves, poised to poison new love now?

Lost lovers are my saints, my hurts hallowed;
Share my faith in failure, you’ll soon agree
The demands of love are too much anyhow.

It need not take deception, we need not row,
Nor cheat, nor tire; these are the enemies:
My past loves, poised to poison new love now.

New lover to old lover must kowtow,
I can’t forgive; or forget my worn decree:
The demands of love are too much anyhow.

But I bow my head as you make your vow,
Pretend no doubt in your power to free
My past loves from poisoning your love now.
Your arms of love may prove stronger anyhow.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Monstrous Monday

I seem to have an ednless supply of gaint octopus pictures, mainly thanks to Wide World Magazine, for whom they were a staple. About time I posted a couple, so here they are, illustrating some tall tale from 1898 (though the alleged events took place decades previously, if memory serves).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Saturday Matinee

In keeping with my rockabilly vibe here are a couple of posters for hot-rod flicks from the 50s (the top one has stunnign artwork, I think).

Friday, 8 October 2010

Found Friday

It's amazing the crap I keep. Here is some nostalgia for the Johnson brothers, the programme for the 1988 'Let's Make a Film Festival' for schools. Notice it's subtitles 'including films made on video' - how that dates it. Treats to look forward to on the day would have included 'Consequences', in which 'A young girl catches AIDS from her homosexual boyfriend, the disease proving fatal leaving him grieving' (oh boy) and 'An coount of an experiment to determine levels of phyto- and zoo plankton of the Redcar coast' (bring your popcorn).

First up, though, was an animated video called 'Chess' made by chaps from the Alun School, Mold. Leaning on the TV wearing a Primitives T-shirt and with his face painted (I don't know why) is Dan Johnson, who now runs his own graphic design and screenprinting business and whose 40th birthday I went to a couple of weekends ago. He's just had a poster accepted by the Victoria and Albert Museum for their collection. To his right is his brother Matt, who now teaches illustration at a university on the South Coast; and seated far right is Jonny Duddle, who is now a book illustrator. Talented bastards. The rest I don't know.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Weird Wednesday

Two not dissimilar self-portraits. The top one is a sketch by James Ensor entitled Demons Teasing Me. It was drawn in 1888. Ensor, of course, is famous for his weird imagery, especially of skulls and masks. The bottom one is by someone less well-known: Charles Doyle, brother of the successful Punch cartoonist and fairy painter Richard Doyle, and father of Arthur Conan. Charles Doyle had early modest success as an artist (also painting fairies a lot, and illustrating, rather badly, A Study in Scarlet) but struggled with alcholism and depression. He painted the above watercolour, simply called Memoir: A Self-Portait, in Montrose Asylum at about the same time as Ensor's sketch (the exact date is unknown). Clearly he, too, felt himself to be teased by his own personal demons. His middle name, incidentally, was Altamont - as in riot.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Monstrous Monday

In the hope that Blogger doesn't crash again, here at last is a blog entry. And what a corker it is. Two digital images produced for the next Paranormal Magazine by a guy called Shaun Histed-Todd who I met at the Weird Weekend in Devon. He's a lovely bloke, like a punk version of Bernard Bresslaw. He's come up with five superb illustrations for an article by his cryptozoologist friend Richard Freeman on evil creatures and the 'nameless dread'. (Incidentally, after subbing that article I then moved onto one about a nice seafood restaurant, such is the weirdness of working on InOut magazine at the same time!). The vicar vs sea serpent image is particularly stunning (of course, these are only low-res versions), and I am going to ask for it to be used full-size in the magazine.

Stuck in the blog

This bloody thing was broken yesterday - it wouldn't let me upload anything. Is it working now?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Found Friday

I'm enjoying this rummaging around for Found Fridays. Such is the joy of being a hoarder (as Genghis Khan used to say). This is the opening page of an exercise book I scribbled in when I was about 12. On the right is the start of yet another Dr Who story: 'Doctor Who and the Ultimatum Project' (note the Target paperback convention of writing a title). If I remember correctly the story was to develop with the Ice Warriors teaming up with the Cybermen and getting themselves cyborged-up. They'd have been unssssstoppable!

I have no idea what the stuff on the left is. There's some geezer zipping about in a futuristic flying car thing and a list of handy gizmos, I guess to have on board, just in case you encountered hostile aliens or whatever. I'd like to know what a 'point finder television' is. A TV with a remote control (pretty high-tech in 1976, but surely too prosaic)? I suspect it was intended as some kind of sat-nav, something to show you at what point on Earth or in space you were.

I really ought to have become a writer.