Category Archives: Art’N’Stuff

Sketches and paintings and doodles and whatnot

Somewhat like the art and culture of al-Andalus


Kerry McCarthy in The Rangoonies

The Rangoonies

Inspired by this on the new super soaraway Bristolian website (apologies for poor execution)…

The Leveson Inquiry – sketched

You have to check these out – Isabeau Doucet (“freelance journalist, storyteller, visual artist, TV producer, anthropology grad, and hack-of-all trades”) has been attending the Leveson Inquiry, and whilst drinking in the evidence, she has also been sketching portraits of some of the witnesses and other players in the drama.

There is some great work there: I particularly like Onan the Barbarian himself, Neville Thurlbeck (looking magnificently not-of-this-age). I urge you to check the whole lot out yourself.

And there could be more – Isabeau has mentioned on Twitter that she might turn it all into a comic strip…

Wikipediaphile: The Droste effect

Whilst cruising through excellent comics website 2000AD Covers Uncovered I came across mention of the ‘Droste effect’ in a post about how artist Jock put together one particular cover for 2000AD.

Never heard the name before, but as the Wikipedia page on the Droste effect explains, it’s a pretty familiar concept:

The Droste effect is a specific kind of recursive picture, one that in heraldry is termed mise en abyme. An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. This smaller version then depicts an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 and maintained for decades with slight variations, became a household notion. Reportedly, poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker introduced wider usage of the term in the late 1970s.

The Droste effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter. There are also several examples from medieval times of books featuring images containing the book itself or window panels in churches depicting miniature copies of the window panel itself. See the collection of articles Medieval mise-en-abyme: the object depicted within itself for examples and opinions on how this effect was used symbolically.

I vaguely recall it first making an impression on me on the front of some 1970s Blue Peter annual I picked up at a jumble sale or boot fair…


From a quick google I see that the Blue Peter annual has been axed.


I knew it! Here’s the Blue Peter annual cover I was thinking of (image via Nigel’s WebSpace Galleries Of Annuals) – the tenth one, from 1973.

And comic artist John Hicklenton has died, too…

I’ve just noticed that the comic book artist John Hicklenton is also being reported as having died:

According to several news sites including Forbidden Planet, artist John Hicklenton has passed away. As you may know, especially if you watched the award winning documentary about him Here’s Johnny, he had lived with MS for many years.John Hicklenton came to the notice of 2000 AD readers as the new artist on Nemesis the Warlock during the late eighties. His work was striking, challenging and subversive. As you will see if you look back over The Slog covering that period, I had difficulty adjusting to his style initially. However, his comic strip work improved at a rate that matched my adjustment so that by the end of the eighties he had become one my favourite artists of the expanding 2000 AD line. His Judge Dredd work for The Megazine during the early nineties was both fresh and expressive.

Via Paul Rainey at 2000AD Prog Slog.

I remember John Hicklenton’s work on Nemesis being very different to everything that had come before, and when Paul says it was “striking, challenging and subversive”, he hits the nail dead centre. This was dark, scary artwork that evoked a bleaker world than that of Kev O’ Neill or Bryan Talbot, though always with a hint of humour.

His stint on ‘Third World War’ in Crisis was the first time I got to see him working on a ‘realistic’ strip, rather than fantasy, and he rendered the racist cop in the storyline incredibly well (Angie Mills'(?) colouring boo-boos aside).

He took a similar sensibility with him to Toxic, where he had a run on ‘Fear Teachers’, which never got a chance to be finished, thanks to the comic’s early demise. But again, his bent towards the grotesque – and his propensity for unpleasant, bald, stubbly men – was full of interest, regardless of the script, his skilled style of rich line draughtmanship adapting well to the then up-and-coming trend for painted panels.

Rest in piecework, John!

» Here’s Johnny film website
» Here’s Johnny IMDb page


There’s now a report on John’s death on the BBC News website, confirming that he went to Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland:

Mr Hinklenton’s agent, Adrian Weston, described him as a “clear-sighted and visionary” person.

…”He was one of the most clear-sighted and visionary people I have ever met.

“Having worked with him was one of the greatest privileges of my professional life.”

He said that Mr Hinklenton completed his last book, 100 Months, the day before he travelled to Zurich.

The MS Trust said: “John was best known for his work on comic 2000AD and for illustrating characters such as Judge Dredd, but he also led a high-profile campaign for better rights for people with MS.

…”The fact that John Hicklenton was prepared to use his fame to raise awareness of a condition so often overlooked by the media, and to wage his personal war on MS so publicly is something that is greatly appreciated by people in the MS community.”

“Daddy, what did YOU do during the policing of G20?

"Daddy, what did YOU do during the policing of G20?"

The Telegraph reports:

Earlier today an MPS officer identified himself to his team leader as being potentially involved in the incident shown on the video footage.

A total of four MPS officers, inclusive of this officer, have now come forward with potentially relevant information in relation to the investigation into the death of Mr Ian Tomlinson on 1/4/09.

…The camera footage shows Mr Tomlinson being hit and pushed over by a partially-masked police officer, who has now come forward, as he walks away from a police line with his hands in his pockets…

See also The Guardian, etc.

As Ed rightly points out in a comment on the Bone blog:

The vicious attack on Mr Tomlinson was only one of series of assaults propagated by the police last Wednesday. This could have been any of us dead – and the number of people injured last week is almost certainly in three figures.

If any of us were to be killed by the filth, we now know the sort of black arts they’d use to justify their actions and to demonise our comrades. While we currently see a number of unusual forces ranged against the police, from the Lib Dems to the Evening Standard, be under no illusions that they would be onside were it one of us on the mortuary slab.

These police officers thought they could get away with it. They thought they could get away with it one week ago, when the Evening Standard was being briefed that protesters were hurling bricks, when initial police claims that brave police medics had come under a barrage of missiles as they tried to help a dying Ian Tomlinson.

These police officers thought they could get away with it because one week ago they thought Ian Tomlinson was just another protester, a hippie, an anarchist, a Student Grant, a dirty, stinking leftie.

These officers thought they could get away with it because they felt that they had the power to go around intimidating witnesses, demanding that demonstrators delete pictures from their cameras, threatening journalists, slinging people who tried to note down their numbers into the back of police vans on dubious pretexts.

These officers thought they could get away with it because the person standing to their right was a cop, the person to their left was a cop, the person behind them was a cop.

These officers thought they could get away with it because this is the job they are trained to do; this is the job their bosses told them to get on with; this is the job their bosses were briefed for by their own political masters.

This is not “a tragic accident”.

These are not “rotten apples”.

There will be no “justice”.

This is simply the logical consequence of the enclosure of public discourse, the disenfranchisement of civil society, the impoverishment of governance.

The year is 2009. Welcome to Britain.

Non-Ladybird endorsed youth sex-ed!

Following the chortleworthy détournement shenanigans of the not-Banksy Ladybird Book People At Work: The Policeman comes Boys And Girls (“A short book about choosing if and when to have sex”), jointly published by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Ayrshire and Arran (and “not in any way associated, endorsed or connected to or with Ladybird Books Limited“, guv’nor)!

I think it’s rather sweet, especially with the Claire Grogan-ish narration 😀

(Tip o’ the titfer: Sexocentric)

Revisiting San Serriffe

The most excellent Strange Maps blog has just published an article about The Guardian‘s fondly remembered 1977 April Fool supplement on the island of San Serriffe.

(Well, I say fondly remembered, though I do not personally remember the, fondly or otherwise, seeing as I was only rising one at the time. Over the years I became aware of it, though, by way of the 1999 reboot of the spoof, and also in much the same osmotic way as I know about the Tomorrow’s World piece on spaghetti trees.)

Talking of fake-stories-as-Grauniad-news, I am reminded of the (and correct me if I am wrong) 1976 piece the paper published in which a reporter related the story of his chance encounter with a member of the SAS on a train.

The journalist – a sceptic of the British military strategy in Northern Ireland – had recently been writing about the deployment of SAS troops to the province, and in none too complimentary terms. IIRC he suggested they were swaggering cowboys who offered little to the peaceful resolution of the Troubles.

And lo, by complete serendipity he happened to meet one such soldier (in civvies) on an InterCity, who, during the course of a spontaneously-struck up conversation, turned out to be articulate, erudite, and anything but macho. His opinions on British policy in Ulster shifted slightly, and he wrote up the story for the paper.

Then many years later it transpired that the whole ‘chance encounter’ had been a psyops fabrication; the journalist had been picked out as a possible target and a well-briefed and affable serviceman been placed on a train he was known to be travelling on in order to casually strike up a conversation with a view to modifying his opinions.

I’ve no idea whether that is a true story, as I can’t remember where I read it. Perhaps I imagined it? But it sounds like it might be a Colin Wallace one. I know the original story exists, as I read it in one of those Guardian Yearbook thingummies which they used to publish.

Can anyone fill in the details? The source of this tale swimming round my rapidly-shrinking brain? The journalist it seems to be about? The year, even?

“If American foreign policy was a gift shop, what would it sell?”

From Phillip Toledano’s America The Gift Shop website.

Tip o’ the titfer: the redoubtable Violet Blue.

Shirley not!

This past weekend saw the Jamaica Street Studios open up their doors for an open day, celebrating the living art and culture of Stokes Croft and its people. Chris Chalkley of PRSC very kindly has sent round a round robin email complete with pictures from the weekend, and lumme if in one of them it looks like not just one but both Ashley ward councillors! See what you think…

Can it be true? Has the wanderer not only returned, but actually spent time in sunny Saint Paul’s? Or are these actually agency doppelgangers, hired in for the day? Answers on the back of a council expenses claim as soon as possible, please…

(Picture courtesy of People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, which is in no way responsible for this blog!)

The hidden agenda of estate agents…

Norwegian bus from Photoshop Disasters

Best Photoshop Disaster of the year, methinks:

This is the back of a bus in Bergen, Norway. Bob Megleren is some sort of realtor there. Be very careful if he asks if you have enough living space.

Unnerving translation: “We are ready… with 60 years experience… Bob Megleren – that’s why.”

The world of modern policing

The Ladybird Book of Modern Policing

From a recent eBay auction (tip o’ the titfer: Bristol Graffiti)

Line of paint

Salvador Dali, ‘ARTIST’, on ‘What’s My Line?’

For once, browsing the Guardian website pays off – check out this video of Salvador Dali on What’s My Line?

add to :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: :: :: TailRank :: Add to Blinkslist :: seed the vine

Back to Baxendale

‘Beano’-style cover of ‘The Big Issue South West’ (1999)

The opening programme of the BBC4 ‘Comics Britannia’ season – which focused on the DC Thompson humour titles – boasted a whole lot of inky fingered comic genius Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids, Minnie The Minx, Little Plum, Willy The Kid, Sweeny Toddler and many other classic strips.

The programme was better than I feared it would be, but alas fell short of what it could have been, especially in the way the final twenty minutes dashed through the late sixties onwards, giving only cursory mention to major players and omitting dozens of significant comics. But I’m sure we expected this.

Nevertheless, we did have Leo fucking Baxendale! Leo Fucking Baxendale!!! And doesn’t he speak so wonderfully? Is not his head screwed on properly? I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who has had the immense pleasure of reading his autobiography, A Very Funny Business – in which his righteous anger, his creative passions, his humanity, are all projected across a history which most of us know only from one side, that of the reader – but sadly this book is not well known.

‘A Very Funny Business’ by Leo Baxendale

The documentary also featured Kevin O’Neill, who also gave a good, conscious account of himself. I’m not sure the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Nick Park or Michael Rosen really added anything to the programme; I would have preferred to hear more from O’Neill and Baxendale. Such is life, though.

Anyway, I’m drifting… The programme spurred me on to dig out an old issue of The Big Issue South West (from July 1999!), which contains an interview with Leo Baxendale, who lives (or lived) in Gloucestershire.

I remember my friend Tony, who was the designer at TBISW back then, and a big fan of Leo’s work, getting very excited at the time, and tagging along with the photographer to Chez Baxendale, just to meet him and ask him some questions of his own. He was chuffed to bits, and said that Leo was a lovely chap, and told him some great stories (including about his hard fought for settlement with the Dundonian overseers 😉 ).

I suspect Tony may have threatened to break the editor’s legs or some such (as was his wont, Tony being Tony, and this particular editor being the sort of person who would tend to drive you to wanting to break legs) in order to get the Leo interview bumped up to cover story instead of Tracey bloody Emin, because, well, the Leo interview was duly given the front page. I think you’ll agree, Tony did a great job with the ersatz Beano-style masthead.

In the end Tony was wholly vindicated for his leg-breaking threats, because that issue was for a long time – a very long time – the top selling edition of TBISW. It may well still hold the record, 8 years on, I don’t honestly know. But people responded to that cover, and to the Baxendale feature.

So, as a special treat for you, dear reader, I have uploaded a 4 page PDF of the interview and magazine cover for you to read at your leisure. I’ll also leave it in my Box (which is accessible from the sidebar on the right, near the bottom), too.


Other Comics Britannia related posts:

Sneezy, Farty & Follow Throughy

When sneezes lead to farts lead to…


Spotted on cartoonist Jamie Smart’s blog i can see your monkey.

Check out Jamie’s magnificent Bear books (see links on right hand column) for top toonage 8)