Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Dandy's demise. Is it a good thing?

I think, before I have to defend myself against a torrent of abuse, and ducking to avoid an angry mob hurling rotten fruit and spitballs, I should explain my reasoning to that.

When I first saw the news that The Dandy (In paper form) would be disappearing from the newsagents shelves, I was horrified. "It's the end of children reading anything for enjoyment. What is to become of the world? Will it end in an entire generation of illiterates?" A bit of an over-reaction you think? Well, perhaps you're right.

When I think about it. I haven't actually bought a copy of The Dandy for a very long time. One of my sons subscribes to The Beano, the other to NG Kids, and they are both continuing, at the moment anyway.  Perhaps my sudden interest was because one of my friends announced that he had just started a new story in The Dandy. I was so pleased for him, and then to see it may all come to an end. It must have been a devasatating blow. A bit like giving a child a box of chocolates, then telling him that you've eaten all but the coffee creams!

So of course, I was all for saving The Dandy, in it's beloved paper form. So why am I now starting to think it's demise might be a good thing? It's not because it will continue to appear as an online entity, although that is of course encouraging. It is because of the people and possibilities I have discovered in the wake of the news. I would not have seen for example 'The Phoenix' - (Quite ironic really, if you consider that the demise of the Dandy could actually result in more diverse comic publications rising from the ashes.). It's also caused a lot of cartoonists to consider the potential in starting up alternative paper comics - But it's more than just giving the ideas consideration. Artists are really thinking it through, weighing up the possibilities, working on solutions, and do you know what?  I think that in the very near future, there will be a handful of new and exciting publications to ensure that our children can continue to read and enjoy comics wherever they are. In their beds at night, or with friends in the school playground, a sneaky peek while teacher isn't looking , or sitting on the loo. Look out on Twitter for anything bearing the hashtag #awesomenewcomic because you can be sure that when something rises from the ashes, it will be there.

Friday, 17 August 2012

In house style!

You know what.  I think I'd prefer to avoid that.

Let the artists run wild with their creations the way they want them. Then let the children who read it decide which they like best. One page it's a light fluffy brightly coloured story, the next is dark and atmospheric.  Children are intelligent creatures, they'll let you know which they like best.  But that doesn't mean it all begins to look the same.

Think of a magazine like the old HEAVY METAL.  Every article a different style from the last - (Only probably with less tits and willies!)  Because I don't think a publication aimed at 10-14 year olds would be looked upon too favourably then.

Present stories in different ways. Some picture heavy, some text heavy - But ensure it is all GOOD. Well illustrated, well written, well put together.

Paper Comic Ideas - On The Shelf

Oh good, you're here! Now are you a creator of comics, like an illustrator or a writer, or is your interest at the back end of the production?  My guess is that most of those interested in creating a comic will be at the creative end.  That's the exciting bit, the bit where you get to really shine. YOUR pictures are there for all to see. It is YOUR words the children are laughing at, and showing to their friends, and it is YOUR name next to the title, or in the index - (At least it should be!)

I have noticed that in most high street comics, the artists don't even get their signature on a panel of their story. it's just a generic story, in the style of the publication. Is that right? Shouldn't the artists get some show of recognition for their hard work? I think they should.

Is it right that once you have created a story, or a character that it belongs to the publication? or should it remain the property of it's creator.  I know which I think is right - Do you?

Questions questions questions.

but enough of that. Lets' think about the boring end for a moment. This is a part I'm really struggling to get to grips with, and it's where any project will either suceed or collapse. Funding, and distribution.

When I ran ROCKET, The advertising had to be sufficient to fund the production and distribution. That way I knew that I had enough money to pay the printer for their work, and pay the postage on all the subscriptions. The cover price was almost irrelevent, so we'll come to that later.

SHELF SPACE.  We'd all like to see our magazine or comic in prominent postions in well known stores. Unofrtunately, that creates a problem. Talk to the buyers of these high profile places, and you'll soon find out that you will get very little of that cover price. if any!  Which is why it needs to be irrelevent.

The problem now is - How do you go about putting advertsing into the pages of a publication aimed at children? - I don't know the answer to that at the moment. Although I am playing about with some ideas that might make it more feasible. Your input on that would be most welcome

Thursday, 16 August 2012

ROCKET - Relaunch

An old title, but a new direction? Maybe?  a new audience? Could be!

So what? - Why? and Who?

With the hangmans noose being slung around the poor shoulders of the much loved Dandy comic (albeit only on the printed version - As it will continue in an online format) It's not even a quick trapdoor execution either, the poor thing will be left dangling by it's 75 year old rusty staples to be slowly strangled until 4th December when it celebrates it's 75th birthday  - A very special issue by the way, which will include a reprint of the very first DANDY - So you must buy it. What better way to celebrate a 75th birthday than to say 'Happy Birthday...Oh by the way, that was your final breath."

I thought I'd like to turn my attention to something aimed at a younger audience. So is ROCKET suitable?  Well, in all honesty. As it stands - NO it bloody well isn't.  For a start it was aimed at a crowd aged between 18-35 with a tendancy to purile humour and as blinkered a taste in music as it was possible to have. I loved it. But children would be bored by it and adults apalled. Well, there's a win win situation if ever there was one.

BUT. I like the title, and it could be young with the right illustrations and the right literary direction etc. Plus the fact I still have a couple of the original ROCKET tee shirts, and they still look brand new. apart from the fact they have faded, the logo has cracked up a bit, and I've managed to tear a few holes in them..... but apart from that, they look brand new.

Next question - WHY?
Well. Online comics are OK, maybe it is the way to go. Until you consider this. One of the main reasons for getting children to read is to draw them away from the distractions of computer gaming and the fun filled antics to be found on Youtube etc. So if the comic is online, there is only a single click back to the games and video clips. Then when they want to read in bed, you have to unplug the tower, and the monitor, and the keyboard, and the mouse,  nd lug it all upstairs, balancing it all on the bed so they can read to get to sleep, then you have to lug it all back downstairs again to get on with some essential twittering and blogging of your own.

My initial thoughts would err toward an A5 magazine / comic, whcih can be smuggled in with a school bag (shh naughty naughty) - But which has already been deemed (in secret of course) as OK reading matter by schools and parents.  I would want it to be funny, and maybe a bit risque (But suitable for the age range, say 10-14) so perhaps reference to bogeys, some toilet humour, farts etc.  But, ensuring that it is well written, well illustrated and generally a good value for money publication. Believe me, I can do that. It's where a seriously split personality comes in very handy.

I won't go into the other aspects at the moment. I have a few pages of rough notes scattered about with regards to printing, advertising, funding, how to fill up so many pages, how often it should appear, distribution and so on..... Notes and deletions,more notes, names, contacts and so on.

There you go. What do you think?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Six Sentance Sunday (Night!)

Right. Let's start by saying, I have never heard of Six Sentance Sunday. I guess it's a bit like Illustration Friday... But obviously about writing rather than painting... and on a Sunday, rather than a Friday - but apart from that essentially the same right?

Well, If I were a lazy sod (which I am if truth be known), then I could claim that the above paragraph was my submission for SixSentance Sunday. but I wont', as that would be a little lame considering I didn't know I had written six sentances until I read it back. Unlike this paragraph, which I am carefully sculpting to ensure it also ends on the sixth sentance. As you can see I only have two to go, not including this one. This could end up like some bizarre Monty Pythonesque scenario if I'm not careful. So without further ado, I shall work on my real six sentance.

"Don't you get it Tony? The news report said he was high on it, yet his family deny he ever used it. I knew him when I was there man, He smoked a bit of dope, but never touched acid."
"So how do you explain why he flipped out like that?"
"I don't know. But I do know this is going to get a lot worse."

So there we go. I don't know if I'll use it or not, as I've ony just made it up - Twice actually because I accidentally deleted it a minute ago, so it sort of counts as 12 sentances. It's a conversation between the 2 main characters in my current BACID story. The current state of which is now a couple of paragraphs, and a handful of hastilty written notes with little meaning or coherence. I hope som eof this makes sense.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Something came up in the news over the weekend which has given me the idea for yet another story. (Just what I needed) I now have 4 stories / novels in the pipeline, plus a handful of other madcap projects. No doubt none of them will reach fruition.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


My first novel (of sorts) is available to buy at the moment. Although I don’t know how to sort it out as a file suitable for Kindle or other e-book readers – So it’s a standard PDF. A bit Heath Robinson I know, but it’s the best I can do for the time being.
A THOROGHLY ENGLISH HOODLUM is about a young lad (me in fact) growing up in the 1980s’ as a Teddy Boy. The few people that have read appear to have enjoyed it.
I think it is humorous all the way through, so I’m hoping it will make the readers smile., and it should evoke memories of your youth, regardless of what scene you were part of in the 80’s.
I am selling it for 65p, although I am accepting any donations for a copy, as all the money raised up until the end of MAY 2012 are being donated to OCD-UK, which helps people suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. So if you can make a higher contribution, then that is more than acceptable. I’m not keeping any of the money for this period – But do hope that if it sells after May, then maybe I can earn enough to buy a Kindle and enjoy other independent writers works.

Here is a link to OCD-UK so that you can see what they do. Please message me for full details.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The opening chapters for Broken Bones & Gravel Rash?

From the dawn of time, Man has wanted to fly. He watches the birds, and envies their effortless ascent into the skies, from the tiny sparrows and tits flitting about in the garden, to the majestic birds of prey, hovering around in huge circles, with barely a movement of the wings. The idea of being able to dominate and conquer the air above him, as he has dominated the ground on which he walks ,and the waters in which he swims has consumed man with a passion.

Man has strived to mimic the birds, and quickly realized that just strapping on a pair of wings just wasn’t going to do the job. Icarus proved that one. The problem is that to take to the skies man needs a lot of material and machinery around him, such as an aircraft, and that takes away some of the feeling of freedom that the birds must enjoy. Even to fall slow enough to enjoy the sensation, man needs a parachute, and has little control of his movements. Yet still, he yearns for that feeling of flight.

It therefore seems incredible, that once mans ultimate dream of unhindered flight has been achieved, he suddenly yearns not to be in flight, but to be back on the motorcycle from which he was launched prior to this experience.

Don’t get me wrong that feeling of flight is still fantastic, but launched from a motorcycle traveling at high speed suddenly stopping thanks to an oblivious car driver, the enjoyment of the flight is marred by the realization that the landing is likely to be uncontrolled and painful. For anybody that has not been involved in a life threatening accident, I don’t know if the warping of time is something you would have encountered. You may not believe this if you have not experienced it first hand.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Richard Bacon, Noel Edmonds, Samantha Brick vs The Trolls

Another twist to the case of Richard Bacon versus the internet trolls appears to be looming as I write this piece. I am talking of course about the current trend to ridiculing Samantha Brick, and her ill advised comments about being too pretty. We all know that this led to a deluge of witty comments from well known comics and fellow journalists. Nothing wrong with that, it's just a bit of humourous banter isn't it? After all, it's what they do. It's what they are paid to do, so why would it be wrong to share a little free humourous musings with their twitter followers? They are, after all, on a celebrity level with the subject of their humour, so it is just like peer banter, the same as you or I taking the mickey out of our mates in the pub.

But what happens when the uneducated masses start jumping on the band wagon with their own humourous musings. Perhaps these comprehensive school educated buffoons don't have the same armoury of words that the university boys and priviliged few from public school had, and their wit may be somewhat rougher round the edges. At what point does the wit of the professionals descend into cyber bullying and trolling? Is it when the tend has become so rife that the subject, or shall we now refer to her as the victim becomes upset or even properly depressed by the amount of ridiculing comments? Is it when somebody creates a Samantha Brick profile and starts tweeting more "I'm so pretty" comments to fuel the trend, which incidentally appears to have already happened? Or is it when some lunatic takes things too far and humourously offers to take away her prettiness, as this is obviously what she wants, which suddenly drains all the funny out of the matter, plunging it into the darker, more sinister realms which Richard Bacon and Noel Edmonds, amongst others are trying to combat.

Monday, 12 March 2012

TITLE – The Newsjack App – (Messages left on the voicemail)

1 –Times 24-2-12 page 23 – Hot Horses Shrank To The Size Of A Cat

1 Posh but eccentric voice. Elderly – Quite excitable.

“Hello I’ve just read a news article in the Times about horses shrinking due to global warming. Professor Bloch may seem worried, but I think it’s simply fantastic news. He says horses could shrink to the size of cats. How absolutely wonderful, We could have much smaller race tracks, you could probably see the whole track from one spot. We might even have indoor horse racing, imagine it. No risk of races being called off because of bad weather, or poor ground conditions. You may well laugh, saying What about the jockeys you say? - I’ve already thought about that. We could train macaques or small lemurs. I think this global warming thing might be a good thing after all, what?

2 – Hello... Hello. I’m ringing up about the new 10 O’clock Live show,and I couldn’t help but notice David Mitchells unshaven face. I mean, it’s not right is it, posh people like David shouldn’t be unshaven, it’s like having an Aston Martin with Austin Maestro badges on it. I also note that Charlie Brooker is another one who can’t be bothered to shave before appearing on television. I suppose next week Jimmy Carr will be thinking the same, then what happens? It’s all downhill from there isn’t it? That only leaves Lauren Laverne, I don’t think I could bear it if she started growing a

3 – Hello. I’m ringing to complain about a programme that’s started on Channel 4. Superfat Vs Superskinny. (voice in background – “It’s Supersize, not superfat dad.”) I wish they had explained clearly during the adverts that it was not a fight programme. I thought I was onto a dead cert when I placed my bet at Ladbrokes. So I feel that the controllers of Channel 4 programming owe me the £100 I placed on the fat (voice in background - “Dad. I don’t think you are allowed to call them fat.”) people. Either that or at least have a small segment of the programme where they do get to fight, as I am still convinced that I could be on to a winner. Thank you.

4 –Star 24-2-12 page 17 – Saucy Phones

Elderley gentleman on phone, with equally elderly woman (both very elderly, and slightly bewildered.)
4 – Hello is that Newsjack. I wanted to clear something up with my wife...
Don’t tell the whole world Eric, I’m telling you it’s not normal
It is Deirdre, I read it in the Star. My wife Dierdre, says that it’s not normal to have saucy pictures of your wife on your phone. But it clearly says in The Star that one in four Brits have either pictures or videos of their partners on their phones.
Yes but Eric, they are talking about mobile phones, and we don’t have a mobile phone, I’m sure normal people don’t have a naked picture of their wife sellotaped to their handset.
Hold on. I’ll call you back later.

Friday, 2 March 2012

My Newsjack Rejection Seeds -

Here then is my first set of rejection seeds, submitted to BBC Radio 4 Extra for the Newsjack programme, but sadly didn't make the grade.

- - - - - - - -

Football fans are up in arms about the current price of football shirts, most specifically the latest incarnation of the England National Squad kit for £55. People have slammed the price as extortionate and disgusting, pointing out that it looks exactly the same as the previous kit, and the one before that. Those same whiners were less vocal when we suggested to them that if the kits looked exactly the same, why didn’t they just keep the old kit.
In a bid to raise funds to keep their club financially viable, Portsmouth FC have also increased the price of their shirts and kits drastically. However, fans do not seem so aggrieved by this, as the shirts are being supplied with a free player to display it on. We spoke to Mr Chris Hughton of Birmingham City about the shirt he recently bought.

Chris Hughton – It really is a wonderful shirt, and actually very similar to the shirts my team Birmingham City play in. Mine came with a free Erik Huselklepp, which I am delighted with.

Newsjack – So will you be using the Erik Huselklepp to display your new shirt?

Chris – Of course I will, it will take pride of place in my living room. Except for on match days, when I intend to dress him up in Birmingham City Kit and send him out on the pitch.

Newsjack – I see, and do you intend to add to your collection.

Chris – As a matter of fact I do. I’d quite like a Glasgow Rangers shirt, which is also much like our own, and if I can strike a deal to get a Sasa Papac to display it on I think it would really strengthen up our midfield..... I mean, balance out the living room between the bay window and the sofa.

Thank you Chris. As well as Chris Hughton, we also managed to snatch a few words with Newcastle winger Jonas Guttierez Who had this to say.

Jonas. – I had thought about the offer of a free player with one of the Portsmouth shirts, and wish now that I had bought one. Just recently my mothers home, where my prized collection of football shirts was displayed was broken into, and the whole collection was stolen. I’m sure having one of the Portsmouth defenders in the house would have been something of a deterrent. I’m sure if Ricardo Rocha can stop the top strikers from putting the ball in the back of the net, he could stop one man from making off with my shirts. It’d be nice company for mum as well.

So there we have it. The price of football shirts, sometimes an absolute rip off, and other times a truly unrepeatable bargain.


TITLE – Virtual Prisons

There is an ever increasing demand for space in our prisons. Costs are soaring as inmates demand better living conditions, higher quality food and more expensive home comforts to ensure their human rights are not compromised. This has had a knock on effect attracting more and more stereotypical youths and yobs to a life of crime to get into prison so that they could also enjoy a higher standard of living than they would otherwise have at home.

We sent reporter Judith Truman to meet our joint prime ministers David Cameron and Nick Clegg to discuss their planned reform of the prison system .

Wendy – So David, I understand your radical plans will solve both the problems of over crowding in prison, and also reduce the costs involved drastically.

Nick – (jumping about excitedly) Our plans. It was our plans. We do work as a team you know.

David – Yes, we do work as a team, now be a good lad and put the kettle on Nick.

Nick - OK.

David – Anyway Wendy, yes our future plans are as you described them, quite radical. Instead of sending criminals to prison, they will be sentenced to what we are calling ‘Virtual Prison’. We’ll be making them stay at home. They’ll only be allowed to go out if they are going to work, therefore we don’t need to pay anything for their keep.

Wendy – But isn’t that how most regular people in the community live anyway?

David – Strictly speaking yes, but there will of course be restrictions, such as....

Nick – (Returns enthusiastically with cups of tea) – Oooh, Can I tell her David?, this was one of mine. We take out all their comfortable furniture and refit the house with hard cold furniture, and they can’t have big TV’s in their homes, just small black and white sets, with the sound turned quite low so it’s not so easy to hear.

Wendy – That sounds quite expensive, if you have to replace all the furniture in somebody’s home. Surely it also seems to be punishing the offenders’ family too. Is that fair?

David – Taking away their credit cards, and driving licenses too. They won’t be able to go anywhere unless they use public transport.

Nick – No expensive games systems either. Don’t forget that David, we agreed. Nothing more advanced than the original Playstation. I know it seems harsh, but you have to remember, this is hardened criminals we’re dealing with here. We promised draconian restrictions, and by golly we meant it.

Wendy – Hold on. You haven’t answered my last question about the families. It would seem they are being very unfairly treated here.

Nick – I know. How about if we put the families up in a bedsit, or a reasonably priced hotel for the duration of the sentence? That could work.

Wendy – No it wouldn’t. That just means tax payers are covering the cost of keeping the spouse and children of the offender in a hotel rather than just the offender in a prison. That will be at least three to four times more expensive. What about ensuring the prisoner sticks to the terms of their sentence?

David – Each prisoner will be allocated a live in guard, who will make sure the prisoner does not leave the house during their curfew hours. This guard will also be responsible for doing the household shopping so that the prisoner doesn’t leave the house.

Wendy – Your idea is as bad as Nicks. That’s even more costly. So effectively, each prisoner gets his or her own servant, payed for by us, the tax payers, who may well be out of the house giving the prisoner the opportunity to do as they please?

Nick – They could do the shopping while the prisoner is at work.

Wendy – OK, so how much do you estimate the cost of each guard will be?

Nick – I know this one, it’s very clever you know, and ties in well with another of our upcoming bills, ‘The Mandatory Work Programme’. We take unemployed people from the area the offender lives in so that we don’t have to pay travel expenses, and as the scheme is to allow the individual to retain their unemployment benefits, we don’t need to pay any wages either.

Wendy – (sarcastically) – Oh Genius. So if the prisoner is, for arguments sake a drug dealer, or a fence for stolen goods in the area. You will be guarding him with an individual who has no qualifications in prisoner security, no incentive to do the job, and who could potentially already be a customer of the offender. Can either of you see any possible pitfalls to the idea?


Wendy – Well? Either of you?

David – Would you like a bourbon with your tea Wendy, or a plain digestive?

Nick – (obviously thinking) –How about........ How about..... I know. What if we put two guards in, and they don’t know each other.

Wendy –(phones office)
I’m going to have to stop this interview. These two obviously still have no coherent plan for dealing with crime.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

A new start - a new blog

I have not bought or sold anything much on either site for a long time, so no longer see a need to keep the old blog up.

I am however writing again. The original book - A THOROUGHLY ENGLISH HOODLUM is sort of finished, and has been selling as a PDF, mainly to fund charities. I'm also working on another fictional story, but don't know at this stage what to do with it. Finally I'm writing sketches and jokes for the BBC's NewsJack programme.....fingers crossed.