It’s hard to express how much pleasure the arrival of a certain ebay purchased action figure has given me. Mad’s Alfred E Neuman as Wonder Women – when Two Worlds Collide! And two of my favourite worlds as well.
So, let’s get Mad!
America’s Mad comic was a complete joy to a British young New Town boy. An occasional treat thanks to the scarcity of all American comics at that time in the UK. I’m not sure if it’s a early urban (marine?) myth, but I once remember reading that the comics were simply brought back to England as required ballast for ships returning to the UK from the States. To think the survival of our inner fantasy life was then dependent on a form of paper stabiliser.
Mad was something special; something we just didn’t have in magazine form in the UK. It’s mixture of satire (oh yes it was), inspired art work (Where are my Don Martin collections now, who nicked them?) and great reoccurring strips (Spy versus Spy – swoon) made each issue something to treasure and reread. And even when I actually became a freckled sticky-out eared Newman, when my family changed its name, it never worried me that Mad cover star Alfred E. might become an albatross around my new New/Neu neck – most boys I knew were more into The Dandy and Beano. Mad was a gateway into a different world … and I liked it.
Wonder Woman was a different matter and a rather different Gateway (Gateway City, geddit?). DC and Marvel comics could be as hard to obtain as Mad in a small New Town. On a limited budget one also had to pick and choose and Wonder Woman generally had to be picked up as a bonus when purchasing another DC legend like Superman or Batman. And then come Linda Carter and TV’s Wonder Woman and what a difference that made! Boy, what a difference! She has something that made an adolescent male look at the comics in a totally way. It’s hardly surprising then that when I came to write about female stereotypes and the roles of women in society I chose Wonder Woman to frame the discussion. My ‘Life and Times of a Wonder Woman’ with the sensational Tara Paulsson did well on the Edinburgh Fringe stage and was a Herald’s Critic’s Choice, with the fabulous Tara Paulsson playing “Wonder Woman” in her many different guises: TV star, comic icon, Amazon and stripper/lecturer in feminist studies. The play was also staged in London and then, joy of joys, it went to the New York, where the New York Times said:
“This multilayered, one-hour, one-woman show is an ingenious conceit, a way of talking about feminism, sexuality and society’s view of women, told through the history of a cultural icon … part history lesson, part feminist tract, all funny,” Continue reading Mad about the Woman
The day I didn’t meet Douglas Adams was a Thursday. I’m not sure of the month or year, but I do remember it was a Thursday – I thought it was rather appropriate. That, by the way, was a ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ reference. If you didn’t get that you might be better off reading another blog.
It was in Cambridge, where I didn’t meet him, which was also rather appropriate as Douglas (I can call him Douglas as I never met him) was both born in Cambridge and went to university there. I did not go to university in Cambridge, but at the time when I didn’t meet Douglas, I was working at Nottingham University. I was a Macintosh Research Station. Actually, I was part of a larger multi-media development group, but as I was the only one using the Mac, and we were sponsored by Apple, that made me ‘the station’, or so I liked to think.
The Apple sponsorship took the form of the use of their very latest computer – one that incorporated ‘Hypercard’. I was using this rather fab little program to show how, if pictures and information are classified using the BBC’s hierarchical Telclass system, a specially written search engine could assemble a subject node, without using text searching. This method could, in theory, produce ‘new’ information not noticed at the time of classification. Yes, pretty cool – Douglas would have been excited I am sure, if we had ever met.
Apple were impressed, when I did my demo to them. I’d assembled a short subject node about tigers with drawings I’d done of tigers and mammalian locomotion, muscles and the like. They stood behind me and said:
The ebook is here to stay. Of that there is no doubt. It’s a wonderful boon for the reading public, compact and accessible. One ‘click’ and you can be perusing the latest work from whoever takes your fancy – and because it’s cheap you can take a chance on a new writer without breaking the bank.
My own Kindle is amassing a nice library, with books tucked away for holidays and for future reference. I’ve taken some chances and been very impressed. Also, I need never worry again about W.H. Smith’s being closed and the scarey prospect of a bookless train journey lying ahead. And yet…
The paperback version of my own book, the comedy fantasy ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’ came in the post this week. The parcel was opened with the glee of a six-year-old on Christmas morning. I took the book out with me. We went to London together, we slept side-by-side and last night we went out for a curry with some other writers.
150 years ago this year England’s Edward Whymper became the first man to climb the Matterhorn. I’m not sure if he did it in tweeds; I’d like to think so though. He did not do it “because it’s there”, that was said by mountaineer George Mallory, of the ill-fated Everest attempt some years later, however Edward Whymper, I’m sure, would have agreed with George.
And now I’m going to make what could be a really, really forced and credibility stretching analogy – because writing a book is very much like climbing a mountain.
‘Dwarf Girls Don’t Dance’ is the title of the new Detective Strongoak novella and it’s available free NOW in advance of the paperback release of ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’.
Yes, absolutely free! Just like a ‘give-away’ to encourage you to buy the ebook (still only £1.99) or the brand new hard copy. ‘Dwarf Girls Don’t Dance’ gives you the definitive lowdown on dwarf women, as well as another slice of the gritty criminal underworld of the seething multi-racial metropolis that is the Citadel. Plus the coolest, fast-talking, best dressed dwarf Master Detective this side of New Iron Town, that’s Nicely Strongoak to you.
I had a mate in Cambridge; well he is actually still a mate – just not in Cambridge. He told me about some people who were putting on a live topical comedy show in small Cambridge venues. They needed some material, so to make a change from what I was doing (worrying and drinking mostly,) I wrote some sketches and they used them.
I was delighted – absolutely over the moon – well stoked!