Chromatin: From nucleosomes to chromosomes -
After speaking at this Wellcome Trust scientific conference recently, I was offered the chance to write a conference report for Abcam. It’s gone live now, and I wanted to share it, as it’s quite a privilege to have gotten to do it! Hopefully, I’ll get to do a lot more of this sort of thing in the future…
I’ve been working hard on comics lately, and today, two of my projects have gone live on Kickstarter. I know that, like me, most of my friends are on a tight budget, but if you love comics, love stories that go beyond just “tights and capes,” love art and fantasy and science fiction and independent creators… then maybe one or the other of these fundraisers will interest you!
Torsobear is an anthology based on a “fluffy noir” world of toys where all is not as it seems. The author’s description says, “Ruxby Bear and Toyburg PD investigate cases of violence, corruption and murder in a city of toys.” The book’s beautiful and has a wide range of styles, all full-colour and with cool rewards and perks for early backers. Here it is!
Deviants is a story about superpowers, but it’s nothing like a traditional superhero comic. The author’s description says, “A diverse young cast of genetically gifted “deviants” struggle to escape their island prison, uncovering dark mysteries in the process." There’s gorgeous artwork, an intriguing storyline, strong female characters, ethnic diversity, and all kinds of awesome stuff. Take a look!
Both of these projects are really cool, and I’m thrilled to have been lucky enough to work with such brilliant creative teams. Please, if you have some spare change lying around, consider backing one of these projects, because I’d like to be able to continue working with them, and because these are some super badass comics you should read!
A mixtape for my friend Kat, only a shameful three months late. With thanks to Giles for advising.
Who died and made you king of rock’n’roll?
Forty-two tracks (of course). Two and a half hours long. Ska, punk, post-punk, classic, modern, melodic, hardcore, angry, energizing, weird, familiar, uncommon. Tracklist here.
Let’s talk about Rob Gretton.
(And please, God, forgive Giles for the picture. He was channelling New Order’s Play at Home. He says he reckons that if Rob was willing to interview himself in the nude for an hour-long television special, he would probably have approved of this.)
You guys know how I feel about Rob Gretton. He was amazing. He was connected to every inch of the punk and post-punk world. Rob put out fanzines, he DJed, he scouted talent, he co-founded the Haçienda and the Dry Bar, he ran his own record label, he managed bands, he managed Factory Records, he tried valiantly to manage Joy Division and New Order…
Rob Gretton was a miracle worker. He managed to stay sane in the madness of the Manchester music scene. He managed to make people get along and artists work together when anyone else would’ve watched things go down in flames. He managed to get gigs organized, tours arranged, solve problems by sheer blind determination that would have felled a lesser man. He managed to build a legacy, with Tony Wilson, with Factory, with his bands, with everything he did, that’ll never be forgotten.
I trust Rob implicitly. If I ever see a record with his label stamped on it, I buy it, because even if I’m not familiar with the band, I know it’ll be good. Anything with his name attached is going to be good, and even if it isn’t, it’s going to be fascinating.
You’ve heard my thoughts (and Jez Kerr’s) about Rob before. You’ve probably seen the FAC:ABC page, R is for Rob Gretton, and heard about some of his more creative approaches to business and to life. You know how much I respect Rob and his legacy, and how much I want everyone else to know about the incredibly important role he played in punk, post-punk, house, dance, the entire Manchester scene, with hardly any recognition. Certainly never enough.
If you want to know more about Rob and the things he did, try 1 Top Class Manager, a collection of all of the notebooks and sundry items he kept as manager of Joy Division and New Order. Or read Peter Hook’s books, The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club or Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, both of which have some great stories you won’t find anywhere else.
Or better yet, if you want to know more about Rob and the things he did and the way he changed the world of music, put on a record. Listen to the musical world he helped to build.
You’ll see what I mean.
It’s been a long time since I posted any of my comics work here, so this is a collage of random panels from projects I’ve been working on lately (all of which I really ought to put into my portfolio at some point). Most of these are anthology stories or stand-alone one-shots. Some I wrote myself; some I only lettered. Some, as usual, are about music.
I’ve just spent about two solid days listening to the Buzzcocks’ forthcoming album, The Way, and I’ve got to tell you guys: wow. I don’t do a lot of straight-up reviews, but this album is worth it. It’ll be out this summer, supported by a nineteen-date tour, and let me assure you, you’re going to want this one.
It’s amazing to hear how these guys have matured as a band. The ‘old’ Buzzcocks are definitely still driving, musically-speaking (“It’s Not You,” “The Way”), but it isn’t just them you hear in the music; there’s The Stranglers, Gang of Four, Crispy Ambulance, The Jam. Some of the songs are almost mod-influenced (“In the Back”), as if The Lambrettas had joined them onstage for a song. Others harken back so well to the start of the Manchester punk era, with Martin-Hannett like soundspaces (“Virtually Real”) that he might as well have produced them himself. Some don’t belong to any one category, any one genre, but grab you by the ears right away anyway (“Chasing Rainbows Modern Times,” my personal favourite track on the album).
The entire album is gold and I could – though shan’t – go on for ages about each song, but the long and the short of it is that if you’ve ever liked the Buzzcocks, you’re going to want to keep an eye on The Way this summer. (And if you’re lucky enough to be able to get to one of the gigs? Do it.)