Sunday, 9 March 2014


Me posting links to someone else's on-line 'presence' is probably less like a celebrity endorsement and more like the tail wagging the Manx cat. But never mind that. Here's six places I've discovered in recent months which I'd encourage others to check out, with recommended step-in sample entries.

Shabogan Graffiti, “the struggle in terms of the strange”, is primarily – I am not making this up - a class struggle analysis of 'Doctor Who' from the perspective of the Gallifreyan underclass. Which makes it quite possibly further up my street than my own house. From time to time it widens its remit to incorporate science fiction in general, or even the general state of politics in this rotten old world of ours. It's not normally pretty reading. It's normally insightful reading.

Pinch-me-I'm-dreaming post titles include 'Harry Potter and the Labour Theory of Value', 'Skulltopus' and 'We Are The Borgias. You Will Be Excommunicated. Resistance Is Futile'. And yes, the pieces can often live up to those inducing titles!

But I'm going to recommend 'Maximum Utility', which delves into the Cybermen and the Borg to conclude they're “a nightmare liberal capitalism is having about itself”. He's written lately ofmy blogging mojo being critically ill and lying, sobbing and wailing, in a deep dark pit.” So why don't the three or four people who actually read this stuff give him a try, and perhaps even a bit of a fillip? Every little helps.

Would anyone be insane enough to keep up a blog as eclectic yet esoteric as mine? Of course not! Well, maybe one. I'll let 'Sparks In Electric Jelly' describe it's own mission statement: “Film, music, art and literature, with a leaning towards the fantastic in all its forms, science fiction, fantasy, horror, the surreal, the Absurd, the Weird ('New' and old), the hauntologised and the just plain odd... In short, anything that sets the sparks a-crackling and fizzing through the old grey jelly.” Which sounds not so far from “induces a lucid frenzy”, I'll think you'll agree.

The take on 'A Field In England' makes a good sampler. I'd be the first to say it's both more comprehensive and more insightful than my own effort. Though the many readings he considers notably doesn't include my own - that in defeating O'Neill Whitehead succeeds only in replacing him and condemning events to repeat, not breaking the circle. (I've seen the film a second time now, but you can be sure it's one of those you always find yourself wanting to go back to again.)

Though I normally don't have much time for annotation websites, consigning them into the 'spots-trees-misses-wood' category, 'The Annotated Fall' is better than all that. By necessity it ends up explaining a whole host of references in Fall songs for American audiences. Just skip those, there's finer fare. I do find myself wishing it would break loose from the format more and pursue the lines of enquiry it's clearly keen to, but it's still one of the best Fall-dedicated websites I've come across.

For the sampler this time I'd pick the words spent over one of my favourite Fall tracks, 'Winter'. (If you don't know it check the track out here.) One day I might well spill some ink over that one myself. For now let's just remember some of those words to haunt... “I just looked round/ And my youth it was sold.”

'Blimey!' dedicates itself to “British comics from the past, present and future”. I've followed the writings of Lew Stringer, himself a cartoonist, since his 'Best of British' column in the 'FA' fanzine back in the early Eighties. Back then, the definition of an open-minded comics fan was someone willing to look at both Marvel and DC. Which made Lew like the Cecil Sharp of comics, clueing us in to the richness of our indigenous tradition.

Things are thankfully a little better today. Though we're not yet out of the proverbial wood. He complained only recently “compared to the massive amount of classic American comics material reprinted in recent years, fans of UK comics are poorly served. The 120 plus year history of British comics is gradually being forgotten (or worse, never discovered) by new generations.”

The sample this time is Emilio Frejo's art from a 1967 strip in 'Diana' based on the TV series 'The Avengers'. (The artists' name suggesting the then-common practise of sending work out to Spain.) Unlike the above examples, Lew's writing is informative more than analytical. Which is fine, for he clearly knows his stuff. But it does raises interesting questions, such as why 'The Avengers' was put in a girls' rather than a boys' comic.

And last but very much not least, Monster Brains does exactly what it says on the tin, “a never-ending celebration of monsters” in artistic form. It's truly a treasure trove of a bestiary. Curator Aaron Alfrey regularly features artists I'd never heard of before, or finds fresh samples from artists I thought I'd knew.

The most recent update as as good as example as any. I had no knowledge of Russian artist Leonid Purgyin, and look at what I'd been missing out on! His work has that unpindownable quality which often appeals to me, where it can't be neatly slotted away somewhere. Is it genre or 'proper' art? Naïve or accomplished? Cartoony or horrific? It's kind of all of them and more. Awesome stuff!

And for our sixth example, why don't we go self-service for that one? Just pick something from that sidebar there. You can't go wrong, really...

Coming soon Back to some actual posting...

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