Bartlett's Bizarre Bazaar

Comment, Comics and the Contrary. Contact: aj_bartlett1977*at*yahoo*dot*co*dot*uk
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Friday, December 30, 2005


A first view of Metropole

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Page 10 of The Song of Wayland, a long-form comic book inspired by the Saxon story of Weyland the Smith. Jorge Munoz, a Mexican artist, has provided me with a great Christmas present by polishing off the art for the first chapter. Once the first 12 pages are lettered they will be submitted to potential publishers in a publication pack including a short treatment, full script and concept art.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Empirical Majesty #1 – reviewed at Silver Bullet Comics

The ever busy people at Silver Bullet Comics have reviewed Empirical Majesty chapter one. Please visit their site and read the review HERE. Apparently the comic is “a very British and, in places, very learned volume” that “bounds along with considerable energy”.

Silver Bullet Comics also reviewed Tales of the Contrary, which they called “[q]uite serious and thought provoking stuff”.

Both comics are available to buy at £2.50 inc. p&p for the pair. Payment by cheque or PayPal (inc. credit cards) to aj_bartlett1977[at]*

Or you could try and blag them, but your success cannot be guaranteed.

*[update 29th December: anyone who tried to but my comics using the e-mail address I gave in the orginal blogpost will have failed. Sorry. is the correct address.]

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


The joke may be on us

Space Cadets just might be a proper hoax after all.

As the wits on the dispersed group of friends that make up the Tendolla e-mail list have observed:

“Surely Space Cadets is all faked… and the joke is on the audience.” (W)

“Aside from obvious logistical points (is anybody that gullible? etc), I have noticed that one of the "cadets" not initially described as an actor is in fact consistently appearing in the blood donor adverts which segment the show as an aide to Gordon Ramsay's existence. // Also, as stupid as people are from the South West, the guy who is currently "in space" is using his West Country accent a little too effectively for this purpose I feel.” (S)

This analysis would put a different spin on the quote I stole from Nick at The Sharpener and placed in the comments box of my first post on Space Cadets:

It’s the sort of Rabblemock HaHa Time programme that TV Go Home used to create before it metamorphosised into Zeppotron TV…who are the producers of Space Cadets. Satire just ate itself, and we’re left to watch the detritus as a horde of executives pat themselves on the back at finding people even more stupid and self-obsessed than themselves and trying to persuade them that they’re going to go into space.

Charlie Brooker, of TV Go Home, Screen Burn and Nathan Barley, is on the Zeppotron TV board. Far from satire eating itself, the joke may well be on us. In which case Space Cadets is a hoax, a tremendous spoofing of our gullibility and acceptance of ‘reality’ TV. Well, your gullibility anyway, as I am not watching it.

Just as a postscript, though I ought to share the further thoughts of Tendolla:

“I think it would be best if the actor guy was the one who was being fooled, and in fact they really are going into space. // "I want two hundred grand not to blow the whole thing," he quietlyjoked to the cameras. // "Well, f*** you, we're leaving you in space," would be a witty retort.” (W)

“Especially funny would be the bit where he leaps out of the airlock thinking he is off to the ‘green room’ only to find himself in the cold vacuum of outer orbit. // har har har.” (P)

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Bartlett recommends

Are you stuck for presents this Christmas? Well, in the first instance I recommend consumables. Alcohol, chocolate, savoury delicacies; you know that these will be used and enjoyed, unlike many other presents which will barely leave their boxes.

But, if you still need something to buy, and the object of your generosity is not a person for whom consumables will be adequate, then I always recommend books. Books are capable of being more than entertaining and enlightening, they can communicate something of the giver. Now, to communicate something of yourself you need to choose the book accordingly, and you really ought to have read it through. But, if you lack the imagination to do this for yourself, or if you wish to buy yourself a present from me, then I suggest one of the following four books (or: alternatives):

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. This graphic novel exploring the Jack the Ripper murders is, for me, Alan Moore’s masterpiece. It appears, in form, to be a thriller, a whodunit, but it is, in effect, a meditation on the poverty, misery and violent exploitation that gave birth to the 20th century. (or: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, for a superficially more straightforward comic book, in that it is in colour and features super-heroes, that is equally intelligent and literate.)

GB84 by David Peace. A novel set amid the 1984 miners’ strike that shares many features that make From Hell such an important book. While at first glance it appears to be a political thriller it uses defined historical events, and, by incorporating what I have taken to calling ‘occult realism’, builds a picture of how social and economic structures corrupt and warp lives. (or: The Enemy Within by Seamus Milne, for a sober dissection of the co-ordinated smear campaign against Arthur Scargill and the NUM.)

Q by Luther Blisset. Another novel that is, at first appearances, a thriller, as the Catholic secret agent Q tracks Thomas Müntzer, who we would now call an activist, across Europe subverting each cause and sect to whom Müntzer lends his support. Set during the turmoil of the Reformation, it examines the power of ideas to undermine authority and power, and the extremes both to which authority will be reasserted and to which ideas can degenerate. (or: 54 by Wu Ming, the second novel from the collective of writers previously known as Luther Blisset, this time set in 1954 and examining the roots of consumerism.)

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jnr. Vonnegut’s novel, a rapid read of short paragraphs interspersed with crude illustrations, is a reflection on free will. Dwayne Hoover, one of the central characters of the book, sees the world as a mechanistic arrangement, but without an understanding of the awareness at the heart of each person is drawn to inhumane conclusions. Okay, it is a lot more than that, so read it. (or: Slaughterhouse 5, the story of Billy Pilgrim, American soldier, prisoner of war in Dresden and a man unstuck in time. So it goes.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Advert: polymaths required

The work of a CIA agent is both rewarding and varied. When not kidnapping people from the streets of friendly nations, you might be flying by private jet to deliver captives to torturers trained under Ceausescu. On occasion, you will be called on to perform forcible interrogations in person, slotting into the grand tradition of the School of the Americas. If you are of a creative bent, and if this bent is not of the twisted, warped kind that allows you to think outside the cell when extinguishing cigarettes on detainee’s skin, there are opportunities for imaginative writing. Whether fabricating first person accounts of the lives of glorious American soldiers, or producing utopian reports of life in post-invasion Iraq, the CIA will ensure that your writing receives the widest possible audience. We have a long association with various magazines, including Reader’s Digest, and the recent upsurge in our fortune have led to productive partnership with newspapers across Free Iraq. If your duplicitous imagination runs to the more artistic, and you are not interested in the cinematic expression of American heroism, there are opportunities for you to emulate the Great War Poets, though conscience and sacrifice are not required. Nor is talent, as the example below, inserted into school textbooks in Pakistan, demonstrates:

Patient and steady with all he must bear,
Ready to meet every challenge with care,
Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,
Strong in his faith, refreshingly real.
Isn't afraid to propose what is bold,
Doesn't conform to the usual mould,
Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight won't do,
Never backs down when he sees what is true,
Tells it all straight, and means it all too.

Going forward and knowing he's right,
Even when doubted for why he would fight,
Over and over he makes his case clear,
Reaching to touch the ones who won't hear.
Growing in strength he won't be unnerved,
Ever assuring he'll stand by his word.

Wanting the world to join his firm stand,

Bracing for war, but praying for peace,
Using his power so evil will cease,
So much a leader and worthy of trust,
Here stands a man who will do what he must.

[A thank you to Arran for pointing this out]


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