Friday, September 29, 2023

Comic Cuts — 29 September 2023

We all experience the effects of the biological clock as the years pile on, the obvious signs including saying "Oof" every time you stand up or sit down and wondering why policemen are getting younger. I also think that at some point you cross a line and no longer want a fuss made when it is your birthday.

I reached that age long ago, but Mel, considerably younger, has finally caught up. So for her birthday we did ... nothing. Even her birthday cake was low key. Meeting up with my Mum and a walk down to a little gallery along the High Street was as active as we got, or wanted to get, this week.

The gallery is a little pop-up thing that has only opened recently, but we were incredibly impressed by a colourful phoenix in the window. Mel (having worked on crafts magazines for many years) recognised it immediately as needle felt. This, I'm told, involves stabbing wool with needles with little barbs on them. If you like wool, needles or stabbing, this page explains it far better than I could. For the rest of us: the magic needles make animals out of the wool.

I'll put some more photos up at the bottom of the column. We had the good fortune to meet the artist, Nicola Paton (–> Facebook), a Glaswegian former teacher, who also made little clay creatures that reminded us of something out of Studio Ghibli's My Neighbour Totoro or Princess Mononoke. Another influence was Hilda, the animated series based on the graphic novels by Luke Pearson and Netflix TV series, which is a delight. (26 episodes and a movie, so far, with a third season due in December 2023 after a three year wait since season 2. It's worth having children just so you can watch this.)

The gallery is called The Old Grocery and I wrote a little about the original shop in a post back in 2014, when I must have had plenty of spare time. This week has been lazy compared to most that we've had over the last few months. Not empty—we've watched a couple of films and caught up on some TV, eaten plenty cake (proper cake, not the apple tart above), Mel has started on the books she got for presents and I've dipped into the remaining cover scans I have for the Badger Books' book and cleaned up a few.

Oh, and we finally got our new mower, care of a friend who is emigrating and wanted to get rid of some stuff. It's battery-powered and heavier than the old Flymo, but I gave it a run on Wednesday morning and... it stopped. Slight panic until I realised that (having not cut the lawn for over a month) the box at the back was full. Once emptied it worked fine... until it stopped. Not the grass box this time but the battery. Thankfully there's a second battery, which was already fully charged, and it only takes 20-30 minutes to recharge.

Now I've figured out what the machine does that will cause my heart to stop every couple of minutes, I think it and I will get on very well. It certainly made short work of the rather small front and back lawns we have, and it was over in almost no time: the battery means we don't have to mess around with unfurling extension leads and winding them back up, and the box means no need to rake up the cut grass. Win and win.

I can't say that copies of Trials of Hank Janson are flying out of the house. I still have a couple of the hardbacks left from the first print run and a stack of paperbacks that I could sign if anyone wants something with my scrawl on it. I'm being interviewed on Friday morning, when this is posted, so we shall just have to see how that goes and whether I can get the word out further than the few dozens of people who have seen my recent Ask Steve videos. But I've enjoyed making them and editing them was a pleasant break from all that cover art cleaning that I have been doing for the Badger book. Talking of which... I guess I'd better get back to it.


  1. Thank you Steve (and Mel) for visiting the gallery and sharing my work. I have had a couple of days recovering but now have some focus to be able to start work again, interspersed with some interesting blog reading.
    Nicola 🌈

  2. It was a pleasure to meet you, and we look forward to seeing what new work you create when you come back next year.



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