From NBM comes Miss Don't Touch Me (originally La Vierge du Bordel and Du Sang sur les Mains) by Hubert (story and colour) and Kerascoët (drawing). I totally loved this book, from its 1930s Paris setting, to the riveting story and loose yet stylistic draughtsmanship. It's a murder mystery, largely set in a high-class brothel, and featuring a very engaging main character (Blanche). While the story is top-notch, the cartooning adds so much to the whole package, it's just delightful. Very European and very good. (And I discovered the blog of Kerascoët right here - lovely).
One of my favourite political cartoonists is 'Derf' (John Backderf), whose The City I have been following online for a good few years now. I've also been a fan of his longer works - My Friend Dahmer and Trashed, and now, a much longer work, Punk Rock and Trailer Parks. This story follows the remarkable central character, a charismatic trailer-park nerd named Otto, a.k.a 'The Baron', amidst the backdrop of the economically arid city of Akron which became a focal point for the new wave punk scene that hit America at the end of the 70s and into the early 80s. The story features several real bands and artists that did indeed play at 'The Bank' (eg. The Ramones, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Plasmatics), the music venue where much of the story takes place. If nothing else, I was introduced to the simply wonderful Klaus Nomi (an album of his coming my way soon). The only (very minor) downside is a few of the earlier pages print extremely close to the edge of the page - on one it actually sliced off a few letters of balloon text - but all in all it's a really satisfying read that had me chuckling out loud in several places.
I love drawing elephants - they're like two old men in baggy trousers.
On Monday Elyssa and I took the chance to go off to the Cotswolds for three days. Our first stop was a very windy Blenheim Palace where they also happened to be filming a new version of Gulliver's Travels. We watched as Emily Blunt filmed a scene while the other star of the film, Jack Black, looked on from the sidelines. Elyssa took this photo of the Lilliputian Guard waiting around for their next appearance.
The best part of Blenheim was a very informative guided tour through a few of the rooms, which contrasted starkly with a section of animatronics, video and 'interactivity'. I just can't get excited about these attempts to try and make history 'more exciting', when I think marvelling at the actual objects and stories behind them is a far more rewarding experience (as I've said before).
We stayed in the village of Broadway, and on Tuesday morning had a lovely 5 mile walk up to Broadway Tower and back (by a different route). The tower has strong connections with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, so was very interesting for that, but also we were lucky to have a fairly clear day, and from the top of the tower you're supposed to be able to see thirteen counties - it was certainly quite a view.
We went to Cheltenham in the afternoon and saw Coraline in 3D in the evening. The animation was gorgeous and not at all showy-offy, it served the story very nicely. I did think a few parts of the plot were resolved due to some rather convenient events, but that's a minor criticism of a very enjoyable film. And the trailer for Up looked fabulous.
So - batteries somewhat recharged, brain reset, it's now back to work on The Rainbow Orchid with plenty to do for volume two to get it into shape for publication. I'm working on the cover right now. And I also heard that a copy of the printed volume one has being doing the rounds at the Egmont office - so I'll hopefully get to see that soon.