Cooke n Beans

Cooke

That’s apparently a guitar. You wouldn’t know because I drew it like a fast food totem pole and when Andrew makes his guitars he welds on stones and buttons and slashes paint everywhere. He had some of his instruments on a pick up and jam exhibition at the ADF a few months ago. He encouraged people to pick these stringed beasts up and play them, using tree sticks, lightbulbs, screwdrivers, I wrecked a Nokia2690 plectrum. Some video and photos from the ADF sessions.

I don’t know Andrew terribly well, but he seems a pleasant enough man and was quite helpful in talking about the process he goes through. You can buy the instruments or just look at the pretty pictures on Andrew-Cooke.co.uk

In a house in Oxford filled with what the English call chavs and what the Irish more sensibly call spides, I roomed next door to a guy called Mike. An incredibly funny, pleasant and charming bloke working through a scholarship with a gifted brain. It was Mike who taught me about folding oven foil to separate, who introduced me to The Philadelphia Experiment, and whom I went on marathon video watching sessions with over a nice beers.

Beans

I felt I was on the right track but as usual the first sketch looks not much like him. Mike was fond of cooking beans until they were stodgy and I called him ‘Mike Beans’. Somehow it stuck. I couldn’t find Mike Beans on Facebook, so it was nice to catch up with him under his real name today. Stuff seems to be working out.

Mike drank a fair bit more than me, and I was working at the Thresher’s off-license at the time. This was useful for discounts. One day I must have come home with a promotional sign: ‘Buy more, save more’, according to this mp3 recorded at the time. Mike wasn’t having any of it and threw it down the stairs.

The Pub That Richard Forgot

“I think Andrew dreamt it”, said Stephen. Ten times we’d talked it to the dead end and my claws screamed at the blanked memories. Sure it was dark, it was a pub, its light darkened by lodge brown venetian blins. The tables and the bar were a deep hue. It was Richard took me there: another pint with Adam, here’s to sloshed Lee. Someone’s away for agess: with a girl, a cigarette machine that spun off into a mini-series? Or the bar? The only other area lit.

Richard looks at me and I wonder do these memories even provide these lights. It’s been washed off the map in a flash flood of lager.

“I’m not imagining it!” I plead. “It’s up the Crescent or Botanic…Yeah, I was talking to Dawn and she knew where I meant. The Courtyard or The Vineyard or something.”
Richard integrates the new data, searching, acquiring…”Hmm, I wonder.” In my opinion, he’s getting nowhere.
“Look!” I claim the pen.
“On the outside, it’s a small building..” I scrawl a rectangle for a cottage and the trees on each side. Then a wall in front. The gap for the path is very small, only one to two persons can get through at a time.
“AND IT’S INDEPENDENTLY OWNED TOO!” I assure.
“I can’t say I recall”, says he who has clearly been there four times. “It’s not Garfields is it?”, and in writing I think he knows now were I mean. Garfield’s was a public toilet.
“I think he means a place inside his head. If we were miniaturised and piloted a capsule in there we’d find it.”
“Right! I say we got up to Botanic now!” I have raised my voice. “I can get us there”
“I don’t know that we’d have time.”
All the way across the Corn Market cascade, with the people that zip and shuffle and line shop fronts, the kettled cattle. The cars of Chichester Street, Royal Avenue, traffic lights in front of crossings. There are Cafe Neros and Starbucks in this city. Its a grid, no diagonal cuts: grid, grid, grid between us and the bus station that is only halfway to Botanic’s maybe place.

“We’ll do it another day” we agree and Stephen remains with the book, Richard is out the door, and I’m looking at you.

162: GoT, Titanic, Murals (Photo-blog)

The other week SophMoto came to visit Belfast, as she does.

01 Soph in Belfast

I do like having visitors. Those are Lannister threads, with extra designs by Moto herself. Early, we pottered, looked at turls and a ship in the drydock. If you click on the photo above you can view the slideshow on Flickr, a lesser quality website. Watch out for the chess set! It doubles for the Houses of Cthulu, Super Barrio, Lego, X-Men, Chocolate Rose, Fenric and a nother one.

From there, we moved to The Titanic exhibition. Moto knew very little about it, so I warmed her up with my Underwater Billiards story (koff koff, plugs anthology) She already knew it had sunk so I wasn’t spoiling the details.

The first level was a bit classic museum claustrophobic, so her outfit got a lot of stares, and requests for photos.

I thought I didn’t want to know anymore about The Titanic. In the past I’d used the concept of the exhibition to have a go at the celebration of tragedy culture using the power of comixing. As parodied, there was a kid’s amusement ride, however most of the centre is, well, an academic resource, the big price should have been a clue. I’d love to return there and spend the day sketching, taking notes. Now, some photos from the re-created cabins. Mind, some of these look a bit eldritch.

02 Phantasmacabins

After we got back, I was treated to a shared platter at the Belfast Barge…

Aboard The Barge

And then we went to look at some murals, like this one by a too zealous Nick Cave or Wes Craven fan…

Red Right Hand

On the other side of the peace-line, quite a few, but this was my favourite. I’m a fledgling Spanish Civil War nerd.

Spanish Civil War

Although, as Stephen McGarry reminds me, maybe it should be this one of Nelson Mandela. (LINK)

You can read Moto’s rich account of the trips at Livejournal, were we sit on one of the game of thrones thrones OR were we go to the causeway coastline and perform ninja duties.

But not both. Not today. That would make you a stalker.

165: Spellcheck (Flashfic)

One of the great practices awarded me by the Belfast Writers Group is that of having a go at flash fiction, 15 minute writing exercises. Last week I uploaded ‘Locked Doors’ which I will tell you nothing more about. No. Forbidden. I wrote this:

The boys rolled the wooden wheel twelve feet all of it speedier and somehow keeping pace another three in front carted grid pallettes: stacked half dozen. Another the same ahead of them. Muscled up and aged between eight and ten, some acted as guards, waving them along. Or maybe they were like startled pigeons or the car passengers which ran alongside.

And they’ll drop them off and get them in another factory and the adults will stack them tall in the field and then everything will burn. The lush green land of Antrim, burn! The blue skies of Down, burn, smoke and flame! Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone —

“IF YOU BURN IT, Will it grow again?”, I yelled.

The boy whirled to look at me, then pushed his wheel again. My distraction would not help it stop. The two teams of carters did the same and escaped narrowly their own wounding. An ox-man and four-boobs bleacher turned to look at me, her saggy plastic bag even, piercing the area with it’s haunting.

I selfishly expected not to make it home by desk.

That night, the freedom fighting guardians urinate: our country-men undressed to Scientologist pyjamas, Westboro Baptist night-gowns, number 20Q the woman-beater. As they slept or did not, I took my reprieve, and crept out into the darkness. Jay met me among the criss-cross of back alleys and the graffiti exhorting warfare. It hadn’t seen a spell-checker.

‘Cameron Go, Game of Thrones Style!’

Then the pair of us moved the brushes and sprays onto the next blank wall. There we painted a large iris overlooking a yellowed union flag underpants, that dripped down into a coffee cup on fire.

‘Radio 4 – For God and Ulster’

That was on the next street over already.

‘Daily Fail Wordsearch – Today: Indians’

We took our time there because Jo wanted to make it ‘Canadians’.

By 3am we’d become annoyed, so returned home to a flask. He wanted to expose the negligent junkie dad at 3 G.S.E, I thought it would be good for us to de-weed the bus stop.

“Yeah, we’ll be putting up a timetable next.”

Forty new pieces of cross-discipline graffiti went up that night and there was a spate of copycat acts later that month with old world maps re-created, and classical music notes on the Albertbridge. Inked hyperlinks adorned Knockbreda, a mosaic appeared one night on the Castlereagh Road. In Dee Street, a minimalist man, Chad Kilroy peered over a wall, and asked, “Where’s Banksy?”.

Only four of these were burned in the July 12th bonfires, painted on the walls by people’s homes. Within two years, literacy was up.

Belfast Comics Fayre

This Sunday, December 9th, in Haymarket Arcade, off Royal Avenue, the Comics Fayre comes to Belfast.

Orchestrated by Avalon Arts with some arrangement from yours truly, the event is billed as a family fun day with FREE admission. There are exhibitions of comics art, workshops, comics launches, panels, talks, face painting, fancy dress, a cafe and a bar.
We’ve a few special guests from across the border: Darrin O’Toole (Writer, Tales from the Void), Eoin McAuley (Editor, Lightning Strike), Ciaran Marcantonio (Writer, ‘A Clockwork Universe’ for Lightning Strike), Daryl Cox (Artist, ‘Monkey of Oz’ for Lightning Strike) as well as Belfast’s very own Patrick Brown (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) Odds are good other home-town comics pros are making surprise guest appearances.
The market, which usually hosts local crafts, will push a surge of comics and geek ephemera such as tables recovered in comics strips, gamer badges and knitted trinkets.
The Stack comics store will be there with a range of graphic novels, and partaking in the re-launch of The Black Panel, an initiative to bring Northern and Southern Irish comics to the viewing public. I’ll be hosting The Magnificent One Day ComicBook Factory. There are also a series of short talks, and I’m pleased to announce that Eoin McAuley will be speaking on developing a small press comic from an idea to publication.

[Facebook Event link]

BELFAST COMICS FAYRE 2012

My christmas card range and new comics will also be showing at the Arts and Disability Forum’s Gift 2 exhibition, (on Royal Avenue) until December 20th. There’s also a special “Seasonal Celebration” wrap soiree on the 20th, with details on Facebook.

Apocalypchristmas

Hello again.

My new Christmas card selection is on sale through those luvvies at the Arts and Disability Forum in Royal Avenue, Belfast. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 11-3pm, but if you see the lights on knock the door as they’re often busy working away behind the scenes.

There’s also a festive poster of Strictly Celebrity Apprentice on Ice With Bobbins And A Twitter Hashtag. And it’s rather good. If you’re not in Belfast, I’ve updated this site to include a Shop.

And here’s my newest one,

It won’t be in stock for a few days but you can advance order with other cards using the code APOC.

Elsewhere, I’ve been busy setting up Black Panel Distribution for a December re-launch. The Black Panel started by myself and Paddy Brown back in 2010 is now home to over sixty Irish comics. Check out the website for more information. If you have a shop where you’d like to stock Northern Irish comics I’m keen for you to get in touch, and I’m happy to take personal customers too.

Speaking of Paddy, here’s the results of his contribution to The Magnificent One Day Comic Book Factory back in September. And PJ Holden also threw in a piece in under an hour while tutoring.

Norma Thierfelder came all the way from Germany for TitanCon and drew this,

And an entry from Dawn Lennox (my new partner as of TitanCon)

You can read my report on the TitanCon goings-on here.

The Magnificent Factory is due to be repeated at the ComicsWest Festival, held at the University of Galway on 8-10th February. It was a great event last year and totally worth making the trip. Here’s their website.

Before that, Avalon Arts are launching the first Belfast Comics Fayre at the Haymarket Arcade on Sunday December 9th. I’ve been asked to be their “comics connect” so more news shortly. Meantime, the Facebook event page is here.