Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Comic reviews, cycling & cows - July 27th 1977

I reviewed a lot of comics in my teens, to no avail, for no actual audience. Yet I designed my diary as if it was as widely read as a twenty first century blog (well, more widely read than this 21st century blog. But, you know, a proper one). Check out the "Coming Soon" box. "An exciting new addition to this diary" is advertised. If you can use the word "advertised" when no-one's actually looking.

As for what the exciting new addition was, I can't imagine. I can tell you that, at the end of these two pages, I cycle out to a field and do a drawing of a cow. Who says my life wasn't a roller coaster of adventure?

The Records For The Day were a mix of songs that went on to be legendary and songs that went on to be virtually untraceable on Youtube.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Kneeling? What's that about? - October 21st 1976

An odd entry this, because I hadn't posted it up here on the blog until the BBC People's History Of Pop asked for a scan of it, following the interview I did with them earlier in the year. So this is clearly one of the spreads I thumbed through and read from, but not one that I'd uploaded yet. I can only remember referring to the passage about kneeling.

It reads "Lunchtime: Nick & I went to the music rooms and met some of those friendly fifth years. At least Nick did some kneeling - and if there hadn't been three of them...". So it would appear we were being bullied in the fourth year, and for the life of me I have no memory it whatsoever. I haven't read the earlier entries which might give us more of a picture of what was going on. I shall have investigate.

My Records For The Day, which is where People's History Of Pop's interest in my diary comes from, are outstandingly unmemorable. Does anyone remember The Coffee Song by Osibisa or One Love In My Lifetime by Diana Ross?

Friday, 10 June 2016

Asbury & Burns - June 10th 1977

The comic strip panels that I most chose to cut out and stick in my teenage diary came from Look-In, which was the only comic with full colour painted artwork, printed on glossy paper. Sure the Marvel reprints had glossy colour covers, but Look-In would feature two double-page action strips and a single page humour strip, along with another half dozen black & white strips, all of the highest possible quality of art, every week.

Harry North, Mike Noble, Arthur Ranson and Bill Titcombe were among the other artists wrapped in a painted cover by Arnaldo Putzu, who'd previously been most famous for the Carry On movie posters. And above we see two of my favourites, Martin Asbury - doing the Six Million Dollar Man - and John M Burns - doing The Bionic Woman.

John is still working, drawing regularly for 2000AD and is still at the top of his game, the grand master of painted comic strip artwork. His draughtsmanship is unequalled, and his stylistic flourishes constantly imaginative. I learned (and long ago forgot) everything I ever knew about drawing the folds in clothing from copying John M Burns.

Martin Asbury, no fool he, made the sensible and lucrative move into storyboarding movies, working on 7 James Bond movies from Goldeneye to Skyfall, as well as two Harry Potter films and Labyrinth.

My Records For The Day today straddled the fine line between quaint and naff. I'd clearly misheard the Alessi Brothers, but the far less memorable Gene Cotton was getting mentioned for the second time.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

David Soul & Ray Clemence - May 20th 1977

I knew little and cared less for football in 1977, and to be honest nothing much has changed, so caricatures of Ray Clemence and Alex Stepney are an unusual inclusion in my diary. I'm guessing they were the keepers in that year's FA Cup Final? Someone can Google it for me, I'm sure. David Soul is much more in keeping with the usual content of my diary.

That said, it's an unusually absent-minded spread of diary pages, by my usual anally-retentive standards. I've managed to list only one Record For The Day, and I've totally forgotten to put a date on Thursday's entry. I seem to have been quite shaken by the events of the day (I'm happy to report that the subject on Thursday's entry is still alive and well).

Monday, 9 May 2016

The How Many Million Dollar Man? - 10th May 1977

It's hardly a major typographical error, more a prediction of the effects of inflation over the subsequent years, but I seem to have slightly mis-credited the illustration by Martin Asbury that I've used on May 10th 1977's diary. The TV series and comic strip were The Six Million Dollar Man, not the Six Thousand Million Dollar Man. Sorry it's taken me 39 years to get round to spotting that.

Another Giles cartoon has faded over the years, and right beside it we see 21. The third instalment of the series that began in 1963 as Seven-Up, this was my first encounter with Michael Apted's historic programme, following the lives of children born around 1955. The next instalment of this series will be in 2019, by which time the survivors of the original programme will be 63.

The text of my diary is rarely the most interesting part, but here we see the band, Walter Tottle, gearing up for an imminent gig. Given that we played about three gigs a year, and fewer than a dozen in our entire career, this is a momentous occasion indeed. Of which, of course, not even a photograph let alone a recording survives. It's hard to imagine it nowadays, but back in the 1970s, it was only a diary written in felt tip pen that recorded any of these passings. Kids today.

My Records For The Day were par for the course, both being minor hits, neither being all that cool.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Jim Tavare & Mark Jones - The Monkhouse Club May 1988

Not a bad bit of poster design, though I say so myself, achieved with a little bit of buckshee typesetting, and after-hours effort on the photocopier at my day job, Colourtrix (don't look for them, they're not there any more). Here's Jim Tavare, with a full head of hair with which younger readers might not associate him, towering over the Monkhouse Club on May 16th 1988.

Leicester's Monkhouse Club, which had started in September 1987, was approaching the end of its first year of monthly shows, with Alan Seaman booking the acts and the two of us sharing the compering. Cathi Rae and Norman the Skiver were by now well established as regular local acts, and since none of us was yet above the level of open-mics, the two headline acts were really what people came to see.

The Monkhouse Soap Opera was adapted from Phallas, the soap opera which I wrote and Alan & I performed every week on BBC Radio Leicester's Primetime. Some recordings of this weekly atrocity still survive, that I haven't listened to since they went out. If I can ever bring myself to do so, and if the cassette tape has lasted these decades without dissolving to iron filings and sellotape, then a podcast of legendarily unlistenable quality awaits. Lucky old posterity.

Giles and the Mackinnons - May 2nd 1977

Few things are more delightful to read than a Giles annual. At the time of posting this blog, I've just finished reading the Giles annual 1956 (bought yesterday in Exeter for just £2.50, and one I've not seen before now). They're uniquely evocative of their time, Giles framing the state of the world through his particular comic lens, and take the reader instantly back in time. So it's very interesting to see the cartoon above, clipped straight out of that day's Daily Express (Mum & Dad claimed they started getting it so Nana could do the crossword, then kept getting it through force of habit, not dropping it until well into the 1980s).

I've splashed some watercolour on it, which has survived the passing years better than the newspaper itself, combined as it has with whatever glue I used to turn it to a brittle brown mess. I wasn't planning ahead was I?

As always, I've illustrated the TV I watched, and well done anyone who can remember whatever The Mackinnons was. IMDB records that it was a BBC Scotland series starring Bill Simpson, and the BFI says it was a medical drama, but more than that I can't find.

Some intriguing Records For The Day here. The Bay City Rollers cover of It's A Game, which remains listenable to this day, then a Belgian Eurovision entry (give it a listen, it's cracking), and The Calendar Song by The Trinidad Oil Company. I might not have had the best musical taste, but I was eclectic in my selection of rubbish.