We can get there by bus…

This is a short companion to my story of brutal murder. As I’ve mentioned I’ve started a new job, but because of the stroke recovery my walking pace makes glaciers look like The Flash which can mean walking is painfully boring, or a chance to take in things others rushing to get from A to B quicker than a Donald Trump lie.

One of the nicer things I’ve registered is I’ve walked past Killermont Street every day, which for those of us of a certain age means a certain Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera song going through my head…

There could be far worse things stuck in my head, but because Glasgow has changed so much since I last lived here it didn’t actually dawn on me I was walking through Killermont Street til this morning where this song stuck. I hope I can share this with you and do the same because the song is one of Frame’s lost wee classics…

Today I saw and heard a murder…

I saw a brutal, horrendous and probably uncompromisingly painful murder committed by two people today on the way home, and nobody did anything about it. The victim as still twitching and kicking when I lost earshot, so there may well have been life left in the poor thing, but as I just drifted out of range I heard one last death rattle so the murder was complete.

But before I explain, I should say I’m settling in back into the world of work. Today our wee group started probing each other’s lives and I got told I was aged between ’35 and 45′ so I’ll take this. Also just a wee note that my reviews of comics, etc will be found from now on at That’s Not Current, and this week you can read what I thought about Calexit #1. Anyhow, so far no major issues barring the morning smell of bleach outside the lifts at Queen Street Station, and oh, the brutal murder I witnessed this evening.

It was at Buchanan Street steps, a Glasgow landmark where I saw two men armed only with slightly out of tune electric guitars brutally wield them as they bludgeoned Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb over the head, neck and testicles til it couldn’t take any more pain or agony as it tried to crawl free to mercy, but these two lads were merciless as they garrotted this song (which I may remind you was finely covered by the Scissor Sisters) until it couldn’t breathe.

I’ve seen and heard brutal things in my life but the cold callousness here is something that shall live with me forever, and to make it worse as I drifted out of distance I’m sure I heard them round on Life on Mars.

The murderous bastards!

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It’s back to work I go…

Today I completed the first full day of work since I had my stroke on the 19th February 2016, so I’m back on the coal face, and hopefully cutting my contact with the welfare system to a minimum. That alone should make my ongoing recovery feel better…

A job is ultimately a job and yes, I’m taking a step down but I don’t mind that. It’ll pay my bills and let me live while I work out what’s next and build up the comics. I will say it is nice to speak to people who don’t know the full story of my variety of illnesses and also just speaking to people normally without talking first of what drugs you’re on or how little you can feel in your right leg.

That said, I also need to remember I no longer live or work in Bristol. Leaving in the morning when it’s sunny and bright isn’t going to be the case when I leave at 5.30. I now live in Glasgow where rain is just a blink away so a brolly/raincoat will be with me tomorrow.

But I now start out on the next step. Lets see where this goes?

 

Marvel Two in One: Stan Lee and Michael Jackson

With the sad news about Joan Lee’s passing here’s something nice and fun about Stan Lee with a bit of Michael Jackson thrown in.

Back in the 90’s Stan Lee was a peripheral (The excellent Marvel Comics: The Untold Story goes into more detail) in regards Marvel Comics. A figurehead at best, but still an important figure in comics but Lee was off in Hollywood trying to make TV adaptations and films of Marvel#s characters. Today that seems like it was easy, but no so in the early 90’s where this great video of Michael Jackson touring Marvel’s animation studios comes from.

It’s great to watch Jackson fanboying all over Lee, but there’s hints of why Lee was a then peripheral figure in the video as they talk of Lee being ‘cut loose’ from Marvel. It’s a nice video whatever just to see the biggest star on the planet at the time looking up to Lee like a wee boy.

Enjoy.

How the UK welfare state tries to break you

There’s an item today about how Universal Credit is leaving people in poverty and debt due to it being so badly ran out that it’s leaving people without money for weeks. The system is designed to put people into debt; that’s the issue.

Today I called the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to tell them I’m signing off as I start work on Monday. Imagine my shock to be told ‘actually, we’re cutting off your Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), sorry, but if you want to appeal or apply for another benefit you can”. Which is utterly bloody useless. I’m starting a new job Monday, and to get the week (they stopped my ESA from the 3rd July) I’m due would involve me taking time off and dealing with a whole world of stress and quite simply, I’d rather go skint for a month than have to spend anymore time speaking to anyone from the DWP. 

However I’m fairly lucky. I’m only going to lose a week, and frankly, I’ll make that up via work or via selling comics, but imagine if you had no savings, you’re seriously ill and suddenly you’re told ‘nope, no more money for you. You can work’? You’ll be driven towards poverty. You’ll have to use food banks. You’ll maybe have to borrow money which means perhaps using a company which your MP is a shareholder of. The entire system designed to keep people going is now designed as a way to mice people for everything and then when it’s had that, strip you of anything else.

See when government says unemployment figures are decreasing what they actually mean that people claiming are decreasing because the system is designed to get people off claiming one way or another. I’m still recovering from a stroke and cancer yet some civil servant has decided without speaking directly to me or my doctors that I’m fit to work.Again, I’m going back to work but on my terms, not because some wee prick has a quota to hit this week but people are right now having to face days, weeks, even months with no income and a system designed to demonise and that at it’s core, hates you.

This system is not sustainable, nor does it do what it was supposed to do. It is a system that quite literally pushes people to the edge and beyond.  All I can say is try not to be sick or unemployed if you can because you won’t have the space to recover, or to do what you need to do before bureaucracy kicks in and you’re heading down the food bank…

ITV’s Hot Fuzz obsession

I love Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. It’s a wonderful satire/homage to action film as well as British film all in one package.

ITV2 and ITV4 are those channels lurking in the depths of Freeview or whatever TV package you have. It generally shows shite like Made in Chelsea or repeats of The Professionals but it also shows films, in fact it shows films a lot, it just happens to be that they’ll show the same film every week.

IN the case of Hot Fuzz, they seem obsessed by it. People have noticed this. There’s even a Reddit thread about it. There’s not much evidence online of the multiple showings as companies don’t seem to have listings from the last decade or so, but it pops up on sites and of course Twitter has noted this too.So what exactly is going on?

Well, the solution is simple enough. TV companies buy films in a package and seeing as ITV2/4 are those channels watched when you’re pissed and channel hopping after the pub, so you’ll stop on them if you recognise something in your beer-fuelled stupor. True, you may end up watching the same film four times in a week which doesn’t just mean ITV have ran out of ideas, but it also means you’re probably drinking too much.

Fact is all these smaller channels are desperate for your views. They know also people drink. Mix the two and you’ve got ITV showing Hot Fuzz so often that you could stop watching it one night and pick up from the same point another night. Still, at least they’re showing something good, imagine if they broadcast the shite remake of Total Recall every week?

Oh, they do? Fuck.

The Brief History of the British Comic Convention part one: It all comes from Birmingham

The British comic convention today is a myriad of cosplayers of all ages and you can travel the UK attending a large convention in cities from Aberdeen to Exeter as the comic medium enjoys the coverage and exposure that many of us over the age of 30 could only have dreamed about in the past. Yet it wasn’t always like this. Everything starts somewhere and the British comic convention starts back in 1968 where the first British comic convention took place from the 30 August to the 2nd September in the Midland Hotel in Birmingham.

More information on the con can be found here, but needless to say that if you want a zero point for what becomes the British comics industry and scene today then late summer 1968 in a hotel in Birmingham. Attendees included Mike Lake, Nick Landau, Jim Baikie, Steve Moore, with a stupidly young Alan Moore listed as a supporting member (early comic conventions ran with the SF convention model before diverging later on) who all changed comics in the UK in a number of different ways.

Dez Skinn goes into fantastic detail of the con on his site, with fascinating snippets like DC Comics giving pages of Neal Adams and Steve Ditko art to be given away as prizes in the fancy dress competition, which I strongly doubt neither Adams or Ditko knew anything about. Skinn’s site is also a fantastic resource on subsequent conventions throughout the 70’s as the 70’s Comicon moved from Sheffield, to London and around. It’s also worth noting that we’re not talking of a mass audience here. We’re talking of a few hundred attendees with maybe at most, a few thousand active fans outwith of people casually buying comics and leaving at that rather than take it that extra yard by searching out other fans. At a time when comics in the UK were seen as a childish, laughable pastime it isn’t hard to see why it actually took a bit of guts to stick your head up over the trenches and admit you loved comics.

At this time as well the comics scene we know today was being formed out of the primordial goo. Many of the names mentioned in Skinn’s excellent history went on to become either established creators, or in the case of Nick Landau, an essential cog in the industry.Magazine like Comic Media News were the internet of their day as they played a part in helping build the industry in the UK.

Sadly Dez Skinn’s history ends in the late 70’s and the promised continuation has so far, not appeared but by the late 70’s the scene was firmly established and ready to move into the 1980’s where the UK comic convention arguably enjoyed a Golden Age. If you’d like to add to this blog to expand it then please feel free to do just that in the comments below.

Next up, the 1980’s and UKCAC…