Saturday, 27 April 2013

Roy Thomas? - April 29th 1977

Why have I drawn Roy Thomas? Your guess is as good as mine. On a pair of days when I get artificial respiration demonstrated on me, go to a wedding, play football and celebrate the start of a new series of Call My Bluff (the New Series icon appears proudly and regularly throughout the diary, bless its cotton socks), I draw Roy Thomas. Nope, no idea.

The caricatures on the right hand page are by an artist called Cole whose work appeared every day in the Daily Express. Mum & Dad got it, not my idea. But it had Giles in too, so not all bad.

Records For The Day were Have I The Right by The Dead End Kids and Evergreen by Barbra Streisand.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Fonzie jumps the shark - April 21st 1977

I'm pretty sure the two-part episode of Happy Days I describe here, and indeed churn out a not-too-shabby drawing for, is the infamous story where they go on location and Fonzie jumps over a shark on his motorbike. This has gone on to become short hand for a TV show which has lost its way and is beginning to act out of character. Oddly, at the time I wrote this diary, Happy Days was new to British TV, being shown at different times in different regions - we, in Leicestershire, were able to see completely different episodes on ATV and Anglia. So we began with the shark jumping, whereas the Americans were into their fourth year of the show, those earliest episodes (the first of which didn't even feature Fonzie, and Richie had an elder brother who was soon written out) not getting shown in the UK until the 80s.

And that's as interesting as I can make Happy Days sound, sorry. At the time we kids found it the funniest thing around, and it may well have been our introduction to the concept of "cool". I had a black cap-sleeved t-shirt with Fonzie Is Cool on the front, which I'm sure tells you all you need to know. The 1970s, you had to be there. See this page on the Peoples History Of Pop.

The Records For The Day were I Want To Get Next To You by Rose Royce and Capture Your Heart by either Rays or Blue (I wasn't certain then, it's anyone's guess now).

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Morse Code? - April 15th 1977

Nowadays I teach kids how to draw comics, when I'm not drawing them myself, and looking at my childhood diary makes it quite clear to me that loads of kids can draw better at age 14 than I could. My enthusiasm's unbounded, as is my obsessive-compulsive ability to spend every available waking second at my desk. But my draughstmanship, as we unashamedly called it in the unreconstructed 70s, was rubbish. I did a lot of copying from comics, which looked great, but leave me to my own end with a bit of figure drawing out of my head and I'm rotten.

I am of course talking about my 1970s self. Shut up.

As for whatever the morse code page says, I can honestly admit to not being arsed to translate it. Knowing me, I did it that way because I was confessing something embarrassing about fancying a girl. So good luck anyone who wants to decipher it, may you squirm with hideous spotty awkwardness just like its author did.

The Record For The Day that I can make out is Lucille by Kenny Rogers.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hello Citizen Smith - April 11th 1977

Babysitting in 1977 cost a quid, and so did the cinema. Don't say this diary doesn't teach you anything. For anyone who's wondering, or hasn't worked out, what an RFTD is, it's my Record For The Day. A constant adherant to Radio 1, I lived and breathed pop music, and seemingly adopted a theme song for every day. Perhaps these were simply my ear worms, or the last thing I heard on Noel Edmonds before I caught the bus to school, or maybe I saw myself as a DJ for the future where, 36 years later, I would get to tweet the names of records, some well known, some even more obscure than the opening track from a midsummer Top Of The Pops 1977, much as I do in 2013. Who knows.

And who knows what that Play For Today was, or where that water stain on it came from. I used to devote half a page every week to reviewing comics, but the best I could do for the TV shows I watched, or that were on while I was busying draw comic strips and decorating my diary, was to give them the same logo every week and put a big red numbered flash on the when they were the start of a New Series. Weird kid.

Citizen Smith was a Comedy Playhouse pilot and Rising Damp started a new series. I was there.

Records For The Day: Whodunit by Tavares and Let Em In by Billy Paul

Twitter @KevFComicArtist

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Roots - April 8th 1977

My diary from April 8th 1977 devotes an unusually generous page to my comic reviews, these normally occupying a quarter of Wednesday's page. Though the weekly comics were mostly cover-dated as coming out on Saturday, they almost all arrived on Wednesday. I went on to write and draw a column of this same name, The Wednesday Column, in the fanzine Fantasy Advertiser in the 80s.

The 'Bumper' Wednesday Column is clearly a result of the Easter holidays, when we've been up with the relatives in Scotland and I've been indulged with extra pocket money for comics. It is quite possible that every single one of those comics still exists somewhere in a box in my office to this day. And the grand total spent on that mountain of comics? AS you'll see at the end of the page it's come to £3.04, which I obviously considered quite extravagant at the time. For eighteen comics? At today's prices each individual comic would cost nearly £3 alone, which means my 2013 contemporary would have no change from fifty quid. Truly we were the privileged generation.

A career as a TV reviewer seemed likely to me at the time, judging by my portentious take on the first episode of Roots. But do I detect a note of accidental racism in the closing line? The 1970s, a different world.

Record For The Day: "Floating" On The Wind (sic) by Roger Daltrey

Welcome to my 1970s diary

Hello and welcome to my 1970s diary. Let us begin with the front cover.

The front cover, as you can see, of Volume Ten of my Picture Diary. This began life in 1973 as an attempt to depict my life as a comic strip. Very soon, I mean literally within days, it became clear that not enough happened in my life to merit a scene by scene graphic adventure. I was at high school, doing the same lessons week after week, devoting much more attention to reading comics and watching TV than what might be considered having a life. So my diary became an exercise in design, in scrapbooking, in commentary and review, and occasionally something worth reading. I have not read these books for 35 years, and they are the mix of delightful innocence and awkward embarrassment you might expect.

If I find the free time, and can be bothered, I shall post some pages from this diary, hopefully on the days they originally appeared. So far I have found, in boxes in my office, volumes 9-11, which take us from mid 1976 to late 1977. I am hoping the others survive somewhere but have yet to unearth them. Stay tuned, and do chase me if I've not posted anything for a while. The first pages to appear here will be the double page spread from 8th April 1977.

Twitter @KevFComicArtist