Beatniks in Newquay, Cornwall

Alan Whicker, almost a parody of himself, interviews Wizz Jones, some ‘Beatniks’ and a town councillor about the ban on the Beatniks in Newquay‘s pubs and cafes, and the difficulty of keeping clean. From BBC Tonight, 1960”

This video comes via the research blog of Jeanie Sinclair. The video (and the description above) appears alongside other materials from the archives, exploring memories, reminders and networks of creative communities in Cornwall. In her words, the project,

"explores the potential of digital technology and creative, cultural and historical practice to disseminate and develop archives and collections, bringing them to wider audiences.

Examining notions of connected communities past and present, local, national and international, it builds on the Heritage Lottery Funded Memory Bay project about ‘art community’ in St Ives, which has been developed as a collaboration between UCFTate St. Ives, the St. Ives Archives Trust, Leach Pottery and Porthmeor Studios”

The blog is interesting, not only for its entertaining look at past conventions of the British public in the earlier 1960s, but also for the wider scopes and aims of the research:

Working with historical material (oral history interviews, photographs, objects) I hope to create innovative and sustainable projects that promote the development of new skills and enhance social inclusion within local communities, contributing to the second phase of Memory Bay.

You can follow the progress of this research on Twitter.

Take the power back

When talking in a recent interview about the challenges of corporate publishing and distribution practices (in particular, the decision of chief comic distro Diamond to change their policy on how it evaluated what comics it would distribute), John Porcellino of King Cat fame had the following to say about those stuck within an apparently unfair system:

…if they’re in the hands of a monopolized distribution stream, maybe they felt there was no other way to go.  As someone who comes from a DIY background, the answer is clear though – you create a new system.

He also had this to say:

"Despite all the upheaval in the comics world, and publishing in general, I have nothing but high hopes for the future.  I think the underground got kind of confused for awhile in the 2000′s.  Things were changing so fast.  Now we’re seeing creators and publishers digging in and getting to work.  We’ve seen our options, and we’re making choices.  Comics are more alive now than at any other point in history, and they’re going to survive.  That’s for certain."

Now, Diamond doesn’t register anywhere in my world of distribution - I am but comics plankton. But what DOES register with me is the importance of going out there and DOING IT FOR YOURSELF, and the beauty of working hard and finding others to work with along the way: just look at what plankton does for the whole bloody planet when it gets together*

Anyway; enough overwrought metaphors. You can read the full interview here.

* I mean that it sustains whole ecosystems and supports life on earth and other awesome stuff - my poorly thought out metaphor thoroughly ignores the bit where we all get eaten alive.

We went to see the Jeffrey Lewis and Peter Stampfel Folk band at Cafe Kino on Saturday. The gig was fantastic: good fun, great atmosphere, small setting, lively set. Although I am a big fan of Jeffrey Lewis, I’m ashamed to say I knew virtually nothing about Peter Stampfel. I am now very glad that I know more, because although Jeffrey Lewis was awesome, Peter Stampfel was even awesomer. Here’s a video of  him, playing a song in a street somewhere. Proper news soon.

Black-jawed Living Room Couch Professor

Here are some things beginning with ‘S’ that I’ve been enjoying of late. First up is Sam Spina. I traded some comics with him recently, and oh my, did I enjoy them. He also does illustration work, and has done a piece for our Sorry Entertainer Newspaper Anthology. It’s awesome. Anyway, here’s how Sam welcomed in the New Year:

© 2010/2011 Sam Spina

I’ve also been listening to Sam Amidon (that counts as an ‘S’, right?). He’s been revisiting a variety of old American folk music traditions, updating them for a more contemporary audience - but the way the music emerges goes beyond ‘playin’ the classics’; it becomes timeless, visceral, intimate, old and new, all at once. Plus, I am a sucker for a banjo. His last release, All is Well, is fantastic. His newest, I see the Sign, arrived on my desk this morning, and I expect it to be similarly good. He’s good. He also draws comics sometimes.

© 2011 Sam Amidon

I’m also very much listening to a great deal of Sebadoh, because Sebadoh are amazing. So there.

More about Smoo news, coming soon.

Seasonal cheer in news form


I’ve been interviewed by Dan Berry as part of the UK comics snapshot series being run over at the Comics Bureau. It was my first ever interview, so I am grateful and excited. As Mr Timothy Winchester, author of the joyous People I Know, communicated to me via the medium of twitter, “2011 is going to going to be a good year for us!”. Was he joking? Was he predicting? Did he have a premonition? You can only find out by reading his comics!

You can also read interviews with far more interesting folk than I, including Darryl Cunningham, Oliver East, Katie Green and Jim Medway.


Justin has reviewed Smoo #3 over at the Poopsheet Foundation. Justin has been a very supportive reviewer of late, so I’m grateful. However, I’ve also sent review copiers further out into the world - so we’ll see what they have to say! Anyway, here is a snippet of what Justin has said:

" I love the detail in Simon’s lines, along with the effortless flow from one panel to another. There’s something unique about his page layouts and panel arrangements too; the pacing is under control with isolated moments that seem to float effortlessly down the page, gently nudging the reader’s eye toward the end goal."

You can read the whole interview here.

That’s it for now: more soon!

This month, mostly I have been reading…

© David Heatley 2008

My Brain is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley. It’s stark in it’s honesty, and compelling reading: like autobiographical comics should be, bold visceral, entertaining, touching, valuable. Not that I’ve finished reading it yet, but you should probably buy it.

In other news, Kevin ‘Optical Sloth’ Bramer has read the preview to Smoo #3, and suggests you all take a leap of faith and purchase the whole thing. He’s right you know: you really should! Buy it here!

Christmas Day TV

As some of my twitter followers may know, my friend Nick, a very tall, very friendly, very enthusiastic, and now very beardy, gent, has been doing one new thing, every week, for the past year. He has driven from Land’s End to John O’Groats, dined in the dark, had a colonic, a back, sack and crack wax, had his feet cleaned by fish, spun wool, and tried to break a world record… and that’s to name but a few! Like the good journalist he is, Nick has kept a record of all of his events, a record that is at times touching, often hilarious, sometimes bemused, but always, always entertaining: you could happily while away an hour or two or three reading about his exploits.

Anyway, now, after a manic preparation of approximately no-time-at-all, he’s only gone and written, recorded and released a bloody Christmas single. Pretty good for someone who admits he has no musical chops… and you know what? It’s good. Seriously. I urge you to go check it out. We’re trying to get it to number 52 in the charts and to raise £5,200 for the Alzheimer’s Society. Definitely a worthwhile cause. Please, please consider buying: it’s called “Christmas Day TV”.

Now, I feel somewhat responsible for this, given I drunkenly suggested that this would be an easy and awesome thing to do, promised to help him get it all sorted: he promptly did it, and I, less than promptly, did fuck all. So, when he asked me to come up with some artwork for the single, I knew it was time to repay the accidental stitch-up. So, I tried to throw together some quick illustrations to support his single. Copyright prevents some of our favourites from being used, but have a look at them here, now!

You can buy the single here.