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1. Sannel's World of Poetry: A Cup full of Mindfulness

Sannel's World of Poetry: A Cup full of Mindfulness

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2. Seuss on Saturday #22

Dr. Seuss's ABC. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Big A
Little a
What begins with A?
Aunt Annie's alligator...A...a...A
Premise/plot: An alphabet book. What more can I say? There are silly sentences for each letter of the alphabet. For example, "Four fluffy feathers on a Fiffer-feffer-feff."

My thoughts: I like this one fine. I don't love it. I don't not-love it. Some sentences are funner or funnier to read aloud. Not all letters are equally delightful.

Have you read Dr. Seuss's ABC book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Hop on Pop.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Why Current UK Comic Conventions Are NOT Healthy For Comics

I have to say that comic events  are not healthy for those involved in this pretend industry.  I say that because it is NOT an industry.  Let me explain.

I've attended comic and zine events for a few decades. There were familiar faces but always a few new ones at events.  So you would meet someone or see books you had not before.  It kept things fresh. It does not work like that these days.

Firstly, as already explained, event organisers are pricing tables too high.  A small presser needs to accept that they are giving away books at these events because if they are making money  they are miracle workers.

Here is the posting that got me some very nasty responses -from event organisers.


What I did during the week was look at upcoming comic events (yes, I have not "won" a table at any of them....seriously) and who is exhibiting/selling at them.  With the odd exception -the same faces at every event.  So, as I used to do this sort of thing when it involved a table full of books, journals and files, I thought "it's all on the internet go on!"  Yes, I decided to see how varied attendances (Exhibitors/Dealers) at UK comic events going back five years.  

Well, the same comic creators with a very few minor variations, the same exhibitors and traders -again with only slight variations.  So, I went back ten years.  To me this was a bit shocking as the same thing applied.  As I have programs/catalogues from UK events I decided to delve back further. 

The last time comic events in the UK could be called fresh and unpredictable was the mid-1990s. From 2000 on it seems almost blindingly obvious (it is all there online if you have a few hours to waste) that events have developed into a little closed gang.  Everyone knows everyone else and tend to be selling the same books with occasionally announced "new books".

These are NOT people who depend on comics to earn a living.  The one thing I like about the internet is that social media and other outlets allow you to find out so much about people.  Who is a registered publisher and pays tax as a publisher earning an income and so on.  Social media also lets you learn more. People with full times employment and "do comics as a pastime". 

You can also see how the old back issue comic dealers have been squeezed out more and more and that means many have just gone out of business.  Some have gone to Ebay and found it such bad experiences that they quit and retire.

People "in comics" today do it to be part of a social club, to be "characters" but are not out to be full time comic publishers, earning a living from the medium.  They also have very little interest in comics outside of their own or those of their friends -I've observed this since 2000 events.  People interested in collecting old comics -the real comickers- have been pushed out.

With the Small or Alternative Press it is a hobby.  A group thing.  And, yes, the same people attend these events but they are not pretending to be comic publishers -very -very- few know anything about American comics let alone British comics.  They will all go to the same events but few will travel to events where they do not have the usual "entourage" -a group that basically hangs about but only buy from their specific creator and might look at other tables but they ain't buying.

The Small Press events seem to have their own individual "same old people" but that's no problem.  If they are not out to make money -a living- and its just fun why not?  It is a social thing.

But think of it from the perspective of a family group or individuals who pay money to get into an event and you hear "It seems to be all the same people as last time.  I haven't seen anything new" -and you've lost them.  I have heard that a few times. 

The old Bristol Expo used to have a good mix and events or items to interest families as well as the jaded old comicker.

I was noticing how the same old-same old faces were getting one or two tables for selling very limited numbers of books because they asked for two tables or three.  Now, a big publisher like Cinebook it is understandable as they have huge numbers of books.  But someone selling a new (single) book or 2-3 then if they have one table that is lost to another publisher who still pays but adds a new face to the crowd. Two tables should be two traders.  They still pay -even if they are not friends of the organisers.

I would really like to see the genuine comickers -those who collect and read comics- get back these events.  They are managing to do this in the US -the Clallam Bay Comic Con for one. 

Bring back the one day marts in your town.  A church hall, scout hall -it does not have to be a huge room so long as you can fit in tables, traders and comic buyers.  Work out the cost of hiring the hall and divide that up for the number of tables and that covers costs.

Charging £50, £60 and £80 tables are just plain extortion -in the US fans have started a backlash having realised events are getting more expensive for less event.  organisers are the only people doing really well!

If we really want to keep new people flowing into the hobby, and allow the old comickers to continue without being pushed out for cos-players (who generally do not go to events to buy comics) then changes must be made.

The one day marts need to return.

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4. Bloom: Flood!

Hi folks, last post in the BLOOM series.  Flooding has inundated Texas this month. I drove by the Navasota River yesterday, and it was at least a mile out of its banks.  I mean when it rains here it makes Seattle look like the sunshine city. My youngest nephew is spending the week with me because his house was flooded in Houston. I have been a busy bee.

It's a feast or famine situation in Texas. I have lived here for five years. Four of those years have been drought years. And finally we hit this year.  Yes, everything is blooming that isn't drowning.  My red daylily is just popping velvety bloom after velvety bloom, the first year that has happened since I planted them. I want that for my writing life.

Wait for your flood year. Life has a way of not clopping along at an even pace. This drives me crazy because I like a nice even pace.  I have had some dry years in a row.  I have big expectations of myself. I want to rattle the cages and shake the foundations worldwide. This is tough to do in the middle of a California drought.  I am working toward good climate change.

What can I do to bring water to my work? I plan to teach students how publishing works with my upcoming summer in my program at the local RINGER Library.  TeensPUBLISH for 7th through 12th graders. Wednesdays in June and July except July 1.Time: 2:30 to 5:00. For more info about this event and registration info, please follow this link. A creative experience like this will bring in some rain.

What else will I do? I'll convince you to check out my awesome book PLUMB CRAZY too! Here is a link to purchase it.  There is a lot of my heart on these pages. You might find a bit of your heart there too. I am always finding myself within the pages of a book. You need that!

So what to do while I wait for the flood. I keep working.  I hope you do too!  You are not alone, and the creative journey is worth it. I will be back next week with a summer series that is all about the journey to publishable works.   I hope you hang out for that. :)    Enjoy the sunshine when you can find it. Seize the day!

Here is a doodle for your life.  "Fire Sky"

Here is a quote for pocket.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus

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5. Pepper & Poe (2015)

Pepper & Poe. Frann Preston-Gannon. 2015. [July] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pepper loved Sundays. Pepper loved Mondays too. Tuesdays…were usually pretty enjoyable. But on Wednesdays, something changed.

Premise/Plot: On the Wednesday in question, Pepper is surprised--and not pleasantly--by the addition of a new kitten to the family. Does Pepper like the new kitten, Poe? NO! Pepper has a hard time adjusting. But, after a few days, by the time Sunday rolls around again, Pepper has made peace with Poe--to a certain extent.

My thoughts: I loved it. I did. I love Pepper. I love Poe. I found them adorable. I really love, love, love the illustrations. I think this book is super-cute and sweet. Cat lovers may find this one too cute to resist.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Ah, Youth!

Younger people slake their thirst - 
No reason to endure it - 
With water or another drink
As quick as they procure it.

But older folk will agonize
Although they may secure it,
'Cause if they drink enough to quench,
Their bladders just can't store it.

Though young and old alike may share
A quenching-thirst ability,
It's only older ones who care
'Bout where's the next facility.

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7. All About Them Books

This darling video by a librarian in Worthington says it all!

And may I just add, how am I supposed to get any work done when THIS showed up in yesterday's mail:

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8. May Madness



What, gone already?

May was super-busy but brim-full of wonderful events and activities.

For three days, Father R and I attended a healing conference where we taught together on Listening Prayer and Forgiveness. We also ministered in prayer to many individuals, and these prayer times were powerful! God really showed up to do the work. It was a joy and privilege to partner with Him. We were so thankful that nearly a dozen from our church were able to attend.

We also spent a lot of time in prayer as a church in May. Every night, for the week between Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, we met to intercede for our church and its call to minister in this community. We were joined one night by a Hispanic prayer warrior from another church, another night by the pastor of a black church that we are forming a relationship with, and another night 4 Guatemalans who were passing through town prayed with us. Just as the disciples waited in the Upper Room for the Holy Spirit to come, we lingered in our living room each night listening for the Lord's direction and praying for his will to be done in Kenosha and our surrounding communities. These were powerful times! We had a blessed service on Pentecost, and one family who has been attending regularly decided that day to become members. We are so thankful to God for what He is doing at Light of Christ!

B20's graduation from the Living Light School of Worship marked the end of a rich season for him. It's been a year of intensive Bible study and discipleship, as well as music theory, ear training, songwriting and other classes. It ended up being one of the most challenging, but rewarding, years of his life! What's next? For the summer, he'll be working at Starbucks (he started there a few months ago) and at another retail store. He will probably start taking college classes in the fall, but he is praying for God's direction and clear guidance as he considers his future.

In theater, after Jungle Book closed, the kids had their final Showcase for their classes. B10 sang with his voice class, Chicklet12 danced with her Project Dance Jr class, and B16 performed with his improv team. The improv team will continue to practice and perform throughout June, in preparation for the Improvapalooza, a big competition among all 11 Spotlight improv teams, which B16 is really looking forward to!

We also had Showcase for the Shakespeare class that I taught for Spotlight in Lake County. I was so proud of my students! They performed a scene from Much Ado About Nothing, with 16 kids stepping in and out to play the various roles. I am already revising and strengthening my lesson plans for the next time I teach this class, which will be in Milwaukee in the fall.

In other theater news, I was invited to be assistant director for a summer Shakespeare program at the Rhode Theater here in Kenosha. The lead director condensed two plays into abridged, one-act versions, and I will be working on the one-act of Macbeth. We held two nights of auditions this week and just published the cast list this morning. We have an excellent cast, and I'm excited to work with an experienced Shakespearean director and get to know a new group of adult and teenage actors! 

May was also filled with B10's soccer practices and games, and now baseball season has begun as well. Chicklet's homeschool PE class at Carthage College just ended, and our classical co-op ended at the end of April. B16's Chorale held their spring concert; he had one solo and he performed with the Madrigal Singers as well. He got 1's (top marks) on four out of five of his State Solo and Ensemble entries, including 1's on both his Classical and Musical Theater solos. Another big accomplishment for B16, back in April, was getting his driver's license!

Farewell, May! Maybe next time you can stay a little longer!

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9. The Book Bar welcomes you

Raising the bar on reading!

Welcome to The Book Bar today everyone.  Please order up your favourite drink and get ready to head into the lounge where our new guest is looking forward to meeting us.   He graciously consented to doing a guest article to share and of course give us an introduction to his newest book.  I want to introduce you to.... B. D. Bruns.  Here's a little background on him before we get started:

Adventurer B. D. Bruns has traveled to over 50 countries to gather material for his bestselling books. He’s won 19 national and international book awards, including three national Book of the Year awards. Bruns’ first fiction book, The Gothic Shift (2014) won the International Book Awards Best Short Story Collection. He also contributes to Yahoo Travel, BBC, CNN, The Daily Beast, and The Travel Channel.

Bruns’ travel adventures span from entering the Pyramids of Giza and swimming in the Panama Canal to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and touring Torture Museums in Estonia. He has attended ceremonies from the descendants of cannibals in the South Pacific and has been consulted by a ghost tour in Malta. After residing in Dracula’s hometown for several years, Bruns moved to Las Vegas with his Romanian wife, where they live with two cats, Julius and Caesar.

In his own words....

Vampire Glitter and Zombie Stickers

Once I loved vampires and zombies, but no more. Like kids at the end of Halloween night, weve eaten too much of the good stuff. Weve been so saturated with these trite baddies that content providers are desperate to find a new spin on them. True, new spins are not new. Anne Rice brought rock-n-roll to vampires decades ago. But cant we all agree that vampires are about more than teen angst? Im all for a whole new generation of teens falling in love with vampires and werewolves, but surely Dracula would rather meet Van Helsing than Edward. And zombies? In multiple recent adaptations zombies run faster than Usain Bolt. 

We’ve lost sight of what made our most iconic nasties nasty in the first place. Real fear is the discomfort of encountering something that defies our understanding of the world. 

Vampires and zombies are now so mainstream that little old ladies display car stickers of their undead grandchildren. We must not let our baddies become so accessible. Monsters are supposed to be worse than teen angst. Sure, it’s awful and stuff, but it’s just not good enough. Revving up classic horror icons with video game frenetics isnt good enough, either. It wont stand the test of time. It may entertain but it will not keep you up at night. We must return to the source!

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” - H.P. Lovecraft

Of course, the unknown is precisely what publishers and Hollywood say they want, but clearly don’t. The unknown is risky, and business is business. So they want familiar baddies with a proven track record of financial success. So, is originality doomed? Not at all! One can revisit a classic without destroying what made it, well, classic. May I suggest a good mash up? Keep the best of things and find new, exciting ways to combine them together. Look at American Horror Story. They give us all the stuff we want to see with a fresh spin, like their third season, Coven: witches and voodoo queens in a turf war in New Orleans. They are devilishly clever at incorporating disparate themes and, in the process, creating a fundamentally unique story. But their witches are still witches and voodoo is still voodoo. 

Im no thriller purist: its all for entertainment, after all. I fully supported Michael Jackson’s use of zombies in Thriller. Just dont dilute the monsters to the point where little old ladies think they’re cute. Monsters have dignity, too. 

My newest book...

A fishing village nestled in Italian cliffs, peopled by simple folk with religion and superstition. A b
An edge of your seat thriller set on the exotic Amalfi coast. An exorcism was the first thought but last desire of Giuseppe. His contentment working with his sister at their ancient paper mill in 1860s Italy is shattered when he witnesses Old Man Grapaldi sum- moning the Devil. Omens from the sea threaten the village and bizarre, violent happenings at their mill threaten his family. With their church rocked by inner turmoil and so many good men succumbing to dark secrets, Giuseppe himself must overcome his fears and his physical handicap to save his beloved sister.

My take...

The book just keeps you turning pages.  The characters are so believable and the suspense amazing.  The time period and the setting just add to the terror of the plot.  I am not usually a fan of this genre but I really enjoyed the book from beginning to end.  The author has a gift of painting vivid word images in your head...and in your heart.  I highly recommend this book.

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10. Just WHY Is No Businessman or Existing Publishing House Getting Involved With UK Comics?


We know that there is no comic industry in the UK. 

With the exception of Cinebook The 9th Art, which specialises in publishing Franco-Belgian comic albums in the English language.  Future generations of UK kids will grow up on these albums but not, sadly, UK originated comics.

 above Chris Weston's The Spider artwork

I have had a couple of conversations with companies this week but it was the same thing "We simply do not publish comics.  We couldn't compete with Marvel" oh, and (incredibly!!) "You ought to contact the guy does a website called Comic Bits Online, he's always banging on about British comics".....he seemed taken aback when I said "That's me"   but added "Well, there you go then"

There I go then -what?!

I think the last person who knew the UK comics industry for almost 45 years retired in...2000?  A year later I was told in a letter regarding IPC and Fleetway-Egmont "How the mighty have fallen!"

The idea that "only the Americans can do super heroes" is ludicrous.  There is still this stupidity that exists in the UK.  Back when we did have a comics industry I was told by top management and even senior editors that "We don't get super heroes.  We just don't do them because they are an American thing" -when I rolled off a list of characters I was told "Oh, those are action or masked adventurers!"  So WTF are super heroes.

Below: British Super Soldier Captain Hurricane

I mean, The Spider, Gadget Man and Gimmick Kid, The Phantom Viking, Kelly's Eye, Rubberman, Tri-man, Steel Claw (costumed for a brief period in the late 1960s), General Jumbo, Billy The Cat, The Leopard From Lime Street, The Iron Fish, Danger Man, The Black Sapper, Spring Heeled Jack (take your pick!), King Cobra, Nick Jolly -even Captain Hurricane, a World War 2 commando was a kind of "super-soldier" -especially after his "raging furies"!

The list goes on and on and that is just from the former "Big Two" -the Scottish company whose name must ne'er be spoke" and Fleetway/Amalgamated Press/IPC.

Last year (I think it was up-dated) I wrote this post so I'm adding more to it.  It will be my ultimate piece on the subject.


....until next time.

The Improbability Of The British Super Hero


“Hmm. Don’t you understand?  Think about it –we have no skyscrapers!  How can you have American style super heroes in England?”

Those were the words of a Marvel UK editor (Dave White) back in the 1980s as I sat across from him having travelled from Bristol to London at his suggestion to discuss new projects.  About a month later a very senior Marvel UK editor responded in the same words but adding “That is why UK comics have never had super heroes.”

Firstly, as I pointed out to Dave White, we are the UK. Britain. You think of characters for a comic as being English you are excluding Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  Why?

My response to the senior editor is probably why things went a little “odd” work-wise.  My first response was “So, what exactly is Marvel UK publishing? And Power Comics (Odhams) before it? And…” I went on to rattle off a very, very long list of British super characters going back to the 1940s.  I think I ticked him off.  Really, he should have known better though, in one respect, he was right.

British comics never had super heroes.

Before you start thinking that I’m on new medications and answering “Yes” and “No” at the same time allow me to explain.

Tim (Kelly’s Eye) Kelly travelled the world and even in time and space at one point and was totally indestructible.  He was not a super hero.  Yes, he was what some called a "supernatural character" or "magic character" because of the mystic amulet.  And later on science fiction as he travelled in time.

Clem Macy, television news reporter had a costumed archer alter ego…The Black Archer.  He was not a super hero.

Cathy had amazing cat-like abilities and wore a costume.  She was not a super heroine.

William and Kathleen Grange were incredible acrobats and wore costumes as Billy the Cat and Katie The Cat.  They were not super heroes.


 Robots were big in the 1950s-1960s and Robot Archie was merely a remote controlled robot, from The Green Peril (The Jungle Robot) to travelling the world and, later on via tower-like device, travelling in time and space.  Yes, he foiled bank robberies and other criminal masterminds but he was not a super hero just a sci fi robot.

Likewise, the British secret weapon known as The Steel Commando was nothing more than that -though he answered only to Lance Corporal Ernie Bates' voice and seemed at times to make his own decisions -sometimes with very odd and funny consequences.

In fact, for my graphic novel featuring many old IPC and Fleetway costumed characters, The Looking Glass, I noted several times that the characters were not super heroes.  In the UK we tended to call them “costumed adventurers” or even “masked crime fighters” but not super heroes.

Some, of course, were…uh..”revived” for the Wildstorm Studios Albion mini series which had great art but, sadly, showed a lack of any real knowledge of the characters by the writers –which they admitted to.  In comics you get paying work you take it!

Below: Tri-Man. He wears a costume.  Has super powers.  Fights crime.  Obviously 'not' a super hero!

Characters such as Adam Eterno, the focal point in the Looking Glass story had no choice and were at times almost anti-heroes. 

Whereas The Spider had a choice of being a master crook and then changing sides (basically all ego driven), Eterno did not.  He was cursed to be taken by the mists of time from one period to another where he encountered Spanish Conquistadores, pirates, sorcerers and even modern day (well, 1970s) crooks.

Olaf (“Loopy”) Larsen a rather meek school teacher found the Viking helmet of one of his ancestors and, donning it (that’s putting it on his head) became a super strong, flying Viking hero…The Phantom Viking.  There are stories of The Phantom Viking rescuing ships and much more and not a skyscraper in sight.

The great exponents of British roof-top crime-busting were, first, Billy The Cat and later Katie The Cat.  Running across the rooftops and leaping the often not so great gaps between one row of terraced houses and another, the duo were the fictional ancestors of today’s urban free-style runners/jumpers –examples found here:


To most people who never get to see the rooves of terraced houses they assume they are all steep and sloping.  However, having on two occasions chased someone across terraced root-tops I can tell you there is plenty of room to move about (though at my age I now look back and get nauseous over that memory!).

Later, in the 1970s, William Farmer became the costumed crime-fighter known as The Leopard From Lime Street.  As one Fleetway boss told me (later confirmed by artist Mike Western) “Thomson had a schoolboy who fights crooks in a costume and if Billy the Cat was popular I was sure we could do better!”

Interestingly, in the Billy The Cat series he was later to be hunted as a vigilante by authorities who did not like what he was doing.  Likewise, The Leopard was also hunted down at one point.  In fact, a number of British comic crime-fighters found themselves not just ducking the crooks out for revenge but also the very side they were fighting for!

Towns, cities, villages, countryside, coastal locations –all featured in some very fun stories that endure in the memory to this day.  And not a bloody skyscraper in sight!

Now look at the UK again (or any country in Europe since this applies there, also -though Hexagon and Wanga comics are doing great work in France):  seaside resorts and coastal towns -in some of these areas larger "sea front tower blocks" have been built but even without those you have piers, amusement arcades/parks, sea forts, oil rigs out to sea -there is so much.

Towns and cities speak for themselves and Bristol has a mix of Medieval right through to ultra modern buildings and water fronts (our European colleagues in Germany did a lot of landscaping work for us between 1941-1944).  But there are underground caverns, cliffs, caves, old mine workings run many many miles from one end of the city to another and most are 'lost' or forgotten about.  And Pen Park Hole -wow.

Did I mention forestry and woodland?

And our ancient sites -everyone knows Stone Henge- but The Severn Sisters, Callanish, Avebury and even ancient woodland mazes -in Wales there are said to be ancient forests areas of which no one has probably ever seen.

Below:Callanish stones

There are the Green Man legends....

And then there are mountains and moors, ancient cave complexes and even underground lakes.

Just why would you need skyscrapers if you have all that -unless you lack imagination!

I used to love to watch the Narri Narro Festival in Germany where regional teams took part dressed as legends or myths from those areas.  In the UK there are the Green Children of Woolpit, Suffolk (12th Century)...

 And  there are many others to which we had the very well known ones.  King Arthur has been, perhaps, "over exposed" and we could say the same of Merlyn, but Merlyn is the British character intertwined in so many myths and legends that to ignore him would be rude!

When UK creators were recruited to save the ailing US comic companies such as DC in the 1980s (I was at those UK comic art conventions watching how desperate they were to recruit British talent –and in some cases introduced both parties to each other) the idea of outlawing super heroes and tracking them down so they could be arrested was a new concept....to Americans. 

In the UK we’d been doing that since the 1940s ( thanks to the creators who churned out material for publishers such as Gerald Swan)!

The mistake in the minds of publishers is that they equate costumed crime-fighters with skyscrapers and the United States.  Despite the long history of such characters in the UK going back to the Boys Papers of the 1900-1930s.

What it says, really, is “This is just a job.  I don’t care about comics history.”

The Scottish company whose name must ne'er be spoke (may they be forever cursed in the hallowed halls of British Comics Hell) have enough characters to produce good costumed-crime-fighter comics.  The same applied to IPC who appear to have now taken the stance (a letter to me from senior management dated 19th July, 2011) “We were once publishing comics but that was over 30 years ago and have no further interest in comics.” Of course, had a rich stable of characters.

I have no doubt at all that a good “super hero” comics could work in the UK but so few Independent Comics writers/publishers seem to be able to produce an obscenities free script that does not also include over the top violence and rape –the “Millar-Ennis-Morrison Legacy (MEML).”

But let’s mention, I really must, two shining examples of British “Super Heroes” by British creators that have excellent plotting, story and action without having to resort to the MEML.
Jack Staff and cast
The first is, naturally, Paul Grist’s Jack Staff.  Okay, he’s never accepted my offer to interview him in the last decade but I’ll not hold that against him!  When I first saw Jack Staff I thought “**** that anatomy is really off!”  I bought a copy.  I’m a comics bitch, I just can’t help it.

I read through issue 1 and do you know what? I..I..deep breath…I enjoyed it!  There it’s out now!  The anatomy did not put me off and, as the manager of Forbidden Planet (Bristol) said “It doesn’t make a blind bit of difference –it’s so enjoyable!” With references to old British TV comedy series and so much more each issue of Jack Staff was a must read. There was, I must point out here, a major flaw in each issue. There were not enough pages!

And while Grist takes a break from Jack Staff he came up with a new series –Mud-Man (which should not be confused with my German character Schlamm Mann –mud-man!).  Lovely stuff but, again, the major fault of not enough pages but maybe that is why this works: it is almost episodic like old British weekly strips…but with more pages…okay. Grist wins.

A boy with a remote control Army, Navy and Air Force stopping bad guys. General Jumbo 0'not' a super hero!

Then we have, and I have to say this on bended knees and in very humble tone…Nigel Dobbyn. When someone told me that he was drawing Billy The Cat I remember thinking to myself “I wonder whether his art style is any different than when he was drawing for Super Adventure Stories?”  (a 1980s comic zine).  I opened up the comic and a big thought balloon appeared above my head in which was written in bold Comic Sans “WOW!”

The style and colouring I had not seen outside of European comics (say Cyrus Tota’s work on Photonik).  After that I never missed an issue and I made a point of grabbing The Beano Annual as soon as it appeared in shops. But with this incredible talent working for them did Thomson take advantage?  No, they did something ensuring he would not work on new strips for them.  The story can be found here:


You want to see how good Dobbyn is?  Visit his website which has great art on show including Billy The Cat colour pages:


Dobbyn even re-introduced (with help from scripter Kev F. Sutherland, of course) General Jumbo but as The General.  In fact, you go over those issues and I can see why so many people were telling me that they only bought copies for Billy The Cat. I could drool on and wax lyrical for hours about Dobbyn’s style and colouring.

Now here is the real kicker.  Two talents such as Grist and Dobbyn whom any UK publisher (I know –“Who??”) should be fighting, spitting and kicking to get their hands on but are they?  Nope.  And while Grist publishes his books via Image Comics you have to wonder why Marvel or DC have not tried to get him on a title?  Could it be his style is just not understandable by people in US Comics such as Joe “I’ll sell that for a Dollar” Quesada or Dan “I’ve had another brilliant idea on how to destroy DC” Didio?  What of Dobbyn, then?

I know that if as a publisher I had the money I’d be employing both full time!!

I need to stop mentioning Dobbyn now as my knees hurt (a lot) and it’s hard typing from this position.

What both creators have shown is that there really do not have to be skyscrapers for a “super hero.”  There is enough car crime, drug crime…violent crime of most types going on in the UK and believe it or not none involve a single skyscraper.  Incredible, isn’t it?

Also, the UK is rich in legends, myths, fairy tales and much more that are just crying out to be included in storylines.  The reason the Americans and other comic readers world-wide like UK strips is because they are uniquely British.  In India, particularly in Southern India, The Steel Claw, Robot Archie, The Spider and many others are still very popular in reprint form over 35 years since they last appeared in print here.
Above: Black Tower specialises in two things when it comes to new characters -super heroes and the supernatural/horror.  Kotar & Sabuta by Ben R. Dilworth.

Of course, now that the Evil Empire (Disney) has extended its stranglehold on Marvel (Panini) UK nothing new from the UK is allowed –though why doesn’t Panini with all its international branches pull in some new characters/books of their own? 

Oh. Its cheaper to publish reprint material, isn’t it?  I can be so silly!

Black Tower Comics has published a wide range of comics and the costumed crime-fighters (or even non-costumed in the case of Krakos) are the most popular.

No one is challenging Disney since its policy seems to be "make all comics American" and no one is challenging DC.  It is NOT how you go into this.  I've seen babies clothed in Marvel/DC super hero clothing, Avengers shoe laces, lunch boxes, Pez dispensers, t-shirts, socks, action figures, toy cars sweets -basically on everything.  Do you think that kids look at something and say "I could not possibly look at that comic.  It may have super heroes and be colourful but, really, it isn't Marvel, is it?"

Do my great nephews care if it's Marvel or DC or some other super hero? No. It's super heroes and that is that.

So the market is there but where are the money-men, the backers needed to help revive the corpse that is British comics so that it can proudly boast an industry once more that takes advantage of talents such as Grist, Dobbyn and Jon Haward?   And rake in some of that money!

However improbable British super heroes might seem to sum I can tell you they are not.  There is a history going back 80 years and even longer if you include the Penny Dreadfuls of the Victorian era.

Here endeth the sermon.

Garen's Billy the Cat



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11. Last Sweet Greencastle Days

I fly home tonight to Boulder for two weeks, followed by five blissful days at the Children's Literature Association Conference held this year in Richmond, Virginia, then back to Greencastle to deal with a few things, and then the long drive home to return to my Boulder world for the summer.

Boulder's summer pleasures are unsurpassed: hiking on the trails up the Rocky Mountains just blocks from my door, the Colorado Music Festival at Chautauqua, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, writing days with my friend Jeannie, walks with our little dog, evenings at the park with Kataleya.

But Greencastle pleasures are sweet, too. Maybe all pleasures are sweetest when we are about to abandon them, at least temporarily.

Last night was a typical Greencastle evening:

Dinner with my friend Keith at Chief's, where the waitress knows that I always order a glass of Merlot and often my entire supper consists of one of their melt-in-your-mouth sweet potatoes, complete with butter and brown sugar. Sometimes they run out, but last night she greeted me with: "I just checked. We still have four!"  My meal of Merlot, sweet potato, veg o' day (yellow squash and zucchini), and extremely delicious bread pudding for dessert totaled $11.

Then, wandering a block over to a new gallery space on the courthouse square for a pioneering First Friday exhibit of art by Putnam County artists including my children's book author-illustrator friend Troy Cummings. The gathering was thronged with DePauw friends. The scrumptious lemon scones were provided by a colleague who is planning to open Kate's Bakery and Cafe on the square soon, a much-needed replacement for my dearly departed Blue Door Cafe.

Walking toward home later, on a perfect late May evening, I spied my friends Jen and Jeane outside at a little table on the patio of the Fluttering Duck, sipping their Chardonnay. I stopped to say hello. Would I care to join them? Well, indeed, I would. We sat there till dark, and past dark, talking, talking, talking, about everything from childrearing challenges (mainly concerning differing views on the Tooth Fairy) to how to live a life that balances appropriate outrage at the world's injustices with deep contentment at its wonders and marvels.

So that was my evening, one like all my others here, and one unlike any other, as it was the last-for-now. This is the life I love and the life I'll be leaving behind now, for another life I love, too, with a sad-and-happy heart.

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12. A Hotel in Venice Cover by Margot Justes

 I thought I'd share with you the cover for A Hotel in Venice, scheduled for release end of June, 2015.

A romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a shimmer reflected in the moonlit night, and the beginning of murder and mayhem for Minola Grey and Peter Riley.

Margot  Justes

Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

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13. Ultron Funk - Avengers Age of Ultron Song Parody

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14. गर्भावस्था के दौरान

मेरी पडोसन शीना गर्भवती थी. पडोस मे रहने की वजह से मेरी जिम्मेदारी बढ गई थी कि उसका ख्याल रखूं वैसे भी वो नव विवाहिता है शादी के बाद तीसरे महीने मे ही वो गर्भवती हो गई.  आज जब मैं उसके घर गई तो वो टीवी पर कोई हारर मूवी  देख रही थी. अरे !! … ये मत देखो बच्चे पर बुरा असर पड सकता है. उसने तुरंत टीवी बंद कर दिया. वाकई में, गर्भावस्था के दौरान  बहुत ध्यान देने की जरुरत होती है. बेशक टीवी चैनल ढेर सारे हैं और हमारा मंनोरंजन भी करते हैं पर इस बात का भी बहुत ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि क्या देखें और क्या नही. मुझे याद है गीता(मेरी सहेली)  ने अपने समय बहुत धार्मिक किताबें पढी थी और रोज सुबह पूजा करती थी आज उसका बेटा 10 साल का है और वो हमेशा अच्छी किताबे पढने में ही लगा रहता है. एक अन्य सहेली सविता को चाय अच्छी नही लगती थी उसने चाय पीना बिल्कुल छोड दिया और आज देखो उसका बेटा 20 साल का हो गया नौकरी भी करने लगा पर आज तक उसने चाय का स्वाद नही लिया  जबकि मेरी सहेली ने बेटे को जन्म देते ही चाय पी और उसे बहुत स्वादिष्ट लगी. अच्छा साहित्य, साफ मन( चुगली चपाटी  नही) , स्वच्छ हवा से मन प्रसन्न रहता है और बच्चे पर इसका बहुत अच्छा असर पडता है

dont forget nine rules in pregnancy

दुनिया के सभी धर्म ग्रंथों ने रिश्तों में मां का दर्जा सबसे ऊंचा माना है। संतान की पहली गुरु मां होती है। वही उसे पालती है। उसकी गोद में बच्चा जो भाषा सीखता है उसे मातृभाषा कहा जाता है। हमारी सनातन संस्कृति में गौरीशंकर, सीताराम, राधेश्याम जैसे नाम रखने की परंपरा भी यह साबित करती है कि मां का स्थान दुनिया के और दस्तूरों से बड़ा और सबसे पहले है। ऋषियों, दार्शनिकों ने ग्रंथों में ऐसी कई बातों का उल्लेख किया है जिनका ध्यान गर्भवती महिला को रखना चाहिए, क्योंकि उसका उल्लंघन न सिर्फ बच्चे के लिए, बल्कि उसके लिए भी हानिकारक हो सकता है।

जानिए  ऐसी ही कुछ बातें- 1- गर्भावस्था में मल-मूत्र, अपानवायु, छींक, प्यास, भूख, नींद, खांसी, जम्हाई जैसे आवेगों को रोकना नहीं चाहिए। साधारण अवस्था में भी इन्हें रोकने से हानि होती है, इसलिए गर्भावस्था में इन्हें कभी नहीं रोकना चाहिए।2-  क्रोध न करें, अप्रिय बातें न सुनें, न करें। वाद-विवाद में न पड़ें। भयानक दृश्य, टीवी-सिनेमा के ऐसे कार्यक्रम जो डरावने हों, न देखें। तीव्र व तीखी ध्वनि उत्पन्न करने वाले स्थानों से दूर रहें।3- रात्रि को देर तक न जागें। सुबह देर तक न सोएं। दोपहर को थोड़ा विश्राम करें लेकिन बहुत गहरी नींद न लें।4- सख्त, पथरीले, टेढे़ स्थानों पर न बैठें। पर्वत, ऊंचे घर, लंबी सीढ़ियां, रेत के टीले पर न चढ़ें।5- बहुत चुस्त और गहरे रंग के वस्त्र न पहनें। इस दौरान अधिक आभूषण पहनना भी हानिकारक होता है।6- हमेशा करवट लेकर ही सोएं। करवट को समय-समय पर बदलें। घुटने मोड़कर, सीधे या उल्टे सोने से नुकसान हो सकता है।7- दुर्गंध वाले स्थानों, खट्टे खाद्य पदार्थ वाले वृक्षों, अत्यधिक धूप और पानी के सरोवर से दूर रहें।8- अनुभवी वैद्य या चिकित्सक की सलाह के बिना कोई औषधि न लें। जोर-जोर से सांस न लें। सांस को रोकने की कोशिश न करें।9- अपने इष्ट देव का ध्यान करें लेकिन लंबे उपवास न करें। अत्यधिक वात कारक, मिर्च-मसालेदार, बासी पदार्थ तथा मादक पदार्थों का सेवन कभी नहीं करना चाहिए  Read more…

इसी के साथ साथ …

स्ट्रेच मार्क्स पर ध्यान न दें जैसे-जैसे पेट का आकार बढ़ता है, उस पर स्ट्रेच लाइंस आती ही हैं। इस बात को स्वीकार करें और इन लाइंस पर अधिक ध्यान न दें। संपूर्ण आहार और विटामिन ई युक्त मॉइस्चराइजिंग लोशन या तेल लगाकर आप इन्हें कम कर सकती हैं। प्रतिदिन स्नान के बाद इस लोशन को लगाएं, क्योंकि इस समय त्वचा तेजी से नमी सोख सकती है।

त्वचा का खास ख्याल रखें
नौ महीनों के दौरान त्वचा और बालों का विशेष ख्याल रखें। एक चम्मच दही और बादाम तेल की कुछ बूंदों को मिलाएं। इसमें थोड़ा गुलाब जल डालें। इसे त्वचा पर मलें और कुछ देर सूखने के बाद धो दें। इससे त्वचा कोमल होती है। इसके अलावा 4 चम्मच क्रीम, 1-1 चम्मच बादाम तेल, खीरे का रस, शहद, गुलाब जल और नीबू का रस मिला लें। इसे छोटे से डिब्बे में रखकर फ्रिज में रख दें। इसे हर रात लगाएं और सुबह धो दें। इससे त्वचा में चमक बढ़ेगी।

सन्स्क्रीन का प्रयोग:
गर्भावस्था के दौरान त्वचा का काला पड़ना एक आम समस्या है। आपके चेहरे की रंगत फीकी पड़ सकती है, साथ ही पेट के आसपास के हिस्से में भी कालापन बढ़ने लगता है। यह मुख्य रूप से शरीर में मेलानिन पिग्मेंट के बढ़ने के कारण होता है। इस पर नियंत्रण रखने के लिए आप सन्स्क्रीन लोशन और स्क्रब लगा सकती हैं …

खूब पानी पीना,  हरी सब्जी खाना और व्यायाम के साथ साथ तनाव नही रखना पूरा ध्यान इस बात पर रहना चाहिए कि आपका बच्चा तंदुरुस्त हो और हां सबसे जरुरी बार तो बताना ही भूल गई स्माईल रहनी चाहिए आपके चेहरे पर ताकि बच्चा भी हमेशा मुस्कुराता रहे …  बाकि समय समय पर अपनी डाक्टर से जानकारी लेते रहिए और … और … और अपना ख्याल रखिएगा होने वाली मम्मी :)


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15. Week in Review: May 24-30

Pepper & Poe. Frann Preston-Gannon. 2015. [July] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Egypt Game. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 1967/2009. Simon & Schuster. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time. Tom Santopietro. 2015. St. Martin's Press. 324 pages. [Source: Library]
Palace of Stone. (Princess Academy #2) Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
The Forgotten Sisters. (Princess Academy #3) Shannon Hale. 2015. Bloomsbury. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Rook. Sharon Cameron. 2015. Scholastic. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Touch of Stardust. Kate Alcott. 2015. Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
The Amazing Stardust Friends #2 Be A Star. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Dr. Seuss's ABC. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
Jesus, Continued: Why The Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You. J.D. Greear. 2014. Zondervan. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith. Aimee Byrd. 2015. P&R. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World. Edited by Kathleen Nielson and D.A. Carson. 2015. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

I really enjoyed The Egypt Game. I also found Rook to be great fun. If you're looking for cute, sweet, and adorable then Pepper & Poe would definitely appeal!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Elevator Pitches

You never know when an agent or editor will ask what your book is about.


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17. हमारी धरोहर

हमारी धरोहर जोकि खंडहर होती जा रही हैं. आजकल ऐतिहासिक  धारावाहिको का बहुत बोलबाला है . अच्छा भी है इसी बहाने ही सही हमें अपने इतिहास की जानकारी मिलती है कि उस समय उनका रहन सहन, खान पान, आभूषण आदि पहनावा कैसा था और सबसे ज्यादा आकर्षित करती है उस जमाने की इमारते … बडे बडे ऊंचे महल जोकि आज खंडहर हो चुके  हैं . वैसे कम से कम हम उन खंडहरों को तो देख पा रहे हैं यही हालात रहे तो पर आगे आनी वाली पीढी तो ये भी नही देख पाएगी. अफसोस ये सिर्फ धारावाहिको तक में  ही सिमट कर रह जाएगा. कुछ समय पहले  दिल्ली में हुमायूं के मकबरे को देखने का मौका मिला. उसकी ना सिर्फ मरम्मत की गई है बल्कि मूल भवन निर्माण सामग्री और तकनीकों का इस्तेमाल कर उसके सौंदर्य की पुनर्प्रतिष्ठा भी कर दी गई पर दिल्ली और देश के बाकी धरोहरों का क्या?


विश्व धरोहर स्थल

मानवता के लिए अत्यंत महत्व की जगह, जो आगे आने वाली पीढि़यों के लिए बचाकर रखी जानी होती हैं, उन्हें विश्व धरोहर स्थल (बाहरी वेबसाइट जो एक नई विंडों में खुलती हैं) के रूप में जाना जाता है। ऐसे महत्वपूर्ण स्थलों के संरक्षण की पहल यूनेस्को द्वारा की गई। इस आशय की एक अंतर्राष्ट्रीय संधि जो कि विश्व सांस्कृतिक और प्राकृतिक धरोहर संरक्षण की बात करती है के 1972 में लागू की गई।

विश्व धरोहर समिति इस संधि के तहत् निम्न तीन श्रेणियों में आने वाली संपत्तियों को शामिल करती है –

प्राकृतिक धरोहर स्थल – ऐसी धरोहर भौतिक या भौगोलिक प्राकृतिक निर्माण का परिणाम या भौतिक और भौगोलिक दृष्टि से अत्यंत सुंदर या वैज्ञानिक महत्व की जगह या भौतिक और भौगोलिक महत्व वाली यह जगह किसी विलुप्ति के कगार पर खड़े जीव या वनस्पति का प्राकृतिक आवास हो सकती है।
सांस्कृतिक धरोहर स्थल – इस श्रेणी की धरोहर में स्मारक, स्थापत्य की इमारतें, मूर्तिकारी, चित्रकारी, स्थापत्य की झलक वाले, शिलालेख, गुफा आवास और वैश्विक महत्व वाले स्थान; इमारतों का समूह, अकेली इमारतें या आपस में संबद्ध इमारतों का समूह; स्थापत्य में किया मानव का काम या प्रकृति और मानव के संयुक्त प्रयास का प्रतिफल, जो कि ऐतिहासिक, सौंदर्य, जातीय, मानवविज्ञान या वैश्विक दृष्टि से महत्व की हो, शामिल की जाती हैं।
मिश्रित धरोहर स्थल – इस श्रेणी के अंतर्गत् वह धरोहर स्थल आते हैं जो कि प्राकृतिक और सांस्कृतिक दोनों ही रूपों में महत्वपूर्ण होती हैं।

भारत को विश्व धरोहर सूची में 14 नवंबर 1977 में स्थान मिला। तब से अब तक पांच भारतीय स्थलों को विश्व धरोहर स्थल के रूप में घोषित किया जा चुका है। इसके अलावा फूलों की घाटी को नंदा देवी राष्ट्रीय पार्क के एक भाग रूप में इस सूची में शामिल कर लिया गया है।

भारतीय विश्व धरोहर स्थल –

काजीरंगा राष्ट्रीय पार्क (1985)
केवलादेव राष्ट्रीय पार्क (1985)
मानस वन्यजीव सेंक्चुरी (1985)
नंदा देवी (1988) तथा फूलों की घाटी (2005), नंदा देवी राष्ट्रीय पार्क के विस्तार के रूप में
सुदरबन राष्ट्रीय पार्क (1987)

http://www.dw.de/धरोहर-संभालना-कब-सीखेगा-भारत/a-17181439बदहाल इमारते

पर क्या हमने इससे कोई सबक लिया? बिलकुल नहीं. आजादी के समय हमारे देश में ऐतिहासिक महत्व की जितनी इमारतें थीं, आज उनकी तादाद काफी हद तक घट चुकी है. अनेक इमारतों पर लोगों ने अवैध कब्जे कर लिए, तोड़ कर नई इमारतें खड़ी कर लीं और उनके इर्द-गिर्द इतना निर्माण कर लिया कि उन ऐतिहासिक इमारतों की पहचान ही खत्म हो गई. दूर क्यों जाएं, राजधानी दिल्ली की ही बात करें. ऐतिहासिक निजामुद्दीन बस्ती की जिस इमारत में सुल्तान मुहम्मद बिन-तुगलक के शासनकाल में महान यायावर इब्नबतूता आकर रहे थे, उसे भी तोड़ दिया गया है और उसकी जगह नया भवन बना लिया गया है. पुलिस और नगर निगम ऐसी घटनाओं के मूक दर्शक बने रहते हैं. अव्वल तो पुरातात्विक सर्वेक्षण स्वयं इस प्रकार की घटनाओं के प्रति उदासीनता बरतता है, और जब कभी वह हरकत में आता भी है तो अतिक्रमण हटाने के काम में उसकी मदद करने के लिए आवश्यक पुलिस बल और स्थानीय प्रशासन का समय पर अपेक्षित सहयोग नहीं मिल पाता. See more…

कोई दो राय नही है कि खासियतें खींचती हैं दुनिया को हमारी और आने के लिए …

देश में  खान पान हो, रहन सहन या फिर तीज त्यौहार और रस्म अदावतें, सब धरोहर की तरह पीढ़ी दर पीढ़ी सदियों से समाज की ओर से आगे बढ़ रही है. लखनऊ की नफासत, बनारस की अदावत या दिल्ली की शान ओ शौकत से लबरेज तहजीब, सब का अंदाज ए बयां कुछ और ही है. ये इतिहास का अकाट्य सत्य है कि अपनी सभ्यता संस्कृति से बेइंतहा मोहब्बत करने वाले भारतीय लोगों में अतीत की विरासत से रूबरू कराती धरोहरों के लिए खास  लगाव होने के वाबजूद सरकार के ध्यान न दिए जाने पर   विरासत से जुड़ी धरोहरें खंडहर में तब्दील होती जा रही है. उए सबसे बडा दुर्भाग्य माना जा सकता है .


बोलते खंडहरों से संवाद

http://dainiktribuneonline.com/2015/03/बोलते-खंडहरों-से-संवाद/हालाकि बोलते पत्थरों की जुबान को आपकी अपनी भाषा, आपकी लय-ताल के साथ पेश करने का जिम्मा देश की कुछ प्रमुख संगठनों ने संभाला है और आपके लिए विरासत की सैर के बहाने इतिहास से दो-चार होने के कुछ बेहद खास पलों को संजोया है। 1857 के गदर के तार दिल्ली से कैसे जुड़े थे? जामा मस्जिद में नमाज़ अता कर निकले मुगल सम्राट औरंगज़ेेब के हिंदू फरियादी और काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर का क्या रिश्ता है? क्या सचमुच आज से सौ साल पहले तक शाहजहांनाबाद शहर की हदबंदी से बाहर निकलने का मतलब होता था कि आप शिकार पर जा रहे हैं? इन रोचक सवालों के उतने ही रोचक जवाब आपको इतिहास की पोथियों में भले ही घंटों बिताने पर पता चलें लेकिन धरोहरों से संवाद कायम करने वाली हेरिटेज वॉक में आपको ऐसी ही ढेरों जानकारी चुटकियों में मिल जाती हैं। आपके अपने शहर के सीने में ऐसे कितने ही किस्से-कहानियां और राज़ छिपे हैं। दिल्ली उन गिने-चुने आधुनिक शहरों में से है, जिसके पिछवाड़े आज भी इतिहास की दस्तक साफ सुनी जा सकती है। यहां के खंडहरों, भग्नावशेषों और किलों से लेकर चांदनी चौक की गलियों-कूचों तक में पुराने दिनों की महक अब भी पसरी हुई है। जरूरत है तो बस थोड़ा वक्त निकालकर इतिहास की उन धड़कनों को सुनने की जो इस दौर के भागते-दौड़ते इनसान से गुफ्तगू करने के लिए हरदम तैयार हैं। इस क्रम में सबसे पहले बात करें इंटैक (इंडियन नेशनल ट्रस्ट फॉर आर्ट एंड कल्चरल हेरिटेज) की जो कई सालों से हमारी ऐतिहासिक और सांस्कृतिक विरासत को हेरिटेज वॉक जैसे आयोजनों के माध्यम से रोचक अंदाज़ में परोसती आयी है। इंटैक ने राजधानी के खुशनुमा मौसम के मद्देनजऱ फिर कुछ गलियों-कूचों, दयारों और महलों-किलों की बरसों पुरानी परतों में समाए इतिहास को उलट-पुलट करने का कार्यक्रम बना लिया है। इस कड़ी में संस्था हर वीकेंड पर दिल्लीवासियों को अपनी धरोहर की सैर पर ले जाती है। पिछले दिनों शाहजहांनाबाद के बाजारों से लेकर दक्षिण दिल्ली में महरौली के पुरातत्व पार्क और पुरानी दिल्ली में तुर्कमान गेट से बड शाह बुला तक की सैर करायी गई। जाने-माने इतिहासकार अपनी रोचक शैली में राजधानीवासियों को अपने शहर के बीते दौर को जानने-समझने का मौका देते हैं। इंटैक का यह सिलसिला अभी जारी रहेगा और लोधी गार्डन में खड़े दिल्ली सल्तनत युग की याद ताज़ा कराते हुए ऐतिहासिक खण्डहरों से होते हुए पुराने किले के भग्नावशेषों से रूबरू कराएगा। हेरिटेज वॉक प्राय: सवेरे 8 से 11 बजे के बीच शनिवार और रविवार को आयोजित की जाती है ताकि स्कूल-कॉलेजों के छात्रों के अलावा वे नौकरीपेशा भी इनमें शामिल हो सकें जिन्हें खण्डहरों से आती इतिहास की आवाज़ें सुनने का शौक है।  जरूरी नहीं कि इतिहास की आवाज़ सुनने के लिए आप इतिहास के छात्र हों, अगर इस शहर में खड़े फिरोज़शाह कोटला में आपकी दिलचस्पी क्रिकेट से आगे जाती है तो यकीनन इस 14वीं सदी के किले की बची-खुची दीवारें आज भी आपकी बोट जोह रही हैं। दिल्ली सरकार के संगठन दिल्ली हेरिटेज मैनेजमेंट सेक्रेटेरियेट ने भी इस शहर के इतिहास पर पड़ी वक्त की गर्द को झाड़ने-पोंछने का जिम्मा लिया है और हेरिटेज वॉक के बहाने बीते वक्त की सैर करा रहे हैं। विरासत की सैर का जिम्मा संभालने वाले इतिहासकार (वॉक लीडर) जैसे कथा-कहानियों के अद‍्भुत शिल्पी भी होते हैं। हमारे ही शहर के उन पक्षों को वो रोचक शैली में प्रस्तुत करते हैं जिनसे हम अकसर अनजान होते हैं या फिर जिनके बारे में बहुत थोड़ा जानते हैं। सप्ताहांत की शुरुआत का इससे बेहतर तरीका भला और क्या होगा कि आप अपने आपको जानने से दिन की शुरुआत करें। यकीन मानिए, हम भले ही खुद को जानने-समझने और पहचानने का कितना भी दावा क्यों न करते आए हों, लेकिन जब ऐतिहासिक धरोहरों से रूबरू होते हैं तो लगता है जैसे इतिहास इनमें परत-दर-परत दफन है और हम अपने ही आसपास खड़ी इन इमारतों से बेपरवाह रहते आए हैं। हेरिटेज वॉक कराने वाले इतिहासकार कभी दिल्ली के दरवाज़ों से गुजरते हुए उन हालातों का विश्लेषण करते हैं जिनके चलते दिल्ली शहर बहुत पहले से ही हमलावरों के निशाने पर रहा है और कई-कई बार उजड़कर बार-बार बसता आया है। कभी अजमेरी गेट का इतिहास टटोलते हैं तो फिर तुर्कमान गेट की खैर-खबर लेते हैं और कभी लाहौरी गेट या कश्मीर जाने वाले व्यापारियों के कारवां से किसी ज़माने में गुलज़ार रहने वाले कश्मीरी गेट का हाल-ए-दिल सुना-सुनाया जाता है। इसी तरह, हुमायूं के मकबरे की खोज-खबर लेने तो कभी कुतुब मीनार और उसके आसपास खड़े इतिहास के सिपहसालारों का भी हालचाल जानने हेरिटेज वॉक टोली पहुंचती है। दिल्ली सरकार के लिए हेरिटेज वॉक कराती आयीं जानी-मानी शख्सियत नवीना जाफा कहती हैं कि शुरुआत में इस तरह की वॉक अभिजात्य समझी जाती थीं। यहां तक कि एक समय था जब सिर्फ विदेशी सैलानी ही इनमें शिरकत करते थे जबकि शहरवासियों को लगता था कि इस तरह की सैर से उनका क्या वास्ता! यही वजह थी कि इनमें आम जनता की भागीदारी काफी सीमित रहा करती थी वहीं अब राजधानी का मध्य वर्ग इनसे जुड़ रहा है और वीकेन्ड हेरिटेज वॉक में शामिल लोगों की बढ़ती संख्या इस बात का पुख्ता सबूत है कि दिल्लीवासियों को अपने अतीत से बहुत प्यार है। दिल्ली कैरावान ऐसा ही हरिटेज वॉक ग्रुप है जो तेजी से लोकप्रिय हो रहा है। कभी दिल्ली-6 की गलियों-कूचों में तो कभी पहाड़गंज की गलियों की खान-पान संस्कृति से रूबरू कराने के साथ-साथ यह शहर की ऐतिहासिक परंपराओं की झलक भी बखूबी पेश करता है। देसी-विदेशी सैलानी और दिल्लीवासी तेजी से उनसे जुड़ रहे हैं। धरोहरों को टटोलने के लिए फेसबुक के जरिए निमंत्रण, प्रचार और फेसबुक फैन्स का नेटवर्क काफी उपयोगी साबित हो रहा है।

इतिहास और ऐतिहासिक धरोहरों की वो समझ दी है कि आज अगर मेरे स्कूली टीचर मुझसे मिलें तो ‘स्टम्प’ हो जाएंगे। इतिहास की जानकारी न रखने वाले सामान्य लोगों को भी इस तरह की विरासत की सैर करने पर महसूस होता है कि पत्थर सचमुच बोलते हैं। खण्डहर खुद-ब-खुद अपनी दीवारों में कैद किस्से-कहानियां कहने लगते हैं और गुजरे जमाने के राजाओं-रानियों की प्रेम कहानियों से लेकर खूनी इतिहास की परतें खुलने लगती हैं। विरासत की सैर और कला के अन्य कार्यक्रमों की जानकारी देने वाली कई वेबसाइटें और फेसबुक पेज भी आजकल लोकप्रिय हो रहे हैं। तो अब आप सुबह-सवेरे उठने और अपना ट्रैक सूट पहनकर इतिहास को जानने के लिए निकलने को तैयार हो जाइये। See more…

कुछ भी हो हमें इन इमारतों को सहेजना ही होगा ताकि हम आने वाली पीढी के सामने गर्व से सिर उठा कर कह सके ये है मेरा भारत …

The post हमारी धरोहर appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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18. Rob Liefeld....So What Is The Problem?

Rob Liefeld posted some photos of art yesterday.  Blurry -which might be a technical thing but bloody hell what is wrong with people.  This comment is typical:

"I think he's a shitty artist/writer, but you can't deny his love and enthusiasm for the medium."

Which makes him a far better man than the person posting that comment.

If you do not like his work then do not go following his postings because, you know what? That makes you his bitch follower.

What is wrong with this Bible story Adam & Eve art piece?
And what is wrong with this?

Believe me, no comic book artist turns out 100% perfect art every page.  Ask a critic to look at Kirby or Ditko work.  Jim Lee....same thing. 

Everyone draws to the best of his/her ability and though there are some Liefeld pages I don't like I immediately say to myself "Seen your own work recently?"

I love how the critics never show their attempts at comic art...oh -perhaps they cannot draw?  So be quiet or do something constructive.

Liefeld has work in a medium he genuinely loves -you can see that in his interviews.  And he earns a living from it.  Oh -and comic companies employ him because of his reputation for getting a job done.

I actually really like this piece.

Now, a Face Book page dedicated to him has 2,746 "Likes".  His actual Face Book page lists 4,811 Friends.  For a "shitty artist/writer" that is quite a lot of following.  Oddly, I know people who said the said about Moebius - "awful art".

I'm not here to champion Rob Liefeld.  He doesn't need my help.  I'm just sick and tired of the negativity from anonymous little arschlochs who probably can't even draw a stick figure.  Like Liefeld or not he has promoted and helped the industry and, say, did he not co-create a certain character you fan boys wet your panties over?


Suck it up and do something constructive with your lives -complain about how the poor or homeless are treated.

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19. From Yellow Blob to Barnyard

Barnyard Light, gouache, 5 x 8 inches.
Yesterday afternoon, I painted this scene of the barnyard. I wanted to give it a strange supernatural lighting, as if a shaft of weird golden illumination arrived out of nowhere at dusk.

I started with an underpainting in casein that I did a few days ago, just an abstract shape that intrigued me.

After a basic drawing in watercolor pencils, I added thin layers of gouache with a flat brush. The casein underpainting is a closed surface, meaning it won't dissolve again once it's dry.

The barnyard was actually lit rather evenly. To carry off the selective light effect, I darkened and cooled the tones in all the surrounding areas, and kept the lit areas pale and warm.
Good news on the upcoming tutorial video "Gouache in the Wild." I locked the edit earlier this week, and am now designing the cover. One of the six painting adventures is an example like this, where I show how to create a theatrical light effect on location. 

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20. The Making of "The Twelve" Cover with Paolo Rivera (part 1 of 3)

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21. Illustration Challenge #3

I'm having fun with these - how about you? This week, draw something that is purely pretty - a bunch of flowers or swirly designs. It doesn't even have to have any identifiable thing in it - just pure pretty.

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22. Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Book: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Ever Sloane was abandoned by her older sister Lily, her only ally against their abusive father, she's been drifting through her days, trying to keep going. Now she's decided that she's done with drifting, done with hanging on, done with living. Of course, this would be the day that the zombie apocalypse starts.

Sloane ends up barricaded in her school with four other kids, all of them trying to survive and digest the horrors that brought them there. Every day that passes is another chance for Sloane to die. But for some reason, she keeps going, even while people die around her.

This book had a number of strikes against it for me to pick it up. Zombies? Sooooo depressing. Suicidal main character? Even more so. So why did I pick it up? Simple answer: Courtney Summers. I've loved her other books, which also had topics I usually wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, and she didn't disappoint. This book is claustrophobic and dark and slow and horrific and I just didn't want to stop reading.

Somehow I still wanted to hang in there with Sloane, to find out whether she would eventually give in, but knowing she wouldn't. For a girl who professes to be suicidal, Sloane constantly chooses to live, to fight, to defend, and to survive.

The very end of the book has Sloan confronting a little-girl zombie and . . . well, it ends there. From another author, I'd go, "Ugh, sequel bait." But in this one, it works more as the revelation that Sloan has finally come to a place where she's willing to look her illness in the eye and keep fighting, with no easy promise as to who will come out the victor.

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23. Be A Star! (Amazing Stardust #2)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #2 Be A Star. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Be A Star is the second book in the Amazing Stardust Friends series by Heather Alexander. In the first book, readers meet Marlo, and her new circus friends Allie, Bella, and Carly. These three new friends help Marlo find out her own strengths thereby enabling her to join the show herself. In the second book, readers get a chance to know Allie better. This is her book.

Allie is ambitious, young and ambitious. So when she learns that a camera crew from Hollywood will be filming a performance of their circus, she loses touch with reality for a bit! She just KNOWS that once they see her, they'll be so wowed, so amazed, that they will want to make her a big, BIG star. She's on her way to being famous. Surely, thinking out what her new name--her Hollywood name--should be is more important than her schoolwork. Allie makes a few bad decisions in this one, but, her friends and family eventually show her that where she is right now is where she belongs.

I like this series.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Horses at Hollins

One of my favorite things about Hollins University is the horses and the stable that keeps them. These are some seriously spoiled grand beasties.

     They live in a pristine environment and receive amazing care from the intuitive barn staff.

     Truly, I've never seen a barn kept so immaculately clean.

     Every year I look forward to grooming the horses. Happily, the barn staff welcomes me and I've become a part of the matrix there. Grooming makes the horses feel good, it helps socialize them, makes them pretty, and keeps them from getting bored. But mostly, it makes me feel GREAT! I could care less about riding the grand beasties - I just love grooming them!
     Stan got some pics of me working with Sycamore this morning. Sycamore is just about the sweetest horse on the planet!

     Sycamore has a spot on his neck that makes him lean like a happy dog.

     And after every grooming, I give them a treat. Although really, the treat is all mine. It's so nice to connect with the animals on such an intimate and intuitive level. What a gift. It makes my DAY!
     Photos ©Stan Dulemba, used with permission.

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25. Getting to know Scott Morales, Stock Planning & Publications Coordinator

From time to time, we try to give you a glimpse into our offices around the globe. This week, we are excited to bring you an interview with Scott Morales, a US Stock Planning & Publications Coordinator in New York. Scott has been working at the Oxford University Press since July 2008.

The post Getting to know Scott Morales, Stock Planning & Publications Coordinator appeared first on OUPblog.

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