I swam with seals, this month

They just showed up, one, then another. I thought the third the same. Moira Morton and I were out in Mill Bay, a five minute walk from Rathlin’s harbour. Then there was a fourth, swimming to shore behind me. One popped up in front. That one and I decided we were too close to one another, maybe ten feet away, and took a bit of fright. I let my head bob on the waves, meeting eye level and we all smiled at one another. Yes, it was like whack-a-mole, but without the whacking. Sarah stayed on the shore and tried to grab some footage.

UPDATE: She took some beautiful photos, but not much with videos. Here’s a 6second blink-and-miss it of me swimming, Moira floating, a seal bobbing and a girl with a Tablet device in the water??

My snaps,

Rathlin July 1 Rathlin July 2

Later in McCuaig’s, a woman told me she’d been bitten on the leg. ‘They get very protective of their cubs’, she said. I spent a week out there. Day before leave, we took a trip with Damien McFaul’s ‘Miss B Haven’, which fits about 8-10, starting at 6. Damien offers a £10 trip to the stacks, Jenga chaos like pillars were birds roam with Jurassic Park style. A good spot to see puffins at the right time. He also does a £25 trip, seems expensive, but no. It’s two hours, right around the island and breath-takingly beautiful.

At Rue Point lighthouse, Rathlin East, we met a colony of twenty or so seals. Damien cut the engines. They were spread out, and we drifted in between them. Very friendly, no alarms. A few were but six feet from us.

Sean Duffield, editor of the acclaimed War: High Cost of Living graphic anthology, visits in September. We’ll be spending five days at the Rathlin hostel. It’s situated two minutes walk from the coast, close enough for an excellent view. The hostel is run by Sean and Fergus, and Sean’s wife Patsy. Built a few years ago, its open all year round. Tidy, comfortable and homely, still a bit of an awkward secret. In an unexpected turn of events, I got some drink in me and asked Sean and Patsy to consider me for the job of hostel assistant. Once they sobered up, they accepted. That’s where I’ll be spending August, my first month as a self-employed freelance author.

ELSEWHERE ON-LINE

The Guardian picks up on Absence: a comic about epilepsy

‘Flesh Mob’ epic opens The Orb’s Tense Situations anthology

“I think it’s terrific. Really impressive. A really nice easy flow to its movements.” – David Hughes on Sea Legs, available for free on WithPaintedWords.com

(Making) Bottomley – The Brand of Britain

This Friday night, wood, tyres and berries burn in Northireland. The same night, San Diego Comic Con will announce the Eisner Awards, where ‘To End All Wars’ has been nominated, twice.

I’ve felt quite alright about singing my part in the commendation. Although barely ten pages (under 1000 words most likely), I started work on ‘Bottomley – Brand of Britain’ in 2009, when political expenses and public austerity were daily headline news. Even on that trail, I didn’t realise how accurate a reflection of the time Bottomley’s tale was.

Born in 1860, ‘The Chief’ made a stack of cash from hostile takeovers, before moving into the papers. He’s all but forgotten now, but as Pat Mills says, he was a sort of Robert Maxwell of his day. Bottomley launched the Financial Times, and the first UK newspaper called The Sun. He’d be remembered only through his lead paper, ‘John Bull’. You know the icon of the fat hat with the bulldog? That was Horatio Bottomley, art commissioned by Bottomley. That dude was real, ugly.

bottomley on board ship - 1918

The re-telling started as a sub-plot for a graphic novel, but the intensive part-time study called for it to be it’s own piece. Three years later, I was still at it. I’d three drafts together when editors Clode and Clark put out the call for submissions for TEAW, and my script went under another three drafts to tailor it to the collection.

Out of work and out of money, I took a three month Invest NI course to receive a grant, a pittance really, but it would pay the illustrator something. Thankfully, both Ruairi Coleman and letterer John Robbins were on board already. John has been a long time friend, confidante and critic, and he’s probably the best comic book letterer in Ireland.

Ruairi Coleman, I didn’t know quite as well. He were young, always a sure sign of trouble, yet remarkably talented. From the get-go he was everything I hope for in a creative work partner. Ruairi took in the bundles of visual reference I sent, with eagerness, no complaint. He took it on himself to go through a number of articles on Bottomley, and sat through the hour and a half televised 1972 docu-drama featuring Timothy West, with it’s agonising awful cut-aways.

Bottomleys crowds - December 1917

Bottomley’s story is that of the Britain’s major recruiting agent. He sold the war largely through gallons of racism. As editor, publisher and columnist of ‘John Bull’, as well as frequent pieces in The Times, the papers were packed with anti-German sentiment: Germ-huns, bayoneted babies.

Bottomley -witch hunt

The same was true for four years of nationwide speaking tours for which he was handsomely paid. He brought theatre to sacrifice, including a two-part speech in which he staged a mock trial defending Britannia against the Kaiser, dressed as a judge. The photo above is from his earlier performance in Pickwick Papers. Eventually his greed got too much and jail finished him off.

For posterity, here’s a selection of pre-production images by myself and Ruairi Coleman.

Andy Luke - Bottomley - Joining the pieces

Bottomley - andyluke roughs

Bottomley's bobs

Bottomley - The Downfall 2 line pitch

Bottomley05 - Ruairi Coleman thumbs

Bottomley08 - Ruairi Coleman thumbs

BoB-02 - Ruairi Coleman thumbs

You can see more on Ruairi’s blog, and read of his experiences with ”H.B.’

Soaring Penguin Press are taking pre-orders for the soft-cover of ‘To End All Wars’. £1 of every copy sold will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières. 

You can read my newest contribution to an anthology through Kindle. 20% of every copy of the £2 ‘Tense Situations’ collection, goes to Action Cancer.

Publishers boldly enquiring on other creative works of mine, around the Great War, might wish to contact me (link) for a copy of Lord Kitchener’s Shell Crisis board game.

Finally, here’s a select Bottomley bibliography. Because I love you.

Print

Hyman, A. (1972) The Rise and Fall of Horatio Bottomley, Littlehampton Book Services Ltd

Symons, J. (1955) Horatio Bottomley, Cresset Press. Reprinted 2008 by House of Stratus.

Electronic

AndyMinion (Sept 28, 2010) Horatio Bottomley: A Lesson From History. Retreived at http://lancasteruaf.blogspot.com/2010/09/horatio-bottomley-lesson-from-history.html [Accessed: 8th July 2015]

Anon (June 5, 1933) GREAT BRITAIN: Death Of John Bull, Time. Retrieved at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,745621-1,00.html [Accessed: 8th July 2015]

Anon (Date?) Horatio Bottomley – The Soldier’s Friend, in Crimes of the Times: Law and Order After the War. Archived from http://www.aftermathww1.com/horatio1.asp [Accessed: 23rd October 2010]

Cowling, M. (2005) The Importance of Bottomley (Ch. 2, p.45-60), in The Impact of Labour 1920-1924: The Beginning of Modern British Politics, Cambridge University. Retrieved at Google Books.  [Accessed: 8th July 2015]

Lewis, Roy (Date?) Horatio Bottomley – Champagne & Kippers for breakfast. Archived from http://www.villagepublunches.org.uk/sussex-people-profiles/127-swindles.html [Accessed: 23rd October 2010]

Messinger, G. S. (1992) The Wrong Kind of Immorality: Horatio Bottomley (Ch. 13 pp.200-213), in British propaganda and the State in the First World War, Manchester University Press. Retrieved at Google Books. [Accessed: 8th July 2015]

Video

Mr. Bottomley at Yarmouth (1919) Film. UK: British Pathe Archives. Retrieved at http://www.britishpathe.com/video/mr-bottomley-at-yarmouth [Accessed: 8th July 2015]

The Edwardians, Ep. 7: Horatio Bottomley (2009) Film. Directed by Alan Clarke, UK: Acorn DVDs. Originally broadcast 28 Nov, 1972, BBC.

The Daniel O’ Donnell Podcast – Episode 2

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Two scatter-brained friends on the roads of County Donegal review the sights they’ve seen, and verbalise excrement as the sun shines out of their asses. In this episode, Sarah and Andy recount the wild ghostly village of Glencolmcille and majestic Glenveagh National Park.

I messed up the footage from Glenveagh, but there’s a gallery and video for your viewing pleasure.

Part 1 – 12 minutes

Download Part 1(right click and save)

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Part 2 – 8 minutes

Download Part 2 (right click and save)

OHNOTOOMUCHBONUS

Read Andy’s review of Ionad Siuil accommodation over on Trip Advisor.

Occupy Vs Zombies !

That’s pretty much it. In ‘Flesh Mob’, Belfast’s streets run riot with anarchists versus zombies, and as survivors get ready to make the final push, the calendar enters parade season!

Political? Nah. You’re having a laugh!

Really. It’s just a right riveting read, a blaster of a thriller. It appears in  ‘Tense Situations’, which finds it’s way onto Kindle today. The listing says the book contains work from my friends in the Belfast Writers Group, so, right on it. Proceeds go to Action Cancer.

Tense Situations

Download from Amazon

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The Daniel O’Donnell Podcast: Episode 1

A brand new feature! Two scatter-brained friends on the roads of County Donegal review the sights they’ve seen, and verbalise excrement as the sun shines out of their asses.

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Download this episode (right click and save)

In this first episode, Sarah and Andy review ‘Shaun the Sheep: The Movie’, along with the small seaside town of Bundoran, near Ballyshannon. Sarah loses her podcast virginity and Andy loses his Donegal virginity. Discussion includes new concrete versus old concrete, knocking over rabbits, internet fame and ghost stories, as well as the first of our regular 10-minute outros. This podcast was recorded at night, which explains why the sound quality sucks boke. (20 minutes)

Amusement Tokens

IMG_20150207_172737

OH OHS BONUS EPISODE

Sarah and Andy talk about an 80s/90s fundraiser in aid of NI Children’s Hospice, taking place at the Westville in Enniskillen this weekend. (3 minutes)


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24 Hour Comics: What the hell was I thinking?

As you maybe know, I’ve done pretty good out of the 24 hour comics experience. Gran, Absence, Don’t Get Lost, each very personal. The fourth one was produced last October at Farset Labs. I’m very happy with how it turned out, the mercurial speed required this time, tapping my strength for quick dialogue. The two pages below are typical of how many words I was cramming on those pages. I don’t intend publishing this one as a comic. I gotta have something I can sell, right?

I did promise I would post a few pages though. The comic has a sitcom quality to it, as based on my experiences with Occupy Belfast. In particular, a very real run-in with BBC NI’s shock-jock, Stephen Nolan. So, as they say in the circus, without further ado, here’s a sample from ‘Occupied: Mixed Up Media’.

Occupied - 24hr comic

I promise, it gets inked. Last night, I signed a contract with Studio NI for a very different story featuring Occupy, and zombies; that should appear over the Summer.

Full strips from the Farset Labs session available:

Paddy Brown: A Personal Narrative
Ellie Rose McKee: The Adventures of Captain Customer Service

 

Paddy and I agreed this would be our last 24 hour bout, as we’re not young men anymore. Then again, we said that the time before and time before that. I think there’s got to be a happy medium of form that lets us crank out a lot of pages quickly and doesn’t break our souls. Look out for the 20 hour comic challenge later this year?