Saturday, April 19, 2014

FRED EGG COMICS, YOUTUBE!

I've posted my first ever video on Youtube...


This is my reading of two of my comic stories - "The Orb" and "History of E-Mail and the Internet".
The event was DeeCAP, taking place as part of the Dundee Comics Expo. It was filmed by Stuart McAdam of Treehouse Comics.

Please click here to view.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ADVENTURES IN COMICS at RESORT STUDIOS

I sent a two page story to the Adventures in Comics anthology this year, based on their suggested topic "The Orb".

The comics they received are being displayed at Resort Studios in Margate. If you're in the area, go along and have a look. I've seen some of the submissions and they are impressive.

I won't be able to go along. If you see my page, take a photo and e-mail it to me. I'd love to see it!

Go here to see the official Adventures in Comics announcement.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DUMP #2 in COPY THIS!


The latest edition of D.Blake Werts' zine "Copy This!" has a listing for my comic Dump #2.

It also has a natty cover and sticker designed by Andy Nukes.

If you'd like more information, please contact Blake at bwerts@vnet.net

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JACK KIRBY, WRITER

I've written an article on Jack Kirby's contribution to comics as a writer.
It's been published over at Graphixia.
Please go here to have a look.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

KK's SHOWCASE at BIG GLASGOW COMIC PAGE


This week, KK's Showcase over at The Big Glasgow Comic Page has featured myself and Fred Egg Comics.

To have a look, go here and scroll down to April 10th.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

DEAN HASPIEL - FREAK MAGNET


Dean Haspiel is a talented cartoonist operating out of New York. He grew up reading Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four, later discovering autobiographical comics by the likes of Harvey Pekar. His work now displays elements of the fantastic and the personal, mixed through with a romantic philosophy on love and life. I like where he's coming from. He draws like a demon too...


David Robertson: Tell me about Billy Dogma's character and his publishing history including the new book Fear, My Dear.
Dean Haspiel: Billy Dogma and Jane Legit are a spaghetti western-inspired, modern day Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn romance. Two love titans whose hearts crave each other, so much so, their rock 'em sock 'em passion betrays a spark of hope that love can save the world.
I created Billy Dogma in 1995 and it was first published as a black & white comix strip in The NY Hangover, an east-village newspaper. Soon after, Billy Dogma appeared in Keyhole, a 2-man comix anthology I did with Josh Neufeld, and a 3-issue Billy Dogma series, published by Millennium cum Modern Comics. Later, Billy Dogma stories appeared in Daydream Lullabies, Boy In My Pocket, and Aim To Dazzle, published by Top Shelf & Alternative Comics. 


Then, in 2006 & 2007, I published a couple of epic Billy Dogma stories called "Immortal" and "Fear, My Dear," for the webcomix collective, ActivateComix.com, that I recently remastered for the Fear, My Dear graphic novel published by Z2 Comics, coming out this April. Fear, My Dear is my love letter to the insanity of love. I intend to self-publish another Billy Dogma collection (via Hang Dai Editions), featuring comix I did in other anthologies and at TripCity.net, plus new material.
DR: How was working with Harvey Pekar on American Splendor? What did you learn drawing his stories?


DH: Collaborating with Harvey Pekar was a unique experience. Limiting in one way as there was never room to alter the pace of his carved-in-stone words but quite challenging in another way wherein I had to excavate the narrative gold from his dialogue. There's only so much inspiration you can derive from a talking stick figure so the artist truly becomes the co-author in comix terms. Not only did I become a better visual storyteller but I also learned to listen. A lot of what Pekar wrote came from his ability to listen to the people around him so that we could "hear" them, too, in his comix. I miss Harvey very much.
DR: I’m interested in the work you’ve done with regards to fostering a sense of community between cartoonists. Can you talk a bit about the studio you work in, and the online and/or any other real world projects you’ve been involved with?
DH: I've had the desire to be part of a comix community ever since I first learned of the Hollywood "Rat Pack" and read about the legendary "Marvel Bullpen" in Stan Lee's Soapbox columns (which turned out to be more a fantasy than fact, for shame), coupled with the year (1985) I spent working as an assistant at Upstart Studios in the garment district of Manhattan to cartoonists Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, and Bill Sienkiewicz. I remember fondly my subscription to The Comics Buyers Guide and the days of getting new comic books once-a-week at my local comix shops: West Side Comics, Funny Business, Forbidden Planet, Rocketship and, nowadays, I still make the occasional trek to JHU Comics. When I finally decided to take a leap of faith and work full-time freelance as a cartoonist it was a lonely time, drawing in my Brooklyn apartment. Luckily the internet invented blogging platforms and I took advantage of that to create ACT-I-VATE, a webcomix collective on Live Journal, which became a virtual studio until some of us decided to rent brick-and-mortar space in Brooklyn and form DEEP6 Studios for 3-years. Later, I formed Hang Dai Studios and experimented with an online salon called TripCity.net. Hang Dai is where I currently make my comix among a good mix of artists and writers and I don't know that I'd ever want to work alone again. The different energies of various artists engenders new ideas, sparks spirited dialogue, and fuels the will to create in the face of crippling economics and ornery business practices. We share information, uplift our fellow cartoonists, and fight the good fight, together.
DR: I want to take you back to those early days in the 1980s. Please indulge me; at the time I was an avid reader of the Keith Giffen/J.M DeMatteis Justice League comics, and the first time I saw your work was when you drew a “bonus book” for that series. What do you remember about how that job came about?


DH: I cherish those classic J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen/Kevin Maguire Justice League comics and I just had the honor of collaborating with JMD on The Fox #5! Otherwise, I can't stand what I did on that "Maxwell Lord" Bonus Book featuring Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. In fact, I have a hard time with most comix I do within a year of their publication but I can't let the perfect get in the way of the good. Anyway, I was discovered by DC Comics editor, Joe Orlando (formerly of EC Comics/Mad Magazine/Creepy fame) and he liked what I did on The Verdict mini-series that I drew and co-created with writer Martin Powell for Eternity Comics. Joe recruited and hired me to pencil a Bonus Book for Detective Comics. He was a great cartoonist in his own right, as well as a kind editor, but what I drew didn't come out very good. I knew then that I wasn't ready for prime time. Hell, I'm still not ready for prime time. Anyway, I figured I blew my one chance and DC would never call me back and I started drinking a lot of 40 oz. bottles of Olde English 800 while drawing my Tommy Rocket comix strip for The Load, the college newspaper at SUNY Purchase I was attending at the time. Somehow, Joe took a liking to me and I got a second shot at drawing another Bonus Book only it was for Justice League International and I was asked to pencil AND ink the story. I felt I could redeem myself and I penciled the story as best as I could and then I fell off the college library, a three-story building, breaking both my legs (my left ankle/heel and right knee), tore the ligaments in my right drawing hand and bent the bottom of my spine. DC Comics gave me a little grace period to start my slow recovery process but, deadlines are deadlines, and I wound up inking that comic with a broken hand while sitting in a wheelchair. I didn't work for DC Comics again until editor Dan Raspler hired me to draw a Dr. Fate pin-up.
DR: Wow, I had no idea. You mentioned The Fox. Tell me about that series and any other projects you have in the pipeline.


DH: I just finished a 5-issue The Fox mini-series called "Freak Magnet" for Archie/Red Circle Comics. It was co-written by Mark Waid and J.M. DeMatteis and colored by Allen Passalaqua and lettered by John Workman with a Shield back-up feature drawn by Mike Cavallaro. My favorite superhero collaboration to date. I'm currently drawing a Batman '66 story written by my pal Gabe Soria for DC Comics while developing the story for the next Fox mini-series that I'll probably start drawing in mid-April. I'm also drawing a Little Nemo comic for Locust Moon Comics and preparing to self-publish some new comix via Hang Dai Editions while hyping Fear, My Dear: A Billy Dogma Experience.


Monday, March 31, 2014

MOORE FOUR


It’s been a good year so far regarding Alan Moore related work. Here are books and comics I’ve read concerning and/or written by Moore.


First up, I was lucky enough to be given Lance Parkin’s biography Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore. It’s quite in depth and there’s loads I hadn’t seen before, including a school photo and good insight into Moore’s affiliation with and empathy for 1970s art labs. Parkin is an admirer of Moore, which came across in his previous Essential Guide, and here too. Parkin treads a delicate line between admiration and criticism though. There are many memorable passages here, because Moore seems such an uncompromising figure. For example, his continued defiantly na├»ve perspective on what the relationship between publisher and artist  should be, signing less than perfect deals on his ABC characters, and up to his current Top Shelf contract, which also relies on trusting that the company is made up of (by his definition) decent people.


Another good read was Eddie Campbell’s From Hell Companion. I bought this book last year, read a bit and then was inspired to finish it after the Parkin biography. It presents excerpts from the script interspersed with commentary from Campbell. There is some terrific writing from Moore here. To paraphrase Campbell, the text that usually only the artist would read. What is very striking almost right from the beginning is Campbell’s confidence in what he is doing. He is in no way slavish to Moore’s script. When Moore writes of and in his own script, “None of this rambling junk is sacred”, Campbell takes that on board. Throughout we see Campbell do different layouts than suggested by Moore, who famously gives detailed instruction to artists and says that if something “would work better another way then just go ahead and do it”. This book contains the best evidence I’ve seen of the artist doing something else. Perhaps it’s because Campbell is such a strong authorial voice in his own right, with all his autobiographical and Bacchus comics behind him. Campbell’s a great writer too, with a hilarious family table story concerning “Annie and Eddy”. This book was terrific, and gives an insight into the two talented men who made From Hell. 


The collected BoJeffries Saga has finally appeared. This started back in the 1980s as instalments in Warrior. The art by Steve Parkhouse is very good. His style is perfect for this story; it’s homely, caricaturesque, and slightly skewed and bizarre. Over thirty plus years the BoJeffries stories have been published under various houses, and Parkhouse’s convention of signing with a year attached is slightly distracting, but easily ignored. For example the first chapter is Parkhouse, 85, the second Parkhouse 82, etc. Parkhouse’s introduction is a bit sad, with his statement that “at some point in my career I had forgotten what it was like to have fun with drawing”, which is a shame for him. But certainly in these stories, possibly inspired by the fact that “the end result has always made me laugh”, his artwork is lively and full of fun.


Finally I’ve read the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin off Nemo: Roses of Berlin. Boy, It’s a delight to see these come around periodically. The fantastic cityscapes and mention of Rotwang clued me in to the fact that we are in Metropolis land here. Very exciting to see the False Maria robot as I love that movie so much (and yes, it’s the 1980s edit that I like, with the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack featuring Jon Anderson, Adam Ant, etc). I won’t comment on the ending, but suffice to say, one should not mess with Captain Nemo. A very enjoyable comic, but can we get Kevin O’Neill cloned? Because I miss Marshal Law. 

I’m now looking forward to the third Nemo comic, the fourth League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the sequel to Neonomicon. And I still haven’t read Fashion Beast yet!

PS. Check out Moore’s interesting history of comics from the “Occupy Comics” series. Well worth a read.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

DUMP #2 GUEST ARTIST INTERVIEW: KEARA STEWART


Another in a series of mini-interviews with the guest artists who are featured in Dump #2. Next up is Keara Stewart…

DR: Have you always been interested in comics?
KS: When I was a kid, my mum would buy me a comic or magazine of my choice for the train journey whenever we went on holiday. I always chose The Beano or The Dandy and I loved the treat that came with it too - usually a lollipop  if I remember rightly?


Years passed and when I met my boyfriend Nile in 2004 and moved in together soon after, I found his stack of Uncanny Xmen and Wolverine comics. I appreciated the artwork, but the stories never grabbed me. I didn't know there were any other genres of comics out there.
It wasn't until around 2011 that I became interested in comics again. My friend and colleague, Andy Oliver (Managing Editor, Broken Frontier.com) started introducing me to more small press and autobio comics and graphic novels. The first one I ever bought was 'Seeds' by Ross Mackintosh. I was bowled over by it and my love of comics was born there and then. Andy bought me Nicola Streeten's 'Billy, Me & You' soon after and this was another revelation. Both the subject matter and Nicola's style of mixing image and text was what made me want to start making comics of my own.
The rest is history! My bank balance has been troubled ever since, but my life was changed - now I can't get enough of zine and comics fairs! I went alone to Brighton last summer for the Comics and Medicine Conference and came home having met lots of new friends and feeling inspired! I never would have imagined that's what I would have been doing a couple of years ago. Comics have become quite an addiction in a relatively small space of time!
DR: Which work by other people are you a fan of, and has served as an inspiration?
Sarah Leavitt's 'Tangles: A story about Alzheimer's, my mother and me' for her simple, yet highly expressive drawings of a subject I am emotionally invested in. I love everything about Melissa Mendez' mini comic, 'Lou'. It's production (Oily Comics), the characters, the atmosphere she creates, the excitement I feel when I see each new cover and the little info extras she always gives her readers on the inside back cover. Nick Wadley and his book, 'Man + Doctor'. His drawings struck me down. From consultations to examinations, scans to blood tests, wards at night and passing stools, this book conveyed his experience with so few words but said so much. His lines and limited use of colour are to me, perfection. Nicola Streeten's 'Billy, Me & You' which I mentioned earlier, was the first illustrated memoir that I had ever read and it was this book that made me want to make my own comics. Seeing how powerful the comics medium could be to express emotion and seeing how Nicola used drawing, text, photos and articles together to tell her story was incredibly inspiring to me as a reader and a creator. And last, but by no means least - Simon Moreton and 'SMOO'. Each issue I've read offers something different, but I have loved seeing how Simon's drawings are becoming more and more pared down over time. He again, says so much with so little and this is what I aim to achieve with my drawings.
DR: What had been your experience in making comics yourself before your contribution to Dump?
KS: I had never attempted a panelled comic before, so Dump 2 was quite a challenge! Before Dump, I had two drawings in Mysanthropia Zine 3 (http://misanthropop.bigcartel.com/product/misanthropia-3-the-dapper-hikikomori-or-all-dressed-up-with-no-place-to-go) and had created some Entertainment Collectors Cards for Arty Entertainment (http://www.artymagazine.com/pages/arty24.htm) but I'm not sure that either of these are considered comics by myself or the creators. 


At the same time as working on the comic for Dump, I was also in the process of putting together a comic pamphlet for a research project funded by the AHRC. The 'Mark Making' project, led by Dr Hannah Zeilig, looks at the value of arts for people with dementia. I was given the text for the comic, but was given the freedom to design and illustrate it. I really enjoyed choosing a colour palette and used drawings I made during, and in response to, afternoons I spent with residents at Silk Court Care Home in London. The comic will be used in artist run activities for people with dementia, attended by Hannah Zeilig. It will also appear on the Mark Making website, which is launching soon. This was great experience and my non-existent Photoshop skills improved a fair bit!
I have various ideas in the pipeline for comics I want to create and self publish, but at the moment I have started working on another exciting collaboration, illustrating a short story by Ravi Thornton (http://ravithornton.com/).
DR: Any other artistic pursuits?
KS: I have an ongoing series of drawings of my dad, made while accompanying him to various hospital appointments  and procedures. I'm planning to compile these one day into a daddy diary comic!

 
DR: How did you find the process of drawing "Yay! Party!"?
KS: As I'd never drawn a panelled comic before, it was great to have the rough, sketched out panels you sent me. I wasn't sure what approach to take and I initially began by drawing out the panel boxes onto A4. I then started drawing in each box one by one. I soon realised the problem with this. I draw straight in pen so if I wasnt happy with the drawing it would mean starting again. So I decided to start afresh, drawing each panel on a separate A5 page and then put the panels together in photoshop. I drew the speech bubbles separately for some pages too. Luckily I had photoshop help on hand in the form of my partner-in-crime, Nile. I wanted the text to stand out against white, but for the drawings to keep the slightly grey background. I spent much more time doing the technical stuff in the end, scanning and editing, than I did actually drawing. Hopefully now I've got some photoshop experience, I can spend more time being creative next time!  Still, nothing is as exciting as seeing your work in print! Seeing my story, based on real life social anxiety, was one of those stay-with-you-forever moments!


DR: It was interesting for me too. As you know, you gave me a scenario involving social anxiety at a party, and I then wrote up the comic from there. I was aware of trying to do the subject justice and portray it in an appropriate way. I’d done a similar thing before with Crohn’s Disease.
KS: You certainly did it justice. As someone who hasn't worked with words before, I felt that this was a perfect collaboration!
DR: Now that you’ve gained experience in doing a comic, when can we expect to see more from you?
KS: I'm currently attempting to illustrate a beautiful short story by Ravi Thornton. I'm also going to try and put together my own mini comic. I've been inspired by a lot of creators at small press comics and zines fairs in the last year and I'd love to try and get something of my own out there! Keep an eye on my tumblr for updates! 

Contact Keara at kearastewart@live.com, and have a look at http://kearabazstewart.tumblr.com/

Friday, February 21, 2014

DUMP #2 GUEST ARTIST INTERVIEW: NEIL PATERSON


Another in a series of mini-interviews with the guest artists who are featured in Dump #2. Next up is Neil Paterson...


DR: Have you always been interested in comics?
NP: I didn't know that you could be interested in comics until I came to work at this verdamnt library! Before then I simply read the darn things.
Reading comics begins with the Beano and the Beezer which were delivered on a weekly basis to the house. These would have been sent for my elder brothers so I guess they were there from my very early infancy. On a similar basis, Tintin books - and a little later, Asterix.
My favourites were Dennis the Menace (before he replaced Biffo the Bear on the front page and thus lost his anarchic status) Minnie the Minx, Colonel Blink (I could never figure out whether his career as a gink had been enhanced or destroyed by his myopia) , the Numbskulls and the Bash Street Kids. Certain illustrators turned me right off. I never liked 'Tom Dick and Sally' for instance for that reason.
Favourite Tintin books would be The Castafiore Emerald - hilarious! - and The Calculus Affair. I model myself on Captain Haddock who puts his hand to his heart and gasps 'that's better' whenever he imbibes alcohol. I've gone right off Asterix.
Mum continued to get the Beano delivered and post it on to me (as the baby of the family) well into my first marriage. Thus I was able to watch the slow and sad deterioration of both the art and the storylines of the Beano as the number of frames diminished and the writers of the scripts appeared to lose interest in their characters. I have always believed that the Viz is the true inheritor of the quality of storywriting and illustration, albeit puerile.
I was aware of Superhero comics but have never paid much attention to them.
Gran Paterson would bring the comic pages from the Sunday Post when she visited from Bellshill. Not just Oor Wullie and The Broons, but Merry Mac's fun Parade with King Gussie and Keyhole Kate. The puzzles featured people whose faces were composed of numbers and you had to thus figure out how old they were. A favourite memory is sitting on my gran's lap while we read 'Oor Wullie' together. She would read so far and stop and I would read out the dialogue from where she left off in delight.


Our uncle who worked for IBM in America used to cut out and send comic strips from the States. Uhhhh... Sad Sack and Archie come dimly to mind. More than anything else about these I remember me and my brother used to cut the characters out of the comic and swap about their heads and bodies. We kept the bits in an old tobacco tin.
I was at primary school when I started making my own comic - 'Scotbloc' - which was named after the (in retrospect) vile cooking chocolate that we would pester our mum for squares of.
The characters in the comic included 'The Potty Blacks' who were a snooker obsessed family with very long noses which they used as snooker cues. I think this was the sole gag in the whole strip. 'Jamie the Schoolboy Detective' was on the front cover. He wore a duffle coat and had a tammie hat and walked with a crutch which seemed like a very cool and sophisticated appendage. I cannot remember anything much about him except that - Tintin like - he succumbed to chloroform in the last panel of the strip. And he had a pet cat. I cannot imagine that it ran to any more than two editions, shared with some friends.
In secondary school myself and two others in my art class created two editions of 'Gloverhouse' whose name derived from 'Penthouse' (a popular pornographic magazine at the time) and Colin Glover, a stocky redhaired classmate who played rugby. Immensely popular, it featured various adventures of Colin Glover including fronting his own versions of Motorhead (Gloverhead) and the Plasmatics (the Glovermatics) with Colin dressed as Wendy O. Williams including breasts with black tape over the nipples. The rest was insulting cartoons of art and PE teachers, classmates who provoked our ire and lots of cocks as I recall. Including the unimaginative adventures of The Cock Family. One edition was confiscated by a PE teacher, the other disappeared when left in the glove compartment of a friend's car which got scrapped along with a copious back catalogue of paper based jazz mags.
Asides from Gloverhouse, secondary school was an inspirational time for offensive cartoons decorating jotters, textbooks, posters, desks and walls etc.
I had to sandpaper all the desks in my German class for drawing a cartoon about a product called '28 days Pure Menstrual Juice' on one of the desks. My good friend Digby Sym was asked in front of the whole English class by his teacher why he thought the size of her breasts was a reflection of her teaching abilities. Poor Digby was unaware that his homework had been illustrated with a figure at the bottom of the page sporting a massive erection saying 'Just because you've got big tits Miss Hill doesn't mean you can mess with me.'
I have been delighted that Viz Comic runs a defacement competition which recalls those happy days where marks are awarded for speech bubbles too small to contain all the text (generally saying things like 'yum - I love spunk'), huge cocks, V shaped tits with stick nipples and steaming piles of shite. I am also proud to observe that my 15 year old son and his friends enjoy the same innocent pleasures on their jotters although his draughtsmanship is not as good as mine.
But I digress. Next question?
DR: What has been your experience in making comics between 28 days Pure Menstrual Juice and your contribution to Dump?
NP: I drew cartoons for some student magazines when studying Art History at St Andrews University and was always astonished at how little attention and praise they drew. The notion that JBS Haldane had a younger brother – ‘Chippy’ - who was a Flyweight Boxer and won the Driesh Boxing Championships was apparently not very funny.
From that negative experience on, I drew few cartoons, never mind making comics. This was until my wife and I began making designing, dyeing and printing T-Shirts in the middle of nowhere and I drew a promotional flyer featuring an artist cat who wore a beret and sunglasses and the title of the ‘business’: ‘The T-Shirt Shack’. For unknown reasons the cat became a dog named Artie and with his companion Troon the cat began to make pronouncements about art and philosophy in 12 – 16 frame cartoon strips.
An unfortunate and heavy drinking acquaintanceship with the editor of Green Scotland Magazine led to the ‘T-Shirt Shack’ appearing in their august pages along with my designs for the front covers and a Nature Diary. The ‘T-Shirt Shack’ also appeared in the pages of the late and much lamented Neil Mathers’ ‘Epoch’ magazine. ‘Green Scotland’ had a modest distribution, whilst Epoch was generally handed out freely by Neil Mathers to whoever wanted to read articles about Proudhon and the like photocopied out of library books. He was always upset when even his free copies were left lying unread in the pub. Oh well.
The Green Scotland editor persuaded me to write more TSS adventures and they were printed up in their own magazine ‘The Revolutionary Almanach’ which generated as much interest and financial reward as ‘Epoch’. I trailed several hundred copies of that bloody comic from house to house following various flits and evictions until they were humanely destroyed in a conflagration of furniture and oversized oil paintings outside Forfar producing a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of flame by night by which I led my family to Kirriemuir and a smaller house. A few copies must surely exist, although the only two I am aware of are mine and one kept to this day – for reasons which are difficult to understand – by my ex-wife.
From then on cartoons and certainly comic books did not feature in my oeuvre, although my ‘style’ is broadly ‘cartooney’ until last year when a review of my creative output led me to the conclusion that indeed, cartoons and cartoon strips were the direction I should be going in.
Unfortunately a re-awakening of interest in drawing cartoons coincided with beginning working at Arbroath Library where there is an enviable collection of ‘graphic novels’ covering a range of themes, styles and genres I had never conceived of. It’s given me a lot to think about. Too much. Now, if I were to pick up an 0.8 drawing pen it would make the front page of the Courier. Contributing to ‘Dump’ briefly interrupted this blissful nadir.
DR: Glad to hear it. What else have you been up to, artistically speaking?
NP: Artistically the concentration has been on amateur dramatics and Burns Night recitations of late. The local Panto is an enormous favourite and last year I was lucky enough to finally fill the shoes of the Dame in Kirriemuir! (The director gave me his sage advice: ‘Dinna dae it too poofy’ which alerted me to the deep aesthetic consideration the previous incumbent had given to the role.)
However, my companion in performance crime, Mark Thomson – to whom I affectionately refer as Sweary Poet (SP for short) – has often stressed to me how much time and energy I give to these pursuits and how little in consequence I give to my own writing and performance. This is very true, especially considering that I am obliged to work a minimum of three nights a week and cannot help but view writing or drawing in my spare time as ‘more work’.


So this year is the ‘Big Push’ with ‘The Hardest Chip Shop in Scotland’. Following my acclaimed appearance as Holy Wullie at this year’s Aberlemno Hall Burns’ Night I have notified amateur directors and producers that I will NOT be available for shows as I shall be concentrating on developing and producing the HCSIS performance. To this end I have written a LIST of things I need to do to achieve this outcome.
Let me tell you in some detail about this show.
I first met SP when I was doing my Community Education college placement in Whitfield and the Hilltoon – he was a poet who had got involved as a participant in a project based at the now disappeared Highwayman Pub turned Community Centre. I had not long got the band the ‘Duke of Portland’ going and invited him and two other poets in a similar vein – Gary Robertson and Kevin McCabe (collectively Tribal Tongues) – to be our support. The mix worked wonderfully well.
Following the demise of DOP, it took an invitation from SP to continue to work together to rekindle my will to perform my songs. Quite simply he would do one of his poems then I would do one of my songs, then mebbe a couple of poems then me – de dah de dah de dah… Well received if a little unimaginative in presentation. It was during a gig in New Deer (of all places) that we walked into one of the hardest chip shops in Scotland, and some new songs and poems were born.
The Hardest Chip Shop in Scotland as a title is, I feel, an excellent brand for the performances – but suffers from not living up to the expectations that the title (and poster) build in the imaginations of the audience. Asides from wearing chip shop style white coats and writing MOCK CHOP on our knuckles there has been little to bind the poems and songs as a ‘show’. What I (am trying to) work on now is a collapsible set that I can fold up and transport to gigs in the back of my car; characters (with costumes and monologues) that can enter the chip shop as customers and then sing my songs; a dedicated Facebook page with short sample videos and a storyline that will give everything coherence. I want it to roll out like a sketch/song/poetry show, seamless and without blemish.
However, saying stupid things that make people laugh in company is easy. Sitting on your own at a desk trying to wrestle funny things out of the unprovoked imagination is shit.
DR: How did you find the process of drawing “Cycling Through Freedom”?


NP: Piece of piss.
Interpreting and developing somebody else's ideas is no bother. Trying to crack ideas out of the pumice stone of my own mind is the problem.
DR: Can we expect to see more comics from you in the future?
NP: As I go through a period of rampant ideas (sadly not matched by any tangible signs of creativity) I have realised that a good bit of merchandising to accompany The Hardest Chip Shop in Scotland’ would be ‘the Chip’ – the official organ (comic) of THCSIS, featuring the adventures of the various characters and for sale at gigs. Done naff all about it as you can imagine. If anybody wants to write the scripts I’ll happily draw the damn thing. 


Neil is available for commissions for illustrations and songwriting. Contact him at pater5365@yahoo.co.uk