Friday 22 November 2013

My Morgue

Back in 1990 I bought and read ‘The Cartoon Book’ written by Australian cartoonist James Kemsley. Although I was unfamiliar with Kemsley’s work I found the book to be very helpful as it offered hints on drawing caricatures and comic strips. Of all the advice it provided, two stuck with me throughout. No1 “Practice, Practice, Practice!” and No2 “Keep a Morgue” he elaborated on this rule, “As far as a cartoonist is concerned, a morgue is their reference library. Something they can’t do without. From today onwards start a file of photographs, illustrations, cartoons and newspaper and magazine clippings of just about everything.”  “Some lucky people can draw almost anything from memory or imagination. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. But once you’ve set up a complete morgue, your worries are over.” So that was just what I did, each week I collected photographs and clippings from old issues of Your Sinclair Magazine, Look-In, TV Times, Radio Times, Video World Monthly, Doctor Who Magazine, Fangoria, SFX and Games Master Magazine and stuck them in my Morgue for 20 years. As the years passed by a new scrapbook would be started and attached to the last, I amassed thousands of pictures of the obscurest of things over the years, things that must have interested me at the time. Game and video covers, comic panels, celebrity obituaries, Batman movie casting news and a few girlie pictures for good measure. Even the ‘The Cartoon Book’ itself ended up scattered within its pages and then in 2010 I finally excepted that Google image was far superior for sourcing reference images and I closed the Morgue forever. But I refuse to get rid of it though, you never know when you might suddenly need a picture of the Gladiators or a Saga Mega CD system..

Dedicated to James Kemsley OAM (1948 –2007)
© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

"Wonderful chap. All of them" A Doctor Who 50th anniversary special

The amount of hype generated around Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary has been astounding! Between each tantalising still from Mark Gatiss' An Adventure in Time and Space to that epic Doctor Who: 50 Years' trailer. The special online episode The Night of the Doctor marking the return and departure of Paul McGann's 8th Doctor and the discovery of the missing Troughton episodes The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear have had me, for want of a better expression “geeking-out” for weeks!  Funny how things can change in ten years though when you consider how for the 40th all we had was a weekend special on UK Gold and four alternative covers of the Radio Times to look forward to! (12 Radio Times covers this time round!) It was during the 40th anniversary that I first embarked on my mission to obtain as many Doctor and companion signatures as possible on my ‘Time Gentlemen 1963- ‘ painting. It hasn’t been easy, some continue to elude me a minor set back caused by the series’ global popularity. I’ve travelled many miles, made many friends and enemies along the way, encountered joy and hardship making it a real adventure, one that I have no intention of giving up on just yet. So, to celebrate the programme’s 50th anniversary and the project’s 10th I have created 11 hand drawn/painted replicas of each Doctor as depicted in the painting and scattered them through time and space… Who knows where they will end up?
Happy 50th anniversary Doctor Who!

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

“What are you wearing?” # 1 & 2 The “Quincy Combo”

From time to time I am asked about the things I wear (honest). Granted, more often the question is directed at me, “What are you wearing?” but never the less I am asked, and seeing as blog posts devoted to people’s wardrobes are popular I thought I would have a go myself… First up, the “Quincy Combo”. But what is the “Quincy Combo”? Well, I’m a big a fan of the television series, Quincy, M.E. I have a vague memory of it in my early years, I was an avid fan of it during my Art College days and I regularly watch the dvd’s today. Anyone watching the end credits will notice, “Mr. Klugman's Wardrobe Furnished by Botany 500”. Botany 500 was a brand name owned by the Botany 500 Group of New York. H. Daroff and Sons manufactured their men’s suits and sport coats in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and they provided the wardrobe for many television programs. Universal was no exception Botany 500 Furnished the Wardrobe of Telly Savalas on Kojak, and Jack Klugman on Quincy, M.E. I like wearing tweed jackets, this is a Botany 500 jacket. Having furnished Jack Klugman’s wardrobe for most of the series Botany 500’s name disappeared from the credits of series six, this time reading, “Mr. Klugman's Wardrobe Furnished by McGregor Sportswear” (Botany 500 returned for the last two series). Once described as the leading American men’s sportswear manufacturer McGregor Sportswear had been producing quality casual clothing since 1921(originally trading as David D. Doniger & Company). This is a McGregor Sportswear Tank Top (or “sweater vest”) having always been a fan of the tank top I always wear one when a waistcoat is deemed too ‘formal’ or it’s not cold enough for a cardigan. I like to combine a jacket with a tank top and so naturally I would only want to wear the very finest, and endorsed by the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office’s very best!

Mr. Jones's Wardrobe Furnished By Botany 500 and McGregor Sportswear

Also pictured, my 33 Million year old pocket watch charm

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

These are a few of my favourite things … that people made

I know many creative people and having written a review for my friend Lee James Turnock’s comic Honk! last week I thought I would write about other nice things that my friends have produced… 
Morse Code Mitts
I mentioned these last year but seeing as I am wearing them as I type this entry I thought I would mention them again! I love Miriam’s work, I loved her ankle-less socks and I love these. On the left-hand you find (dot-dash-dot-dot) for 'L' and on the right-hand (dot-dash-dot) for 'R'. As Mim put it, “geeks will appreciate the joke and most other people will simply see a nice pair of mitts.” It can get a little chilly in the studio and my hands and fingers are the first to feel the cold, gloves can at times restrict movement, but not with these! Check out her blog for more details about them, a free knitting pattern and other general cool knitwear blogging!

Infostatical Cuff-links
On the subject of amazing things that I have mentioned in the past lets not forget Jarkman’s fantastic QR sterling silver cufflinks! Apps for scanning codes on smartphones have made QR Codes more common place in recent years making them a fantastic promotional aid. So now thanks to these beauties I can send any owner of a smartphone directly to my home page with a flick of my wrist!  Check out Jarkman’s web site see the amazing way these were created and order some for yourself. You will not be disappointed!

Replica Yeti footprint
I’ve also mentioned Paul Glover’s excellent Bigfoot and Orang Pendek footprint casts in a previous post, this time I would like to showcase his replica Yeti footprints! Based on the Eric Shipton footprints found on the Menlung Glacier at an altitude of 18,000 feet in 1951. They are made from resin making them stronger and lighter than plaster casts.
Hang them on the wall, a guaranteed conversation piece.

Laser etched Nikola Tesla Souvenir of Wardenclyffe Vase
A Wondrous souvenir of Nikola Teslas Wardenclyffe Laboratory! Wardenclyffe Tower sometimes referred to as the Tesla Tower was Nikola Tesla’s early wireless transmission tower, which stood in Shoreham, New York until it was eventually demolished in 1907. Although it was never fully operational I still adore it and all that it stood for, in my wildest dreams I have a replica of it constructed on the roof of my home, much the same way as Blackpool created their own Eiffel Tower. My dear friend Andy Dingley of Your Laser. has created these 22cm high x 10cm x 8cm thick walled glass Wardenclyffe vases featuring Leo Blanchette’s illustration of the tower and Tesla's own handwriting etched on with lasers. Photos do not do this piece justice, (I know because I have tried to photograph it) after Andy very kindly presented Beth and myself one as a wedding gift! It has pride and place in our living room. This is but a small sample of Andy’s work, follow the links and look through his work, it’s marvellous.

Barry Barmcake ‘Never Mind the Bread Rolls’ & ‘Anarchy With a Uke Eh?’CD's
I’ve posted a few blog posts in the past about Neil Baxter and his work on "A Statue for Frank" and his Youtube characters Norman the Northern Zombie and the great Barry Barmcake. Barry Barmcake is from Wigan in Lancashire he loves Marmite, Bobcaps and going to the chippy but He also does ukulele covers of famous songs, such as ‘The Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. He recently produced two CD’s, ‘Never Mind the Bread Rolls’ & ‘Anarchy With a Uke Eh?’ which gave me a fair few chuckles. But all joking aside, Neil is a terrific performer so follow the link and find out more!

Blarg Nards
I first discovered David Rutter’s work on Deviantart interestingly David says that he’s not an artist and that he just makes stuff that people like. As far as I am concerned he IS an artist and a rather good one at that. You will soon be able to see one of his brilliant dolls heads in the up and coming independent horror film Torture Chamber until then I would like to bring his Blarg Nards to your attention. These 3” zombie face magnets which are hand made using Amazing Sculpt or Apoxie Sculpt 3" and had me harking back to franchises from my childhood like Boglins or Madballs. As I said, each one is hand made and has its own character and I dare you to look through the gallery and not pick a favourite.

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 8 November 2013

A Review: Honk! #1

Occasionally something comes along that despite my not being involved with it I feel the need to tell others about it. My good friend, underground comix artist Lee James Turnock having a new comic out is one of those instances! Since discovering Lee’s blog I have followed his work with great interest. Much like myself he is clearly influenced by the works of Robert Crumb and although I am big fan of Crumb and his style I can only take so many stories about drugs and the 60’s, so Lee allows me the opportunity to enjoy that style of drawing and story telling but about issues that interest me, things such as  80’s television, The Goodies and Who Framed Roger Rabbit to name but three. So when I received HONK! in the post I was really looking forward to reading it, as is often the case with comics the work benefits greatly from being printed. Turning a page, feeling the paper on your fingers and ‘discovering’ the next page is far more interesting than scrolling down a screen and suits this type of comic and Lee’s style to the ground. The drawings are flawless, he has clearly poured his heart and soul into this work and I can only commend his attention to detail. As for the content I found the story to be entertaining and the characters maintained my interest throughout and I also ‘got’ all the references. One of the things that has always struck me about Lee’s work is the way he shoots the things he hates down in flames as he gives a nod and a wink to the things he loves, and this comic is no exception, as it deals with topics such as Disneyfication, Hooters and The Raccoons!
Please note this is and Underground Comic so ADULTS ONLY! Assuming you are an adult I advise you buy a copy and then pootle over to Lee's site and tell him how great he is, he won’t listen to me…

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 4 November 2013

Timperley is really fantastic: A statue unveiling

Frank Sidebottom always told us that Timperley was really fantastic and although I knew this to be true it has now been made official! I say this because on Sunday the 20th of October 2013 at 11:37am Timperley did something really fantastic, they unveiled a life size bronze statue of Frank Sidebottom in the centre of their village as a tribute to the great Chris Sievey, sadly lost to cancer in 2010.
My wife, daughter and I travelled up from North Wales to join the 1,000 other people, who had amassed on the streets of Timperley that day for the unveiling. There were also many reporters and camera crews there asking the public’s opinions.  Local councillor and one of the key organisers Neil Taylor told one of the reporters that the statue was going to put Timperley on the map and suddenly I found myself reminiscing back in 1988 when Oink! released their holiday special which contained ‘Frank’s Timperley Bike Race Game’ an intricately detailed map (drawn by Frank) of the village for readers to cut out and make a board game. This map forever remained in my memory and played a big part in my pilgrimage to Timperley for Frank's Magical Timperley Tour in 2006. When we joined the man himself on a tour of his beloved home seeing the sights such as Timperly Station, Timperley Aquatics (where I got Darwin the Tortoise, more on him in a future post!) and the two Timperley post-boxes!

 The location selected for the statue was on the corner of Stockport Road (opposite the Stonemason’s Arms Frank’s “local”) marked by a Sidebottom-esque shed which the crowd formed around as we drew closer to 11:37. With so many people gathered, some of who wore Frank heads and with the brass band playing in the background I was reminded of the last time I was in Timperley when we marched through as part of ‘Frank’s Army’ in the 2011 Altrincham Festival. Raising awareness of the plan to raise the funds needed for getting the statue erected in the village. Being just as keen to make the statue a reality I tried to do my bit by donating my ‘The Indestructible Frank Sidebottom' artwork from the Frankophilia! Exhibition and the artwork used for last year’s ‘Franktastic Christmas party’ poster to the cause.

When the time came tributes were paid, a cheque for £1,137.00 was awarded to Marie Curie made up of what was left over from the statue fund before Chris’s friends and family moved in to take the shed apart in sections as the band played. The crowd looked on, as the sections came away like a large Frank themed game of ‘pass the parcel’ the statue was unveiled to glorious applause and camera flashes! The magnificent bronze statue designed by sculptor Colin Spofforth and made by Paulina Skavova in the Czech Republic perfectly captures Frank adopting a trademark thumbs up. A wonderful design that allows generations of people the opportunity to have their photograph taken with Frank and that’s just what happened once the railings were removed! We stepped back to allow the crowd to settle and caught up with good friends and fellow Frank’s Army troops Barry Barmcake and Chonkin' Les. I recently created the cover for their CD "A Statue For Frank" which was a follow up to their 2011 release "Let's Get A Statue For Frank" which also helped raise money for the statue appeal. They weren’t the only musicians amongst the crowd, Mike Joyce of The Smiths and Badly Drawn Boy where there too. Last time we saw Badly Drawn Boy was at ‘Frank's Fantastic Farewell’. As we moved closer in I was able to fully appreciate the work that had gone into this piece, I was delighted to see it become a reality and naturally I had my photo taken with it! The nicest touch had to be the plaque underneath which reads, “As Long As I Gaze On A Timperley Sunset, I Am In Paradise” a reference to his song ‘Timperley Sunset’ a cover of The Kinks' ‘ Waterloo Sunset’ song. We made our way back along the high street passing the points of interest depicted on Frank’s Timperley Bike Race Game twenty years ago adding the statue unavailing to my list of endearing Timperley memories made up of Magical Tours, Festival Marches and Christmas Pantomimes.
Its worth noting that no public funding was used in this venture, Frank Sidebottom fans paid for the statue, fans that wanted to remember this ‘one-off’, so all concerned should be immensely proud of what was achieved. If you are ever in Timperley be sure to check it out and see it for yourselves.

I doubt this will be the last Sidebottom related post I ever write for this blog there is still the 'Being Frank: The Chris Sievey story' documentary in production so the Chris Sievey/ Frank Sidebottom legacy is far from being over. But now at least, thanks to the efforts of all the Frank Sidebottom fan’s out there, there is a fitting tribute to his work which will very likely spark an interest in future generations to seek out his work and be equally inspired.

First photo cutesy of Martin Unsworth
© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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