Saturday, 23 September 2017

John Lemon & More Science - new videos from the Socks


A couple more videos from the currently productive Socks. More Science, an inspired bit of follow up to last week's Science routine (subtitled and unsubtitled) from an audience suggestion, from which I can see more scope.

John Lemon (subtitled and unsubtitled) was inspired by a topical story which, as is the way with these things, isn't even much of a memory less than a week later. I should have learned the lesson that topical humour is the surest route to being forgotten by posterity. So what video do we do next? (At time of writing I already know what we've done next. Idiot that I am.)




Ratings for recent videos:

Saturday 23rd Sept, 8pm:

John Lemon - FB 1527 views, 75 likes, 32 shares, 5996 reached. Youtube 230 (u) 100 (s)
More Science - FB 3283 views, 112 likes, 66 shares, 10,988 reached. Youtube 111 (u) 57 (s)
Science - FB 4000 views, 116 likes, 81 shares, 10,633 reached. Youtube 154 (u) 110 (s)
Westlife - FB 2000 views, 69 likes, 44 shares, 6291 reached. Youtube 205 (u) 79 (s)
Eurovision - FB 35,000 views, 294 likes, 673 shares, 90,240 reached. Youtube 431 (u) 210 (s)
Only Rock & Roll - Not on Facebook. Youtube 291 (unsub only)
Undarntale - Not on Facebook. Youtube 288 (unsub only)
50 Money Jokes - FB 2300 views, 53 likes, 57 shares, 8137 reached (all unchanged since Sept 3)*. Youtube 283 (u) 150 (s)
Jodie Whittaker - FB 53,000 views, 342 likes, 681 shares, 117,085 reached (all unchanged since Sept 3)*. Youtube 1602 (u)
DUP - FB 154,000 views, 1000+ likes, 2595 shares, 461,860 reached (all unchanged since Sept 3)*. Youtube 5745 (u) 1124 (s)

*These stats are curious. Facebook views keep rising steadily for a month or two then, since I last checked, the two oldest videos have frozen. Not a single extra view or like or share or reach in 20 days? Suspicious. I have been doubting that these were real figures in the first place, as they are so dissimilar from the Youtube response. Now I really am dubious.



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Comics by kids - the real thing


Comics by kids in my Comic Art Masterclass - the real thing.

If you've not seen my class, you might not realise what the actual comics the kids take away in their hands look like. Well here's a small pile. A5 photocopied comics, with their caricatures on the back and inside, and every single one of their comic strips somewhere in the magazine. These mini epic productions take me and my nimble fingers about 10 minutes to make on an average school photocopier (after we've done the class itself, which can be done in just two hours, with up to 30 kids at a time).


Then, as an added bonus, when I get home I colour the covers and email the coloured version back to the school to display, as a bit of free aftercare service. You're welcome. I'm still taking bookings into 2018, so if you want my Comic Art Masterclass, don't hesitate to get in touch.


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

Friday, 15 September 2017

Snap - first kids comics of term


My Comic Art Masterclasses began the autumn term at Christchurch in Bradford On Avon, who'd also bagged the first slot last year. Their year 6s have already set a pretty high standard in the naming of comics with Colin Bell. As soon as that suggestion came up, being so random, not connected to anyone's name in reality, and being so mundane and Dad-like it just got funnier every time it was read out.


I engaged in a very interesting experiment at Llangynidr Primary in Powys, namely working with the Infants. I have long maintained that I can only run my Comic Art Masterclass only works with year 3 (age 7) and older, because below that age they're too young to get what I'm talking about, and to be able to write and draw enough to produce anything worthwhile. But, after being initially reticent, I agreed to teach one group of year 2s and, for the first time ever, a group of Reception and Year 1s. And by golly we got away with it. I ended up producing two different comics for them, each sharing the same basic cover (the naming of a comic being beyond the Reception/Yr1s, and I couldn't really ask them to add a drawing to the cover either). You can see the two different class names on the different covers - Dos Barth Yr Afon (yr2) and Dos Barth Y Nant (Rcp/yr1). Which was about the only Welsh that occured in the day, apart from the odd Bored Da.



These comics came from the last classes of the summer holidays, from my second visit to summer schools in Walthamstow. They seemed a long time ago by the time I got stuck into the new term. Indeed I found myself straining my voice slightly on my first day, which is a sure sign that I've left a long gap between classes.


The celebrities these six groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Donald Trump, The Queen, Stevie Wonder (chosen by Year 2s) and Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who.


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

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Emailing every school in the country


It's taken a fortnight, but I think I may have just emailed every school in the country.

Okay, not quite every one, there are pockets of the country which I haven't scoured yet - Kent has yet to hear from me, as has North Wales and parts of the North and Scotland, but everywhere that I think I can get to with my Comic Art Masterclasses has heard from me, as near to the start of term as I could manage. So if they want me, they now know where to find me.

My database of schools, which comprises a simple, primitive Word document that is, basically, just a list of email addresses, was begun back in 2008 when The Beano stopped using me regularly and I realised I would have to step up the occasional invited classes that I had been doing, and turn it into more of a replacement for the work I was losing. I've added to it sporadically as the years have gone by.

It now runs to 65 pages, the most recent addition to which is the email address of every school in Hampshire, which it took a whole day to compile. Prior to that, I just went through every email in Somerset and updated them, as every one of them has changed the format of their email addresses in the past year or so, and... and I've just realised that's about as interesting as that subject can get.



Yes, I've been doing the most basic administrative office work this week, the sort of thing you'd give to the lowliest drudge in the office, were it not for the fact that, in a one man operation, that's me. It is in fact rather satisfying when, at 11 o'clock last night, I finally got to the end of the alphabet of Hampshire schools. You will not believe how many schools' names begin with a W! Wood this, and Wal that, Whit this, and Woolly that, W is a surprisingly common initial for old English place names, and just as I thought I'd got to the end of them there was another page-full to go through. Though none beginning with X or Z, so that's something. (Oh yes, I've found an alphabetical list of schools. And, no, I'm not going to tell you where.)

Whether this mass emailing, which has seen me reach my Google Mail limit a couple of times (which is why it takes so long - if you send more than 500 emails in a day, or if too many bounce, you trigger the spam alerts) is going to turn into bookings from fresh schools, we shall see. There have been a few enquiries already, and the term is young. I began emailing schools in the last week of August, when only Scottish schools were back (leading to bookings in Penicuik and Grangemouth already), so I got a slew of replies telling me their school would be back next week.

And my visits to schools themselves have begun, with Christchurch in Bradford on Avon being the first school of the year, as they were last year too. And tomorrow I do an experiment, which I've done before and which I pledge not to repeat every time: I have agreed to teach infants. I know. Check back with me tomorrow when it all goes terribly wrong. But I felt I ought to try and expand my repertoire and see whether dealing with the very young is totally beyond me, or remind myself why I always stipulate "7 and over" for my classes. (The last group of ankle-biters I taught was a Year 2 group in Wimbledon where, if I recall correctly, the teacher banned them from taking their comic home because they had chosen to name it The Fat Lady With The Fat Tummy, and we don't use terms like that in Year 2. Oh tomorrow should be fun.)

I've also designed myself a new Twitter header and icon for the new season. Let's go to work.


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


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Holiday in Venice


Hev and I spent a few days in Venice, in exactly the same way we did last time I took Edinburgh off, in 2011. Then, as now, the pictures tell the story and I've busied myself collating them into a Blurb book before even trying to write a blog about it. In 2011 I did tons of sketches too, I must have got lazier since as I hardly drew a thing this time.

We go for the Biennale, and this year we made sure we got to the Giardini first, having left it till the last minute last time. We did the Giardini on Wednesday, with a few other pavilions before and after it, then did the Arsenale on Thursday, with more pavilions after it. It's an exhausting type of holiday, with lots of walking, but I'm pleased to report it gave us both the buzz we wanted. 


Seeing so much art in one go, so much that you become 'arted-out', fills the artistic batteries and makes us both feel inspired and creative. We take tons of photos. And the effect is such that, in our return, we've then gone into Bristol and I've carried on snapping away at stuff there with my tourist eyes open. Hell, Bristol's just as beautiful as Venice if you look at it properly. But Venice is pretty damn amazing.



A very good find was that gluten free (senza glutine) is easy to find at most restaurants, which is something Hev needs now, and we had few problems eating and drinking throughout our short stay.
Notes for a future Venice trip would be that we should try to arrive earlier in the day, and leave later on the last day too. We arrived Tuesday evening, getting to our apartment after 8pm, which is too late to get much out of the day (though we had a great first meal and a first lovely walk around). And we had to get the 9.07 Alilaguna boat back to the airport on Friday for a 1pm flight. A few more hours in town, even with our bags in tow, wouldn't have hurt.

I enjoyed extending that Venice feeling courtesy of the book I bought there, a Corto Maltese graphic novel from 1977, Fable of Venice. In Italian, it was fun using a mixture of Google Translate and common sense to read it on the plane home. It brings new meaning to the phrase "and then nothing happens", but what great backgrounds. (Dammit, I've only just learned there's a blooming Corto Maltese Museum in Venice! Next time.)


Like I said, the photos really say it all. (Here's a massive collection of 2011's photos). I struggle to remember the names of any of the hundreds of artists whose work we saw - though I made a special mental note of Piu from Macao, which still makes me smile. Sorry Piu. The Blurb book of photos runs to the 150 page mark. Here is just a tiny fraction.




The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.



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

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Westlife and Science - new videos from the Socks


Two more new videos from the Socks, inspired by audience suggestions. Westlife - subtitled and unsubtitled (the unsubtitled version being slightly longer, and including an introduction with the names of the suggesters, the subtitled version being raw gags) - and Science (subtitled and unsubtitled).



Five days after posting on Facebook, Westlife has had 1933 views, 43 shares, 66 likes, and reached 6126. The previous week's Eurovision post has had over 31,000 views on Facebook, which is going some.


UPDATE: A day after posting Science on Facebook, it's overtaken Westlife. At time of writing, here are how our recent Socks videos are doing.

Sunday 10th Sept, 8.30am:

Science - FB 2477 views, 91 likes, 66 shares, 7108 reached. Youtube 75 (unsub) 54 (sub)
Westlife - FB 1965 views, 68 likes, 43 shares, 6222 reached. Youtube 185 (u) 52 (s)
Eurovision - FB 32,000 views, 270 likes, 611 shares, 82,681 reached. Youtube 397 (u) 174 (s)
Only Rock & Roll - Not on Facebook. Youtube 251 (unsub only)
Undarntale - Not on Facebook. Youtube 257 (unsub only)
50 Money Jokes - FB 2300 views, 53 likes, 57 shares, 8137 reached. Youtube 270 (u) 126 (s)
Jodie Whittaker - FB 53,000 views, 342 likes, 681 shares, 117,085 reached. Youtube 1561 (u)
DUP - FB 154,000 views, 1000+ likes, 2594 shares, 461,860 reached. Youtube 5687 (u) 1089 (s)


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Rock & Roll and a sampler - new videos from the Socks


Another video from the Socks, based on audience suggestions. The third and, to be honest, not as good as Eurovision (which is going nut nut on Facebook viewings) video, we've done Rock & Roll based on Twitter suggestions. And is that wasn't enough...


I made a new video header for the Socks Facebook page, and suddenly here we have a 90 second Best Of video. Nice to see a little bit of these routines again.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a tiny bit more Shakespeare in Halifax (Oct 26), Wolverhampton (Oct 28), Nottingham (Nov 4), and Goole (Nov 17) this autumn, returning with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.
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