Monday, 16 July 2018

The Book of the Enemy

...and there's another one, this time a collection edited by the excellent Simon Bucher-Jones and featuring written contributions from myself, Andrew Hickey, Philip Purser-Hallard, Lisa Sarah Good, Helen Angrove and others. It's available, as usual, as a proper printed book like God intended or as a series of zeroes and ones from Obverse Books, who still seem to have the first version of the cover on their site, for some reason.

My contribution incorporates material recycled from an earlier draft of Against Nature, in case anyone cares, whilst being otherwise autobiographical because that seemed like the only way to write it which would make sense. My other contribution was the cover, of which the natural history is as follows - in the event of anyone wishing to save or repurpose any of this material for whatever ends. It began with a series of descriptions of bizarre creatures or objects written by Simon, which actually reminded me a little of the sort of things we used to see in Doug Allen and Gary Leib's Idiotland comic book; so I sort of took it from there, without worrying too much about the realism, or lack thereof.


 ...and then some highlights:

This image was used for the back cover, but was only ever intended as something I would paint over as a wash so as to have these vague images half-seen beneath the main one. Once I got started on the main figure, I got so much into it that I forgot to take photographs, so I only have an image of the finished thing. Never mind.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

More of This Sort of Thing!

In the unlikely event that anyone should be keeping track of this shit, I've contributed to the first issue of More of This Sort of Thing!, a traditional print fanzine sporadically produced by Careful Now Promotions of Kent, England. Careful Now is a vast multinational conglomerate in the style of ICI or Rio Tinto Zinc who organise live gigs in the Medway area. One of them used to write for Brian Moore's Head and I think the other bloke may have had something to do with The Donkey's Tale, although I could be getting my wires crossed there. More of This Sort of Thing! is done mainly as something to be given out at said gigs, and I think this issue accompanied a performance by Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society, amongst others. Admittedly, it's kind of thin at twelve pages, but there's a lot in it, considering, and I can think of worse ways to spend half an hour. When I say I've contributed, what I actually mean is that they reprinted the thing I wrote for my blog about the late Alun Jones of the Dentists, and I drew a picture of himself to accompany the article, which they used as the cover. They asked me if I wanted to draw a cartoon, just like in the old days when I drew stuff for Brian Moore's Head, and I tried but it turned out rubbish, so I suggested they use the tribute to Alun instead. For what it may be worth, I'll probably try to write something for the next issue too.

More of This Sort of Thing! is an analogue publication, it says here, meaning it is not available electronically, digitally, or on any social media platform. If you would like a copy, either show up at one of the monthly Careful Now events at either the Oast in Rainham, Kent or the Billabong in Rochester, or send fifty pee with a stamped addressed envelope to 2c, Broadview Avenue, Rainham, Kent, ME8 9DB, England; although I've a feeling they may already have run out of the June issue.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Spinning Jenny

There be another book for which one didst paint the cover. It actually came out last November but for reasons too boring to go into, I've only just got hold of a copy. It's available from Obverse Books in the usual formats, and as it's become my habit to share earlier versions of the cover painting before the titles were added by the excellent Cody Schell - just in case anyone feels they really need to see what it looked like - here you go. First, the rough version illustrating my attempts to work out what the fuck I was doing:

Then a lesson in the perils of selected background music drawing too heavily on records from Adam Ant's pantomime phase - Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming, Spank Me Widow Twankey and others...

Not sure what was going on here...

Then I decided that the novel almost certainly featured President Obama in some capacity...

Then it made it to this stage, but our lass had developed an expression suggesting she didnae really gi' twa shites about the events of the novel or whatever was on the other end of that rope, so obviously something had to change...

And finally, Cyril?
Finally, Esther, I am indebted to Mr. Johnson of Basingstoke who sent me this photograph of a carrot resembling a hampton, and here's the finished cover. I'm still not sure about it. I think it works. Bits of it work, but all I can really do is push the paint in a certain direction until it looks like pushing it any further would be a bad idea.

So there you have it, or rather them. Feel free to save and repurpose in any non-commercial capacity should you feel the need to do so.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Pamphlets of Destiny

Two whole years later than intended, I have extruded another self-published book, yet another pulse-pounding agglomeration of stuff you can already read for free on the internet. Pamphlets of Destiny is the second volume of Crappy 1970s Paperbacks, this time named after the blog for which most of the reviews were written and covering 2013 through to 2015. There's some material which was never posted for one reason or another, and a few of the reviews are slightly expanded, but otherwise it's pretty much the same, just reproduced in a more civilised form suitable for reading at bedtime or while doing a poo. There's no eBook because I dislike eBooks and I've got better things to do than format the fucking thing yet again when, as I say, it's already online more or less in its entirety.

Lest the Lulu blurb appear too cryptic and you object to taking a look at the Pamphlets of Destiny blog on religious grounds, I'm trying to sell you a fat six-hundred-ish page book - proper traditional paperback size, but just a bit fat - of reviews of science-fiction novels, non-science-fiction novels, comic books, and one song I hated so much that I just couldn't hold back. I've had a few stabs at vaguely literary discourse, but it's mostly sarcasm and swearing. It would make an ideal Birthday or Christmas present for a friend or relative who enjoys some of the above, or for a friend or relative you don't really care about so they get what they get and should be glad of getting fucking anything.

Buy it here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Still Smoking Mirror

This one has been around since 2010, but I suppose there's still a slight chance that of the five people who now follow this blog , two of you might not have heard of it. About a million years ago, before I learned how to write, I attempted a Doctor Who novel because I figured it would be fun, a piece of piss, and likely to get published given the quality of Warmonger, Deadly Reunion, Earthworld, and others. I was wrong on at least two of those counts, and I eventually chucked the thing out under my own steam thanks to the magic of Lulu Publishing, mainly because it had taken me a long time to write and it would have felt wrong to just leave it as it was. You may recall it from this post.

Anyway, I've just had some fresh feedback from the excellent Stan Batcow of Pumf Propane & Propane Accessories because I bunged him a copy in exchange for a couple of CDs, and that seemed like as good a reason as any for a new post here, not exactly a review, but here's what he wrote: 

You did indeed make Pumf references in Smoking Mirror - I was also incredibly flattered that the Doctor wanted a copy of Howl's Grand Theft Audio CD, but that he couldn't remember whether Howl had been big in the 1990s or 2090s. Hopefully you'll have been prophetic, and - although I'll be long gone - Howl will finally change all world attitudes for the better in the 2090s. And the citizens of that future time can all then spend Sednan five centime pieces, featuring relief images of the Exalted Howling Batcow on both sides. Last I heard, the centime in the 2090s was worth the same as approximately sixteen thousand GBP sterling today. It was quite strange to read about myself being somehow part of a fictional world, and a most enjoyable experience. Thanks very much for putting me in there!

Apparently I mentioned Stan in the book a couple of times. I'd forgotten all about that. Never mind.

I wouldn't ordinarily point out typos in a book that's already been published, but I know you said you'd re-uploaded files to Lulu a while back for Kiss of Life, so I'll point out that on the back cover of Smoking Mirror, the first paragraph (large font, blue text) has the word and at the end of the first line and the beginning of the second (so it reads Nothing should live forever, and and all must come to an end.) I've seen the exact same thing presented as an optical illusion-type puzzle - the brain is tricked into thinking there's only one and by the action of flicking the eyes to the next line, and thereby momentarily losing concentration. If it's something you can quickly fix and upload for future copies, I'm sure you'd want to. If not, I humbly apologise for having brought to your attention something that will monumentally piss you off forever.

I have no idea how this could have eluded me for the past seven years. Anyway, I've made the correction so copies ordered from hereon will be new and improved at least in this respect. The and and version of the cover can be seen above. Anyway...

I enjoyed Smoking Mirror very much, incidentally. It took me quite a while to get into it, but once I'd assimilated myself into a Doctor Who world I managed to join in with the action quite naturally. Loved the regression of the TARDIS into a prehistoric state, as well as the joint timeline segments printed in two columns side-by-side. I wondered how hard it had been to get the number of words to be close enough to equal in both columns so the layout was correct. (The first occurrence of that device made me think that it was a layout mistake, as the two columns were so close in their wordage). I can safely say that it was far better than many, many other books I've read over the years and makes me wonder, yet again, why you aren't a millionaire. As a first novel it should have had the publishers rubbing their hands together in glee, and banking on earning their retirement fund off your Doctor Who thirteen-novel boxset by 2027. But, as we know, people are far too fucking stupid for that.

So there you go. It's unofficial, and it's fanfic, and I haven't even opened it since proofreading the very first Lulu version (except for the back cover, apparently) because I'm scared it might be rubbish; but it's cheap because I'm making nought from the sales (so as to pre-empt accusations that I am), and some people seem to think it's all right, and Christmas is coming up, 'n' shit, in case you know someone who likes Who and isn't too fussy...

Monday, 2 October 2017

Kiss of Life

My friend Robert Dellar passed away last December. He was, amongst other things, what I suppose you would call a mental health activist and advocate working on the behalf of those enmeshed within the psychiatric system, patients often unable to speak up for themselves, not least due to their status having deprived them of certain basic human rights in the eyes of the medical establishment. Robert had been a significant voice in the Mad Pride movement. I knew him, or knew of him on and off since about 1984 or thereabouts, and in recent years we had collaborated on a cartoon strip called Raffy the Psychiatric Labrador which I drew for Southwark Mental Health News, a publication he produced on behalf of patients which, despite the somewhat dry title, was closer in spirit to the old punk fanzines through which we originally met. His passing left a lot of us distraught, bewildered, confused, and rudderless. There's some saying about how the character of a person may be judged by the quality of their friends, and the eulogies which began to accumulate on facebook bore testimony to a world with Robert being both stupid and pointless in all respects that matter.

'Someone should do a book of these,' I suggested, referring to the aforementioned eulogies.

Inevitably that someone ended up being myself because if it it wasn't exactly something I wanted to do, it felt like something which needed to be done.

So here, nine months later, is Kiss of Life, an anthology of writings about Robert Dellar by those who knew him from school, people who made fanzines, who were in bands, who met him through Mad Pride or his work within the corridors of the psychiatric system. Contributors include Ted Curtis, Paul Mex, Andy Martin, Paul Andrew, Stan Batcow, Rosanna Thompson, Robin Basak, Jacob Bard-Rosenberg, Steve Hayes, Amethyst Beeblebear, Simon Morris, Barnaby Oliver, Lucy Williams, Sarah Doherty, Claire Monk, Andy Fraser and others, not to mention a few examples of Robert's short satirical fiction pieces, otherwise out of print*. As a collection, it's not going to bring him back, but he's someone who really should be remembered, and the generously rebellious spirit of his life should be remembered, particularly now with the forces of crap and entropy all around; so that's why this book exists.

You can buy it here. All proceeds go to Mental Health Resistance Network.

*: Excepting Crusty which also appears in the excellent Tales From the Punk Side co-edited by Mike Dines and Greg Bull.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


I was interviewed for a podcast called Raconteur Roundtable, a fairly regular thing hosted and produced by James Bojaciuk with a couple of pals chipping in. Most of the questions were angled in the general direction of Against Nature, a novel which came out a couple of years ago; and I refused to do homework for the sake of an interview on the principle of it being undignified. I was therefore a little flustered by some of the questions. It was fun - because it's always fun to have complete strangers ask you questions as though you're famous by some definition - but it was also kind of frustrating. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm told that my fears were unfounded, that it came out very well, and that I should be proud.

If you want to listen to me muttering about stuff, it can be heard here, or  downloaded as an MP3 file from iTunes.