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Friday, June 22, 2018

Comic Cuts - 22 June 2018

This will probably be on the short side as I've spent some of the time I would normally spend writing this putting together an obituary for Jim Hansen, who died on Tuesday. Knowing very little about him, it took rather longer than I intended; at the same time it wasn't as comprehensive as I would have hoped, but that's often the way. Scroll down to see it if you haven't already.

I've almost completed the latest essay in the Forgotten Authors series, revisiting a piece I wrote in 2008 when nobody had heard of James Redding Ware. I commented at the time that he was likely to be remembered for only one of his books and I'm amazed to say that interest in him rose  exponentially in the next few years thanks to a mention in Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, an essay in the Times Literary Supplement by Judith Flanders, and reprints of two of his books in 2012 and 2013.

Thanks, too, to the increasing number of Victorian newspapers that have been digitized, I've also managed to track down far more detail about his other books and plays, firmed up information about his family tree and discovered a curious report about him being jailed at the age of 16. I'm still finishing the last bits, and then will be taking a look at finalising the contents of what will be the fourth Forgotten Authors volume.

The Ken Reid Power Pack reprint has achieved its goal of raising $10,000 through the IndieGoGo campaign I've been talking about these past couple of weeks. Hopefully that means the August deadline for publication can now be met. I'm really looking forward to seeing the books. Yes, I wrote an introduction to one of the volumes, so I recently had to re-read Frankiestein and Jasper the Grasper, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy re-reading them again (and again).

There hasn't been time for much else. The weather has been so muggy, I haven't been able to sleep; instead, I have been listening to an old adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. Listening to the history of the Galactic Empire I was struck by how close it resembles what is happening in the world nowadays. Hari Seldon's discovery of Psychohistory – mathematical formulae that can predict the future course of the Galactic Empire &ndashl is effectively the same thing as what many companies are doing now... collecting thousands of data points on billions of people in order to understand and predict how they will act and react. Not as individuals necessarily but as a group. Target a million people and hope to influence even 5% of them and you can swing an election.

Hari Seldon predicts a series of crises (known as Seldon Crises) which are inevitable due to the nature of humanity; on a smaller scale, it should have been obvious to anyone that the banking crisis of 2008 was inevitable and predictable.

In Foundation and Empire, the second novel in the series, a mutant called The Mule appears, an unpredictable event unforeseen by Seldon. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Donald Trump. Where's that Second Foundation when you need it to save the world?

We've just finished The Gifted, a Fox TV X-Men spin-off that appeared in 2017-18. While the series developed quite nicely over its 13 episodes, there were moments where you just wanted to shout at the characters (which we do, sometimes). A character might turn angrily on another and say "You don't lie to people who are your family," conveniently forgetting that, a couple of episodes earlier, they were on the receiving end of precisely the same complaint, at which time "We did it [lied] for your protection." So... is it OK to lie or not?

Still, it was better than The Inhumans and we've still got Legion season 2 to watch, although we're taking a break from superheroes to watch some robots... Westworld. We watched the season two opening episode and I'd forgotten half of what was going on because it has been eighteen months since we watched the first season.

I want to give a quick mention to a new podcast which I've just discovered. It's called Rule of Three and it's basically comedians Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris talking to a guest about something that has influenced them. So far I've listened to John Finnemore (on On The Hour), Danielle Ward (on Bottom) and Isy Suttie (on Love, Nina, the biography of Nina Stibbe about her life with literary types while she was nannying in London), all of which have been fascinating. I heard about it because one episode features Viz artist Davey Jones discussing the career of Leo Baxendale, but the other episodes looked so interesting I subscribed immediately and have been treating myself to them in chronological order. I'm sure you'll find it from your usual podcast provider. They have a web page, which is worth a visit if you want to find out more.

(My podcast provider is iTunes, which occasionally throws a mental fit. This week, it tried to download every single 2000AD Thrill-Cast. Now, however much I enjoy the cheery tones of Molch-R, having sixty or so episodes downloading, one after another, is a pain in the backside. It takes up bandwidth, it takes up hard-drive space that I always desperately need. This isn't the fault of 2000AD or Rebellion, but of iTunes... which once tried to download 150 episodes of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. The first I knew of it was warning messages telling me that I had no space left on my hard-drive while I was downloading something that I needed for work. Again, not the fault of Richard Herring, the British Comedy Guide or anyone other than iTunes.

The only way I've been able to resolve the problem is to unsubscribe, delete the podcast (including episodes that I might not have listened to) and then re-subscribe. UPDATE [9:20 am, Friday] iTunes has figured out my ruse. Currently it has downloaded six early episodes of the show and from the look of things is planning to download a further fifteen from 2015. I think I'll just have to give up, let them download and then delete them. *Sigh*

And that's my lot. No scans this week, but I do still have some comedy flyers left over from a previous scanning session. Actually, I did screw up slightly last weekend. I had this pile of books sitting a couple of feet away, and thought, "I've got to do something about them," because they had been there for months. On Saturday I plonked myself down and started scanning. Twenty books later it suddenly struck me that I'd scanned them before. And I had, back in 2014. I'd moved them aside to get to some other books (most of my shelves are two deep with paperbacks!) and hadn't put them back on the shelf, so the pile had just sat there begging to be scanned.

Clearly my brain has reached full capacity and every new memory is over-writing old memories.

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