FROM THE ‘THIS IS WHY WE READ’ DEPARTMENT…

My first book for the year is The Sale of the Late King’s Goods, a discussion of the history of Charles I’s art collection by Jerry Brotton, which fits nicely into my lifelong fascination with the Tudor, Jacobean, and Caroline eras.

But among all the Titians and Van Dycks and Rubens’, the piece I have become most enamoured by is a work described by Brotton as “rather grotesque”, (although it was, apparently, a personal favourite of Ol’ No Head), Giulio Romano’s A Mermaid Feeding Her Young.

I have never seen it before, nor been aware of Romano. I really do like it an enormous deal. And now I have a new artist to study.

Happy 🙂

Grotesque? I say glorious.

LIKE AN OLD FRIEND

This is a page from one of my favourite single issues of a comic book ever written: X-Factor #87, way back when I was collecting pamphlets in the 90s. After a series of tough battles, the team is sent to see a therapist. The issue is just that: each member of the team talking to that therapist, and in doing so, revealing the heartache, stress, and general trauma they carry every single day.

I’ve talked about this particular monologue so often, to friends, peers, students — sometimes to explain my own feelings of isolation, sometimes to help ameliorate theirs, sometimes for purely technical writing reasons. If nothing else, it is one of the most elegant and pure pieces of character building I’ve ever seen. But I hadn’t seen the page itself for years, until someone posted it on a page I belong to.

It’s nice to see it again.

Like an old friend.

2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: THE LITTLE YEAR THAT COULDN’T, AND DIDN’T.

We all thought it would be better, didn’t we?

And okay, in many ways it was, but let’s be honest: 2021 was as difficult as 2020 had been before it, and in just as many ways was worse, because it was just like 2020 but this time we bloody well knew what was going to happen, and then we had to watch as all those fuckwits went ahead and did it anyway.

On the personal front, well, yeah. Things weren’t easy. But Big Decisions ™ were made, and Some Plans (pat. pend.) were begun, and this time next year I’ll have nothing but amazing successes and happinesses to report. Right?

Right?

Soooooooo…… anyway. 2021. Year in Review. Let’s do that.

Continue reading “2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: THE LITTLE YEAR THAT COULDN’T, AND DIDN’T.”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY SAYS THE REPORTS OF MY DEMISE ARE GREATLY… MODERATELY… POSSIBLY… EXAGGERATED. MAYBE.

Yeah, so 2021 was a pretty bleh year in all the ways, including blogging at this here blog. I’m going to try to make 2022 a more active, proactive, and positive year in as many ways as I can, including getting behind the keyboard– that includes both writing and blogging.

Popular wisdom among the teaching fraternity is that the first two to three years are the toughest, because you’re still learning all the practical habits of the trade while having to sort through the reams of available resources to find the ones that work for your teaching style. I’ve done my three years. Hopefully its true. Either way, I need more than just that particular way of meeting rent to give my life some joy and fulfillment. When in doubt, go back to first principles, and first principles say: I’m an author. I’m an artist. I’m a rock and roll tyrannosaurus sex god from the planet Yeeha. Let’s start with those simple truths and see where I can go from there.

To whit, the first thumbnail of the final year of Thumbnail Thursday. How prophetic, how timely, how okay, yeah, for once I chose this one instead of letting the random number generator do the job. Sue me.

Here’s to a better 2022, everyone, no matter where you are.

2020 PLUS A TUTU, TOO

It’s traditional, at this time, to publish my end of year list. But as a) it’s more than thirty items long, b) I’m currently lying in a chalet in Fremantle, a long way from my computer, and c) I’m typing this on my phone, that one’s going to have to wait.

Instead, let me end this year of neck-deep shite with a list of goals for my first year back in Perth for almost half a decade. To whit:

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THUMBNAIL THURSDAY WISHES YOU A BIG, FAT STOCKING RIGHT UP YOUR CHIMNEY

if my maths is correct — and if it isn’t, I’ll just draw another one when the time is right — I don’t have quite enough thumbnails left to run this feature through to next Christmas. After 200+ thumbnails covering the extent of my occasionally semi-serious, several-times-aborted, never-good-enough-to-really-consider-it attempts at fashioning something in the cartooning realm, I’m going to run out of thumbnails sometime in the coming year, and that will be that. Thanks for reading, and all that.

However, I still have four Christmas-themed cartoons left on my list, so rather than do anything clever with them, I’m just going to shove them all up here at once and wish you, from the point of view of this feature anyway, a final merry Christmas all at once.

May your stocking be full and your egg particularly noggy.

Continue reading “THUMBNAIL THURSDAY WISHES YOU A BIG, FAT STOCKING RIGHT UP YOUR CHIMNEY”

K-TOWNTHXBYE!

And he never taught at that school again…

The goodbyes have been said. The class parties have taken place. The keys have been handed back. The other goodbyes have been said. And I have five minutes to scratch myself and let you know that, for the last month or so, we’ve been gearing up to leave Karratha and return to Perth.

It’s been building for a while.

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THUMBNAIL THURSDAY BIDS GOODBYE TO ITS STUDENTS

The random number generator has absolutely nailed it again. Today, on the last day of the school year, when any number of my senior school students are out there, dressed in itchy shirts, trying not to scratch where the razor has taken the heads off the pimples on their necks (okay, my year twelves left at the end of last term, and my elevens four weeks ago, but you know what I mean!) it throws up this delightful little reminder of just how stupid and irritating job interviews can be. (Smiles at the memory of asking the last interviewer who asked me this one, “How long have you been in the position?”. I didn’t get the job…).

Five years. Way to know nothing about the employment market for the last twenty years, dude.

“Where do I see myself in five years? What is that, some kind of sick joke?”

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY GETS ALL META UP ITS OWN ARSE

I remember exactly when I drew this. It would be to the surprise of nobody to learn that it was when I was working for the Department of Staff Bullying at the City or Rockingham, and that I was at a management meeting regards some art and culture stuff I should have been left alone to do but, well… we all know how it ended. So, a little double-meta going on, here: a comment on some of those community artist types* that I worked with, and a pretty decent dollop of self-knowledge about mine own abilities in any artistic direction. Except for the expression on the dog’s face.

For some reason I’m always satisfied with the expressions I manage to get on dog’s faces…

(*There are two types of community artist types: those who love art, practice art, develop art, and whether they pursue it as a hobby or something more, respect and love the process. And those who think wearing dungarees and tying things into their hair means they’ve done all the hard work. Guess which type ended up running the arts groups I was dealing with at the time…)

“I just paint what I see.”

FREE LEE! HOW MUCH OF A READ COULD CHUCK READ CHUCKLING, IF HE… UH…

My good friend and fellow author Chuck McKenzie has started a reading series on Youtube! A Touch of the Terrors features Chuck, in full Donald-Sinden-Meets-Elvira mode (don’t think visually) reading his favourite Australian horror stories, complete with cuddly bedtime ambience and nightmarish chest hair.

He recently took on Luscious’ brilliant 2007 story The Memory of Breathing, and now he’s turned his attention to my Aurealis Award-winning short Pater Familias.

Go, watch, listen, enjoy!

OH, THE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, THEY HURTS, THEY HURRRTTTSSS….

Question: you’ve just had your birthday. You got Lego. You’ve just returned from a lightning trip to Perth, and the Lego store. You got Lego. Now you have all this new Lego. But you’re 99% sure you’re moving in the next couple of months. You’re literally cleaning up the house for it right now. So the wise thing would be to just leave the Lego in its boxes, to make it easier to move. But it’s Lego. And you might not move for a couple of months. So if you put it away you might not even see it, never mind build it until, I dunno, possibly February. And it’s Lego. But the wise thing would be not to touch it. But it’s Lego… but the wise thing…… but it’s Lego… but the wise thing…

What would you do? What. Would. You. Do?

MIXED MOVIE QUOTES: THE CATCH-UP EDITION

Two movies to choose from for this post: first, this year’s stunningly beautiful and dream-like adaptation of Dune, which I chose as my birthday movie (a family tradition: birthday victim gets their choice of dinner, dessert, and movie) a couple of weeks ago and completely forgot to post; and secondly, Lord 16’s last act of sixteendom, choosing The Crow as his movie tonight, before transitioning into Lord 17 tomorrow.

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THUMBNAIL THURSDAY HAS A #METOO MOMENT

Someehow it seems appropriate that on the 46th anniversary of leaving England, the random number generator throws up a cartoon that pitches me right back to my short, pre-Australian childhood.

Even as a kid, Punch and Judy was horrific. Indeed, that’s part of its… I don’t know if charm is the right word, but certainly fascination.

It’s a grotesque, of course, a deliberate soft spot between what is acceptable and the dark mirror world where all is allowed and nothing is forbidden. As a tiny person on the cold, windy, pebble-coated beaches of — well, I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. The scratchy super 8 films in my possession don’t really make it clear, and both my parents are dead so they can’t tell me. Call it Bournemouth, or Brighton, or more likely as we were in Nottingham, Blackpool — the Punch and Judy show was right up there with riding donkeys and eating fairy floss as the maddest of mad shit my four year old brain could cope with. But holy hot damn, when you look at it objectively… depending on the professor, and the time, and just how closely parents and the authorities are watching, Punch is a coyote, a joker, an agent of chaos, or an outright monster from the same level of Hell that ‘gifts’ us Jimmy Savile and Denis Nilsen.

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MIXED MOVIE QUOTE NEEDS A MIRACLE TO SAVE US

My time together with Lord 16 is slowly, but inevitably, drawing to a close. We’re not at the finish line just yet, but as he’s coming to the end of year eleven, and could leave home as early as this time next year — Uni, life plans, sudden familial decisions to uproot ourselves and move halfway across the state, and so forth notwithstanding — it’s possible to imagine the final turn into the straight. To mangle an analogy.

So I’m running out of time to expose him to all the necessary texts to ensure he goes into his arts career with at least an acceptable understanding of the classics. And with the fortuitous purchase of a Mel Brooks box set, and the announcement of an upcoming History of the World Part 2 TV series, well, what better time to decide to show him the third of Brooks’ Great and Classic Trilogy?

It’s good to be the King.

Anyway, this is one of those you-have-to-recognise-the-movie-to-get-the-gag ones, but if you do, you’ll understand why I snorted like a pig seeing the farmer slip in a cowpat.