Wednesday, 30 May 2012


When did I first become fascinated with Miss Agnes Moorehead?

Well, it has to be when she swooped into my consciousness - a red-headed vision in lavender and lime-green – as the magnificent Endora in what was my favourite TV show back in the 1960s and remains a recurrent DVD delight – Bewitched.

Only later did I discover her as one of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre Company and a member of the stellar casts of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Then I found her unforgettable vocal tour de force in the American radio broadcast, Sorry, Wrong Number, and her compelling silent performance in The Twilight Zone episode 'The Invaders'. Her talents were always diverse, always compelling...

Some years ago I acquired this autographed photograph of Miss Moorehead which shows what a striking-looking woman she was...

And I recently discovered this vintage TV clip from the ABC variety show, The Hollywood Palace (Season 4, Episode 13) televised on 17

Sunday, 27 May 2012


I wonder whether Nick Clegg is a comic book fan?

Do you suppose – when he's not fagging for Head Prefect Cameron – that Cleggers is closeted away in the Tuck Room reading the latest X-Men adventures?

I ask because it occurs to me that he may just have been encouraged in his dedication to the cause of 'gay marriage' (currently causing so much Conservative apoplexy) by the revelation that one of Marvel Comics' superheroes is about to enter into a same-sex union.

Northstar (left) was the first openly gay comic book character. True identity, champion skier, Jean-Paul Beaubier, is a mutant who can move and fly at near light speeds and possesses superhuman stamina, endurance and reflexes.

Northstar's sexuality was somewhat nervously revealed in 1992, but a decade on he has proposed to his partner, Kyle, and the pair are to set be wed on 20 June in issue 51 of Astonishing X-Men.

Not to be out-done, rival comic book publishers, DC Comics have let slip that they are about to "reintroduce a DC character who was previously straight and will now will be 'one of our most prominent gay characters'.” Who will it be? Superman? Batman? Robin? Wonder Woman? Time will tell...

Meanwhile, maybe Cleggers ought to get some extra copies Astonishing X-Men No. 51 for the Prefect's Common Room.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I can never resist the opportunity to blog about the great Ronald Searle, my cartoon hero who is the subject of a new selling exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery Ronald Searle Remembered containing over 370 items of artwork, letters and books.

Among the pieces over which I have lusted (my bank manager having forbidden me from doing anything other than lusting!) is this wonderfully vibrant cover for the humorous magazine, Punch (19 march 1958), reflecting the journal's tradition of incorporating the characters of Mr Punch and his dog Toby into the cover designs...

And this preliminary design for the 23 July 1958 edition of Punch, entitled 'All Present and Correct'...

Here's what the published versions looked like – the first being decidedly less colourful than the original...

The Chris Beetles gallery exhibition also features several examples of Searle's original artwork made for advertisements for Lemon Hart and Lamb's Navy Rum...

Two splendid Christmas cards...

And a superbly sinister St Trinian's cartoon from Lilliput magazine, January 1951...

 Go on, say it – "I resolve to leave my body to science."

The exhibition continues until 9 June; you can view the exhibits on-line here and there is a 200 page catalogue, price £20.

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, St James's, London, SW1Y 6QB
Telephone: 020 7839 7551
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 10:00-17:30


I have only just noticed that, ten days ago, I missed marking the sixth birthday of this blog! Reading, now, what I wrote in that very first post just makes me smile!

Sunday, 20 May 2012


I have on several occasions posted on this blog about the amazing mosaic work of my friend, Martin Cheek – here's one post and here's another.

'Renaissance Man' is an overworked epithet, but it is true of Martin: an artist, illustrator and animator who has devoted the last thirty years of his life to mastering the skills and techniques of the mosaicist.

He has recently published a new, lavishly illustrated, book on his art and craft, Fused Glass Mosaics.

Tomorrow evening (Monday), I will be interviewing Martin about his book and his passion for mosaics at The Chelsea Arts Club from 6:30-8:30.

In the meantime, here are a few of Martin's masterpieces...

You can see more marvellous mosaics by visiting the website of Martin Cheek.

Bottom image: Brian Sibley

Friday, 18 May 2012


The Cartoon Museum has Late Night Openings tonight and tomorrow from 5:30-8:30 pm to tie-in with their current H M Bateman exhibition The Man Who Went Mad on Paper.

Bateman's prolific career spanned both the Edwardian era and the Roaring 'Twenties, a fact reflected in the themes for the two evenings.

Tonight (Friday) is an Edwardian Evening with talks on Bateman's extraordinary cartoons by curator, Anita O'Brien, Bernard Crossley on the world of the Edwardian postcard and historian Lesley Hall on Edwardian Women.

The theme for tomorrow (Saturday) is Going Modern, Being British: Britain in the 'Twenties and 'Thirties with, in addition to Anita O'Brien on Bateman, motoring journalist, Martin Gurdon celebrating the advent of the motor car so beloved by a host of cartoonists and Yours-Truly (i.e. Me!) blowing the dust of some of vintage comics and children's annuals that emerged in the '20s and '30s.

Here's a few of the treats I'll have in store for visitors...

The Cartoon Museum
35 Little Russell Street
London WC1A 2HH.
Telephone 0207 580 815

Saturday, 12 May 2012


If Disney – and not Scorsese – had made Taxi Driver...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


(10 June 1928 – 8 May 2012)
It's not true...

It can't be!

The man who took us by the hand and led us to Where the Wild Things Are and Outside Over There; deciphered the Sign on Rosie's Door and showed us what it was like In the Night Kitchen.


Higglety Pigglety Pop! I refuse to believe it!

Maurice Sendak was the greatest American illustrator of his generation and one of the true fabulists of the twentieth century whose mythology will live on for at least another hundred years.

I dearly wish I could have met him – we'd have had so much to talk about: not only did I adore his work with a passion; but we shared a mutual love of illustrated books, comics and old movies, George MacDonald, the Brothers Grimm and Uncle Walt.

And, I now discover, we both admired William Blake and Herman Melville...

Wild Things 2? No! "Go to hell!" How totally right you were, Mr Sendak.

Here's his autograph in one of my favourite books, Caldecott & Co, in which he wrote intriguingly about Beatrix Potter, Maxfield Parrish, Edward Ardizzone, Hans Christian Andersen, Jean de Brunhoff and Randolph Caldecott...

In that book he commented:

Despite the fact that I don't write with children in mind, I long ago discovered  that they make the best audience. They certainly make the best critics. They are more candid and to the point than professional critics. Of course, almost anybody is. But when children love your book, it's "I love your book, thank you. I want to marry you when I grow up." Or it's "Dear Mr Sendak: I hate your book. Hope you die soon. Cordially." 


Sunday, 6 May 2012


Avast and belay, ye swabs! You'll forgive the Robert Newton vernacular, me hearties, but I'm currently writing a book about the making of Aardman's The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists – or, as they be calling it in our former colony on the other side of the Atlantic, The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

It be hungry work, scribing, and tiring of the usual ration of ship's biscuits (them weevils be so indigestible, even when dunked in ye finest rum) I have decided that I needs a few of these little beauties to chomp on while scratching away with me quill...

Ye'll find other unusual edibles at Ye Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

And listen up, ye cursed land-lubbers, if so be it ye have not yet seen The Pirates! then be sure to catch it while you can or face the wrath of the Pirate Captain and a watery assignation with Davey Jones...

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Here's a weird anomaly...

Fact: Oscar Wilde is worth a fortune! There are zillions of individuals and companies daily earning sack-loads of dosh from Oscar through publishing books (his or ones about him), staging plays, making films, TV programmes and recordings and using him to sell a variety of products from fridge magnets featuring his witticisms via finger puppets (yes, you did read that correctly, see left) and – featuring the rather good caricature below – roller blinds!

And the anomaly?

One of the last things Oscar said before he made his final exit was: "I am dying beyond my means!" He was indeed! Worth more today than he was even at the height of his fame, Oscar died broke!

It is always worth remembering that 'you can't take it with you' but it is surprising how many celebrated geniuses have not had to worry about that when drawing their last breath.

A recent blog has just published a post on '10 celebrated Geniuses Who Died Penniless' and it is an inspiring list that includes Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Socrates and Vincent van Gogh

It also features the tragic stories of Nikola Tesla and ––– Antonio Meucci... Antonio Who, you ask? Well, largely forgotten though he is (and skint though he was when he died) without Signor Meucci, Alexander Graham Bell would not have left us the Bell Telephone Company. 


In the wake of the The Sunday Times Rich List 2012, it is worth checking out some of those on the Poor List who have, nevertheless, enriched our world.