Jan ’18 – The Year Of Giving Dangerously

Posted: January 15th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments »

What better way to help readers beat the January blues than to announce that (following on from Lulu‘s December discount) we here at Braw Books have decided to knock a whopping 15% off the RRP of all our available titles. Yep, if you head over here you can browse our superior comic bounty on offer for inferior comic prices….

This means that the Collected Works of John G. MillerDave Alexander and Pudsy can now be “yours to own on paper forever” – or somesuch outlandish claim that neglects to consider charity shops, ebay and the fact we’re all going to die at one point (and quite possibly at the same time, who knows) – at a fantastic knock me down with a feather price….

Aye, for near enough a tenner you can own some of the very finest comedy writing this country has ever produced…. writing that easily goes toe to toe with countless far more famous and celebrated (and rich!) Scottish novelists and comedians. And these guys can actually draw too – bonus….


Jan ’18 – UndergRound Up Of The Year

Posted: January 6th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

“Farewell and adieu, to you two thousand and seventeen, farewell and adieu, you seventeen and two thousand. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Glasgog, and so never more shall we see you again”  (thank goodness….)

In the absence of a proposed series of December ‘UndergRound Ups of 2017’ – instead Agent Rob spent the Christmas holidays this year flat on his back negotiating ‘The Land Of The Lurgy’ – this behind the curve (lack of) effort’ll have to do, a half-arsed cobbling together of images assembled prior, together with hastily written text. Why, in a way it’s Braw Books very own Shada. And, being honest, there’s precious little “underground” actually on show here, it’s mostly just canny swimming in the mainstream, so please adjust your expectations accordingly….

If 2017 was to prove anything it was the certainty that Agent Rob is indeed a replicant as he failed to give anywhere near the correct emotional responses to the year’s celebrated blockblusters, remaining pretty much unmoved (for 2 hours plus!) by the likes of Blade Runner 2049Thor: Ragnarock and Star Wars: The Last Jedi whilst relishing the opportunity to catch erstwhile cult cinema classics Crime WaveYojimbo and Sanjuro on the big screen. Proof indeed that for all the amazing technology and megabudgets at the Hollywood machine’s disposal it don’t always add up to much (except in terms of bloated running time). Maybe they should check out Andrei Tarkoysky‘s Solaris or Stalker to see how it’s done….

The small screen fared a little better, with The Prisoner‘s first timer retro thrills, the irresistible Stranger Things and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency‘s “what’s actually going on here?” mindbends pushing all the panic buttons that (the wildly imaginative but curiously flat) Rick And Morty could not. I tried, y’know. I gave it a season and a half but simply no joy (aside from the standout Meeseeks And Destroy episode). Elsewhere Elizabeth Moss acted out of her skin – and often, let’s be honest, her clothes – in the relentless adult downer dramas of the year, (Over The) Top Of The Lake and The Handmaid’s Tale. And if anything was required viewing as an antidote to the political shitstorming of 2017 then the BBC’s The Vietnam War documentary proved it sure weren’t no different back then, no sir. It was also great to revisit the Manga phase of my youth, the fact that I watched the bulk of them on crappy res. Youtube videos only adding to the nostalgic 90’s VHS vibe. Similarly, The Horror Channel‘s uncanny ability to source grainy prints only helped further my appreciation of the Hammer and Amicus horror productions….

Of course, lying and sweating under the covers for a fortnight allows you to rest up and listen to the plethora of records you’ve amassed over the course of the year. Everyone who was anyone back in the heyday was back at it in 2017, with RIDE‘s Weather Diaries being a particular highlight amongst long awaited return fare from Slowdive, (Mansun’s) Paul DraperMichael Head & The Red Elastic Band and Thousand Yard Stare, as well as almost-as-long-awaited and still exceptional reissues/compilations from Lift To ExperienceBark Psychosis and Acetone. There was plenty of fresher fare to be found too, with Tonstartssbandht‘s Sorcerer heading up the top of that pile, likely sitting on top of new releases by MogwaiThe Horrors and The Charlatans….

Last year it was old school ambient archiving and this year it was old skool and underground hip hop records,  lps that were “slept on” if I’ve got my parlance – as cribbed from countless Youtube comments – correct, from the likes of MF DOOMEdanMasters Of Illusion and cLOUDDEAD. (Plus there was the sneaky bonus find of NAS‘s classic  Illmatic for 33p in a Partick charity shop!). Typing of clouds, there was plenty of aural bounty to be found on (Bandcamp via) Soundcloud, with the likes of (Scotland’s very own) Boobs of Doom and Fordell Research Unit as well as The Pink ElephantsVintage CucumberNatural Magic and Ma Holo providing somewhat more eclectic musical forays. Check ’em out….

Nice to see Love‘s Forever Changes and John Martyn‘s London Conversation clock up their respective half centuries while The Orb‘s majestic Blue RoomUFOrb and Assassin releases hit twenty five years young (and still, to this day, sound like the future we were promised but that was never realised). Hopefully this year we’ll get to blogging about the sheer majesty of The Orb, something I didn’t quite promise but equally never actually realised in 2017. Then again, maybe it was the sheer heartbreak of seeing them taking a straw to clumsily bludgeon Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and Chill Out at their 25th anniversary show in 2016 that finally broke this loyal camel’s back….

The world of books belonged to Philip K. Dick, or course, with Galactic Pot Healer and Dr. Bloodmoney really hitting the spot (in several realities, I’m sure) this year. Though it was a shame that Channel 4’s much touted Electric Dreams fell way short of the mark. Not only did Black Mirror trounce it on all fronts, but seeing PKD‘s work stuck in sub-Blade Runner visuals and acted out in part with British accents – from his books the characters scream America, the settings all Californian sunshine and shabby denim – just felt completely off. Add to that the simple fact that his work just doesn’t really translate to film or television. Like J.G. Ballard – whose High-Rise was given a sort of “Carry On Up The Elevator Shaft!” adaptation in 2015 – it’s all about the canny exploration of the “inner space”. Still, bonus points for casting Steve Buscemi, probably the most PKD actor of all time, in one episode. But for sheer quality of writing it was hard to see past Something Wicked This Way Comes and Ray Bradbury‘s tight, highly evocative prose – if you’re lucky enough to read a modern edition there is an excellent afterword that is by turns inspiring, illuminating, electrifying and chilling….

The world of comics (as ever) belonged to Frank Quitely, but especially in 2017 what with his epic, career-spanning and jaw-dropping exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery. The opening night was a joy, comic creators from right across the spectrum turning out to see ‘the local boy done good’. Perfect timing too, considering Agent Rob was beginning to regard his singular, immense talent akin to wallpaper, having stared at page after page of Jupiter’s Legacy for hour after hour – finally here was chance to look at the work afresh (and be knocked out by his craft all over again)! At least it made this List, ahem….

Coming a very close second to King Quitely is Goran “Grand Master” Parlov, who returned on art duties with Punisher: The Platoon. His simple, Euro-stylings combined with a mastery of composition and ink tones makes it all look oh so easy. This guy could draw Punisher: The Phonebook and I’d still be queuing round the block for a copy! I haven’t been this tempted to pick up a pen and draw a comic since John Romita Jr‘s work on the original Kick-Ass….

Of course, by far the greatest thing we saw and heard and witnessed all year was when Mark Szaszy decided to share the video for Pusherman‘s 1996 single Chase It. There’s only a select few who gave these excellent 90’s heavy rockers a chance – think catchy Oasis-esque songs with Northern Soul-era Verve sonics, but harder and heavier than that pair combined – but they are far and away the great lost band of their day. This footage is absolute gold! These lads meant it, mannnn….


Aug ’17 – You Seen The Set, Part Four: Marshall’s House

Posted: August 31st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

Edward Hopper – Marshall’s House, 1932

In the last of our ‘exhaustiving’ You Seen the Set posts we’re playing ‘fast and loose’ with the format, Agent Rob (seriously) indulging (and outing) himself in his (genuine) affection for (ex?!) Stone Roses guitarist John Squire‘s 2004 retro-pop solo elpee Marshall’s House as well as staggering at the works of some of the finest American modern painters….

John Squire – Swimming Through The Holes In Dead American Painters, 2003

Best to let aul’ Johnny boy take it away, “Hopper painted American scenes and American people – usually quite solitary and depressed-looking individuals. The reason I wanted to write about them was that I find them all quite haunting – superficially light, and awkward and ordinary, but there was something disturbing about some of the characters. So each of the songs is an extrapolated story around those images….”

It all started innocently enough with a visit to the Highland Lighthouse in Cape Cod where, on the downward journey from the lantern room Agent Rob spied a framed print of Edward Hopper‘s Highland Light painting. Of course, Squire‘s very own Cape Cod Morning song had never been too far from the mind throughout the entire sunny sojourn and a seed was secretly sown (and a postcard hunted down and duly purchased)….

Highland Light, North Truro, 2017….

Edward Hopper – Highland Light, North Truro, 1930

Edward Hopper – Cape Cod Morning, 1950

So far so what? But the “what” that happened next was during a visit to the Boston MFA, a trip as highly recommended by ex-Hope Street Studionaut Jason Mathis….

Baby Big Head! Er, wasn’t that the Mondays…?

There on the 3rd floor, in the Art Of The Americas – the most manageable of the vast range of collections the museum proudly houses – Agent Rob finally came face to canvas with some of those inSquiring classics, including several pieces by the king of splatter himself, Jackson Pollock….

Hopper’s Room In Brooklyn in the back room 2017…!

Edward Hopper – Drugstore, 1927

Hmm, just try identifying a Jackson Pollock online….

There’s a pretty comprehensive and rewarding, if a little clunky, gallery of all Squire‘s paintings here. It’s definitely worth persevering to have a punt about the lesser known leaner years between 2005 and 2011 before things suddenly went all Roses shaped glasses….

“I’d rather live my life than attempt to rehash it.”

“Let it be! Let it be! Let it be! Let it be!”

Coming fool circle we can even divert this (s)tale via Agent Johnny‘s city of Edinburgh, when Agent Rob made the effort to visit Squire‘s Nefertiti exhibition at the Henderson Gallery in, wait for it, 2010! Old school Edchester in the area….

But to take this all one step beyond the pale, earlier in 2010 John Squire illustrated a series of covers for the Penguin Decades (the 80’s), including this rather spiffing effort for one of Agent Rob‘s favourite authors, William Boyd. In fact, on Boyd‘s recent visit to Glasgog as part of an Aye Write! special there was nothing for it but ‘fer to queue’ up and have this prized edition of An Ice-Cream War signed by the master wordsmith himself….

John Squire – Summertime


Aug ’17 – You Seen The Set, Part Three: Cheers

Posted: August 24th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got….” (Especially the world of goddamn, bleed ’em dry comics!) Which is why, of course, a trip to Boston  – or should that be “Bahhston”? – just wouldn’t be complete without sinking some swill in the one place “Where everybody knows your name!”. (Just to clarify, that’s the Cheers bar and not SCCAM….)

Hmm, I wonder. Y’reckon this is Cheers…?

Guess so. Looks like it….

Cheers, The Wilderness Years….

“First you look so strong….” What a Friday night flashback this proved fer Agent Rob, taking him all the way back to his early teens, the family gathered round the One-eyed-god ‘fer to watch’ Sam Malone and his regulars provide their, er, regular dose of 22 minutes of wholesome chuckles. Who’d’ve thunk that one day Rob‘d be lucky enough to descend those iconic stairs – it’s the sound of the authentic underground actually going underground via the seriously overground, innit…? “And then you fade away….”

“One small step for man….”

“Norm!”

“Indian rope man sees the times….”

“Kiss him quick, he has to part….”

“You seem to come and go….” This is the interior of the Bull & Finch pub on Beacon Hill, the original 1982 inspiration for Cheers (presumably after the producers had heartily swilled their way around Boston and the US on a big, fat TV corporation meal-ticket). No such form of the divine clattered Agent Rob, sadly, and he and Miss Moneypenny downed their respective half litres in exhausted silence, watching the perpetual throng of enthusiastic tourists. There’s even a replica of the TV bar upstairs for those who fancy warming Norm‘s seat in his absence. One-liners not included. “I never seem to know….”

The Bull & Finch’s actual bar…. 

“You are a vapour trail….” Close enough, as this is in fact The Cheers Trail, which takes you past eleven historical landmarks as you walk from (er, the other official) Replica where the bar – if not the decidedly airy surroundings complete with, um, street conservatory – is again modelled loosely on the show’s television set. This, and a sizeable souvenir shop, which at the very least is underground, is located at Fanueil Hall in downtown – or should that be “dahhntahhn”? – Boston. “In a deep blue sky….”

“Pass through different times, leave them all behind….”

The (other) replica bar’s, er, replica bar….

The Cheers bar actual, um, TV bar….

“There’s a moose loose aboot this hoose….”

Branded swill glass….*only $8!*

Branded napkin….

Brande- Alright already! We get the idea!

Tourist trapped! “I’m with stupid….”

“If seeing is believing….” As if all this schlepping around and swilling wasn’t hard enough on the soul and soles, somebody thought to bang a Newbury Comics in Faneuil Hall Sq. – approx. 3,033 miles by drone from Agent Rob‘s present location, just so ya know – where there was nothing for it but to stump up and shell out $11.88 for RIDE‘s (rather fine) new album, Weather Diaries – in a “limited edition embossed mini-gatefold sleeve”, just so ya know. “Believing is not seeing….”

Braw Books not available at time of writing….

“Sun is up and the day goes right for me….”

Hmm, not quite my recollection of Cheers, but still….

RIDE – Cali


Aug ’17 – You Seen The Set, Part Two: JAWS

Posted: August 16th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

Are you sitting comfortably? Making hay while the sun beats down with a searing, brutal intensity meant Agent Rob and his extended family entourage had the opportunity to visit Martha’s Vineyard, the shooting location for Rob‘s other (just older) brother, JAWS. “Sh-shark! Sh-shark!” Turns out Oor Michael’s in thon pond, y’know…? Here we are standing more or less on the artist’s very viewing spot. Burgers, hot dog stands and saggy-skinned old islanders no longer included….

This is us at Joseph Sylvia State Beach, the location for what’s commonly known (well, according to YouTube) as the “Estuary Scene” from JAWS, looking back towards the land and the (restructured in 2011) American Legion Memorial Bridge (or “JAWS bridge” as it is obviously more commonly known)….

Run run run, change your devenue….

The section of the beach to the north, towards Oak Bluffs, not only served as the location for the Estuary Scene, but also for the film’s earlier scenes featuring the mysterious loss of Pippet and the gruesome death of Alex Kintner….

“Pippet?! Pippet…?!”

The super leery Alex Kintner deleted death scene….

“Bueller?! Bueller…?!”

The JAWS bridge marks the border between the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the latter doubling as Amity during filming. Unfortunately a lack of research – AKA who really wants to spend any of their precious ‘family vacation time’ looking at the internet or checking their emails? – and little local publicising means this was as close a cigar as possible that Agent Rob came to seeing the original town. “NO JUMPING OR DIVING FROM BRIDGE” – fat chance! Ye’d be hard pushed to find anyone aged around 40 who’d be insane enough dive into those infested waters….

Duh! Cigar not pictured….

Nah, yer alright, thanks….

Leaving Oak Bluffs on the ferry back to Hyannis – tightly wrenched gut at missed opportunity not yet manifestering – and looking to the north we can see, well, not much, but Chief of Police Martin Brody‘s (heftily rebuilt) house is somewhere in this direction near East Chop lighthouse (in fact, just a bit around the corner at 265, East Chop Drive)….

Looking north, towards East Chop

Oak Bluffs Harbor

Looking South, towards Inkwell Beach

“Better catch sumthin’, this is my wife’s holiday roast….”

Obviously a bit of better pre-planning ought to go into a truly JAWS-centric jaunt to Martha’s Vineyard. The more adventurous would be advised to get a bigger boat and check out this comprehensive guide to the locations beforehand. Ideally if time allows then heading round to Menemsha fishing harbor to see where all Quint‘s action was, together with a trip on the, er, Mayor’s Seal of Approved Chappaquiddick Ferry ought to do it….

Tourist map of Martha’s Vineyard

Tourist map of Edgartown

Other interesting facts concern the Orca‘s, um, ‘stunt/sinking double’, which was actually abandoned in Menemsha Pond after filming wrapped. Similarly the 4th (and final) “Bruce” was until recently languishing/guarding the Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking plot prior to being removed for restoration in 2016. No such luck for the Orca though, as in 2005 she was eventually broken up and the pieces subsequently included as part of a limited edition JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard book….

Dun dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun, etc….

Love – Bummer In The Summer


Aug ’17 – You Seen The Set, Part One: Naeturvaktin

Posted: August 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

Another year and yet another James Bond-ish excursion for Agent Rob and Miss Moneypenny – both now gamely trying to ignore the fact that it seems a transAtlantic return trip cancels out 20 years of diligent recycling! – as they visited Iceland for a ‘st-hopover’ en route to the US. Of course, no time for bobbing at the Blue Lagoon or swooning at the spectacular sweep of the Game Of Thrones locations, oh no! As soon as rubber skelped tarmac(!) it was time to head out and hit Laugavegur 180 to see the setting for Naeturvaktin (The Night Shift), the cultra-obscure Icelandic sitcom….

The series first aired on BBC4 in 2011 – where it was a massive hit with 7 people – and is best described as something of an Office-y type affair. The principal character, Georg Bjarnfredarson, is a David Brent/Basil Fawlty hybrid – though far angrier and less likeable than that pair combined – who manages (rules!) the night shift of a city centre Shell petrol station with an iron fist (a decidedly rusty, politically incorrect one, mind), subjecting his fellow staff, the hapless Olafur and nervous Daniel, to all manner of psychological and physical abuse….

Georg Bjarnfredarson, employee of the month….

“hddg!”

Staff meeting of the night shift underway….

On a recent rewatch prior to this blog there’s no denying that after 3 enjoyable opening episodes the 4th and 5th take such a relentlessly bleak turn over their 25 minutes – Georg’s persistent pursuit and acute assassination of Olafur’s character/dreams are painful to watch – that it’d be hard to blame the casual viewer for not persevering. Of course, the 6th episode is an absolute belter and was Rob‘s turning point (of no return) in his affection for the show….

Olafur Ragnar hitting the salt….

Shell of a station. Shell of a guy…. 

Daniel not Samuel….

The petrol station (now franchised/owned by ORKAN) hasn’t changed too much since the series. The staff were pretty amazed when told of our reason for visiting, surely the first ever fans from Scotland/the UK/Europe/anywhere to do so. The interior’s obviously been upgraded and remodelled somewhat in the past 10 years but the, er, ‘iconic’ spiral stair and toilet (for customers’ use only, of course!) remain and you can still buy a “hddg” from the counter if you wish (though after much searching Rob settled for a far more affordable Conga Xtra)….

Here. Stair. Here. Here stair here….

Welcome to shell….

B & E the bog par for the course….

‘Shunker 5’. Note the garage now partitioned off….

Conga! Cheap as (expensive) chips….

Periodically, quite exhausted and confused by Georg‘s merciless persecution, Olafur and Daniel will wander off into the chilly night to visit Ylfa and, in an attempt to do the same himself, Rob discovered the producers had cannily made use of the petrol station’s drive-thru rear window to give the impression of another location. Though you wouldn’t guess it from watching the show Ylfa‘s not in another building nearby, but actually sitting hidden in behind the main counter. Cunning….

Awrite, doll…?

Ylfa looking suitably (un)impressed with Olafur’s chat….

A quick wander round the side and you can spy the workshop/garage where Olafar spends most of his time idling away the long nights, tending to his dilapidated jeep, cowering in hiding from Georg’s wrath. Of course, this absence doesn’t entirely spare him from being accused of or roped in as an unwitting (or indeed, ‘dimwitting’) accomplice in many of the show’s unfortunate and comical misunderstandings’….

Hippa to da hoppa….

Now this, ah, misunderstanding….

It’s no secret that you need more than a faith and pocketful of Miss Moneypenny to get by in Iceland – 8 quid for a half litre of swill, erk! – but that didn’t stop us visiting the amazing Lucky Records (from where Rob purchased the bulk of his NaeturvaktinDagvaktinFangavaktin and Mr. Bjarnfredarson DVDs on ebay) on the return journey to the city centre. Therein he duly puzzled the staff with his obscure request for Hlemma Video – a post-Vaktin-trilogy effort from Petur Johann Sigfusson (Olafur) – and further perplexed them with his ‘lost-in-translation’ wit. Defeated he finally opted to pick up a (genuinely) cheap DVD of the Dagvaktin sequel series for a fellow convert back home….

Very lucky records….

Bargain! Approx. £8.80 + flippin’ shippin’….

The final piece of the Laugevegur puzzle was to visit the (loosely affiliated with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Glasgow School of Art) Dead shop. Unfortunately, ‘lucky’ was against us and it was closed at the time, so we were unable to peruse the strange art(ifacts presumably) on sale inside. Seems to be a major construction work going on just next door – this leery painting disguising a treacherous void, a cavernous opening in the ground presumably awaiting a new ‘development’…. else perhaps it’s some giant troll grave/excavation….

All the above are within easy walking distance, the ORKAN petrol station (@180) about 1/2 an hour’s walk from the City Square straight along the main, er, strip of the Laugavegur, with Dead (@29) and Lucky Records (@Raudarastigur 10) both on the way….

Ach, cheer up, Oli. We’ll be back….

Bjork – Violently Happy


Jan ’17 – Where To Start With Philip K. Dick…?

Posted: January 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

Might as well start at the end. Just where is the best place to begin with Philip K. Dick? There’s a huge amount of lists online that will run through a countdown of his best books, some more comprehensive than others, with the general consensus tending towards the (hard to argue with) holy trinity of 1968’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Ubik (1969) and A Scanner Darkly (1977) and his solitary piece of what you could call accepted mainstream ‘classic literature’, the novel The Man In The High Castle (1962)….

Pre-Agent Rob & 2005’s ‘best of PKD’ copied from a newspaper article.

Having read in the region of 15 PKD books – I was fortunate enough that 2 winters ago the Glasgog FOPP stores had a run of laughably affordable SF Masterworks, with far too many PKD titles on the shelves to be ignored a moment longer – I would actually suggest that the curious begin, well, at the very beginning. Like Agent Johnny‘s beloved Pink Floyd – if you exclude the initial LSD spike of the Barrett-induced The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – there’s a definite sense of the band’s progression from album to album as with PKD’s growth from book to book, similar themes are explored and the weaker discarded (or cleverly reworked) as the ideas coalesce and the creative vision consolidates….

Ragle Gumm….

If you opt to read the novels in order – you might prefer to ease yourself in via the short story anthologies, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale being a fairly astonishing collection, far beefier and better than the readily available Minority Report tie-in – then you can see PKD’s core themes evolve, making it far easier to get to grips with the more complex novels. Time Out Of Joint (1959) is considered to be the first book that really gets to grips with the concept of the nature of and our perception of reality and is therefore the ideal place to start. I began with The Penultimate Truth (1964), a more traditional sci-fi storyline of sorts, dealing with the manipulation of people and truth as opposed to the endless complications of shifting and/or overlapping realities and one’s effect thereon….

Talbot Yancy….

PKD’s novels are generally populated by ‘everyman’ characters, those John Shmoes and Joe Does; the menial job employee (until he loses it), the put-upon husband (or recently divorced/separated) seemingly trapped in their lot, striving for a meaningful, fulfilling existence, drawn to bad relationships, powerless to affect the overarching circumstances of their collapsing world (which might explain why I enjoy them so much). PKD tends to set up a few story arcs in tandem which he’ll steadily and cunningly weave together over the course of a novel, the bewildered everyman unwittingly drawn into a situation he struggles to grasp, tumbling deeper and deeper into the network of shifting realities and perceived truths over which he has no influence (or does he?). And all the while there’ll be an ‘official’ further up the chain, just as troubled under the skin no matter the bold front, who we assume – as he assumes/assures himself – to be in complete control. Of course, as reality unravels he will more than likely discover his situation is no different, being just another small piece (to be placed if not jammed) in the vast puzzle. Atop this fragile ‘house of cards’ we’re likely to find the ultimate authority figure, the bloated leader, safe but panicked in his self-imposed isolation, surrounded by toadying, plotting bureaucRats. Who is really pulling the puppet’s strings? Is he real, or is he slipping between realities and spinning the plates of fate accordingly…?

Ferris F. Fremont….

It’s interesting to note that PKD does not spend a huge amount of time on explaining the ‘science’ of his fiction, the setting of his novels can be refreshingly pedestrian and familiar (in this respect he brings to my mind J.G. Ballard, a favourite for merging his present self and reality into his wildly imaginative and disturbing fiction) – if cars do indeed fly or planets are colonised then no time is wasted embellishing the simple fact – with the geopolitics far more likely to take priority in order to establish a (winding) narrative path. He seems much more concerned with the human element and its desire to be understood, its desire to be free (as well as the doomed desire to peer behind the facade, however terrifying and destructive that might be – curiosity almost always kills the cat!). It’s no great secret that PKD pushed his personal life as far out as his novels – even a feverish Dicolyte like Agent Johnny cannot claim to suspect himself of burgling his own house whilst under the influence of drugs….

Bob Arctor….

And the Brawcommended titles? Hmm, I’d consider A Scanner Darkly (1977) to be amongst the very best – strange as it sounds part of this is the impression created by the book itself, the text is noticeably denser than other novels, the story seems to have been long laboured over and it feels razor sharp and precise – and it certainly would justify garnering the same ‘classic literature’ tag that has (unfortunately) seen The Man In The High Castle quarantined away from the rest of his tacky oeuvre (or vice versa, depending on your POV). Chronologically if you were to tackle Time Out Of Joint before High Castle following that with Martian Time-Slip (1964), The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch (1965), Now Wait For Last Year (1966), Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (1968) Ubik (1969) Our Friends From Frolix 8 and A Scanner Darkly then you’d be getting a very decent headbang for your buck. 1981’s oft-mentioned VALIS is not for the faint of heart, the trial run that is Radio Free Albemuth (1976/1985), though slighter, is much more easily digested. From my age-old list – itself a relic salvaged from another alternative existence altogether – Dr. Bloodmoney (1965) Galactic Pot-Healer (1969) The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer (1982) and Confessions Of A Crap Artist (1959/1975) are yet to be explored. If the latter’s about an emaciated, unemployable loser who willingly feeds his precious lifeforce into an ambivalent ‘electronic brain machine’ while meshing with a healthier, saner and more success full other reality then maybe, just maybe, we’re all on to something….

Philip

Kindred

Dick

Philip

Kindred

Dick


Sep ’16 – Comic Con Killed The Radio Star….

Posted: September 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

“Mrs Peel we’re needed….” An interestin’ Sunday service indeed this weekend as Agent Rob wiz summoned by Auntie Beeb to take part in Good Morning Scotland – other comic personalities were (un)available! – and their timely discussion on all things Comic Con shaped, given the MCM Expo had taken over the nearby SECC fer 2 days of costumed japes and cape-like capers. Further up the corking billing was none other than Sylvester McCoy – Rob being careful not to mention that his stint as Doctor Who was last discussed in a positive light in Standard Grade French many moons ago – and none another than Bryan Cooney, the el supremo heid honcho at MCM (which we assume does not stand for Man-Crush Monday?) itself….

Of course, it was all too soon all over quick as a flash – but thankfully the wonders of modern technology mean you can still hear the words of wisdom (as well as Agent Rob make a strong start with his first response only to then repeat it in a far less comprehensible fashion on his second attempt) here. The Comic Con segment begins at 01:32:28. As Iain ‘And Then Emily Was Gone’ Laurie said on Twitter it was ‘unmissable’…. though that was perhaps a typo for ‘unlistenable’? Be quick – this link will self-destruct in 2419200 seconds!

As one’d expect following the programme it was time for a lengthy procession of fan photos and autographs, but Sylvester and Bryan gamely hung aboot until that had concluded fer a quick word with our cartoonist superstar, ho ho ho! Alas, they then had to dash for the bus just as our Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was whisked away in an awaiting limo, his 15 minutes of fame duly up. Then again, given how nebulous some of the guests appearing at the likes of MCM are, don’t be surprised if Agent Rob appears next year billed as ‘7th Doctor assistant in short radio drama’ (autographs will be available providing you purchase a set of 4 Braw Books coasters, a steal at just £25)….


Jul ’16 – Comic Con Comedown….

Posted: July 7th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments »

All for one (sale)! Just kidding, it was in fact a beautiful thing as the Glasgow Comic Con embraced its brand spanking new venue, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, at the weekend. Indeed, if you could get past the fools behind the Braw Books table there was plenty gold to be found out front – where, at the very least, even our oldest rope was pretty new! A punter would have to be made of stone to resist, but we’re not begging you to agree…. okay, we’ll stop right there with the lame Stone Ro$£$ references. (Then again, who would pay 10 quid for a single sided 7″ with laughable lyrics and a krenko guitar solo when for a penny cheaper they could invest in The Collected Evil Wee Comics, something genuinely touched by the bright spark of Agent Johnny‘s relentless creativity and ceaseless commitment to his craft….). Still, it was nice to see our sales exceed our (very) modest expectations on the Saturday and Sunday, with all our books shifting a few copies to what turned out to be an inquisitive and patient crowd….

In fact, the whole weekend seemed a more grown-up affair across the board, with a similarly varied spread of creators from far and wide, all helping the Con to ‘transcend its origins’, elevating the mood from the (occasional) Glasgow Mart-gone-large feel of past years to something decidedly fresh, distinctly forward thinking and definitely conventionally convention-like, um…. “D’you take cards?” – that’s when you know you’ve made it (even if it potentially scuppers the accompanying purchase…. it didn’t though and the necessary cash was duly splashed on 2 hard earned (but suitably discounted) sales). With a few tweaks here and there the GRCH could easily become the perfect venue for years to come….

After Saturday’s action wrapped it was time to head along to the CCA for the SICBA awards where a typically humble Frank Quitely accepted the award for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to Comics’ – a page in the Khollected Khaki Shorts surely ‘swang’ it – and Sha Nazir – the BHP mainstay and modest mastermind of the past 6 years events – announced he was stepping down as chief organiser/overseer. #Shaxit….

Sunday saw ‘supersub’ A.J.Smith make a start from the bench to help out at the table, gamely assisting and keepin’ things real through those inevitable sabbath slumps, allowing Rob Miller to scout out and about, chat with some familiar faces and pick up some books – Sleeping Dogs, Moth to a Flame, Beast Wagon and the SICBA sweeping Never Ever After being particular prize catches….

As per last year it was Kounter Kultyur Kevn‘s job to thoroughly mystify at least one punter – a cheery youngster was attracted by the ‘leafy’ cover only to be put off the final purchase thanks to Rob Miller’s attempt to explain the ‘highbrow’ concept, evidently stretching things a plot point too far in the world of lazy and obvious dope comics….

Of course it was all over too soon, time for the GCC redshirts to gamely pack it all up for next year(?) before heading along to Slouch for the wrap party (and a welcome chance to chat with David Aja, Goran Parlov and Cameron Stewart about the ups of the Con and the lows of ‘the biz’) As ever big shout outs to the organisers at BHP, their happy and helpful team of volunteers, the venue, the punters, fellow puntees and friendly pundits…. Time to get your feet a seat. We’ll leave you with Manchester’s finest….


Jul ’16 – Comic Con Countdown….

Posted: June 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments »

With the main event very nearly upon us we’re happy to announce the launch of ‘The Collected Evil Wee Comics‘ at this coming weekend’s Glasgow Comic Con. This nifty little A5 book contains a whopping 160 pages, gathering together John Miller‘s Secret Agent: Chronicles of Doom, Super Tales, Atomic Society of Justice #1 and Atomic Society of Justice #2: Evil Hollywood Over Subterrania comics.

Take it from us – Secret Agent, long out of print, is quite possibly the greatest one-shot (underground) comic book ever published, looking and reading like nothing else! In addition Rob Miller and Adam Smith have returned to their mid(dling)-period artistic contributions and suitably beefed up their pages to suit, making for a distinctly unique book and an essential underground comix classic….

Of course, Braw Books will be rolling out their usual red carpet roster of 15 (!) or so sterling titles for sale. Alongside Agent Johnny’s outstanding contribution to Scottish comics – “The ingredients may well seem familiar, but I’ve never encountered a personality quite like Miller’s in all my years of reading comics.” sez The Comics Journal no less! – we also have Dave Alexander, another absolute world class cartoonist, to thank for The Collected MacBam Brothers, 1983 – 2013. It’s like the history of Scottish underground comic goodness that actually delivers!

With supersubs Shug ’90 and Rob Miller on the bench it’s sure to be a great weekend. Keep yir eyes peeled for our towering ‘spacewoman’ – a beacon of insanity in (what could very well be) a sea of crappy fan art….

Comics made to last! Comics with soul….