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blog of the day 29.04.2004
Webbledelook
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Webbledegook: news and stuff
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Cotswold Capers
Friday 15 May 2009
This past week began on Sunday with a trip up to Watford to take part in a full day karate open course led by Shotokan legend Hirokazu Kanazawa (with his son Nobuaki), and very nicely hosted by the Watford SKKIF. Despite the large number of attendees it was a great experience and a very enjoyable day (there's some photos here).
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.

On Wednesday we drove back through Stow-on-the-Wold (mostly closed on a Wednesday it seems, though a second-hand bookshop made it worthwhile) and Bourton-on-the-Water for a lovely lunch.

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.

posted 15.05.09 at 11:55 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Haddock - tomorrow's chip wrapper
Saturday 4 April 2009
It's been ages since I visited the Tintinologist forums (I designed the logo, and its predecessor, The Cult of Tintin, was one of the first websites I visited when I first got onto the internet in 1996) but I found myself there the other day and reading a post titled 'Pastiche identification'.
"In some greek newspaper, I've read an article about Tintin, that had a few illustrations - one of which is very unfamiliar, and, strangely, makes me think of a fake. It's a front image of Haddock looking very angry, eyes closed, losing his pipe and waving his fist, while his cap hops out of irritation. The drawing style is very very close to Hergé (or de Moor, or Jacobs), but strikes me as odd for some subtle reasons - a bit too detailed and too realistic. In fact, it reminds me much more of Jacques Martin than Hergé."

The description immediately made me think of the Captain Haddock I drew for the A-Z of Comic Characters I completed last year. But it couldn't be could it? I suggested it, to which the reply came...

"I've just dropped an eye on your website, and I'm not sure if it could match your style: the lines are 'thinner' than yours, making it look more Jacobs/Martin than your vaguely more Floc'h/Riviere style."

I'm quoting that bit only because it delighted me to be compared to Floc'h! The forum poster kindly sent me a scan of the page in question, and sure enough - it is indeed my Haddock. Did the paper think it was by Hergé? Was it just a convenient image? Rather naughty of the paper in question, but not something I'd ever chase up due to it just being a blog sketch of someone else's character, plus it's a rather flattering mix-up.

For more Greek, you may be interested in the updated and now linguistically correct Notebook of Theophrastus page, complete with a new sound recording from Latin scholar, Quintus.

I did a short phone interview with Caroline Horn of The Bookseller earlier this week, mainly on the back of the Super Comics Adventure Squad press release, but she also kindly gave The Rainbow Orchid a plug in the resulting piece (though she called it 'Orchard', something I have seen elsewhere too).

And finally... I love this Yahoo Question. Mrs Cullen asks:

"Where has the rainbow orchid originated? NOT the comic. The flower. Where did it come from? NOT the comic***!!"

I think perhaps the title of my comic is frustrating her Google searches. My apologies, Mrs Cullen, allow me to offer some assistance. Wikipedia gives the rainbow orchid the term paphiopedilum wardii, and seems to suggest it originates in south-west Yunnan and Myanmar. One newspaper article, from March 2008, declares that the rainbow orchid, first discovered in the valleys of Putao and Nagmung in the late 1980s, has not been seen since November 2007, and is probably extinct in the locality. This, of course, is not my rainbow orchid, a name I didn't know existed when I started the story back in 1997.

posted 04.04.09 at 1:05 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


A meeting of proletariat comrades
Thursday 12 March 2009
Yesterday I was up in London, mainly for a meeting at Egmont (which unfortunately had to be put back to next week) but as Sarah McIntyre had booked us tickets for the Rodchenko and Popva exhibition at the Tate in the morning, I made the journey in anyway, and am very glad I did!
We were joined by Rian Hughes, and it was a highly enjoyable morning. It was great to see some of the wonderful Soviet posters and designs that had inspired my Tayaut poster in the previous entry, and as Sarah had lived in Moscow for two years, her knowledge of the subject provided an enlightening insight into many of the works. Afterwards we had lunch at Leon's (not Trotsky) and Sarah took some photographs, including the one below of Rian and me in the shape of constructivist icons. I was home by 3 pm and back to work on Orchid edits.

Do go and watch this great talk that Rian gave at the Art Director's Club in New York. And I think this is as good an opportunity as ever to show off my Soviet medal collection too.

Photo by Sarah

posted 12.03.09 at 11:55 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Bulldog and bits
Monday 2 March 2009
Jason Cobley has collected together some his favourite Bulldog tales, drawn by artists such as Neill Cameron and Kieran MacDonald, and put them into a book which is now available to order.
Bulldog was one of the longest-serving British 'small press' comic characters, and one incarnation of the title (BAM! - Bulldog Adventure Magazine) was the only logical home for the first few episodes of The Rainbow Orchid when it was first published in 2002 (you can read a bit about how BAM! and Orchid came together in my interview here, and see the checklist here).

I never got to draw a proper Bulldog tale (though it was discussed on more than one occasion), but I did do a cover for the comic in 1996 (see below centre, ignore awful perspective on Big Ben), and I did an offshoot story for Accent UK's Pirates with a story featuring an ancestor, Captain Endurance Bulldog (see far right). But for the best of Bulldog - go and order the collection! (Cover, below left, by Kieran MacDonald)

I listened to a great little interview with David Baillie while drawing over the weekend. It was recorded for Panel Borders, a radio show for Resonance FM and podcast hosted by Alex Fitch. This is one of my favourite comics podcasts, largely because Alex gives a great interview that keeps on track and asks intelligent questions (witness Raymond Briggs brightening up after being impressed that Alex had actually done his research - another fabulous interview), but also because it focuses on British comics, and especially some of the more interesting alternative and independent stuff. David Baillie has a new book out, Tongue of the Dead.

Also over the weekend, I actually took some time out and watched two excellent films with my wife (I also made a lovely fresh pasta dinner on Saturday, if I do say so myself!). The first was In Bruges (on DVD) - great characters, great situation, great location, and a great plot that resolves itself very satisfactorily. I have been to Bruges, in the early nineties, and now I want to go again. The other film was Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona (at the cinema). Allen, one of my four all-time favourite directors, has been a bit up and down recently, but this is definitely an up. He's so good at examining creativity and its entanglement with relationships. As with In Bruges, location added an extra layer of loveliness to this film, and the music was superb too.

One last thing... a great article in The Sunday Times by Richard Girling called Fireworks over Fireplaces, about English Heritage not being entirely moral in relation to its restoration advice. This kind of injustice, greed and attempt at cover-up just makes my blood boil, and Girling presents the case very nicely.

posted 02.03.09 at 2:51 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


RSS confusion
Wednesday 25 February 2009
Since the website update I've had a torrent of queries (three) about my RSS feeds, particularly in relation to multiple syndications over at LiveJournal. All these feeds pick up this blog, and as all have subscribers left from various incarnations of my blog, I have kept them all feeding from the source!
garenewing (13 subscribers remain) dates from June 2004. I changed the RSS feed as I had to temporarily stop the blog and change location. The new one was...

webbledegook (8 subscribers remain) which dates from July 2006 and was the RSS feed for the newly located blog. But then I decided to centralise everything at the Rainbow Orchid site, and thus a third feed was born and syndicated onto LJ...

r_orchid_news (28 subscribers) which dates from November 2006.

To further confuse the issue, I have my own LiveJournal account, rainboworchid (71 subscribers), which does not feed from this blog, but I have started copying most (but not all) posts from here over there. That was originally set up so I could comment on other LJ accounts, and then I started running The Rainbow Orchid strip there too.

So what should you subscribe to if you're on LiveJournal? To get everything, subscribe to r_orchid_news. That is a bit of a soulless feed, and I only see comments there if I go and check it myself. If you want to friend me on LJ, then also add rainboworchid - and if you comment there I get notified.

If you're not on LiveJournal, there is another feed here, which is the one directly from this very blog, and is basically the same as r_orchid_news, but a different file. I add that just to confuse you as completely as possible.

posted 25.02.09 at 4:16 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Website update
Monday 23 February 2009
It's taken a couple of weeks, but in the nooks and crannies of any spare time, and with a big effort to finish it this weekend, the website redesign has at last happened.
Much of the content remains as it was, but in the run-up to the book launch, there will be many more changes and new stuff to come - particularly with the members' area (renamed The Adventurers' Society), which will become properly active towards the end of July.

Some areas have had quite an update, and I would point you to the characters section, and the behind the scenes section. There is also the return of a shop, which will become more Rainbow Orchid specific as we get nearer to publication.

I hope you like the redesign - do let me know if you come across any problems, bugs or glitches.

posted 23.02.09 at 10:42 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Some fabulous webbledegook
Monday 9 February 2009
Here are a few fabulous goodies that have blipped across my blippety radar in the last 24 hours or so...
Laura Howell, fabulous cartoonist, is doing her (second) Strip-a-Day-Spectacular throughout February. You can see them on her website or on Facebook. Genuinely chuckleworthy stuff.

Paul Gravett, the Man At The Crossroads, has written a fabulous report on this year's Angouleme festival. I am definitely going next year. With a book coming out in a few months, I was particularly heartened to read this sentence:

"Others cry "Vive la crise!" and suggest that "BD" [Bande Dessinée] may weather the credit crunch better than most sectors because comics are often not some casual consumer purchase but a passion, an addiction, an escape that people are loathe to give up in tougher times."

And that reminded me of this extract from a recent article on The Bookseller website:

"Certain genres seem to be weathering the storm. Many are predicting that escapism, particularly crime novels will be solid, less risk-averse bets. "As things get tougher I think we will look for some sort of nostalgia and some thrills or comfort or warmth," says Orion deputy publishing director Kate Mills."

I'm definitely keeping a positive outlook in the face of Robert Peston as far as The Rainbow Orchid is concerned. And the above should be good news too for a friend of Elyssa's (that's no lady, that's my wife), author Julie Corbin, who has her debut novel coming out from Hodder in April. I think you can expect fabulous things from Julie (I read an early draft of the first chapter and was hooked).

And finally... you might have noticed I've put a couple of event banners in the sidebar. The first is for the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival, organised by Mousehunter author, Alex Milway, and is still in its early days (so keep an eye on the blog for news). The second is for the Bristol Comics Expo, which I hope to attend, but am not yet committing to. They should both, of course, be fabulous.

posted 09.02.09 at 11:58 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


A difficult decision
Sunday 1 February 2009
I have just posted the following notice up over on my Afghan War site...
"I have had to make the very difficult decision to step away from my Anglo-Afghan War project for a while - at least a year. This year (2009) sees the publication of the first volume of my book (The Rainbow Orchid) and I have found I must turn my full attention to supporting this aspect of my life in order to ensure its continuing success.

Dealing with Afghan War related requests and research is a hugely enjoyable hobby for me, and I find helping people with their family mysteries and historical queries enormously rewarding, but I end up having to spend too long on them - often many hours for a single request. Also, having to switch my brain from author/illustrator mode to history/researcher mode at the flick of a switch, and then back again, is not easy. Once I'm in Afghan War mode I stay enthusiastic about it, and find it an effort to turn back to the main work of my books (which I also greatly enjoy).

So, I need to prioritise, and - at least temporarily - stop the flow of Afghan War related correspondence that I deal with (I will clear the current backlog). This site will remain online, but the database project is on hold. I will still accumulate data for the project, but with the longer term in mind.

If you have an Afghan War related query, please consider posting it over at the excellent Victorian Wars Forum, which has a dedicated section for the Afghan Wars. I will almost certainly be popping over there myself every now and then, when I can, and will contribute as time allows.

I've invested far too much time (and money) into this project to give up on it, and it is a period of history I still find totally absorbing (the Afghan War makes an appearance in both of my currently published comic strips) - so 'normal service' will resume, when the time is right. As I said, this has been a truly difficult decision to make."

I said in a recent interview that I slightly regretted not being more focussed on my 'comics career' when I was younger. I had (and have) so many interests, and when one grabs hold of me I tend to dive into it 110%. One year I decided I wanted to set up a small theatre company and direct a play, so first I got as much experience as possible on the stage and took part in seven different plays in that one year alone. Not a lot of time for making comics that year (though neither would I go back and change a thing!)

I mentioned that the Afghan War makes an appearance in my comics, and you'll have seen it as part of the 'sword story' in The Rainbow Orchid. Below is a small extract from my DFC comic strip, Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod.

posted 01.02.09 at 8:30 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Slightly belated happy new year!
Thursday 8 January 2009
A very happy new year to all Rainbow Orchid and Webbledegook readers all over the world :-) Sorry this greeting is a bit late (and resulting behindness on emails), but I started my new year with a rather nasty infection that is just on its way out now. Gah.
Despite that, and the biting cold of the last few days, today the sun is out, and the air is chilly but refreshingly crisp, so the windows are open and I'm getting some life back into me. I'm currently working in super-time on the continued re-mastering of The Rainbow Orchid, the example below now including the correct uniforms for soldiers of the 60th Foot in the Afghan campaign of 1880.

Just time for one quick link at the moment, pointing you in the direction of Paul H. Birch's Speech Balloons column for the Birmingham Mail. Last week he posted my most recent Christmas card, a little strip for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

posted 08.01.09 at 1:43 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Neil's aunt
Monday 22 December 2008
I recently promised someone that I'd post a photograph of me in a play with Neil Gaiman's aunt (and was reminded by seeing Pádraig's interview on the Forbidden Planet blog this morning), so here it is.
We were in a number of stage productions together, but this one was Noises Off by Michael Frayn in 1995. Good memories as they always involved us laughing our heads off - particularly during one musical scene to Jailhouse Rock, where all the arrows fell off my costume as we danced, landing in various humorous places on us both. I must say I enjoyed all those plays I was in, but you wouldn't get me on the stage for anything today!

posted 22.12.08 at 11:05 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Secret Santa
Saturday 20 December 2008
Yesterday I was up in London and joined David O'Connell, Ellen Lindner and Sarah McIntyre for what we termed our 'work Christmas do'. We met up at Franco Manca for (lovely) pizzas and home-made lemonade, and David had the excellent idea of swapping 'secret santa' art in the form of 2" square little drawings.
I did a picture of Julius (randomly picked by Ellen), and I got Sarah's delightfully surreal BLT (that's Burmese, Lettuce and Tomato!). Afterwards we decamped to the Ritzy cinema café for tea. Sarah has photos.

posted 20.12.08 at 11:51 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Some Webble for you
Wednesday 17 December 2008
It's been a while since I recommended a few things I think you should be looking at, so here are some goodies for you to explore...
I received a lovely little package of comics from Peter Beare earlier this week containing four issues of Dangnabbit that feature various strips in the form of brief tales, sketches, vignettes and gags. Peter has a lovely relaxed style with drawings that ooze life and great observation, so I definitely recommend taking a look through his fabulous online archive (I love this one featuring a cat and a packet of Jaffa Cakes).

If it hasn't been enough that Neill Cameron's Mo-bots have been blowing you away every week in The DFC (what about that spidery-bot in the school canteen!), then you can get more Neill goodness over at his blog where he's giving you a Santa a day until Christmas. Today's, and my favourite so far, is Kung-Fu Santa.

Talking of The DFC, if you're a subscriber you'll be getting the special Christmas issue this Friday, which is really rather exciting - I believe it's a double issue, and there's all kinds of DFC favourites lined up. If you're not a subscriber, don't forget you can try a single issue (see here) or you can even get a mini four-issue subscription through Amazon. The DFC is doing great things for British comics, and even greater things for anyone who enjoys a decent comic strip or three. Coming soon are Frontier and Mirabilis. Yum!

Turning to a completely different area of things, two books came out recently on different aspects of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, of which I had some small involvement. The March to Kandahar concentrates on Lord Roberts' role in the campaign, and includes three images from my own private collection (including the front and back cover). And History Press have published a new book on Maiwand that focuses specifically on the 66th Foot. As well as chipping in on the research and doing some fact checking, I illustrated all the maps and plans, and (uncredited) wrote the introduction - which you can read online here.

Lastly, a couple of weeks ago I had a small drawing in a secret art sale run by architects Levitt Bernstein in aid of the charity Shelter. Can you spot my contribution? Laika author Nick Abadzis had one in there too.

posted 17.12.08 at 12:51 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Oliver Postgate 1925-2008
Tuesday 9 December 2008
I always used to watch The Clangers, and Ivor the Engine was another favourite - though I mainly only remember the dragon, who fascinated and slightly frightened me. I never really watched Bagpuss, the nation's favourite, I must admit.
So farewell to Oliver Postgate, the most ingenious mind of children's television - and go read about if such a thing, children's television that is, matters - in his own words.

posted 09.12.08 at 8:36 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Hope
Wednesday 5 November 2008
The reality, in a couple of months, will be a test - but for now... it's been a long time since I've felt like celebrating the stars and stripes.

posted 05.11.08 at 10:28 am in Webbledegook | permalink | |


Garen goes to London
Monday 20 October 2008
Not a lot of work/comic-related news here recently, and I've been a bit low on energy for blogging - but I really shouldn't leave it for too long. It doesn't take much for people to start wondering if you've disappeared off the face of the earth when there's nothing new on the website for a while!
Last Wednesday I went up to London and met up with fellow comic creators David O'Connell (Tozo) and Sarah McIntyre (Vern and Lettuce) at a nice little place called Teapod by Tower Bridge. We had a good two hours of talking comics and stuff, and I came away with signed comics and goodies. When I got home, I found a big bit of cake stuck to the cover of my DFC issue 1, which I got Sarah to autograph (the comic, not the cake). Later, Sarah drew the picture below of the three of us at Teapod - wonderful. And David drew me a sumptuous Evelyn Crow, which I'm afraid I rather gushed over - but it deserved it! I'll put that at the bottom of this entry, and on the readers' art page.

Thanks to a few delays on the Circle line (it's always the Circle line) I was half an hour late for my meeting at Egmont (note to self: must say my name more slowly to receptionists - I'm often put down as 'Gary Newman'), but it was great to meet up with the team who'll be helping to get Rainbow Orchid in to book form. I think there's a basic plan of action taking shape now, and there's stuff to be getting on with. I'll keep you updated as much as I can - but you're going to have to remain patient for a little while yet. Good things come to those who wait :-)

And the day wasn't over yet... next it was off to Sloane Square where I met up with Colin Mathieson (Accent UK), and after a nice cup of tea (third of the day), we went off to the National Army Museum to see Ian Knight give a talk on various aspects of the Zulu War (1879). Colin did a comic strip set in that campaign a few years ago, and was able to re-stock the NAM shop with copies. We also managed to get in a bit of local exploring, coming across the impressive Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park (across the river) and all the blue plaques down Tite Street - I was especially impressed that Oscar Wilde had lived there.

Colin returned to East Grinstead with me, where I put him up in the spare room. The following day we inspected my comics, some of my original art pages, and my Afghan War (1878-80) collection - something I rarely get to show off, but Colin, being a Zulu aficionado, showed generous appreciation. Even my light historical tour of East Grinstead's High Street didn't seem to phase him too much, before we enjoyed a pub lunch at the Dorset Arms, and then a browse of the graphic novel section in Waterstones.

So, a very nice couple of days, and a nice break from the usual routine. And there's another break this Friday, when I'm up at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art as part of New Writing North's Autumn Roadshow.

posted 20.10.08 at 8:51 pm in Webbledegook | permalink | |


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