Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Handle & Dropkirk - by me at an unknown age

Clearing out under a bed back at Mum's house over Christmas 2015 we found a whole load of artwork, including Hev's work from art college and some comic strips by me that I've not seen for years. This was by far the earliest piece.

Though most work was from my late teens and student days, this one picture has survived, drawn and painted by me at an age I can't quite pin down. Because it references Randall and Hopkirk (which was on ITV from September 1969 to March 1970) and Star Trek (on BBC between July 1969 and December 1971) I'd say this is from 1970, making me 8 or 9 years old. However there was a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea movie made by Disney in 1973, and I remember reading the comics version of it in Donald & Mickey comic, so if I'm referencing that, this would be from when I'm 11 years old. But I'd like to think I was better than this by then. We may never know.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Sea Monster? - The Monkhouse Dec 2 1987

Who was The Sea Monster? It's almost as important a question as why was she in the support slot? Though I'm sure Mandy Knight was brilliant, that enigmatic Sea Monster was one of the funniest comedians any of us had ever seen and was to go on to greatness. If you don't know who she was, you may star guessing now. Answer below.

This was the Monkhouse Club's fourth monthly show, 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. 

It wasn't our first Christmas show ever, as I've found records of us staging a Christmas special as long ago as 1985, when the show was still calling itself the Magazine Jokespace, but was the first under the Monkhouse brand. Here's that far-less prepossesing poster.



Black Annis in Pantomime and the Touch & Go Arts Co-Operative? Truly the 1980s were a foreign country, they did comedy clubs differently then. John Dull was the name of the character act Alan Seaman was doing, until he finally got round to just using his own name.

The Monkhouse name was my idea, spawned because we thought it sounded funny, and it paid ironic homage to Bob Monkhouse who, at that time, was deeply unfashionable but I think also strangely admired. The image of him comes from an ad in a 1950s Eagle comic. Since you ask.

And the Sea Monster was...?

Jo Brand. She worked under an alias for her early gigs because she was still holding down her job as a psychiatric nurse.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Tinky Winky's Debut - The Monkhouse Nov 16 1987


Long long ago, before Tinky Winky wasn even a twinkle winkle in anyone's eye, the 3rd month of The Monkhouse comedy club in Leicester, in November 1987, saw the debut of Igor Thomson. Aka Dave Thomson. Aka Tinky Winky.

His Wikipedia page is very big on his appearance in Harry Hill's Hooves tour and Ben Elton's Maybe Baby, but manages to make no mention whatsoever of his two appearances at Leicester's Monkhouse Club. Come on posterity, prioritise.

Brenda Gilhooly has also appeared in Harry Hill's shows. appearing as various characters in TV Burp, while remaining most famous as the irrepressible Gayle Tuesday.

Alan, Norman, Cathi and I provided the reliable local act back-line, as we did every month. Sometime I must get round to telling you more about them all.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Lindsay Moran - The Monkhouse Oct 19 1987


If you're ever going to ask "Where are they now?", you should be asking it about Lindsay Moran. I don't know how Alan stumbled upon him (Alan Seaman booked the acts for our fledgling club, using the technology of the 1980s, which now seems akin to alchemy in its unimaginability) but we were glad he did.

A total hit, with his tutu and accordion, Lindsay Moran was the sort of comic novelty act that possibly only the 1980s could produce. Visual and surreal, satirical and whimsical, he was an act who one assumed would eventually end up on TV, although that was something that was only beginning to happen, and not everyone. As it was, I spotted him in an advert or two, but not much more.

Googling Linday Moran, I uncover a clandestine CIA Officer first, which is nice but unhelpful.

Rather more reassuringly, a Google of Lindsay Moran Artist uncovers a successful artist and printmaker, far better suited to that world than what the stand up comedy arena was about to become in the subsequent decade.


Lindsay Moran, at one of his exhibitions, circa 2013. Tutu, we assume, just out of shot.

Marc Soda became Marc Blake. We'll probably hear more about him anon.

Friday, 9 October 2015

It was Gil Kane - Oct 9 1977

I was right, it was Gil Kane! 37 years later I'm vindicated. Well, 37 years later I can be sure of what was already bleeding obvious to me when I was 15.

I'm drawn this centrespread, copying from an illustration in a Marvel weekly reprint. And, as you can see, the editor had credited it as being by Jim Starlin and Klaus Janson. Whereas, as any fule kno, it's very clearly a Jim Starlin drawing, inked by Klaus Janson.

I marvel to this day that I can recognise these things at first glance, but that's what comic readers of my generation can do. We can tell which producer has made a record, we can identify individual guitarists playing the solos, and we know our comic artists at a glimpse. It is nigh on impossible to mistake Jim Starlin for Gil Kane, George Perez for Neal Adams, Barry Smith for John Buscema, Gene Colan for Jack Kirby, and so on. If those names mean anything to you, you're probably in the same boat. If they don't, well that's the shame of twentieth century art history, that comic books never got taken as seriously as most other art forms.

Mind you, as geek pedants go, I'm hardly in the highest echelon, as you can see from my spelling of "Dr Who". I was clearly all about the visuals.

Records For The Day: Golden Earrings by The Enid,Love Bug by Tina Charles, Live In Trouble by The Barron Knights, Rocking All Over The World by Status Quo, and Sleeping Late by Dr Hook.






Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

Monday, 21 September 2015

Hattie Hayridge - the First Monkhouse 21 Sept 1987


The Monkhouse comedy club launched on September 21st 1987 at the Magazine Pub, Newarke Street, Leicester, Don't look for it, it's not there anymore.

For the first and only time Alan and I took out an advert in the Leicester Mercury. And for the first and only time nobody turned up. Although the Monkhouse was going to go on to great success over the coming two years, its opening night was a washout. I have memories of us sitting round chatting with Hattie Hayridge - who come to play at the massive expense of £25, the going rate for headliners in 1987 - and Arnold Bolt, local comedy hero, who was probably playing for a doorsplit.

This wasn't our first effort at staging comedy shows at the Magazine. It had formerly been known as The Magazine Jokespace, run by The Great Alphonse and the Handsome Herbert, two actors who had been working at Phoenix Arts, across the road. Alan and I discovered it in the summer of 1984, and started appearing regularly in the Autumn of 84, when it was being run by Cathy Dunning, who went on 15 years later to co-create The Weakest Link. After Cathy moved on, the club was run by Julie Jokespace (whose surname I have only ever remembered as Jokespace) under the name Witsend. How successful those shows were I can't recall, but if this poster designed by me is anything to go by, it's amazing that it dragged in more punters than the fabulously well-promoted first night of The Monkhouse.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Death of Elvis - 16th August 1977

Here we have the day Elvis Presley died. A commemorative spread, and why not. We were on holiday in Montrose at the time, and my enduring memory is that, when I broke the news to Uncle Bill about Elvis he confessed he'd never been that big of a fan. I remember thinking that was a sacreligious thing to say, though in truth I wasn't that much of a fan either. It was my generation's Princess Di moment, and 15 year old me was happily swept up in it. Though I see that, by the following day, I've moved on from listing Elvis records in the RFTD slot and featured David Soul and Harry Chapin instead (let's face it, Harry Chapin knocks spots off Elvis).


Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Neal Adams - Aug 6 1977

Man I loved my Marvel comics when I was fifteen, and no artist beat Neal Adams.

Okay, there was Gil Kane, whose figure drawing I spent the next 30 years copying, and Gene Colan, whose realism I could only ever dream of aspiring to, and Jack Kirby the godfather, and the people I guiltily took for granted like John Buscema and John Romita who turned out to be greater than I realised. Oh and of course Barry Smith, whose Conan I turned into a mural on my bedroom wall and which is still there all these years later.

But whatever, I loved Neal Adams, as these two pages from 1977 - and all those artists who draw DC comics now, in 2015, pretending to be him. You know who you are.

These Records For The Day are an arcane lot, wouldn't you say? Who remembers Marcella by The Beach Boys? Probably not even a Pointless answer as I doubt it troubled the charts. Neither, I'm guessing, did High School Dance by The Silvers, Seaside Lady by Wales O'Reagan (are we sure I didn't dream that up?), and does that say Hairy Sundown by The Outlaws?





(YouTube and the internet have drawn a blank on the existence of Wales O'Reagan and his Seaside Lady)

Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Conan & The Hawk - August 4th 1977

My figure drawing wasn't perfect when I was 15, was it? So, I obviously thought, why not demonstrate that by putting one of my figures directly opposite a copy of a drawing by Barry Smith?

Peter Cushing's 1954 version of 1984 was on the telly. Was that the last time it was shown (no, I now find, it was repeated in the 90s and again in 2003)? I know there's some sort of dispute stopping it being available on DVD. Whatever, I remember watching it in 1977, and very impressive it was too.

Another show was on that night that they won't be repeating in a hurry - Top Of The Pops was presented by Jimmy Savile. See this page on the BBC's Peoples History Of Pop.

And more long-forgotten Records For The Day, I see. Dark Side Of The Moon by Trammps, Hard Rock Cafe by Carole King, and Tentacles by Patrick Moraz? Actually I may be one of the few people in this country who bought, and thus still remembers, Welcome Back by John Sebastian. It was the theme tune to Welcome Back Kotter, which was never shown in the UK.


Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Farrah Fawcett's Hair - July 21 1977

This diary entry covers most of what I did in the summer holidays, watching TV, drawing my diary, visiting Steve in Bristol and buying comics (check out how many comics you could buy for a quid in 1977). Meanwhile the band's taking a rest because Nick's living the high life in Lowestoft. How the other half lived.

Another arcane selection of Records For The Day. Alongside what were most likely my first ever hearings of Life In The Fast Lane and Nobody Does It Better, we have some songs that posterity hasn't had a lot of time for: Watching You Grow by Spartacus (nothing on Youtube for this one), I Can't Stop The Rain by David Ruffin, Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Summer Wine and Vitamin U by Smokey Robinson? Me neither.





Friday, 17 July 2015

Chandler Noir - July 17th 1977

Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

 Here we see the first of many pieces I've produced influenced by Jim Steranko's pioneering graphic novel Chandler: Red Tide, which I'd clearly just bought. I went on to produce an entire comic of my own, Mr Hawk, in the same format, once I got to art college.

The Records For The Day are, as always, intriguing. Quite why I chose three Bee Gees records is unclear, could it be that the promotion for Saturday Night Fever was kicking in? And Mike Nesmith's Navajo Trail is just one of many tunes that I must Google on Youtube*, having not heard them in the intervening decades.



*UPDATE: Found it.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Brown Starksy - July 5th 1977


Yes, doesn't Starsky have an unusually brown face in this picture? I've long struggled with colour, it would seem. And this was the day I bought BC: Life Is A Fifty Pence Paperback. How many other books must have to change their title every time they're reprinted?

Records For The Day: That's What Friends Are For by Deniece Williams and People In Love by 10CC.




Because there's been interest in using some of my childhood diary spreads in a BBC TV show called the Peoples History Of Pop - my Records For The Day caught the eye of a researcher - I've dug a few more out and put them up here on the My 1970s Diary. (I kept the Picture Diary from 1974 to 1978 but to date have only found a couple of volumes from 1977).

Friday, 19 June 2015

Frank Skinner at The Monkhouse - June 19 1989


A very special night at The Monkhouse Comedy Club in Leicester, in June 1989 when Frank Skinner came to town, and brought all his mates with him.

The Great Stan and The Nice People were fellow comedians at a comedy club that Frank was running in Tamworth in Staffs, so they came over as a job lot. Quite how good they all were I can't report as, tragically, I had a really bad gig and went off in a sulk. I'm sure my fellow Leicester regulars Norman The Skiver, Alan Seaman and Cathi Rae, had a better night.

The Monkhouse was run and co-compered by Alan Seaman and myself, monthly from 1987 - 89, upstairs at The Magazine pub on Newarke Street in Leicester (don't look for it, it's not there any more) and featured appearances by a number of acts who went on to great things. And all at 2 quid a ticket.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Tiger-Hawke - 4th June 1977


Tiger-Hawke was a comic strip I drew sporadically, but never finished, in my teens. Sadly I seem to have parted with all the original artwork at the time, and had no way of copying or printing it, so this would be all that survives. The story I refer to in this entry, Albergo Trento, was an adventure set on the school trip to Italy we'd gone on the previous year. I cannot imagine what it looked or read like, but I can be pretty sure it fizzled out after half a dozen pages. This is a tradition I have continued for the subsequent four decades. See this page on Peoples History Of Pop.

The Records For The Day were I've Been Saved by Elkie Brooks (which hasn't been, in my memory at least) and Me And The Elephant by Gene Cotton which, maybe appropriately, I still remember.