Friday, 19 January 2018

Snow & Wind Stop Play - first kids comics of the year


This week I returned to the chalkface with three days of Comic Art Masterclasses, in the far flung reaches of Newcastle and Hannover. And things didn't get off to the smoothest start, with the weather deciding to come over all wintry. And in January, of all times. On Thursday I was in Hannover for the first time and, though the morning went smoothly, the afternoon class had to be brought to a halt after half an hour due to a storm (Storm Eleanor I think) which had swept across the UK and was now about to devastate Germany. As it happens, though it was a bit breezy on the way back to the hotel, and out again to their brilliant Sprengel Art Museum (about which I might write some time), Hannover seems to have been spared the worst of the storm, and normal service was resumed the next morning.


The next day two groups of 6th Graders (that's Year 7 in old money) produced the first two complete day's worth of comics this year. And what nice ones they were, despite one of them ending up with the most hackneyed and dismaying title you can ever get from a group of kids - I Don't Know. This is regularly one of the titles a member of the class will come up with (along with the equally dispiriting LOL, Yolo, and Your Mum), but it rarely wins the group vote. Let's assume they were being ironic shall we? They were nice kids, it being the International School in Hannover, so mostly middle class and well travelled for urchins.




The week's classes began at Ponteland in Newcastle, and the first class of the day was the one that suffered from the weather, in this case snow. The pupils had come by minibus from Bellingham, and some of them were from Kielder, which is up the valley. The valley that was being snowed on. So it was that, after 30 minutes, they all had to get back in the bus and return to school for fear that they might not be able to later. Thus the front cover, named and produced entirely by me, is all that came of the class. They hadn't even begun to start drawing when they had to go. They have the cover as a souvenir. A second group was found to have an ad hoc 45 minute session with me, and then in the afternoon we managed to complete the whole shebang.

So after 3 days and 6 classes in 2018, I so far have a 66% success rate in actually getting to the end of one.


And so far this year 20% of children have chosen Donald Trump as the celebrity to appear in my demonstration strip. Of the 5 classes who got that far, the celebs chosen were Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Dracula, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. All par for the course so far.



Comic Art Masterclasses open to the public:
Feb 12 - Zion Bristol
Feb 13 - Salisbury Arts
Feb 14 - Baldocks Arts & Heritage Centre, Herts
Feb 15 - Angles Theatre, Wisbech
Feb 16 - Bexleyheath & Erith Libraries
March 17 - Prema Arts, Uley, Gloucs
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Socks new show - teasers


We've done it before (last time, here, in 2016) and we'll no doubt do it again. We're keeping the name of the new Socks show under wraps until it makes its tentative debut in Leicester on Feb 17th. Here's a first tentative teaser of the advert.


Oh go on then, as it's you, here's another teaser to be going on with. Knock yourself out.


The process of writing the show has begun, in fact it began back last Autumn when I started taking suggestions from folks online and making some random sketches. You never know, some of those might make it into the show. And I'm quite pleased with a couple of the new things I've written. Though, I'll be honest, I'm not sitting on an hour's worth of gold yet, so more writing to be done. I'd best get busy eh.

I take great consolation from reading this, a breakdown of the first Leicester preview of Socks Do Shakespeare in Feb 2016. It went on to become our best show, but in Feb of that year we had hardly any of the material that went on to be the killer stuff. Mostly I was still giving them the previous year's show. Ha ha. Brilliant. Suddenly I feel ahead of the game. See also...
Minging Detectives 1st tryout Feb 15
Socks In Space full show Feb 14
Socks In Space 1st tryout Feb 13
Best of Feb 12
On The Telly full show Feb 11
5 day run of Goes To Hollywood Feb 09

 In the meantime, tickets are going nicely for the shows we have lined up so far, so get booking them if you haven't already.

Feb 17 & 24 6.50pm Kayal Leicester

Mar 14 & 15 8pm Dram Glasgow 

May 26 3.45pm & May 27 5pm Komedia Brighton


(In the absence of a new banner animation, here's one from 2009 you might enjoy)

Friday, 12 January 2018

Masterclassathon A Go Go


Blimey, I've certainly been filling up my diary without realising it. Coming up in half term week, Feb 12 - 16, I have a week of Comic Art Masterclasses, all open to the public. If you wished, you could help spread the word. They are...


Feb 12 - Zion Bristol


Feb 13 - Salisbury Arts


Feb 14 - Baldocks Arts & Heritage Centre, Herts


Feb 15 - Angles Theatre, Wisbech

Feb 16 - Bexleyheath & Erith Libraries (no advert for these, I'm sure they'll take care of themselves)

Consider these well and truly tweeted, let's hope they all sell out.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here


Friday, 5 January 2018

In praise of the Fudenosuke Brush Pen


The first week of 2018 has seen a small revolution in my comic strip artwork since I've discovered a new drawing tool - the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen. I bought it between Christmas and New Year at the stationers on Park Street, having failed to find what I was looking for at a shop in Cardiff.

It turned out to be so good that, as I was halfway through my first page using it, I immediately ordered two more, not knowing how long they'd last. Have a look at the photo above. Can you see how, in the first instance, I had a little difficulty knowing what to reorder? That's right, everything is in Japanese.

Added to which, it's only having uploaded the picture above that I realise I've actually ordered the wrong pens. I've just been using the Soft pen and have ordered two Hard pens. When they arrive I'll see whether they're any use. (The difference between soft and hard, as far as the exterior of the pen is concerned, seems to be a slight difference in the pastel shade of two of the 4 boxes on the side. Boy, they certainly want to shift units in English speaking countries, don't they?)


Here's what the end result comes out like...


You might not be able to see a difference between this and my recent stuff, but it's giving me a much finer line than my ink and brush work has been achieving of late. And by god it's faster. So much faster that I've completed my latest job, Book Of Ruth, at the rate of nearly 5 pages a day, with much more detail than previous jobs. And I've so got up to speed that, this afternoon, I just wrote, pencilled, inked and coloured a three panel patch for Book Of Esther (which I originally delivered nearly a year ago, and which has yet to see print). Here, this now goes on page one...


It'll mean nothing to you, but it greatly improves the start of the story. I hope you're all going to see this Women Of The Bible graphic novel (featuring Esther, Ruth, Rahab and Jael) before too long. It's the best work I've written and drawn in years, and I'm inordinately proud of it.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Ruth & Rahab Work In Progress


Continuing my Work In Progress time sheet (started in December) for the two strips from Women Of The Bible, Book Of Ruth and Rahab.

To recap:
Feb 2 2017 - Book Of Ruth script delivered
Apr 20 2017 - Rahab & Jael Wife Of Heber scripts delivered
Dec 1 2017 - Jael Wife Of Heber art delivered (art & colour, just under 1 page per day)
Dec 22 2017 - Ruth 12 pages pencilled (at 4 pages per day)
Jan 4 2018 - Ruth 12 pages inked (at 4.8 pages per day)

Friday Jan 5th midday - Ruth 12 pages, all line art & lettering assembled, ready for colouring. (Assembling and tidying 12 pages of line art took approx 8 hours)
PM - Rahab, all 9 pages laid out. Plus, as a bonus, I drew and inserted 3 new panels into Book Of Esther:



Sat & Sun Jan 6 & 7, Rahab voice bubbles laid out and Page 2 pencilled.
Mon Jan 8, 10am - 6pm, Rahab pages 1, 3, 4 and 5 pencilled. 7pm - 11pm p6 and 2/3rds of p7 pencilled.
Tues Jan 9, 10am - 1pm, lots of time spent insuring the car and starting Garda Vetting for Irish schools, p7 and 8 pencilled. 3pm - 6pm, lots more Garda Vetting nonsense, page 9 pencilled.
7pm - 10pm all 9 pages borders & bubbles inked.
Weds Jan 10, 10am - 1pm, pages 2, 4 & 9 inked. 7 - 10pm pages 1, 3, 5 - 7 inked.
Thurs Jan 11, 9.30 - 10.30 (at Peugeot garage) page 8 (final page) inked. 1pm - 5pm, all pencil erased, pages scanned, assembled ready for colouring.

So Rahab 9 pages pencilled and inked in 4 and a half days, that's 2 pages per day.

Work in progress

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here


Monday, 1 January 2018

My Predictions for 2018 (and how'd I do last time?)

 My Predictions for 2018 (and how'd I do last time?)

Having enjoyed reading about "Toward The Year 2018", written 50 years ago, I'm minded to do something similar myself.

Last time I tried making any predictions for the year ahead was 2016, when I looked at how badly I'd predicted the previous year, then had some stabs at the next one.

Then I forgot I'd done it, and didn't bother with any predictions for 2017 at all. So, let's have a look at my Jan 2016 predictions, and see how they panned out, given two years to do so. Then we'll make some fresh goes.



In Jan 2016 I wrote Ten Things I Would Like To See In 2016:

1 - Donald Trump gets excommunicated by the Republican Party so has to stand as an independent and loses humiliatingly.
- WRONG. So so wrong.

2 - Jeremy Corbyn becomes increasingly popular, winning byelection after byelection and the support of the entire country.
-  ALMOST RIGHT. Took till 2017's snap election, but sort of happened.

3 - Steven Moffat passes on the role of Doctor Who showrunner, amicably, and carries on writing new episodes.
-  HALF RIGHT. Whether he writes new stories, we have to see.

4 - Drones get strictly regulated following a fatal accident (due, probably, to someone doing something like this).
-  NOT YET

5 - ISIS become unpopular among their supporters and just, kind of, fizzle out.
- NOT QUITE YET, but the process could be starting (lots of articles from 2015 through 2017 suggest they're losing popularity, yet they linger)

6 - BBC Four runs out of 1970s pop groups to make documentaries about.
-  WRONG. The spring 2018 season is full of them.

7 - Eastenders goes a whole year with no-one dying.
-   VERY WRONG. Two years later, the undertakers have been doing a roaring trade. 8 deaths in 2016, 4 in 2017.

8 - Marvel superhero movies go all unpopular and plans are announced not to make any more (for a while).
-  WRONG, though this could still lie ahead.

9 - There won't be a referendum or general election of any sort in the UK.
-  TOTALLY WRONG. Brexit in 16, snap election in 17.

10 - Fingers crossed 2016 will be less terroristy than 2015, and we're all happy and bright by the end of it.
-  SORT OF RIGHT. In 2016 it was celebrities who died in abundance, the UK had the death of Jo Cox but no major incidents. Sadly 2017 made up for that with Manchester Arena, Westminster Bridge, Borough Market and other attempts.


And so to Ten Things That Could Happen in 2018 For Better Or Worse:

The Republicans do well in the mid-terms, strengthening Trump's power

Theresa May clings to power and even wins a byelection

The new Doctor Who sees its best ratings successes of the decade

Strictly contestants include Steph off of BBC Breakfast and a former Doctor Who

Brexit gets softer as the year progresses, and its deadline gets moved

Flying car goes on the market

Netflix suffers major financial blow and cuts lots of programmes

Price of litre of petrol goes up (from £1.20 to £1.30)

Average house price falls (from £225K to £215K)

Old TV show revivals: Rainbow, El Dorado, Catweazle, Quatermass

Let's see shall we? Here's to a sunny and bright 2018


Predictions for 2010


PS: This is an interesting set of predictions, following on from a thing I posted yesterday "Toward 2018" a book written 50 years ago. What none of them predict is the really big unpredictables, inevitably. The 1968 book still talked about technologies that would affect the press & newspapers, never guessing that paper communication would become a thing of the past. Similarly this set includes "TV becomes extinct", which may well be the case, but the devil is in the detail.

It's always healthy to look at the things nobody predicted, from the last 10 - 50 years. Feminism, LGBT, race and human rights awareness would be the biggest advances I've seen. And smartphones and, in particular, the way we use them. Who could have predicted we would share our thoughts, photos, location etc, in an Orwellian thought police way? Well, I suppose Orwell did, but you know what I mean.

Anyhoo, it'll be fun to look back on these predictions, like seeing a 50 year old Tomorrows World, and laughing. Let us see.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre return with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Comic Strip Review of 2017


And here, as is becoming traditional, is my Comic Strip Review of 2017. I do hope you like it. Inevitably it has a Venetian theme, commemorating the fact that Hev and I spent the best part of a fortnight, over two visits, in Venice, thanks to her artwork.

I seem, as ever, to be obsessed by my statistics, which I think speak for themselves, and offer little in the way of comment or analysis. It might have been good to point out that it was the Socks' most successful tour in terms of audience numbers and profitability, but instead I've just captured the fact that, by dint of giving Edinburgh a miss this year, they did their fewest total number of gigs ever. Quality over quantity, that was 2017's byword.


The weight of comic strip work I've had this year is rightly prominent. From the Women Of The Bible strips, of which I am inordinately proud and really looking forward to seeing in print in 2018, to the CII mural, which I spent half my time in Venice colouring, and the Milton Keynes 50th anniversary project, which experiment is going to be repeated again in 2018.

Hev's work gets a mention, which is a rarity in these annual strips, with her having two published articles, for Geneaology and Ripperology, and her work as an artist taking us to Venice. Being paid to go to Venice, only four weeks after we've gone on a holiday there, was both a boon and a paradox. As for what went on there, and some of the people she found herself working with, I'll leave it to her to tell you all about.

UPDATE: Fact check. Before anyone else points it out, I've just noticed the number of flights I've written in the slipstream adds up to 22, not 21. And that, since one of the flights was to Guernsey, then I've obviously flown with Aurigny, and not just Easyjet and Ryanair. Pretty sure the rest's right.

Socks, schools, comic strips, and buying a new car? Is that all that happened in 2017? Surely not. And the rest of this blog covers it all, I'm sure (and the fact that I've written fewer blog posts than any previous year rather suggests that I've been keeping myself busy). Here are those stats, ranked against past years.



2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
School days   
96
92
117
120
97
82
124
109
Flights (return)   
21
14
7
14
18
12
23
?
Socks shows   
36
65
55
71
76
110
64
?
Caric gigs       
3
6
7
8
20
8
13
?
Nights away   
66
90
90
79
74
123
?
?
Socks vids       
25
56 
41
37
55
81
36
?

My Comic Strips reviews of past years:

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre return with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.
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