Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

Thoughtbubblin’

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Comic conventions are a peculiar phenomenon. For a start most of the organisers of these events go out of the way to discourage them from being referred to as “conventions”. As an exhibitor, you can go with the express purpose of trying to make money, or to just make friends and get pally with like minded individuals. Here at Flying Monkey International, we are far too idiosyncratic (or possibly stubborn) to do much of the former and way, way?too misanthropic to do any of the latter.

In fact, one of our major directors and creative lynchpins, Mr Andrew Livesey, isn’t attending the forthcoming Thoughtbubble Festival in Leeds at all, instead opting for a weekend of sex, drugs, violence and miscellaneous debauchery. He swung by my house to drop off a stack of his new collection Chimpanzee Democracy, and his legendarily limited Tasty Fanzine T Shirts, with the veiled threat of evisceration if I dared not to sell any of them.

Tasty!

Despite this we shall be in attendance at Thoughtbubble. When someone decides to put on a Comics event pretty much on your doorstep, it seems rude not to show up (except last year, when I waited far too long to order any books, so didn’t have any on the day).

However, if you wish to purchase any of Andrew’s blood money funded merchandise, or any of our wonderful Hope For The Future collections and back issues (including the new(ish) issue 10), or even one of the few remaining copies of the epochal small press anthology Flying Monkey, come on over to our table and say hello. Underneath our irascible exterior we are actually quite friendly, and happy to chat about anything from the new Clone Wars cartoon, last week’s X Factor result shocker, the Credit Crunch, or Instru-Metal.

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Gig Review: Leeds Lights 6th Nov 2008

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I’ve noticed that a lot of comics blogs include gig reviews. What, comics not cool enough for ya? So in the best spirit of copying everyone else, here I go.

Every year my wife suggests we go and see the Christmas lights in Leeds being turned on, and every year it’s exactly the same. Some schmucks from local radio introduce a pop group you’ve never heard of, someone that used to be in a pop group you have heard of, someone who was on The X Factor the previous year, Santa, the Lord Mayor (why are we expected to cheer that guy?), and then someone else from The X Factor. However, in these times of crunch being credited, you can’t really complain because it’s free.

Over the last few years I’ve seen more rubbish pop groups than I can remember. These include, but are not limited to Rachel Stevens, McFly, four fifths of Girls Aloud, Darius Danesh and Cannibal Corpse. That last one might not actually be true. Last year one time X Factor winner Shayne Ward was being helicoptored in from Manchester (take that, environment!) but was running late, so his “set” ended up being shorter than Chico’s. Oh the indignity! Dick and Dom were a laugh though, with their constant chanting of “Shayne Loves Dick!”.

Usually “Santa” appears and does a bit of business with Rudolf, or elves or some such. Santa appears to be a bit of an egomaniac, though. His party piece is his rendition of Santa Claus Is Coming To… LEEDS! I see what you’ve done there to make it a bit more unique, but talking about yourself in the third person? That’s not cool man. I dunno, but seeing some guy (spoiler alert: he’s not the real Santa) leering into the camera saying “I know when you are sleeping!” is a little unsettling. At least this year he didn’t do I Believe which is always a rather excrutiating and this is me moment.

The eyes of a killer

Same Difference: Cute, perky and unthreatening. And her slightly creepy brother.

 

Santa was joined this year by X Factor (I’m getting sick of typing that) runners up Same Difference. Saying anything bad about these two would be like kicking a puppy, possibly while shooting fish in a barrel, so I shall leave it, except to note that they did a cover of Starship’s “classic” Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Starship were a bit weird, weren’t they? Originally Jefferson Airplane, one of the most radical psychedelic acts of the 60s, they morphed into Jefferson Starship (sci-fi credentials cemented by an appearance in the infamous crapfest The Star Wars Holiday Special), and then simply Starship. I still can’t get my head around the fact that the band that sang “I’d rather have my country die for me” ended up soundtracking Mannequin. Let’s be honest, Mannequin is terrible. I can just about accept the idea of a shop dummy coming to life as Samantha from Sex and the City (it was the eighties, after all), but don’t expect me to care about the cutthroat world of professional window dressers.

The evening was rounded off by Simon Webbe out of Blue (think about that: he’s a quarter as good as Blue!), Alesha out of Mis-Teeq, and Leon Jackson, who resembles a cleaned up, but terrified Pete Doherty. Leon may have won The X Factor, but it has to be said, he really isn’t cut out for a career as a performer.

Oh well, roll on next year. Steve Brookstein, Matt from Busted and someone from Atomic Kitten. Possibly.

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Gig Review: Thoughtbubble Festival, Savile Hall Leeds, 15 Nov 2008

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

OK I guess it’s not technically a gig, but if we wanted to be conceited and act like we were making a personal appearance, that is exactly what you’d class it as.

I had no idea that Savile Hall was named after Jim’ll. I suppose he’s considered to be the greatest living?leodiensian, but what about Andrew Eldritch? Arthur Brown? Andi Watson? Mel B? Science off of Big Brother? These things are far too arbitrary if you ask me.

We were, as I had previously noted, a man down during this convention. Andrew was actually at a wedding, but for some reason, his stuff just flew off the table. People couldn’t get enough of Chimpanzee Democracy, so he should really make an effort to publicise it. I guess that’s too “obvious”. Maybe if I don’t show up to the next con, it’ll be my stuff that sells like hot, shitty cakes. I can dream.

Something else I can’t believe is that even though there were Stormtroopers, Imperial Officers, various superheroes and manga characters, lots of girls with pink hair and a slightly chunky Tusken Raider, the only photograph I managed to take was this-

No stormtroopers. Move along, move along...

No stormtroopers. Move along, move along...

They were really good costumes too, even though one of them was (get ready for this…) too short to be a stormtrooper. No, really. Because of this gross lack of foresight, I shall have to rely on ages from my sketchbook instead.

 

They wouldn't stay still

They wouldn't stay still

As I had not gotten up early enough I was in a bit of a rush to get to the venue, and neglected to bring any pens. Luckily the bloke next to me, Ben Powis had tons of them, and I’m really grateful that he let me borrow a couple. Unfortunately, his art was really good, so people went straight to him without noticing our stuff. I really have to start insisting that we get placed next to crappier artists. Still, at least I was able to while away the lonely hours drawing Batman.

 

My lovely assistant, and musical director Ol, here looking a little more like a salty sea dog than he does in real life

My lovely assistant, and musical director Ol, here looking a little more like a salty sea dog than he does in real life

Lots of people asked why we need a musical director if we’re a comic (I said we were a collective. That’s a lie), so I pointed them (and you) towards our fantastic musical animations.

In addition to seemingly vast quantities of Andrew’s comic (which I feel I can take a small measure of credit for, as I came up with the name), we sold a fair few back issues (bissues) of Hope for the Future which I presume is because they are so cheap.

Idle sketchings

Idle sketchings

The hard sell is something I still struggle with (along with basic human interaction), so I think I sometimes have difficulty putting my work over across as well as I could. But I have discovered a solution. Alcohol. Ol decided he fancied a drink so popped out for a bottle of vodka and some coke, not forgetting the lemon. We may have been drinking out of plastic thermos cups, but we’re not barbarians. Seemingly in no time at all we were shitfaced, which made it incredibly easy to go and say hello to people (yeah, about that, apologies to the artists behind?Scary Go Round, Reet!?and?Fetishman. And possibly a few others that I don’t remember. It is we who were the drunken fools babbling at you).

Self Portrait: drunken comic artist in his natural environment

Self Portrait: drunken comic artist in his natural environment

Being slightly tipsy (to say the least) also improved our sales technique. This manifested itself in our shouting at hapless passers by. Amazingly, many of them actually bought our comics. In the final ten minutes of the con we sold probably more than we had done all day up until that point. If anyone ever tells you that alcohol is not an answer to life’s problems, they have clearly never tried this. As the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi would have said, it totally kicks ass.

After the convention, as I believe R Kelly once said, is the After Party. Unfortunately in this case it was about three hours after, and we had sobered up by then (and I had resumed my usual sullen demeanour), and this, in addition to the fact that it was being held in a stupidly expensive bar (yeah, because comics people have tons of cash don’t they?) and a very brown room playing the kind of non-music that makes Morcheeba sound like The Mars Volta, we buggered off to a nearby old man’s pub and drank weird, cloudy cider. At the end of the night I was bundled into a taxi and trundled home, losing a Robin of Sherwood series two DVD boxset in the process. I may now no longer be able to watch The Swords of Wayland, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. We had a great con, and Herne himself would approve. And then probably spout some mystical bullshit about light and darkness. But he’s like that.

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I don’t know what “Diamond Head” is, but it looks cool!

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

A constant bugbear of mine is the ironic rock T shirt, a phenomenon that refuses to die, like a particularly fetid revenant. In relation to this, here we have a story ripped from the headlines (of August 2007). Namely, David Beckhams wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt.

So, David Beckhams has chosen Killers. Possibly he appreciates the chaotic clatter of Another Life, or the atypical (semi-) acoustic (semi-) ballad Prodigal Son. Or maybe it’s the classic stomper Wrathchild that gets a regular airing in the Beckhams household. Maybe he enjoys the gritty rasping vocals of Paul Di’Anno (soon to be replaced by the human foghorn, Bruce Dickinson). I’m sure “Becks” has strong feelings about the “punk” sound of the early albums, quickly abandoned in favour of the more operatic, vaguely prog metal style that they developed with Lord Iffy Boatrace. One wonders what Beckhams’ thoughts are on ’ver Maiden’s decision to replace long serving cover artist Derek Riggs, for a series of inferior covers on the later albums (like Dance of Death – urgh! – Poser!). He obviously prefers the work of Riggs, why else would he choose the earlier album cover?

On the other hand that T-shirt was probably just chosen for him at random by some coke addled stylist.

Wannabe hipsters regularly write in to Hate magazine asking where they might find such t-shirts. They should go to Leeds’ Rock of Ages, cos there’s fucking millions of them!

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Done!

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

issue 12

Issue 12, aka the one that I have neglected to title, is now finished. Yes, I’m sure you were wondering why there was rejoicing in the streets. This issue should be available at Thoughtbubble in Leeds this November if all goes to plan. If not I will no doubt be found weeping quietly in a corner somewhere. However, you can order this issue directly from our pals at IndyPlanet.

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Really Deep Thought(Bubble)s

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

How time flies. A year ago we were fresh faced young scamps at our first comic convention (in Leeds). Now we are grizzled veterans with the attendant emotional scars, gearing up for this years’ Thoughtbubble on Saturday 21st November. For the first time ever I am actually prepared. And by “prepared” I mean not still setting up two and a half hours into the actual convention. Only one thing remains in question – that is whether issue 12 of HFTF will be back from the printers. They are cutting it a bit fine, it has to be said. Of course issue 11 will be available for the first time at a convention, but I was hoping to have 12 as it’s… well… better.

TB

Never fear, dear readers. We promise to hide any crushing disappointments and not be “Captain Bringdown”. You can rest assured that we will be sparkling, witty and accomodating. Failing that our musical director Ol has promised that he will perform a song on his ukelele for everyone who buys a comic. Actually that seems a little excessive… maybe we’ll hold back on the musical accompaniment and just keep it for the people who buy our “high end” stuff (basically, the collected editions).
So whether you buy anything from us or not, come over and say hello. You’ll need something to do while the queues to see the popular artists subside. Talking of which I see some of my favourite comic book creators are in attendance. Duncan Fegredo, Frazer Irving, Frank Quietly… honestly I can’t decide who to stalk most.

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Competwition Time

Monday, November 16th, 2009

it could be you

Thoughtbubble is nearly upon us, so that means we have a couple of competitions for you. First of all it is the Great Hope For The Future Reader Cameo Challenge. Actually, it’s not much of a competition or a challenge, and despite the punning name of this post, has nothing to do with Twitter, but I have decided that anyone who buys one of our fantastic products at Thoughtbubble this Saturday gets the chance to APPEAR IN THE NEXT ISSUE. I believe the appropriate response to this is “W00T!”.  Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  1. The more stuff you buy, the better your chances. Hey we have a massive post con drinking binge to support.
  2. The next issue is set at an event primarily attended by young, cool, sexy people. If you are in fact a young, cool, sexy person your chances of appearing are significantly greater than if you look… y’know… more like me
  3. If you don’t make it into the next issue  (ie all the “slots” are filled) you’ll pop up in a subsequent one. Although I doubt we’ll be inundated with requests, frankly, so that’s probably not a problem.
  4. It would help if you’re easy to draw.
  5. If you’re a stormtrooper it might be a bit tricky to justify, story wise
  6. Of course all of this depends on the life of my camera batteries, or the availability for replacements

So far, so awesome. The second competition is the Great Hope For The Future Twitter Feed Scavenger Hunt. All you need to do is follow me on Twitter and wait for the special super secret tweet. I was going to make it some weird riddle that you need to work out from a series of fiendishly cryptic clues, but I can’t be bothered so it’ll just be some clearly signposted daft phrase that I will tweet between now and Saturday morning (depending on when I remember to do it). Come up to our table during the convention and repeat the stupid phrase, and you’ll get a free comic. Free stuff, just for the brief embarrassment of saying some gibberish to a complete stranger? Every comic book publisher should do that!!

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Closing Thought(Bubble)s

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

It seems to be de rigeur to write up a “report” after attending a comics convention, but what to say that everyone else hasn’t already said? ThoughtBubble 2009 seems to have been a resounding success for exhibitors and attendees alike, which is a testament to the professionalism and friendliness of the organisers and staff. In fact the convention was being reported on largely as it happened, through the magic of Twitter. We are truly living in the future. Usually at this point I struggle to remember specifics, but because of Twitter I can tell you exactly what I was doing at pretty much any point. Let’s take a little trip back into the mists of time…

9.56 Finished setting the table up. After being surly all week at the prospect of HFTF issue 12 not arriving, it actually appeared on Friday, which was a bit of a relief. Of course issue 11 hadn’t been ready for the last con we did, so that was essentially “new” too, but I’m really pleased with how 12 turned out so it would have sucked to not have it available. Remember to order your comics well in advance kids.

10.45 Sold first comic. It was Andrew’s.

11.16 We got interviewed by some girls, one of whom was dressed as Spider-Girl. Not “The” Spider-Girl, or at least not Spider-Girl in her official costume. She looked more like Spider-Girl if she was out at an indie night. Anyway, I’m always up for pontificating in public, especially if it gives me a chance to publicise my comic. However, I’m not actually very good at it. If you thought these blog posts were rambling, stilted and incomprehensible, they are as nothing compared to when I struggle to remember what Hope For The Future is actually about and string a sentence together live.

11.35 At this point we remembered our promise to stick anyone who bought something into the next issue. The guy didn’t look too thrilled about this, but we still took his picture.

12.00 At this point I realised that there were no Imperial Stormtroopers about. There were millions of them last year. I was looking forward to getting a photo of myself getting bitchslapped by “our brave boys” in the 501st. Plenty of cosplayers were around though – these were mainly kids dressed as characters from manga that I don’t recognise, although there were a few Zatannas and a great Riddler/Penguin double act doing the rounds. I’ve never seen anyone as The Penguin before, which is surprising as I imagine it’s an easy costume to put together. Easier than killer Croc and Man Bat anyway. I don’t know what this guy was meant to be. Maybe he always dresses like this

1.00 There was a bit of a dinnertime lull, so Oliver decided to do a ukelele based cover of Marillion’s Kayleigh. I would have preferred Interior Lulu, but that’s not quite as well known, although I realise that Kayleigh is only recognisable to most people today because of the vast amount of girls born in the mid eighties who are called that. I’m not sure whether our uke assisted serenades were actually keeping people away, but I suppose the main thing was that we were enjoying ourselves, even if no one around us was. It’s instructive to note that by this point, some drink had been taken.

1.56 At this point we noticed a particularly badass Iron Man. Now that’s a costume. We should have invited him over for a drink.

2.42 At this point, we were proper drunk. I can tell this as I tweeted about the fact that we had decided our comics should be recommended by a gentleman by the name of Awesome Wells. This struck us as absolutely hilarious, and we vowed to at least create a T shirt featuring him. Probably doing something awesome. Sadly no one took us up on our free comics offer, which is proof that no one actually reads my blog, or my twitter feed, or that they were so intimidated by being in our presence that they lost control of their faculties. I choose to believe the latter.

So we hung out, had a few drinks, sold some books and spoke to a few fellow comics creators, such as Chris Doherty, Richard J Smith and Garen Ewing, gents all deserving of your attention and support if they are not already receiving it. We would have schmoozed more with our fellow creatives but, as misanthropes, that goes against our image. And we are socially inept.

Once we had eaten (and sobered up a bit), we went along to the after party and attended the post con chat show, brilliantly hosted by the boys from Geek Syndicate. Someone should give these two their own TV show, seriously. However, interviewing comics creators about the difficulty of interpreting Grant Morrison’s scripts and the finer points of producing sketches for glue fixated weirdoes, while fascinating to someone like me, may not have the mass appeal of, say, getting deluded no marks to sing Robbie Williams songs tunelessly while brutalising rare tropical insects. Ah well, I’ll never understand the modern world.

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Thought Bubble 2010

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when Leeds becomes the centre of the comics universe, and artists stagger out of their hermit like existence into the outside world, their pale eyes blinking in the unfamiliar sunlight as they attempt to flog some of their stuff. The boys from Flying Monkey Comics Incorporated will be out in force at Thought Bubble 2010, regaling all with tall tales and scintillating anecdotes, holding forth on the creative process and meeting fans, admirers and comic book groupies. That’s the plan, anyway. What is more likely is that we will sit, scribbling strange images, pausing only to scowl at passers by and try to remember who we have sold books to in the past. Actually I’m going to try to keep the scowling to a minimum this year, so come up and say hello to see if we manage to mask our misanthropy. We’ll at least draw something for you (as long as it’s not porn).

We’ll have the usual clutch of comics, books and sketches, and we also have a shit ton of those stickers we got for the Dino Saw Us thing at The Thing. I don’t know if they’re doing that passport thing at Thought Bubble, so you can just, come up to us and get some stickers for your school books, phone, court summons, or wherever the hell else you might want to stick them.

We will also have a BRAND NEW ISSUE for sale. Yeah you’re right to look amazed. Hope For The Future 13, the long awaited Cryptozoology special continues the intrigue and mystery of ish 12 (such as it was), and features dragons, alien lizards and a ghost monkey on the cover, because an old man once told me that comics with monkeys on the cover sell better. I think it might have been the old man that featured in all those rock songs in the early 70s. He was always talking shit about demons and that.

I shall also endeavour to update my Twitter feed in the run up to the Festival, and throughout the day. I’m sure this will be of no interest to that Pizza Shop in Plymouth that is inexplicably following me, but those of you who are interested in the mental deterioration of a once loved and respected pillar of the artistic community will no doubt find it mildly diverting. More soon!

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