birthday invite

You are Cordial Juicily Invited…

Birthdays are a funny thing. I retain a child-like anticipation, but they often fail me like pron. This year seems to be a mutant strain, the aforementioned squib being particularly dry. I’ve been blessed in that Dominique Hoffman is running her Bohemian Tales Café Club; a particularly unique book tour that incorporates all the ingredients of her novel of the same name. Namely, the European literary café; free international tea, cakes, poetry and prose readings. It’s a splash of culture in Northern Ireland’s grey mono-culture eyebrow-meeting splodge. To celebrate Christmas, Dominique (and Crafty Emma Gilles) are running an Arts Fayre which will post Bohemian Tales beyond the exclusive in-the-loopers.

Crafty Manor, Maple Leaf, 41-43 Park Avenue, East Belfast BT4 1PU

It’ll also bring out the work of the new CE Arts Collective which I’ve been invited to join, along with Andy ‘The Hat’ Ward, Jim ‘Comic Nomad Many Hats’ McClean, David Davies, apparently having unusual names is a prerequisite.  David and Andy will perform poetry, Jim will have plasticine and puppets, I’ll have comics and cards, it should be a good afternoon. No, it will be a great afternoon. 11:30-3.

After the post-con home-load, I’ll be opening doors to nearby apartment for a bit of chilling, and we may take a trip to Horatio Todd’s. Then for 9pm, it’s back to Crafty Manor for an event Emma and chums have put together. Honky Tonk #2 boasts some films, live music, a dj set and a cheap bar and you can pay in advance through Eventbrite. Those who know of Emma and Crafty’s work will probably tell us that a fantastic night is in store. I guess I’ll be doing more than alright this year.

 

birthday invite

(Click to enlarge)

In other news, there’s been a lull in writing due to illness, but it’s not stopped me from working up some new material.

Next March sees the release of Belfast Writer’s Group anthology, which I can’t recall the name of, but it’s got to do with mythological beings. For that I’ve stitched together the long-awaited Spide: The Lost Tribes which bears little resemblance to it’s parents. Those who looked at second drafts two years ago can expect a free copy of the tale on request, in the format of choice. I’m also working up Flesh Mob, a tale I wrote for Uproar Comics in 2012 and was rejected, and revised for Borderline Press in 2013, before the artist stiffed me, and conned the publishers into doing the same.  Skip a year, better luck. Studio NI should have it to you in 2015 as part of their ten year celebration anthology Tense Situations.

I’m toying with a massive over-haul of this site; less pro portfolio, more good old blogging for the sake of it. Check back between now and Christmas, and if you can’t wait, follow me on twitter.com/andrewluke

Next up is a preview of my 24 hour comic and something for the season.

DSCF3971

New Book Days

Well, finally it has arrived.product_thumbnail

To End All Wars – The Graphic Anthology (TEAW as we’re calling it), was worth the wait, for it’s a prestigious brilliant collection. Editors Clode and Brick and publishers Soaring Penguin have done a bang up job. You can get the 320 page hardcover from Amazon for £13, or if you’re feeling generous, £18 from the publisher. £2 from each edition goes to Doctors Without Borders.

To my surprise, another graphic novel with a few pages from me in it popped up this week. Factor Fiction Press published the Midwinter Comics Retreat Flipbook which comprises Project Gogglebox and Tea And Relative Diffusions In Shropshire. It’s 56 pages, and with postage comes to £6.50 from Lulu.

Something tells me I’m not quite done  making comics as I thought…

Last week, I appeared on Bangor Community Radio with Arts Hour host Ellie McKee to talk about the book. Both of us were short on sleep but managed to get a competent broadcast out. Listen for me turning the tables on Ellie around the 17 minute mark.

 

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Here’s a video put together by Brick to show off TEAW. You could play it while listening to the interview, but you’d be missing out on the wonderful soundtrack he sourced.

Ellie’s Four Season Summer is out now for Kindle at this link-up, and Season’s End will follow on August 31st.

Four Season Summer Seasons End Out August 31st

 

 

Guide Gods

Treading the Boards

If you’re near Glasgow this week you can get along to ‘Guide Gods’, were performer Claire Cunningham explores religious narrative and faith through dance, live music, humour and audio interviews with religious leaders, academics, deaf and disabled people, and me.

Guide Gods

Claire’s website has a list of this week’s dates  and according to Composer Derek Nisbet on his Guide Gods blog, the show “is part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, and will then travel to London’s South Bank Centre and on to Belfast Festival.”

Recently I’ve struck up rather nice working relationships over Open Mic sessions with musician Jim McClean  and actress Lindsey Mitchell. To this end we’re working on a play together, a condensed Game of Thrones play. We’ll be performing the comic act at the Sunflower Festival, TitanCon and are talking of a screening of the play at a well-known Belfast gallery.

Writing this, I’m surprised that my voice is making the transition to theatre. This last year, it’s been all about the writing. Writing prose over, scriptwriting for comics, feels refreshing and liberating. I feel like I can earn some money if I work hard enough. Unlike comics. a beautiful medium, were grossly underpaid workers are slowly subsumed by a culture of silverfish turned woodworm rot.

Ahem…

Writing prose is enough of a departure from scriptwriting to enthuse: I feel like an amateur who can achieve professionalism and a paycheque. Knowing I have a lot to learn is a great feeling. I’ve been encouraged by the Belfast Writers Group and open mic audiences at Skainos and Lindores. Last month, I applied to return to university on a Creative Writing Masters so I can up my practice.

Parting shot to the world of comics (for now), is the short, Bottomley – Brand of Britain. The product of much research, it’s been adapted with care by artist Ruairi Coleman and letterer John Robbins. Here’s how editor Jonathan Clode pitches it:

Horatio Bottomley, patriot and publisher of John Bull, the newspaper of the people. But behind his rousing public speeches and staunch support of the troops hides a conspiracy that would reveal one of the greatest swindles of WW1.


That’s Bottomley’s mistress, Peggy Primrose, in Panel 4, putting her hat back on after it was knocked off in the squash.

The tale appears in To End All Wars, a remarkable 320 page graphic novel with  stories by a number of established underground comixers. It features the return of the  remarkable Steven Martin of WW1 comics series, Terrible Sunrise, as well as Jenny Linn-Cole, The Pleece Brothers, Sean Michael Wilson, Joe Gordon, Selina Lock, Steve Earles, Robert Brown, John Maybury and shedloads of others.

The book is released on July 17. Copies are available for pre-order now on Amazon or, at the same price, direct from publisher John Anderson at Soaring Penguin Press. Costs £18 all inclusive and proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

king joffrey longthorne

Christmas Live! (Part 4 – The Conclusion)

Previously in Panto – Deed Poll to  Prison, Thames IslandsWoolworths songs, and now the conclusion

“Welcome: To the Palace of the Mountain King!” yells Joe Longthorne. He’s cross-legged in fanciful silver ball-gown, plumes of white feathers around the collar. Sat upon The Iron Throne, a peacock’s splendour of daggers elevated upon cascading steps, he motions his head downwards to Jetfire, Heller and the others. All are caged but for John Craven.

king joffrey longthorne John Craven Betrayal

“Driving home for Christmas”, he harks, “These people are just the same as me!” Risen from his throne clapping, he ponces grandly down to meet them. He teases ruby fingernails along the bars of Jetfire’s cage. “Well, well. What have we here? A Transformer. More than meets the eye, I’ll say! Aye Eye!” he laughs now. “Well my darling. I must say I’ve never tried to impersonate one of yours. What crimes have you committed?”

“I-I..you..Your government won’t allow me to live here, unless I work for the arms companies. But I ha-have a degree in neuroscience that could help many people.”

“I see, you’re, caught” Words tickle out as Longthorne reaches through the bars and strokes Jetfire’s arm.

“You sold us out John Craven. You’re a traitor!” yells Heller, unable to control himself.

Longthorne laughs again. A light girlish laugh, at first endearing like the best bowl of cereal then obsequious, as if steeped in milk for four days. Yet not sour.       “John is here at my pleasure. Think what we could do by ruling together John. I could dress for you and you could dress for me. Lipstick and eyeliner, oh, it’s so much fun.”

“Well, it’s not out of the question” said John raising an eyebrow and smiling.  With the same smile he shakes his hairy head like a jolly dog. ‘No’. “No, I’m afraid it wouldn’t work Joe.”

“Oh come now. I’ve dressed as hundreds of celebrities. But the truth looks so good on you.”

Miley Merrick rattles her cage fiercely and slides to it’s base. Tori reaches through. “It’s okay Elephant Girl. You’ll be noticed soon.”

“You there! Let those women go!” demands Carnacki.

“You’ve had so many identities that you don’t know who you are anymore. Who’s really in charge here?”

Heller saw Longthorne was shaken by this observation and pressed home the advantage. “Did they do to you what you’re going to let happen to John Craven? Filled full of wires and zapped with shocks to become just another tool of the State?”

Longthorne rages. “What about you Autobot? Do you think I’m just a weapon?”

Jetfire spoke with sadness.

“I just know myself. I’m Jetfire. That is who I am and I’m glad of it. I can think of nothing worse than not knowing who one really is.”

Just then the ground quakes.

John Craven rushes to the window. “Joe, it’s the London Met dressed as Boba Fett. Hundreds of them.”

Six officers enter the room and surround the prisoners as the news-reader darts behind Tori’s cage.

“Whooooo disrupts my Coronation?” asks Joe.

“Coronation Longthorne? This is bad comedy!”

It was the Wooden Blocks. Haunting mannequins, ghosts of expression. Daniel Cameron, and with him his lieutenants Neil Clegg and Gordon Osborne. “Why are these scroungers not in rehabilitative security at the Winter Snaps?”

“You serve at my leisure Daniel.” cautioned Longthorne.

“Oh?” Cameron’s face puffs like a blowfish. He turns to Neil and Gordon. “Haw Haw Haw Haw” he yawps and they echo his cackles. “We serf at his leisure?”

The words sound baby-speak, mocking, twisted.

“HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW” and for a full minute all the politicians and guards hawed.

“Joe, if you can be anyone, don’t be a no-one”, says Jetfire and there is silence.

“Who played you Joe?” asks Heller.

Joe looks over to John Craven beaming back a broad smile. He tosses bunched keys across the room.

“I won’t allow it!” yaps Gordon and stamps his feet three times. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”

Now see Joe Longthorne punch Neil Clegg in the face.

“Target Special Agent Longthorne!” yells Daniel Cameron.

Every heavy firearm in the room raises to Daniel Cameron’s head until he is clear of their sights.

“He’s slipped into costume!” calls one of the shock troops, aiming his weapon at Gordon. All guns turn. Everyone is still. John Craven and Tori Amos pause with those caged, watching, considering. Then, Daniel Cameron moves. He’s running off stage there, like a big yellow-belly scaredy-cat and is shot full of rapid bangs. The sound echoes around Chumberly Village Hall. You could almost run around later with your friendsand pretend to be shooting Daniel Cameron, that’s how loud it was. The London Met Boba Fett shock troopers turn on each other. Their guns are squeezy washing up bottles with water inside and they squirt shots and fall to the floor. There is one left standing.

“Joe Longthorne!” he says, approaching Neil Clegg. He detaches his cartridge from his gun and shakes it up and down then opens it by screw top. He bashes the base of it and tomato ketchup drollops out and covers Neil Clegg’s bloody nose. Then the trooper kicks him in the bollocks.

“Arghieee, that really hurt. Mummmieeee!”

Our heroic band are out, rescued, but Miley Cyrus bum-rushes the Shock Trooper into an open cage and it closes behind the two of them. Captain Heller’s gun points to the Chancellor’s head. The Surfer comes around to join him.

“Not so fast Gordon Of Osborne.”

“I knew we’d find out who’s really behind this.”

Osborne pulls his own face off. “He was inside one of those Shock Troop uniforms.” says Joe, who were beneath the mask. “I dressed him in it after I punched Neil Clegg.”

“I’m glad” says John Craven.

“Now I am free I can begin to heal this battered heart. Thankyou, my new friends.”, he says eagerly shaking the robot’s hand. “I have something for you.”

Joe reaches into his pocket and pulls out two small books, which he gives to Jetfire and Captain Heller.

“Passports: Jetfire, for your citizenship and Captain Heller – we’re going to need a good leader to take this country from the dark ages. What do you say? Will you stay and help?”

“And forget all this ever happened?” asks Heller sceptically.

“I agree. And don’t you all have homes to go to?” asks Carnacki. “Now, shoo! Off you pop! Out into the street!”

And with that the performers exit, pushing Miley and the trooper off-stage.

 

 

* * * Curtains * * *

 

‘Do they Know it’s Christmas?’ charges towards the speakers. It’s a cover version by Rammstein. The actors bow; we clap.

 

“Well Ta Gnat Thank Gad It’s Tham, In Staidddd of Yoo”

 

They take a second bow and throw out Punk prowls and Kung-Fu kicks.

 

 

* * * Curtains * * *

 

 

 

 

Christmas Live 3

CHRISTMAS LIVE! (PART 3)

A Christmas Panto, hyperlinked in one part, two part and now 3.

Blue curtains part, we hear a long fart, draws us to the contorted Miley Cyrus on the pavement with the rest. They are sad. Behind them a grey grill front Woolworths store shot with red flame. The flames are really convincing. Not at all like that puny bright red foil cut into star shapes with pinking scissors because real scissors couldn’t be found. There is an advert in the window for an ‘Apple iSelection Box – Reduced To £249.99″. Tori Amos lifts a red aluminium can from the floor and throws it viciously across the stage were it clatters, rolls from sight. John Craven lifts his head up.

“Coca-Cola are putting people’s names on the side of their cans. They even got John!” he beams.

“That one was Jose. One of their murdered Colombian plant workers range” she admitted sadly.

Nobody spoke. They sat by that intersection of grilled up shops. Carnacki lifts the larger part of a smashed bauble from the ground. Miley Cyrus rocks to and fro beside him and he turns to calm her.

“No Miss Merrick. I wish we could go to Lapland, or Greenland. But our only hope is to stomp out this tyrannical power structure at it’s source. We must wait for the bus to Whitehall.”

“This isn’t how Christmas was in my day.” quipped Craven, sensing the darkening. “My father bought me my first knife, made of chocolate. It was an unusually warm Christmas Day, and after family time, he’d take me down to the local river and we’d test out our new fishing equipment together. We’d catch a few chocolate fish. But it was in the Summer, when we’d sail the Chocolate Seas together, that the real magic happened.”

The players are silent.

“What do you suppose is the worst Christmas song?” asked The Silver Surfer.

“The one that really gets me is that drumming song. You know, it’s really chirpy. Its as if it’s being sung by the Boys Brigade as they give biscuit tins to pensioners. But it’s all just a lead up to the central refrain.” Jetfire chokes on his words, he’s crying. “‘I wish I was at home for Christmas’.

“Stop The Cavalry by Jona Lewie.” says The Surfer, pleased at his recall.

“Its actually an anti-war song urging disarmament”, says Heller.

“And now we’re set for the firing squad. This Longthorne will want us executed surely.” said Carnacki matter-of-factly.

“You know what I can’t stand?” says The Surfer. “’Driving home for Christmas?'”

Carnacki raises his elbow and bobs his pipe. “That’s a fine song!”

“You Kiddeth Me! The tune sounds like he’s dancing up a motorway! ‘I look at the driver next to me. He’s just the same?’ It’s wretched vomit.” he snarks.

Carnacki moves uncomfortably and John Craven puts his arm around him and looked along the row.

“At least you know what you’re getting. The tune and delivery tells you it’s melancholic outsider pop, and it quickly establishes itself as having popular base appeal. Chris Rea is the poor man’s Tom Waits and he never pretends to be anything else. He’s antidotal to that other Chris – De Burgh.”

That’s a good argument. How can you not like John Craven?

The grizzly freighter Captain raises his arm and speaks with confidence. “The Band Aid one.”

Tori laughs. “It’s like ‘The Walking Dead’, that song.”

“It’ll put years on you!” smirks Heller slyly.

“Dung! Duh-Dung!” says Tori, slouching slowly to her feet. She jerks towards the front and her chin protrudes fatly. Her motions are like a zombie, screwed up mocking eyes and teeth.

“Dung! Duh-Dung!” said Heller, shrugging his dust-jackets’ shoulders out, and flapping his arms by his sides.

“Duuung!” yelled Miley.

Tori pulls a cigar from her pocket and took several puffs, rasping out, “Its Crusmus Tummm”

Heller at the edge of the stage beckons a pensioner in the front row. He pulls a large service revolver from his jacket and presses it firmly against the man’s nose.

“There’s no need to be afraid” he sings with a smile to screaming children.

“A-At Christmas Tie” sings the man visibly shaken. Heller releases him and he falls back onto his chair.

“We let in light and we banish shade!” boisterously delivers Carnacki.

Christmas Live 3

“Duuung!” yelled Miley.

“And in our world of plenty” sings Jetfire rubbing his armour breast-plate.

“We can spread a smile of joy” sang John Craven.

“Purt Yar Marand Teh Weld @ Crusmus Tum” screamed Miley Merrick flapping about like a seizure crashing into The Silver Surfer.

Like a finely honed classical ballet dancer he strides. “But say a prayer” Down on one knee, he placing elbows on the other and joins hands to meet at his face. “Pray for the other ones”

Jetfire raises his arms, and his two wings become four, rotating to form an amazing spectacle. “It’s hard, but when you’re having funnnn” His tones are those of a desperate alien and his large hands wrap over his ears which resemble over-sized headphones.

“There’s a world outside your window”, Craven hopefully offers you and Carnacki warns , “it’s a world of dread and fear.”

“Where nothing ever grows, no rain or winter snows” sing Glenn Howerton and Alison Brie. They square off in a mock kung-fu tournament. Then, the seven performers lift their feet, delivering the hook line of the song together. “Do. They. Know. It’s. Crisp. Mass. Time. At. All?” The jolly tune kicks in now and they bulk up. They clomp around the stage, dancing like exuberant mad young things wearing clogs. Miley Merrick marks the beats, drowning out the vocals.

“Bum Bum Bum Bum Bum Bum! Bum Bum Buuum Bum..” and she is the first to fall out of formation. She clatters into Woolworths and a cage falls from the shop-front. Amos and Carnacki are by other buildings, and if on cue grills by them become the backs of cages that fall from the rafters.

“What demonology is this?” calls Carnacki.

Miley is yelping and the others have stopped singing.

“Oh now look.” pleads the Surfer. “I’ve never been against Longthorne. I’m completely harmless!”

But it was too late for he too had wandered into a trap.

“Stand still!” calls Heller, just as cages fall upon the Surfer and Jetfire.

Captain Heller and John Craven stagger back towards one another. Heller looks around tactically. To the audience, back to the shops. His prison falls from the sky, boxing him on all sides. He looks through the bars at John Craven.

“Have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed me?” he screams.

* * * Curtains * * *

christmas live part 2

Christmas Live! (Part 2)

A Christmas Panto hyperlinked in four parts,such as part 1

 

* * * Curtains * * *

 

“Some say it’s to do with the opening of the Blue Peter Time Capsule. My other sources say the Wooden Blocks. You know the wooden blocks? Thatcher, Pinochet, they have long noses but not much else. Simple head, feet and frame. Except when they move. They don’t make a sound as they stomp, but as their feet lift off the ground…. it’s as if thunder scares the Poles, and the clouds plummet.”

Do you know Judge Dredd, 2000A.D.? Charley’s War and Marshal Law the comics? Pat Mills is a writer who made them. He doesn’t look sixty-four, closer to fifty. He is a little left-wing and is bluntly unimpressed with your shortcomings. He wears a scowl, dirty fair hair and a brown, light leather jacket, all of which suit him for the role of…

“Captain Drew Heller, the resistance man! The hero of Zoidstar. I thought you looked familiar.” says Tori. “This freighter pilot is the number two enemy of Whitehall.  He’s taught whole continents to rise up and influenced a generation through his graffiti.”

“So we really are in with the high risk offenders” scoffs The Silver Surfer.

The group are stood left of centre against a dirty blue painted backdrop of a river. Our eyes are drawn to their feet were Miley Cyrus rolls with her pants down on the artificial grass covering the stage.

Carnacki stands apart too, at the back under a solitary twisted tree. He looks out the distance at you, audience. To his right you can make out a seventh figure sat in darkness at a table.

“We appear to be on an island.” remarks the Victorian Ghost-Finder. “What is going on here Captain Heller? This ‘prison’, does not appear modelled on a  Panopticon?”

“It’s more Australia than Alcatraz.” says Heller roughly. “You’re familiar with the story of how they set me up?”

Brightened are the two lights on the fibreglass above Skyfire’s eyes.

“They contracted you to ferry prisoners to a planet with anthropomorphic war robots. These ‘Zoids’ picked the prisoners and your crew off, killed them. Drained of firepower the Zoids would be vulnerable to Cybersol Corporation’s military forces and their plan to capturing a working ‘Zoid’.”

Heller picks up the tale.

“However the Tories identified with Blue Zoid factions and Labour with the Red Zoids. Amidst this the Communist Party were seduced by Krark’s United Zoid Army. The mission was a failure. This was because the Zoids were on average twelve centimetres high and their weapons were imaginary. But damnit! I lost my son Griff on that job. They will pay for that.”

“Have you still got the receipt?”

“What does this have to do with our current situation?” asked Tori, noticing the single prison number on his jacket.

“We’re part of a similar experimental programme here on Thames Island. It’s really just an estuary. But we are guarded by monsters from a weird science breeding programme.”

“Thut fulm was tuh-rrible.” said Miley Cyrus and punched a finger in her nose hole.

“Tell me”, continued Captain Heller, “What recently do you know of Operation Yewtree?”

“This again?”

“Is that it?” asks Skyfire, pointing to the tree.

“No.”

The Silver Surfer sighed sensing seeking something sourced spoke.

“The last I had heard the operation to arrest seventies and eighties on sexual charges led to the shooting dead of Timmy Mallett and his cousin Christopher “Big” Biggins. The Agents of H.A.P.P.Y., Figgis, Glover and Binnis also went missing.”

“Who’s that?” asked Thomas Carnacki at last, glaring at the seventh man.

They approached Prisoner Number One and the light revealed an older man, dark hair in side-shade, a broad grin and twinkling eyes. He wore a black blazer with white trim over pressed shirt and trousers.

“You’d have to ask a news-man.” he said.

 

There was a good height and slim build to him when he stood, and he carried himself as a nexus of pleasantries.  Then a pause and the sound of Miley Cyrus The Elephant Man slurping repeated. This carries on even as Skyfire’s recognises him.

“You’re John Craven!”

“I’ve heard of you.” said Tori. “The news reader who never lies.”

He laughed at that did John Craven, who was played by himself.

“I-I’m a huge fan. I-I’m Skyfire”, and he shook his hand eagerly.

“I know. Isn’t your name’s really Jetfire. I heard you were wrongly convicted. You may as well wear the name you’re comfortable with.”

Jetfire blushes.

“Not so fast!” called out Captain Heller in a way that causes even Miley to stop licking and pay attention.”Craven, you’re as guilty as the next news-man of the stories that you don’t report. You’re too likeable, and besides, I’ve read Watchmen – Ozymandias.”

The air is electric and the wind is wee-wee.

“Could it be you’re behind it all?” asked Heller. “Oh yes. The perfect man who evaded termination, while his generation fell around him.“

Carnacki grabbed a soggy broken bark from the ground, The Surfer squinted, even Tori twitched for her concealed jewish harp.

“Tell me Captain”, Craven responded lightly. “Because you’re a smart man. Did you ever hear about the arrest of Joe Longthorne?”

“Huh? They took him in early. Everyone knows that.”

“Well now I didn’t put that story out. Can you remember your source on the Longthorne arrest?”

Carnacki approaches Heller and stands in front of him. We see how each mirroring the other’s confusion in their expressions.

“You all remember Joe Longthorne? Of course you don’t. But try. He was the top celebrity impersonator of our age. He made his living from being a chameleon. From Brighton to Dundee, he played them all. He was at hundreds of people and places! Do you suppose a man like that wouldn’t be deep in black ops?”

“But he’s more than that. His policies flow through every channel, inform every paper, jump at the web and smudge every paper. It’s not just the 1970s Longthorne is erasing. He even had Weird Al Yankovic killed to protect his secrets. And those little babies that were murdered…”, and here John Craven appears to cry searching for their names, “Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, My god, he murdered those children in their cots and blamed it on King Herod!”

“It’s true.” says The Surfer after a stunned minute.

“Operation Yewtree arrests for crimes this man may have committed under fake identities.” Captain Heller lets the words out slowly, as if he can’t quite believe the enormity of the tragic conspiracy, yet knows it in his heart to be true. “Or to remove his opponents from the board.”

“What do we do now?” asks Jetfire.

Heller was firm.

“We’re going back.”

 

The island was quite small, only the length of the stage, and it seemed like the band were walking and not moving.

“Come on then Lakes Seven” urges Heller.

“This isn’t a lake, it’s the River Thames.” says Carnacki.

“No. It was a play on Blake’s Seven” he informed him.

“But William Blake isn’t here.” says Carnacki, confused.

A red spotlight illuminates the stage and a three headed monster of vile wart-eyed women with curlers on their bun heads hiss and scream. Each have necks like E.T. the extra terrestrial.christmas live part 2

“Ghidorah!” shouted Jetfire.

“The Harpies!” called Tori.

“UTSH CRUSTMUSSS!” it guldered serpentine, with the voice of Noddy Holder.

In fact, it was three arms inside three cardboard tubes, each padded out with foam, masking tape and a mix of turgid mud paint. A balloon at the end of each wrinkles with photo faces of Julie Burchill, Rebekah Brooks and Jan Moir. Miley Cyrus puts her hand in her bum and producing poop flings at the monster. However, Carnacki is holding up his soggy wooden bark and Miley’s faeces strike the weapon and bounce off, assuming the form of Quality Street and Cadbury’s Roses which hurtle towards you. Then Thomas Carnacki, who can detect when there are ghosts or as is more common, a scientific explanation, well, he became aware of your presence. He is looking at your eyes right this moment, do you understand? You are looking at him and he says, “Reader, you must help me to distract this triumvirate of evil, you must say to them, we’re over here! You’ll hear them call to you, ‘Where are they?’ You must say to them “We’re over here’ and then we will sneak towards them and bang their heads. Go on reader! We depend upon you this hour. Say to them ‘Over here!’, 1…2…3….I need you to be really loud now. The fate of reality, our whole existence depends on it. Remain sitting were you are and say the words. 1…2….3… Do you see? Do you understand what is meant by this? Can I have your word that you will perform this task? I assure you no ill will or malignancy will come upon you if you do exactly what I say. Trust me now, ‘Over here!'”

 

The faces would be popped of Burchill, Brooks and Moir. Three dead skin minging harpies, their tiny heads would be exploded and glitter would come out.  This allows the heroic rebels a trip across three stones joining Thames Island with the bank.  Captain Heller, Jetfire, Carnacki, John Craven, all hop. Tori Amos hops, Miley Cyrus hops!

The Silver Surfer sets his board over the stones and runs across it.

 

 

* * * Curtains * * *

.

skyfire by deed poll

Christmas Live! (Part 1)

Back in 2005, I produced a gift-card for my friends for Christmas along the theme of pantomime. “Panto” is a UK theatre tradition at that time of year: theatrical childhood fables, over-bearing set design, D-list celebrities and some inter-active elements. My attempt was a success, so I vowed to make a panto comic every year and I didn’t. As the end of 2013 closed in on me, I’d still to invent something for Lynda Collins’ Belfast Writers Group competition. I’m going to run this story as a part-work over the next five days.

 

Chumberly Village Hall, well, it feels like 1954. There are two matrices of classic grey back and bum chairs, the size doing for children, dwarves or midgets. Take a seat now with the others. Ahead of you is a stage and a big blue curtain. Nice! You look at the people across the row and have a smile. A big blue curtain! A galaxy of stars the paper said. Smile at the people over there, oh! They’re not looking. What’s behind the big blue curtain? Somebody is sitting beside you. You’ve got something to say but, the show begins. The curtains swoosh.

The set is three advice hatches, drawn on figures behind each. A shape of a line of people stands alone on wheels. The waiting area has seasonal decorations: grey banners and doilies, fake box presents and a big grey tree. The sole living figure joins the queue wearing a specially made body of insulated fibreglass. It seamlessly covers him from dome head to boot heels. The outfit protrudes at his chest and behind in two aircraft-like wings. Underneath it’s Lavelle Crawford; he played Huell, Saul’s bodyguard, in ‘Breaking Bad’. A news broadcast can be heard through the speakers:

“Entertainers Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball were arrested today in a high profile sting in Hollywood. The comedians were jet-skiing off the warp nacelles of the Starship Enterprise near Stage 9 at Paramount Pictures.”

The cut-out people wheel slowly to stage right, as Lavelle Crawford jumbo bot shuffles awkwardly after.

“The pair are to be extradited as part of Operation Yewtree. In related news, the Metropolitan Police warn that Eddie Large is still at large.”

“Next!” comes a deep husky woman’s voice.

The robot leaves the queue and moves to the hatch.

“Mister Skyfire?”

“Uhm” he stammers, then chirpily, “Yes hello. I want to change my name to Jetfire.”

“Do you have family?” she snarls.

“J-just m-my brother is VF-1S Super Valkyrie.”

“And where does he live?”

“He’s in Pyongyang at present.”

“In the UK, Mister Skyfire”, the unseen woman spits. “You do realise that you can do this online via the UK Deed Poll Service?”

Skyfire glances at you and smiles. “That’s right.” But there is a silence: deadly, crisp, indigestable.

“Well if your brother Valkyfire is in Pyoongyang then he cannot witness you being sworn in by the Commission for Oaths, or a Justice of the Peace. So Why Mister Skyfire, are you. still. here.?

 

skyfire by deed poll

 

On a stick a cloud shakes down and Skyfire lowers his head. It follows his wanderings until two computer terminals roll to him. Skyfire sits at the nearer and his giant fingers clunk at the keyboard. His head shakes in exasperation and he clunks again. The Silver Surfer created by Jack Kirby sets up his cosmic surf-board against the monitor at the other terminal. The Silver Surfer is the slim and toned comic actor Glenn Howerton covered in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Co-Op Flour. Skyfire’s typing shakes the table and the surf board crashes to the ground.

“Enough!” cries The Surfer. “I’ve just come home after teaching at Harvard. Since my return I’ve been spat on and had to endure brussel sprouts thrown at me! Is that any way to treat a pillar of society?”

“I’m sorry. I meant no offence.” says Skyfire mournfully. “I’m trying to connect to this computer.” He points to the screen. “Would you know if I need a C2G Ultima SXGA Monitor cable (£13.03) or a C2G 4 PIN USB cable (£4.99) or a standard ethernet cable?”

“I cannot help you.” says The Surfer, who remains focussed on his own monitor. “I lectured in Elvis impersonation”

“‘What robot are you: Macross, Hasbro, Bondai? How can I answer that? Damn lawyers. I just want to change my name!”

“Whoa man!” says The Surfer, for two cops have arrived. One grabs Skyfire’s wings and the other an arm.

“Mister Skyfire you might want to come with us. We have a lot of very bad words.”

The police pull Skyfire out of his seat, fart on his head and drag him off.

 

* * * Curtains * * *

 

“Wruhcking Buhlll”

The wretched plasticine child with Art Attack hair pokes Skyfire’s head and dances back. There are four people in this dark and narrow scene. Two are sat on ledges, but otherwise the set is bare like the inside of a container.

“Elephant Man, don’t harass our guest”, Miley Cyrus is instructed.

“I’m Tori Amos”, she says, resting her hand a moment on Skyfire’s shoulder. When Tori Amos’s lawyers found out I was writing this story, papers were served, papers I’m sure Tori never saw. However at the time, I was playing “How many shredded carrots can you balance on your head?” with my friend Alison Brie off of ‘Community’ and ‘Mad Men’. Alison agreed to play the part of Tori Amos in this pantomime and told me to take the carrots off my head and find her a curly red wig.

“I’m Thomas Carnacki -Ghost Finder.” said the dark-haired man, offering his hand to Skyfire. His shirt is a purple and white floral design under a strong green Victorian overcoat and black trousers. In this instance he is played by James Marsters, a fine actor who deserves another chance after being rubbish in Torchwood. Oh he was. “Where you part of the Seventies operation?” Carnacki asks.

“My immigration papers were delayed.” Skyfire replies groggily. “I’m an autobot. I have no interest in sex. I would not be arrested for sex crimes.”

“Jazz, Sunstreaker, Bumblebee, Arcee, even Sludge of the Dinobots. There are plenty of arguments to that assertion using Karl Popper’s test of falsification and deduction”, remarks Carnacki.

“The Met are imprisoning anyone famous from the seventies.” says The Silver Surfer, once unseen, now rising from the floor.

“It’s true. Forsythe, Davison, Matthews The Chicken Man.” says Tori. “They’re treating Tom Baker like they did Edward Snowden.”

“Don’t gaze on me in that manner.” barks The Surfer. “My only crime was an addiction to Candy Crush.”

“Or being herald to a planet devourer?” Carnacki seethes. “Perhaps if you were less distracted with Facebook, we wouldn’t have a society were Blue Peter presenters were forced to go on the run! Dear Boy, might you try and understand this?”

Miley Cyrus The Elephant Man tucks her head between her bendy spread legs and pushes her back between them to a diagonal and lopsided roll. She screams and lands on the floor with Skyfire and The Surfer. Everybody shakes and the set moves as if like a van has stopped. Strong torch-light shines deep through them from a door at the back. It’s a London Met shock troop looking like Boba Fett.

“Aright you lot, on your feet! Move at, move at! You dorty swoine!”

Boba Fett smacks Carnacki’s bum with his truncheon.

 

 

* * * Curtains * * *