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Wednesday, 17 January 2007

In Memoriam: Bryan Pearce

A painting of St. Ives Church by Bryan PearceI was very sorry to hear about the passing of artist Bryan Pearce, who died 11 January.

My late father was the vicar of St. Ives Parish Church in the 1970s and I recall meeting Bryan as a child on several church occasions and greeting him at our door when he occasionally arrived unannounced, as was his want.

Bryan suffered from a rare inherited condition, phenylketonuria, which severely limited his learning and communication abilities but this did not prevent him from a living a full life and his paintings and drawings are world renowned reflecting what one commentator called "a natural innocence and delight of a man who has found relief and rehabilitation through painting."

He was a remarkable figure and his art an inspiration, that anyone can be creative against all odds.

The official Bryan Pearce website is at: www.bryanpearce.co.uk and the St. Ives Lemon Gallery also has paintings by Bryan on its web site, a celebration of his 75th birthday two year ago.

40 Years of Spider-Man in the UK

It's an incredible 40 years this week since Spider-Man first made a regular appearance in a British comic, so cartoonist Lew Stringer has done a little tribute to that title, POW!, on his blog.

There's a few entries about the weekly, including one spotlighting Mike Higgs fantastic The Cloak strip, which for Lew was the real reason he bought Pow!

The Cloak was the creation of Birmingham-based cartoonist Mike Higgs, a lifelong fan of comics and pulp magazines. Lew reveals that in 1964 Mike had produced a fanzine entitled The Shudder, a parody of pulp magazine legend The Shadow, and with a few tweaks this character became the inspiration for The Cloak strip that he submitted to Odhams.

"The editors of Pow! liked what they saw," Lew writes. "Their line of comics already had serialized spy strips (Eagle-Eye, Man from B.U.N.G.L.E. and Wee Willie Haggis) but clearly they saw that The Cloak was something unique. The other strips were in the Leo Baxendale mold (more or less the closest thing Odhams had to a house style) but Mike Higgs' work had none of that, being more influenced by Peter Maddocks and Elzie Segar. More importantly, his style looked very contemporary, very Sixties... and the one thing that set Odhams above their competitors was how much they reflected the "swinging sixties".

Lew's blog is rapidly proving a fascinating insight into some classic comics and, perhaps more importantly, the origins of British comics fandom. Well worth a look!

Comics designed in CBR format

Interesting development on the digital comics front: a group of creators including Pierre Villeneuve and Jim Shelley have begun releasing their comics in CBR format online at Flashback Universe.

As I'm sure folk reading this know, CBR is the file format (zipped files renamed with a .cbr or .cbz suffix) used by many fans to privately exchange digital versions of old comics (and new ones!), so this is an interesting development, both in terms of a way to deliver new comics and the fact that ther creators are not concerned by digital copying of the material (there's no DRM on .cbr files that I'm aware of)

The creative group describe themselves as a small group of creators who feel that the future of comics is the internet - but not through "klugely" Macromedia/Flash programs that
distort text and graphics, but rather with the more widely popular comicbookreader (cbr) format.

Check out the results at: www.flashbackuniverse.com

London Calling

Spent yesterday in London meeting people about a variety of things. Some interesting developments happening soon regarding some classic comics being reprinted, but can't say more than that at this point. Yes. I am a tease...

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