Stool Pigeon Ha-Cha-Cha-Cha – the free music paper with a nice line in comics
Phil Hebblethwaite, Editor
Stool Pigeon’s a free music paper, completely independent and distributed by hand by editor Phil Hebblethwaite and creative director Mickey Gibbons. (who drive up and down the country to deliver the issues). I’m not really going to say much about the music side of it, as that’s not really in our remit here on the FPI blog, but I will point you in the direction of this piece in the Guardian which is fullsome in it’s praise.
I will quickly point out that I found reading it very reminiscent of my days reading the Melody Maker in the 80s, particularly in it’s eclectic design sense – some great, mostly good, some ear wateringly painful on the eye. But in a world of Heat style blandness it’s pleasing to see that someone, somewhere still tries to do something different and if it doesn’t always pay off, that’s a risk worth taking.
As for the musical content, it’s just as eclectic as the design sense, covering a wide, wide range of music, most of which I’ve never even heard of (something I would have fretted over a few years ago, but now I just accept I’m old and no longer anywhere near in touch with these things). Cypress Hill, Foals, Ennio Morricone, Mary J Blige, Animal Collective, John Lydon, Laura Marling were some of the names I actually recognised, but they’re just a very small part of the enterprise. What I can say is that pretty much the whole thing is written well, with a unique take on the music biz, and one that will provide far, far more entertainment than anything the NME has imagined doing for the last 20 odd years.
(The opening salvo in “A Sound Arrangement” by Luke Pearson from Stool Pigeon 26, May 2010)
But it wasn’t the music side I wanted to get hold of Stool Pigeon for. It’s the comic supplement they carry every issue, anything between 6 and 12 pages of comics, with just as an eclectic range as the music coverage. It’s really satisfying to see the comics presented in full newspaper page size, and they’re obviously a lovingly put together section of the newspaper.
And although not all of them are great, there’s a good range of styles and approaches, at least in the two issues I saw, obviously all with a focus on the music scene. There’s a few familiar names in there as well; Luke Pearson (recently discovered via Solipsistic Pop 2, a welcome return to seeing Lawrence Elwick and Paul O’Connell’s great Charlie Parker Handyman and even the wonderful Rocky tales of Martin Kellerman all make an appearance. Here’s a few favourites from the two issues I had chance to look through….
(Oh, it’s an obvious gag, but a really funny one – who could be going around painting it black? From Lawrence Elwick and Paul O’Connell’s marvellous Charlie Parker Handyman strip in Stool Pigeon 26.)
(Krent Able‘s Channel Zero strip with Lily Allen – it doesn’t end well for her. From Stool Pigeon 25.)
(John Riordon‘s rather unique take on Gollum – and yes, it does feature the Man In Black himself later on. From Stool Pigeon 26)
(Martin Kellerman’s savagely funny Rocky strip – Peter Bagge with dogs. From Stool Pigeon 26)
So head over to the Stool Pigeon website, have a look at the list of stockists and make a point of going in and asking about the next issue. Go for the great selection of comics, stay for the music writing.
And as luck would have it, I get round to posting this review just as news comes in that the latest issue features a familiar face….