Friday, November 10, 2023

Comic Cuts — 10 November 2023

With something of a sigh of relief, I can announce that the bulk of Beyond the Void: The Remarkable Story of Badger Books is finished. I read through the whole thing and made a few minor adjustments and tweaks, but I'm happy with the way it looks and reads. I have one blank page at the back that I'm going to use for an advert; I have an idea to do one in keeping with the rest of the book, but we shall see.

That leaves the cover and I have a top man on the job. I mentioned last week that I didn't want to repeat what has been a standard cover for books about books, which involves a pile of books. I came up with what I think will be a fun idea at the weekend and spent Monday fretting over it because it's too good an idea to have me mess it up.

I know my limitations. I'm a not bad writer and I can put together a book that looks interesting while not being over-complicated (aided in almost every case by having brilliant comics and book covers to use as illustrations). But I'm not an artist or graphic designer. What I see in my head is deformed and distorted as it travels down my arm and out of the pen, pencil or brush and the result is a misshapen mess on the page. That's the last thing you want for a cover – the first thing a customer will see on my website or on Amazon. A duff cover can be the death of a book.

My obituary piece on Keith Giffen appeared on the Guardian website on Friday, but has yet to make the hard copy edition.

I had a "new music day" on Saturday, listening to some albums on streaming services that were new to me. I found a handful that I liked and will go back to listen to again.

Dave Foster Band features guitarist Dave Foster who has recently been playing with Steve Rothery (Marillion) and Big Big Train (replacing Dave Gregory), although was himself replaced on the latter's recent tour because of commitments to the former. The two albums I listed to both featured Dinet Poortman on vocals. Both Nocemo and Glimmer showcase Foster's playing and Poortman's vocals, nowhere better than the opening track of Nocemo ('Pata Dura'). Foster's guitar solos are slick and fast, slow and melodic where needed.

At the other end of the shredding scale is Liquid Tension Experiment, a side project for John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess, at various times of Dream Theatre, and Tony Levin of King Crimson. The 'experiment' of the title is that the band just jam, record everything and then pick out their favourite bits to expand on into tracks. It's riff-heavy with runaway guitar and keyboard solos, but still musically diverse enough (even reworking classical music) to keep tracks distinct and fresh. There was a 22 year gap between albums 2 and 3. Let's hope that the return of Portnoy to Dream Theatre means that there won't be another 20-year gap before album 4 for Liquid Tension Experiment.

Lastly, Head With Wings is a band I'd heard of. They had an EP out some while back (Comfort in Illusion) that I've often had on in the background; I spotted the new album Without Intervention and grabbed it, not really knowing what to expect. I'm glad I did. Tracks range all the way from prog to pop-rock. Great background music until I get a chance to really listen to the songs, as I'm sure there's plenty going on lyrically that I haven't picked up on yet.

I've also got the new (well... old, but remastered and with new tracks) David Longdon album Wild River to listen to. Longdon is sadly missed, but it's good to see his music won't be forgotten.

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