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23rd Oct 2017

The Proposition Blues Band at the Sunflower

The Proposition Blues Band return to the Sunflower, Union Street, Belfast, Friday 10 November 2017, from 9pm, £5 in

My band, the Proposition Blues Band, play the Sunflower bar, Union Street, Belfast (map), on 10 November 2017, from 9pm, £5 in.

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19th Jan 2016

Jazzabelles are Go: for real!

You may remember that in the summer I was in a couple of rehearsed readings of an original musical, The Jazzabelles by Nick Boyle. It’s about three women in 1950s Belfast who overcome adversity to become a jazz singing trio. I played their manager, had a couple of songs, and also designed the poster. Well, the Kickstarter campaign was successful, and the full show is about to go on the road. My part has been recast, but I’m still in it in a smaller role.

The dates are:

  • Thursday 11 February, 8pm: Strule Arts Centre, Omagh (book tickets – £10 full price, £8 concession)
  • Friday 12 February, 7.30pm: The Old Courthouse Theatre, Antrim (book tickets – £10 full price, £8 concession)
  • Saturday 13 February, 8pm: Island Arts Centre, Lisburn (book tickets – £12 full price, £10 concession)
  • Friday 19 February, 8pm: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick (£12 full price, £10 concession)
  • Saturday 20 February, 8pm: Market Place Theatre, Armagh (book tickets – £10)

Keep it FreeHere’s “Keep it Free” recorded live with The Jazzabelles trio and band! Live shows touring in February! The video’s from a steamy noir called club Paradise.

Posted by The Jazzabelles Musical on Monday, January 18, 2016

https://vimeo.com/133464586

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21st Sep 2015

Dancing About Architecture: How to Criticise Art #artcred

Inspired by the #artcred hashtag and the panel on it at the ComicCity Festival in Derry the weekend before last, I’ve written a piece on Irish Comic News on how to review comic art.

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04th Jul 2015

Jazzabelles are Go!

The Jazzabelles

The Jazzabelles, the musical I’m in, made its triumphant debut with a rehearsed reading last night at the South Bank Playhouse on Kimberley Drive, off Sunnyside Street in Belfast. There’s a second performance tonight at 8pm.

Above is my rendition of the three heroines, Ella (Claire McCartney), Prissy (Beccy Henderson) and Vera (Sam McMillan). Done with digitally-simulated manual colour separations – click the image if you’re interested in the process.

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14th Jun 2015

There’s no business…

The Jazzabelles

I’m in a show! The Jazzabelles is an original musical by local composer Nick Boyle, about three women in 1950s Belfast who form a jazz trio. I play their manager, Vince Flynn, a man with a secret – and two songs, as well as contributing to others.

The Jazzabelles themselves are Claire McCartney, Samantha McMillan and Beccy Henderson, and they’re amazing. Beccy in particular can hit notes so high they don’t have names, apparently effortlessly, their harmonies are awesome, and Nick has written them some fantastic songs.

We’re rehearsing towards two preview performances on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July at the South Bank Playhouse off Sunnyside Street in south Belfast, which we hope will drum up a bit of interest among theatregoers and persuade venues to book us for a full production. Sign up on Facebook to be kept up to date.

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25th Jan 2015

Non-update update

Hello readers, just checking in to keep the blog ticking over.

Posting will continue to be a bit light for a while. Sorting out my mum’s estate is a difficult and emotionally draining process and doesn’t leave me with an awful lot of energy for other things, like drawing. I’m making some headway with The Cattle Raid of Cooley, but I want to make a bit more headway before I start posting again. The finishing post is in sight, I just need to build up a bit of momentum. Hope I can make a more substantive update before much longer.

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07th Jan 2015

The Old Year and the New

I’ve put off writing a review of 2014, because it has a great big memory well on 9 November when my mum died, and most of my other memories of the year have fallen into it. But there are some things worth remembering about it.

My sister-in-law Louise turned 40 in April. She is amazing and has been a rock over the last couple of months – I don’t know how I could have got through it all without her. She and my mum were very fond of each other, and mum’s death must have hit her as hard as it hit anybody, but she’s done everything in her power to keep everyone’s spirits up, and I will never forget that. I did her a caricature for her birthday:

Louise Brown 40th birthday caricature

My good friend Stephen McCartney also turned 40, a bit later in the year. He lives in London these days, but came back to organise a monstrous party with a band, and performed a couple of songs with it. We went for a walk along the beach at Helen’s Bay, something I hadn’t done for ages, and he complained that the music in the charts these days is all crap. “Of course it is,” I replied. “You’re 40.” Here’s a caricature I did of him for the occasion.

Stephen McCartney 40th birthday caricature

I found myself a little less engaged with comics last year, for whatever reason, but even so I did two MCM Comic Cons, in Dublin and Belfast, and both went very well. I also appeared on a comics panel at TitanCon, a fantasy and science fiction convention, with PJ Holden, Andy Luke and Rory McConville. I got interviewed about The Cattle Raid of Cooley for international Irish magazine The Wild Geese, and the Cattle Raid got reviewed, very favourably I thought, by The Comics Journal. I did a 24 hour comic, A Personal Narrative, at the 24 hour comics event organised by Glenn Davidson at Farset Labs in October.

And in November, right after mum’s funeral, I went to the Thought Bubble comics festival in Leeds. I’d already booked it but didn’t really feel up to going, but my family talked me into it, and I’m glad I did, because everybody was brilliant. Comics people are good people. Also, my entry in the 2000AD Future Shock art competition made the last eight. Click the thumbnail below to see the full pages.

Future Shock: Family Business

 

In terms of reading comics, my favourite comic of the year is Outcast, a demon-possession horror series written by Robert Kirkman, drawn by Paul Azaceta and coloured by Elizabeth Breitweiser, from Image. The story is very good, the line art is excellent, but it’s the colouring that really sells it to me, done with a limited palate with a lovely dry-brush overlay effect. Here’s a sample:

Outcast, by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta and Elizabeth Breitweiser

In August my singing teacher, Róisín Magee as was, McKenna as is, got married in Newry Cathedral, and we, her class, were honoured to do the music. Fionnuala and Bill did a haunting version of Alison Krauss’s In the Palm of Your Hand that had me spellbound. I played guitar, and led the group on Here Comes the Sun as the happy couple left the church. In December we put on a cabaret show, Strictly Not the X-Mas Factor, that raised over £1,200 for Cause and the Thomas Devlin Fund.

And at the very end of the year, my dad got married. It was nice to end the year with a happy event. He and my mum had been separated for over 20 years but for various logistical reasons it had never been practical to get divorced, and he’d been with Rosie for ten, and we could all tell from very early on it was the real thing. They make each other happy. And you can’t take anything for granted, it’s not so very long since Rosie had a bleed on the brain and was touch and go for a while, so they were just right to solemnise their relationship as early as they could. It was a quiet affair at the City Hall, followed by lunch at a very nice restaurant. Rosie read a couple of verses from “Us Two”, from A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, my dad’s favourite book, which he said he’d been given a copy of on his sixth birthday, although he no longer had that copy. Until I found it the next day, inscribed from his auntie Lila, in a box of books I’d brought home from mum’s house.

Unfortunately, 2015 began with a sad thing. My mum’s cat Eccles needed a new home, and dad and Rosie took him in. He seemed to settle, but then got spooked by another cat staring him out through the window. A couple of days later a door got left open, and he snuck out unnoticed. Whether he was just exploring and got lost, or decided there was no territory for him here and went to look for another one, or was trying to find his way back to his real home, we’ll never know. My brother Simon found his body a couple of days ago. He’d been hit by a car. Poor old sod. He was 16, which is pretty old for a cat, and had lived with a lady who spoiled him, and got one of my Special Head Rubs every time I came to visit. He didn’t have a bad life, just a shame it had to end the way it did. Bye, old man.

Eccles

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12th Nov 2014

Paddie Brown (1945-2014)

Mum

My mum, Patricia Ann (Paddie) Brown, née Magill, died on Saturday. Sudden and unexpected, but peaceful. The funeral will be on Friday at 11am at Mountpottinger Methodist Church, Albertbridge Road, Belfast, where she devoted so much of her life, mostly in the interests of feeding people. She ran lunch clubs for local pensioners and fundraising breakfasts, she was part of the fellowship team that provided food and refreshments for all kinds of church functions, and recently she led the drive to replace the church kitchen.

She was a teacher for many years, mostly at Knocknagoney Primary School. She recounted with some pride how one of the younger kids said to her face that she didn’t want to go into her class in future years, because “you’re evil”. But every once in a while when we were out shopping or for lunch we’d run into one of her former pupils, who was always pleased to see her and grateful for her good influence on their lives. I can’t think of many teachers I’d say that about.

In recent years she had terrible pain from arthritis in her left knee. About six weeks ago she had a knee replacement operation, and as she healed and got the joint working her mood was so much lighter. She was in great form and laughed more easily, and her physio told her she now had 90% mobility. The exercises she was doing were very tiring, but she was a determined old bird and was going to get the best out of her new knee. It seems so unfair that she didn’t get to enjoy it, and the end of that grinding pain, for very long. On the other hand, maybe it’s better to go when you’re on the up.

She was an amazing grandma, who adored and was adored by her granddaughter Zoe, her grandson Sam, and her de facto granddaughter Chloe, none of whom ever wanted to go home when they were at her house. The many friends she’d made at church, at school, in the various streets she lived in, are as devastated at the news as her family.

I’m not going to try and express what she meant to me as a mother. It’s too primal, there are no words for that. She leaves an unimaginable gap. I was privileged to be able to grow beyond the child-parent relationship and get to know her as an adult, to enjoy her sense of humour and her unorthodox outlook on life. She could drive me nuts armed only with good intentions. But in times of crisis, she was still my mum, who could make it all better. You never quite grow out of that. Bye mum. I’ll miss you.

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22nd Oct 2014

Radio silence

You know what I did? I failed to post an update last week, and didn’t even notice. Sorry about that. There’s no update this week either, and may not be for a few weeks after that. So I’ve decided to take a short holiday from The Cattle Raid of Cooley, recharge my batteries, and come back refreshed for the big push towards the conclusion of the story.

In the meantime, here are some snippets of some of the other things I’m working on.

Knights under lights

Candle in the hand

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05th Oct 2014

24 Hour Comics Day 2014

So we had another 24 Hour Comics Day in Belfast this year. It was held this weekend at Farset Labs, a sort of community creative space in Sandy Row, organised by the indefatigable Glenn Davidson. Cheers Glenn! Here’s a couple of photos nicked from the Facebook event page of me and Ann Harrison setting up and showing off some of our recent work.

Me at 24 Hour Comics Day, Farset Labs, Belfast

Ann Harrison at 24 Hour Comics Day, Farset Labs, Belfast

PJ Holden entertained us all by narrating his comic, Barry the Space Prawn, as he drew it, and was the first participant to get his effort online. Follow this link, or click the image below, to read mine. The story (such as it is) is all over the place and some of the likenesses of family members, drawn from distant memory, are a bit wonky, but I’m pleased with the drawing.

A Personal Narrative

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