Stuff (& Possibly Nonsense) #127

Published On September 1, 2017 | By Joe Gordon | Books, Comics, Film TV & Theatre

Yep, it’s that time of the week for Richard and Joe to post up some of the links and news spotted over the last few days:

How about some nice news to start us off? One of our favourite creative teams, Glasgow-based Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers – aka Metaphrog – have secured a very welcome award from Creative Scotland (a generous £32k) towards creating their next graphic novel. The project, a so far untitled fairy tale, follows on from their previous two fairy tale adaptations, both of which we absolutely adored on here, The Red Shoes and Other Tales (reviewed here) and the recent Little Mermaid (reviewed here), and like those will be published my Papercutz. The duo is fresh from the Edinburgh International Book Festival and from a US tour for Papercutz, which was also helped by the arts body Creative Scotland.

We are honoured to have been awarded funding from Creative Scotland for the creation of our next graphic novel: a new fairy tale adaptation to follow on from The Red Shoes and Other Tales and The Little Mermaid. Fairy tales are extremely powerful, tapping in to the very origins of stories. They tell us about ourselves and others and, in these uncertain times, they can provide us with necessary truths. In reimagining our favourite tales as graphic novels we hope to create an immersive, lasting reading experience.”

(a gorgeous page from The Little Mermaid by Metaphrog, published Papercutz)

I have been a fan of Metaphrog’s work since the 90s and am always delighted to learn there is new work from them in the pipeline. And given how achingly beautiful and emotional The Red Shoes and The Little Mermaid are, I’m quite confident that the as yet un-named work will be something very special for both child and adult readers alike. And how good is it to see this sort of continued support for comics creation from an arts award body?

Kudos to actor Ed Skrein for removing himself for what could have been a no doubt lucrative big movie role for him, on discovering that the character he was down to play in the new Hellboy film, Major Ben Daimio, is of Asian origin in the comics. Yes, once more Hollywood seems to have ignored the lessons learned from too many previous “whitewashing” incidents in major films, where white actors are cast in roles that should be of different ethnic origins. On discovering this Skrein, to his credit, removed himself from the role “so the role can be cast appropriately”, which is admirable on his part. (via the BBC)

(Ben Daimo, art by Guy Davis)

In related news this week, Agents of SHIELD star Chloe Bennet discussed Hollywood’s ongoing racism problem and whitewashing, noting that she struggled to get roles under her own surname of Wang (the actor is Chinese and American, speaking both Mandarin and English), but as soon as she changed her surname to Bennet she started getting roles. Bennet also went on to thank Skrein for his principled stand and turning down the Hellboy role so it could be cast with someone ethnically similar to the comics character, noting that it wouldn’t have been a decisio made lightly – what actor wants to turn down a role? – but that he made a good decision and adding “Fellas, take note. That’s how it’s done.”

Chloe created RUN (Represent Us Now) to promote better representation of Asian and Pacific Islander actors in Hollywood. This comes just a few weeks after Hawaii-Five-Oh stars (including Battlestar Galatica’s Grace Park) left the show in protest at being paid less than their white co-stars, and a couple of years after the “Oscars So White” campaign. You have to wonder how the smeg this is still happening in La-La Land…

Barry Nugent tells us that a graphic novel prequel to his second novel, Forgotten Warriors, will be launching at this year’s Thought Bubble. Part of the Unseen Shadows universe, The Chimera Factor is written by Richmond Clements (sometimes of this virtual parish), with art by PL Woods and lettering by Paul McLaren. From the description:

When a crashed World War II plane is discovered in the Antarctic a United Nations covert unit, led by Major Stephanie Connisbee, is sent to investigate. Unbeknownst to Steph another team, headed up by ruthless adventuress, Victoria Sullivan has also been dispatched to the crash site. Beneath the snow and ice Steph and Victoria discover a relic of mass destruction that should have stayed buried. Now the two mismatched warriors must work together to stop a shadowy organisation from using the relic to plunge the world into chaos. There’s just one problem; Steph and Victoria want each other dead and the relic for themselves. Saving the world has never been messier.”

The Chimera Factor will be launched at Thought Bubble this year (on a related note, let us know if you have new work debuting at TB!), and is also available to pre-order from the Unseen Shadows site.

The New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Police have issued a fresh call for information and witnesses to the murder of the great Naji al-Ali, still the most famous cartoonist across the Middle East and Arabic world decades after his death at 51. Shot and mortally wounded on a London street, the Met has requested anyone willing to come forward get in touch with them as this week marked thirty years since the murder of this remarkable cartoonist. If you’re not familiar with Naji’s work, there’s a good site here, named after his famous child character Handala, a small boy who normally has his back to the viewer, bearing witness to events. (via Comics Reporter)

Very sad news earlier this week – seems like it is too often we have to say that these days. This time we lost an absolute giant of the horror movie genre, in fact a director who took the genre, shook it roughly and reshaped it, influencing generations of film-makers since: the great Tobe Hooper. I think we need to organise a 21-chainsaw salute… Coming just a few months after we lost uncle George Romero makes it even more of a blow to genre fans. (via the BBC)

The Shoreline of Infinity SF gang have another of their events in the Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh’s Old Town (right round the corner from the Edinburgh FP), this time with top Scots science fiction scribe Ken MacLeod in conversation with author and editor Andrew J Wilson about Ken’s work, as the third part of his Corporation Wars is about to be published by Orbit (yes, review to follow in due course, never miss one of Ken’s books). The event is free and takes place on Wednesday 13th of September from 7.30pm.

I love this – the late and much-missed Sir Terry Pratchett left several unfinished stories on his computer. Terry didn’t like the idea of his work being completed by anyone else after he was gone, as has happened with numerous writers over the years. So he left instructions that are wonderfully Pratchett – take them to a steam exhibition and have the hard drive run over repeatedly by a steam road roller. Thank you, Terry, for still making us smile…. (via the BBC)

Showlover captured Neill Cameron‘s Twitter thread on reacting to your own drawing and the need to be a bit easier on yourself. Neill originally posted in in response to one of his regular workshops with youngsters, and found some of the kids would get terribly frustrated that their drawing skill wasn’t good enough (or at least in their head it wasn’t good enough) and would rip up their drawings. This upset Neill quite a lot as he is trying to encourage kids to express themselves through creative work, so he decided to be honest with the kid and explain even professional artists often find themselves looking down on their own work as not good enough:

Fellow artist PJ Holden commented on Twitter recently that one of his young ones is suffering similar frustrations and asked Neill if he still had this thread as he wanted to use it to talk to his child, and fortuantely Showlover had it on Tumblr (see the whole thread here). It’s good advice and also it serves as a reminder that when you experience those sorts of “my work isn’t good enough” moments that you are not alone, that even creators with multiple, successful published works feel that way. I’ve worked with writers and artists for decades and I know most of them also often feel this way at some point – even when the work is good there’s a part of you thinking “but it isn’t as good as the version in my head”. And that applies to pretty much most forms of artistic expression, I think. I know I’ve had it many times when writing, even when readers have complimented a work part of me is thinking no, it’s not quite what was in my head, I wasn’t good enough to translate it onto the page well enough.

When it comes to children that’s even worse though;, I think we all know too well that it is horribly easy at a young age to end up with a child being put off trying something forever as they grow up, much harder to encourage them into something that will enrich their lives. Which is why school visits and workshops and the likes by so many artists and writers are a terrific thing, but it is worth remembering that some of those youngters will feel this frustration that they can’t create the work they want to, the vision in their head, and that it is important to remind them that any creative work is never really finished, not in the creator’s mind, but that should never stop you trying. Be a bit easier on yourself, as Neill says, and don’t give it up. Highly recommend reading this to anyone dealing with kids – parents, teachers, librarians, artists, writers – and also the grown-ups, because they often still get this feeling too.

Keep drawing, kids, keep writing. Remember the great rule – you write and draw for yourself, first, the stories you want – need – to tell, then see if others also like it. Often they will, you’re better than you think. And don’t stop because of those frustrations – trust me, as you grow up you will feel far more frustrated, deep, deep down, as those ideas bubble inside you without an outlet, so write, draw, sing, sculpt, dance, whatever it is, do it, enjoy it.

How awesome is this? Jhaelon Edwards, stuck indoors as the storms around Houston hit, decided to spend his time creatively and made this terrific Lego version of the crashing Star Destroyers from Rogue One. Brilliant. (via BoingBoing)

Always good to see more work posted by the brilliant Boulet (taster here, click the link for the full strip):

Ben Jennings in the Guardian comments on Trump’s handling of climate change and the dreadful damage and loss caused by Hurricane Harvey in the US:

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About The Author

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon is’s chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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