Sunday 26 April 2015

From Bollywood to Michael Sheen: Saki (H. H. Munro) adaptations on the YouTube

He's not been mentioned here for a little while, but longtime readers of this blog will know of the enthusiasm round these parts for the work of H. H. Munro, better known by his pen name Saki, who wrote brilliantly comic short stories where genteel society collided with often chaotic, sometimes even supernatural elements.

That admiring forewords to collections of his work have been written by everyone from A.A. Milne and Noel Coward to Will Self and The League of Gentlemen's Jeremy Dyson is proof enough of his influence on a wide selection of British writers since his untimely death on a WW1 battlefield in 1916.

He's not exactly a household name though, due in part perhaps to his stories never having made a successful jump to the great populariser of the 20th century, television. (Would P.G. Wodehouse still be quite as popular today without the efforts of Fry and Laurie? Discuss.)

That's not to say Saki has never been adapted for the screen though, far from it. Below is quick romp through some YouTube links which will prove of great interest to Saki Fanciers.

First up is a programme which has only recently (February 2015) been posted online, and what a treat it is. In 1962, Granada broadcast an 8-part series called Saki: The Improper Stories of H. H. Munro. I knew of this production's existence, but had long given up hope of seeing any of it. It's a no-frills, studio-based affair, which would have been performed pretty much as live (if not *actually* live), but with cast members including the great Richard Vernon and Fenella Fielding at the top of their game, it's a pleasure to watch.

Fast-forwarding several decades and spinning to the other side of the Earth, here are two Indian adaptations of the same short story, 'Dusk'. Perhaps there was an 'Adapt Dusk' competition, or it was set as homework at film school or something...

Here's another pair of takes on a story, this time 'The Interlopers', one of Saki's bleakest tales. The second is somewhat more polished than the first...

... and for good measure, here's a puppet version...

'The Open Window' is deservedly one of Saki's best-known and most anthologised tales, so to finish off, two versions of it: the first is a 1980s version from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the second a quite wonderful short film adaptation (retitled 'The Open Doors') from 2004, starring a pitch-perfect Michael Sheen. (Has Sheen ever not been pitch perfect in anything?) If you only watch one link on this post, watch this one. It's brilliant.

Sunday 19 April 2015

An Original Jamie Hewlett Sketch Of Tank Girl, And A Bit Of UK Comics History...

In 1988, a bunch of UK comics creators, financed by money from the Astor family, launched Deadline onto an unsuspecting world. Best remembered these days as the birthplace of Tank Girl, it mixed comics with interviews and features in a way that many have tried to imitate (Titan's Clint being a recent example) but few have equalled. Deadline lasted until 1995, by which time, as the magazine's Wikipedia entry points out:

"the crossing over of the alternative scene into the mainstream (around the time of Britpop, a movement it had helped to champion) saw the magazine eventually fold at the end of 1995."

And yes, the utter failure of the Tank Girl movie didn't help, either.

Back in 1988 though, the creative crew did several signings to promote the first issue, which presumably is where this copy was adorned with the various signatures and sketches on its back cover. The boot was printed, everything else was added...

Nothing less than an original Tank Girl sketch by Jamie Hewlett. Considering a page of TG art recently sold on eBay for over a grand, this has to add somewhat to the mag's original £1.50 price tag...

A characteristic sketch from Steve Dillon, who always seems to work pints of the good stuff into comics he draws (see Hellblazer and Preacher for ample proof).

A 'logo' and sketch presumably by Nick Abadzis, whose excellent Hugo Tate strip featured in the first issue.

Signatures of the late, lamented Brett Ewins, and Michael Bonner.

The first bit looks like it could be 'Julie', which would make it Julie Hollings, writer/artist of the strip Beryl the Bitch. Not sure what the second bit is.

No doubts here though. 

This one has stumped everyone I've asked, including some leading lights of the UK comics industry. Peter Milligan, possibly?

Unlike the magazine above, the following isn't for sale from the Little Shop (sadly!): this thread on features another product of a signing session from the time, a jacket belonging to one 'CountZero', which ain't ever going to see the inside of a Dry Cleaners...

Monday 6 April 2015

An Art Deco Thing of Beauty From 1929

A gallery of wonderful art deco images from an 86 year old periodical this week.

Copies of Advertising Display Magazine are rare as hen's teeth these days, it appears. The generic title doesn't help when googling, but I can find no copies whatsoever for sale online, and only a couple of hits even confirming the title's existence (the cover of a later issue on pinterest here and another copy held in the collection of a design museum here).

The copy which has arrived in the Little Shop is from May 1929. It's a trade publication, essentially advertising ways to advertise. There are articles on shop displays, some examples of printing processes, and even some paper samples bound in at the back. The visuals are mouthwatering, if you like a bit of 1920s style. Here's a selection of pages, including a photo of some Austrian caricature statuettes of film stars, including Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, which I imagine would go for very serious money if any ever surfaced today... Mind you, as a piece of deco design and advertising history, the magazine itself is far from worthless! (Yes, I'm open to offers...)