Friday, April 26, 2013

Comic Cuts - 26 April 2013

My nose was firmly to the grindstone for the first half of the week, making up for a couple of weeks that are best described as patchy. I mean, I got the Ranger book out but I've let other things distract me – my birthday, taking a whole day off, even doing some gardening.

Think of all the positive things to come out of this: I am one year older and therefore one year wiser, the day off only proved how easily I get bored and that damned spiny plant that was forever spearing everybody who risked going up and down the drive is now a memory. A hated memory of a spiteful plant. The bastard. We called it Spiny Norman because it was like having an angry porcupine with three-feet long quills jabbing at your legs on every trip out to the Co-op, or down to the post office or over to the bus stop.

There's a whole front garden that needs to be tamed but the bulk of the work will now have to wait until later in the year as we have at least three nesting pairs of birds in the thicket that should be a garden. We've had for some time a pair of blackbirds and a pair of robins, but they were joined recently by a pair of chaffinches (chaffinchi?). Pretty little things. It's the best excuse I've thought of for ignoring the garden so far this year.

I don't think we will have a repeat of last year when at least two nesting birds were attacked by cats. The cat in question (Blingy) hasn't been seen for ages. In fact, we've hardly seen any of the four cats I spotted last summer (Scatterpuss, Fluffybum, Blingy and the rarely seen Ninja). Five cats if you include Tiddles the naughty ghost cat, responsible for breaking wind and stealing sweets in the house. This year we seem to have only one cat, known as Socks if he's friendly, or Sox if he proves to be edgy or have an attitude.

This slightly insane rambling is here to fill a gap. Basically, I've no news and two-thirds of the excitement for the week is happening after this column is written. Tonight (as I'm writing – last night as you're reading) we're off to see Mitch Benn and on Saturday it's Mark Steel, touring his "In Town" show. But I can tell you that our little comedy binge got off to a fantastic start when Richard Herring's "Talking Cock" came to town on Wednesday night. I'm still trying to get to grips with this new camera and only managed to get a couple of presentable (that's presentable, not good) shots.

The show is hilarious. I'll admit now that I feared celebrating the male member was going to walk a fine line between the raging embarrassment men have about their winkies and overcompensation: laughing just to prove you can laugh about your todger. However, the audience were relaxed, responsive and ready to learn as Herring dropped facts and statistics throughout the show, often revealing some unexpected attitudes to the penis. This was superbly balanced with a mix of unexpectedly revealing insights and enough schoolboy humour to keep the show from growing po-faced. It's one of Herring's finest shows and the audience – the show was a sell-out – loved it.

Tonight is Mitch Benn. Hopefully I'll have some photos next week.

Today's random scans. Wilf McNeilly is best known as one of Sexton Blake's regulars although you'll find a few of his stories listed in the next index I do (Boys' World). He had quite a varied career and Bill Lofts used to tell one or two scurrilous stories about him. But nobody will deny that he could tell a yarn. Big Ice was his last published novel and isn't widely known even amongst his fans. Is that Chris Moore cover art? Tony Roberts?

Twisted Trails is an example of what Harold Johns got up to after he left the Frank Hampson studio. Not a hint of Dan Dare about this one.

The third (and I think final one for today) cover is by Eric Tansley who was a very good nature artist. He has appeared here on Bear Alley before and generated a lot of comments from fans and people who knew him.

We have Lesley Shane continuing over the weekend and through next week. I should hopefully also have the upcoming releases and recent releases columns posted... probably mid-week, but maybe earlier if I can get my act together on Sunday.

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