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Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Cuts - 13 July 2012

I have been working on a thing for The Guardian most of the week – an obituary for their files, so I'll not say who it is about. Next week I'm back on the book.

What I can talk about is this: I've accidentally joined Facebook. I had no intention of joining. Don't get me wrong: I'm not anti-social networks or a luddite when it comes to new communication tools, although I still don't own  a mobile phone. I sit next to a phone all day – it's right next to me at my desk as I type this – and people will phone me about work-related things whatever the time of day or night, so I've never felt the need nor had the desire to carry another phone around with me during the scant few hours that I'm out of the house.

No mobile phone means no texting, means no twitter.

Facebook . . . well, I already have a blog where I can post news, comments and pictures, get into conversations, discover things, pass on links and a whole lot more. I came to blogging a couple of years after it became popular. I was probably aware of blogs by 2004 but it was reading David Bishop's blog Vicious Imagery that led to Bear Alley. Actually it was Peter Haining. Peter had phoned up and was asking about an old boys' writer called Ernest McKeag and I had to do some digging around to find an answer for him. And while I was digging, I was thinking about how much of what I was finding would be wasted because I had nowhere to publish it. And the same evening that a couple of other enquiries came my way I happened upon Vicious Imagery and dropped David an e-mail asking: "How easy is it to put together a blog?"

And David said: "If I can do it, it must be easy," which was all the encouragement I needed.

Bear Alley has now been running for almost six years (August 15th will be our sixth birthday) and I've felt no need to add to the workload that I already have keeping up a daily supply of something for the blog. The worry about Facebook has always been that it will simply be another way to fill hours of my time which I need for other things . . . researching or writing my books, or articles or whatever. I still do lots of odd bits and bobs for Allen Hubin's Crime Fiction Bibliography (its the fourth book down with updates published here) and for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia and write a weekly biographical piece for the Illustration Art Gallery blog, so I'm not someone who needs distractions.

What I find useful is music. I love listening to music while I'm working. Usually something that I've heard a thousand times before that just blurs out any noises in the background. I like soundtracks and what people call chill-out music these days – which is something I'll talk about elsewhere – while I'm writing and I'll listen to radio shows, audio books, comedy podcasts while I'm scanning, sorting out artwork or writing Bear Alley (I'm listening to The Comedian's Comedian podcast interview with Sarah Millican as I type this).

For the folks at the back screaming "But how did you accidentally join Facebook?" we're nearly there.

Mel has been listening to something called Spotify which is an online music sales site where you can also listen to music (a bit like radio-on-demand) as long as you don't mind the occasional advert. So Mel was listening to Fleetwood Mac the other day and I mentioned that I'd never had a Fleetwood Mac album but I did buy "Big Love", the single. To cut a long story short, Mel found the song on Spotify and we listened to it.

Brilliant. Sold on the idea, I checked out their site and they said "Getting started is quick, easy and safe" and you've already seen what kind of sucker I am for that kind of encouragement.

And the easiest way to log in is via a Facebook account, which is how I came to sign up to Facebook.

I'm still a bit worried that there will be an overwhelming torrent of "so-and-so wants to be your friend" and loads of messages but so far I've only "friended" a handful of people. That's not because I'm unfriendly . . . I'm just trying to do this at a sensible pace. I'm also still trying to figure out exactly what I'm supposed to be getting out of being on Facebook. I'm in no rush and I am supposed to be working.

Random scans . . . something funny. These books seemed to be in every bookshop when I was growing up and every second hand bookshop had copies of them. Nowadays they seem to have disappeared. You're more likely to see Terry Pratchett and Gray Jolliffe's The Unadulterated Cat.

Eric Gurney was a Canadian cartoonist who began working for Walt Disney in the late 1930s. I found the biography below at the website for the National Cartoonists Society.

Next week's content depends on what I can get together on Sunday. Tomorrow we have a piece on the curiously-named P. Hoole Jackson. Sunday could be a cover gallery.


  1. It's no secret that obituaries are pre-prepared for the files whilst the sujects are in rude health, makes sense to avoid delays in printing them when the sad day eventually arrives - indeed you often see that the writer hs predeceased the subject! However, I remember reading that a journalist came unstuck when briefing himself about Timothy West who he was about to interview, by reading the filed obituary (which of course is written in the past tense). During the interview at Timothy's house, he commented "you were married to Prunella Scales" to which Timothy rather puzzledly replied "but I still am, she's upstairs"

  2. It's a little creepy to see the occasional obituary by Denis Gifford still turning up ten years after his death.

    I don't do many file obits. but I've got a tax bill to pay and really need the money!

  3. Be careful with the facebook thing-Steve. Speaking as a semi-luddite I found it curiously addictive. Great when used in the right way though.

    Bill fleming

  4. I fear I may already be addicted...! I'll have to keep an eye on the amount of time I spend online.

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