Farewell Ellerbisms

Sad, but not unsurprising news over at Marc Ellerby’s Ellerbisms, but like today’s ‘Stuff No One Told Me’ says; “Sometimes quitting is the bravest decision”.

I’m being glib to join up dots – Marc isn’t quitting. He’s putting to bed one of the most consistently entertaining, heartbreaking and heartwarming webcomics of the last five years. There are a wave of creators like himself and Adam who are or will be wrapping up these diaries and long term projects, moving on with a whole book of lessons learned in public, which is a very very brave thing to do.

Ongoing projects are really hard. The sense of perspective and success is so endlessly changeable, with no barometer for measurement beyond your own interest in the project. The fact that any of these things get beyond two months is an unbelievable success, the idea of them continuing as long as three years simply staggering.

I could thump Marc for depriving me of one of my high points in the internet week. I probably will, current events notwithstanding. But I’m really really excited to see what he comes up with next. In the meantime lets enjoy these last couple of months, before Ellerbisms wraps up.

Well done 6music

Congratulations 6music.

You know, my feelings on 6music and broadcast radio generally are very mixed, but 6′s attitude and response to the last few months of uncertainty has really converted me. It helps that Mark, my longest serving friend, has been freelancing there for six months. The insight he’s offered into life in the national entertainment service has made me respect a lot of his industry an awful lot more.

6 has taken this opportunity, this threat, to really make itself an integral part of a lot of listeners lives, mine included. I hope it keeps doing that, so I can keep listening.

New Doctor/New Decade

I’ve been on hold a lot this morning. one of the perils that comes with moving house. That’s okay – it’s some of what you sign up for – but it’s distracting. It breaks solid concentration on projects, links, work… the whole deal. In the meantime I’ve been poking at my current favourite reference point/metaphorical stand-in in one of my little notebooks: What can I tilt around the new Doctor?

In my wrap-up of pop in the 00′s for Global Comment I pointed at The Doctor as a perfect reference point around which the regeneration of pop stars took place. We saw Damon Albarn’s infinite guises match moves with Kylie’s, while the out-of-history perfection of Lady Gaga existed as strange visitor, subtly controlling all. It’s still early, and the shadows of those figures still loom hard over music (two were Glastonbury headliners the weekend just gone while the other stomps all over the Last.fm charts still) in much the same way that Tenant looms over Smith. But there are cracks in the dominance of that: Matt Smith on stage with Orbital, Glee’s popularity, Scott Pilgrim’s totally awesome forthcoming world-dominance. It’s all a bit twee, a bit charming, a bit big. A bit bright, definitely that.

Other notes: The 11th Doctor loves fairy tales, and in the last century they’ve become softer, happier things. He likes stories, believes in the power of them, and of shared, collective things. And he’s got faith in himself too, confidence occasionally bordering on swaggering – that’s pretty inspiring. The more often I jam different facets of popular culture together – for work or for fun or for both – the more important I feel those qualities are to talk about.

I probably will. But not just yet.

Almost anonymous

A quick trip to the bookartbookshop this week led to a new zine purchase, fabulously titled So, you are one of those popular boys that loves to play with bookish girls. The content is in three parts, written in English, French and Spanish (I think it’s Spanish), littered with faded reprints of photographs and YouTube screengrabs. It’s the look of the thing, the object-ness, that led to me picking it up, printed as it is on the kind of paper that feels like it’s going to degrade, leaving only a cover behind.

The English segment is an odd read, a dialogue between two – well, ‘lovers’ seems to be pushing it… ‘fuckers’ perhaps? – that’s clearly been translated, but carefully enough that it feels broken only infrequently, faltering by design. I’ve got no idea what the other bits say, and I don’t mind either because there’s so much about this object I’ll never know, so finishing the content feels like a betrayal of all the other mysteries.

I bought it without context, I’ve no idea if it’s part of a collective effort, I’ve no idea who the authors are, I’ve no idea how to find them… all of that stuff is willfully obscured. I find that absolutely appealing and completely ugly at the same time.

I still get people finding my blog on Google after searching for information about the Los Campesinos! tour ‘zine ‘Because We Cannot Lie All Night Together’. So far as I can tell I’m the only person who blogged about my contribution. Every other contributor entered into the process open to being obscured. I can understand why because of the content, but as someone wanting to find more by these creators it’s deeply frustrating. Gareth never let me know who the others were. There are, I guess, maybe half a dozen people who do know. It feels strange to be in that position, the only one breaking cover.

I like that I can be found. I like the idea that I can be in a position to take the flak for things I put out there. I might not respond to it, but I can hear it. It remind me of a conversation I had with Kieron back when he lived in Bath, where a very passionate (very drunk) Matt said that people really had to do that, that even people writing under pseudonyms should have a fidelity, should respond in that context. Of course it’s complicated, sometimes, but I probably still believe something like that.

Keep Safe, Stay In

Really pleased this is doing the rounds at last. Kieron‘s written a game, essentially fueling the ‘game critic as aspiring creator’ argument for, oh, another half hour at least, and it looks like it’s going to be really quite good. The Curfew plays out an imagined future in which anti-terror/crime legislation has scaled new heights, restricting the movements of every citizen after the hour of 9pm, criminalising anyone out after hours.

The fact that Kieron’s written it doesn’t do much for my tastes – he’s a terrible writer, and a horrible human to match* – but the concept is strong and it looks an absolute treat. LittleLoud are responsible for Channel 4′s previous point-and-click winner Bow Street Runner, but with TV spots to come for The Curfew and some great high-end production rolled into four adventure narratives it looks like this will be an even bigger hit.

The trailer below is the one that does it for me. It all works just a little bit too nicely.

* Not actually true

What I read at 4am

“We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.
– ‘dougr’ from “Is The BP Gusher Unstoppable?” published at Mother Jones

Not the brightest start to the day. Reading things like that I wonder how someone like Sarah manages to deal with the things she does as an editor at Global Comment without getting emotionally involved, without attaching traces of the human cost of all of this to her edits, corrections and her interpretations. Then, of course, I realise she does attach that humanity to it, and that the strongest editor draws that out of a writer too, helping an audience to confront the very real trauma of events like the oil spill.

It’s a little after 4am. I had trouble sleeping, largely due to discomfort after having the cast taken off of my elbow. Strangely typing is one of the few positions it’s comfortable in at the moment. I’ve been playing the latest 4am podcast and poking at e-mails for about 90minutes now. It’s clearly going to be a long day.

Theme songs

Tom, bless him, has restarted his 100 Days project. Hooray! I’m preparing for another month of hastily sketched snippets that put other comickers to shame with his clean lines, smiling faces and playful introspection. Yesterday he went to a twee-pop album launch by the delightful Allo, Darlin’ and nailed their ‘Silver Dollars‘ as Solipsistic Pop‘s theme song.

And I’m thinking ‘Why haven’t I got a theme song?’

Well, mostly that’s because what he’s talking about is projects having a theme song. I mean, McKelvie can’t hear Joy Division without thinking of me jerking about a dance floor, so I probably don’t need to worry about a song for myself. But per project, that’s another story. I’m not a notebook per project person, despite how well it seems to have worked out for Ben at RIG this year, I have folders on Dropbox for that, but I could get behind theme songs.

Of the projects I want to start this summer I think the Audioboo one happily gets Shellac’s ‘The End of Radio‘. It’s one of the songs that inspired it really. The other two are more difficult though, and I like that a theme song could solidify them somewhat. I’ll keep an ear out though.

(Worth noting that Allo, Darlin’ released ‘The Polaroid Song‘ in 2009, which works far too well as a hymn to The Polaroid Press)


Tomorrow I’ll be heading up to Hertfordshire to operate the We Are Words + Pictures table at Unicon, a treat in itself given the wonderful company I’ll be keeping – except for that horror Kieron Gillen, he is a horror.

On top of that though I’ll also be appearing on a panel at 3pm talking about music and comics. I’m sure it will be an enlightening and rounded discussion featuring myself, Sean Azzopardi and – oh noes! – that horror Gillen!

UniCon will be open from 10am – 5pm, and if you ask me very nicely I might tell you about the special announcement WAW+P will be making on Monday…