Category Archives: Blog

‘Albert Angst’s Ninth’

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The opening page of my latest opus. Co-written with musicologist Jonathan James, Albert Angst… riffs on the misfortune that appears to have plagued too many classical music composers, that of dying during or shortly after creating their ninth symphony. Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak, Mahler, Bruckner and several lesser composers all fell victim to the curse. But classical music has also been cursed by a lack of women composers. As the deadline gets ever closer for him to present his ninth to his publisher, Albert becomes increasingly creatively paralysed, and when his wife offers to anonymously compose it for him, well… the ghosts of the cursed are less than ecstatic!

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In the Beginning… 1968!

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This self-portrait from the mists of time was recently unearthed by my daughter while rummaging through her attic. I have no memory of doing it but, judging from the date, it comes from a time when I was teaching myself to draw. In ’68 we were more interested in tearing down the State than laying the foundations for a career in art, which meant weeks of sit-ins and strikes at the college I attended, in solidarity with everything May ’68 meant in Paris but with an added protest against the indolence of our lecturers. I went to an art college expecting to be taught how to draw, expecting to spend hours in life drawing classes, but quickly discovered none of our fine art lecturers could wield a pencil to any great effect. It was the era of typed statements and emotionless, impenetrable photographs that constituted so-called Conceptual Art. Of that year’s intake, I am the only graduate who went on to actual make a living from my art, if you can call cartooning such.

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60th Birthday Caricature

Bil60th.A5.lowresIn case you get the impression that Brick is strictly a monochrome B&W sorta ‘toonist, behold the full splendid colour of a private commission for young Bill’s 60th birthday, featuring the back of him cycling up Mount Ventoux in France, which was his heart’s desire for the great day, carrying his whole extended family in panniers with grandchildren running along side.

Also a piccy of Bill’s wife, Jennie, presenting him with the commemorative ‘toon after the event somewhere yummy near the mountain. Check out the delight…

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Nottingham Does Comics – April 2018

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Nottingham Does Comics – December 2017 meeting

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Rock’n’Pop – Various Artists

Brick's.Bops.webMy contribution to Tim Bird’s Rock’n’Pop – Various Artists site.

Have a soft spot for music comics, ever since the heady days of the great underground comic Rock’n’Roll Madness. Tim’s excellent project is one to be supported and contributed to.

 

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Guide Stoops of Derbyshire

E13.GS2Anybody who has walked the moors of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire (in them, rather than round their edges) will appreciate how easy it is to get ‘turned around’ on a dull day offering poor visibility. In bad weather, when you can’t see a hand in front of your face, they can be treacherous, though these days steering as straight a course as possible will see you to a tarmac road and feeling safe within a maximum of two or three hours of walking.

As recently as a hundred years ago, crossing the moors by anything other than a valley road was a tricky business, even following tracks. The earliest road signs appeared as a result of pressure from cycling organisations in the 1880s and any way posts that appeared where cyclists didn’t ride were locally knocked-up, painted wood constructions with short lifespans. In the sandstone regions of the Midland’s moors the solution was tall stone pillars engraved with the nearest town facing your direction of travel, and maybe a three-fingered pointing hand.

This short film is an armchair stroll around what are called ‘guide stoops’. At six minutes thirty, it is a little longer than necessary but the wonderful original music composed by Duncan Ward has made it worth adding a postscript about the modern ‘companion stones’ recently created by local artists. Duncan composed the piece in memory of his grandfather, who enjoyed nothing better than stomping around the moors. It’s called Greenhurst Way, the name of the street where his grandpa lived.

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November 2017’s Nottingham Does Comics

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Feel Free…

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…to download or drag’n’drop either of these images, print them off and stick as many of them as you can on college or university noticeboards. Let’s stir things up!

 

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19th Century Graphic Satire Conference Report

DIAMFqwW0AENULQNow and again it is good to dip a toe in the deep still waters of the academic world to see what they’re up to, particularly when the topic under consideration is graphic satire, a subject I get the impression is still quite new to the ivory tower’s canon of research. And this conference promised and delivered some fascinating brain fodder. If it’s still up, the full programme can be read here, and I was certainly absorbed by papers presented on the Scottish caricaturist, William Charles, on Harry Furniss, the powerhouse behind many of the stunning images in the 1880s Punch, and on the story behind the German satirical magazine, Simplicissimus, of the First World War (sorry, 19th Century!?). It is wonderful that intellectuals are doing this work but, dear me, there are problems with this whole field of study, if these presentations are anything to go by.

Don’t get me wrong, the rarely-seen images were fabulous to study (though poorly and briefly displayed, as if we weren’t actually meant to study them at all) and when it came to contextualising the cartoons, the brains trust were on the nose with their history. But the collective knowledge and understanding of the means of production, style and form, the commissioning process, the position (even life, in some cases) of the artists in that society, and their terminology fell so badly short. Nobody seemed too clear what a caricature was, such that cartoons were called caricatures, whether or not they contained a caricature. ‘Comic image’ was used for single panel cartoons and plates that had nothing to do with comics, and when I raised the point it was thought I was talking about comedians. Nobody seemed aware of comics from the period, let alone medieval comics, and there appeared a total lack of understanding that editorial cartoonists (“What’s an editorial cartoonist?”) working during times of war agree not rock the boat or take swipes at national politics for the duration. Suddenly Gillray’s social satires were being talked about as propaganda!

Accepting that the last thing these honourable and cosy (lots of back-slapping and quoting of each other) academics needed in the audience was a know-all cartoonist asking embarrassing questions, it is fair to say that some were actually delighted to have somebody from the trade challenging assumptions and sloppiness, and quietly told me so. Probably I was too loud, but this was a conference opened by ‘The V.C.’ (varsity speak in hallowed tones for Vice Chancellor) that attracted academics from Berlin, Krakow, Dublin, Belfast, Australia and distant cities in Britain. For an audience of around twenty, half of whom were presenting papers or organising the event, the money spent was outrageous.

What Nottingham Does Comics could have done with a tenth of their budget!

 

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