Tag Archives: guernsey literary festival

Zone 1: The Guernsey Comic Book Anthology

Zone 1 coverIn 2015 the Guernsey Literary Festival expanded its programme to incorporate ‘graphic novels’ for the first time with a focus on the islands links to a revelling of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs in that form.

As part of that a workshop was held with the writer and artist who adapted Hugo’s novel, David Hine and Mark Stafford, and they inspired a group of writers and artists to put together the first comic book anthology from the island, Zone 1, which was released through Black Moor Press in mid-2017.

Prey by Mikal Dyas

Prey by Mikal Dyas

Consisting of six short stories, they vary in tone and style about as broadly as is possible without heading directly into superhero territory and are by turns darkly disturbing, interestingly poignant or just downright baffling.

Prey by Theo Leworthy and Mikal Dyas

The first story has the feel of a bad dream as we join a father and son on a hunting trip that goes wrong.

While the story is fairly simple, the artwork amplifies it into truly horrific territory and, while it never quite comes entirely into focus as a whole, it finishes in a shockingly memorable moment that feels like it wants to say something but isn’t really sure what.

Heavenly Body by Hugh Rose

Heavenly Body by Hugh Rose

Heavenly Body by Hugh Rose

One of the nicest things about this collection is that it doesn’t lean heavily on being from Guernsey with this really being the only story with a suggestion of a local link, though not dealt with in the way it often is, as it is a tale of evacuated children during the Second World War.

The artwork is simple but evocative with an oddly playful sense despite the potentially serious nature of the story. The whole thing ends on a lighthearted note to defuse the situation that does a good job of bringing a child’s sense of wonder to a potentially rather different tale.

Meek The Mighty by Kit Gilson

Meek The Mighty by Kit Gilson

Mighty Are The Meek by Colin Ferbrache and Kit Gillson

While only brief, the highlight of Mighty Are The Meek are the cartoonish goblin designs of Kit Gillson. If you follow Kit on Instagram you might be familiar with his cartoon designs and they look great here.

Unfortunately beyond this the strip feels a little too much like an unfinished sketch but the ‘to be continued…’ at the end offers the suggestion that it could grow into quite a charming, comic strip style, piece.

Fimbulwinter by Llewellyn Van Eeden

While Llewelyn Van Eeden’s tale drops us into one of the most complete settings and slickest looking art of the anthology, as a whole it feels a little too clichéd as it tells what feels like the first part of a story focussing on a fairly stereotypical Norse blacksmith and his village.

Fimbulwinter by Llewellyn Van Eeden

Fimbulwinter by Llewellyn Van Eeden

While I could see it developing nicely with a few hints of mystery, based on this the characters feel a little too stock and the art while smooth and sleek, doesn’t stand out as well as the other pieces.

Urbane Paria by Adam Gillson

While this painted story starts out in mysterious fashion with what sounds like a gruesome death it soon becomes a little lost and confused.

This isn’t helped by the fact that the artwork, while interesting and expressive in one sense, does little to help provide character or a consistent setting and the whole thing veers a little too far from the standard comic book or murder mystery conventions to properly work.

The Race For The Black Gate by Russell Wicks

The Race For The Black Gate by Russell Wicks

The Race For The Black Gate by Jonathan Dawe and Russell Wicks

Probably the most conventional tale in the collection comes with the last, though even then it throws its own spin on things.

With something of a hard-boiled, murder mystery aspect combined with a paranormal element, the basic story and the shadowy cartoon artwork combine to create the collection’s most complete feeling piece.

With enough detail revealed to draw the reader in it leaves things on a mysterious cliffhanger that I hope means there’s Zone 2 on the way to continue the tale. 


Urbane Paria by Adam Gillson

Urbane Paria by Adam Gillson

While Zone 1 is, expectedly, a mixed bag, there’s a lot to enjoy from striking visuals to intriguing stories to various attempts to subvert comic convention and, while a few may miss the mark and come off as trying a little too hard to be clever for the sake of it, there’s certainly enough to recommend to fans of comics beyond the Marvel and DC mainstream and I hope it isn’t just a one-off.

Note: apologies to the artists for the slightly ropey reproduction of the images but I couldn’t find any online

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Guernsey Literary Festival presents The Recks, Heidi Joubert and Harry Baker – The Fermain Tavern – 13/05/17

The Recks

The Recks

Every year the Guernsey Literary Festival sets aside a night of its week-long event to combine music and poetry in the live environment of The Fermain Tavern. In the past this has welcomed the likes of John Cooper Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnston, Attila The Stockbroker and Ruts DC and this year, in a slight twist, it featured world poetry slam champion Harry Baker, jazz percussion YouTube sensation Heidi Joubert and our own schizophrenic indie folksters, The Recks.

With the venue already busy early on Heidi Joubert took to the stage with her band for a soundcheck that, it transpired, had been delayed by the artists being unable to find the venue during the afternoon (and seemingly the festival organisers unable to give them suitable directions or chaperone them accordingly), so this set things off in an odd way and, seemingly, reduced the length of Baker’s performance as well.

Harry Baker

Harry Baker

This was doubly a shame as, for the five or six poems we were treated to, Baker was excellent. From the surreal flight of fancy Dinosaur Love to a poem about the love between a pair of prime numbers, to his tongue twisting, poetry slam winning, piece of verse centred on the letter P, Baker was one of the most entertaining and engaging performers I’ve witnessed, particularly when you consider he came armed with nothing but his voice and his words.

With a largely subtle performance side setting off his word play, he was a delight and, while I didn’t quite get the parody aspect of his Ed Sheeran reworking, it rounded off his set with a barrage of excellent puns turning a Sheeran love song into something I don’t doubt is far more entertaining and endearing than the original – I just wish there’d been time for more.

After a brief break The Heidi Joubert Trio returned to the stage and proceeded to stumble and dawdle their way through a set of easy listening, Latin style, jazz – interspersed with much talking to the sound man and trying to convince the audience to at once ‘shake it’ and, later on, be quiet!

A little research after the show seems to indicate that much of Joubert’s fame stems from a video of her busking on a train going viral on Facebook and she wasn’t shy in telling us about that during the set either, but what may work in a short online clip failed to remain interesting for the better part of an hour.

Heidi Joubert

Heidi Joubert

Rather than a collection of songs what we experienced felt like a disorganised jam of a set and, while all three were clearly very good players, it didn’t come together to make anything approaching an enjoyable whole and mostly amounted to a lot of other people’s riffs and lyrics forced into jammed out grooves and delivered with a sense of knowing arrogance that was ultimately hugely frustrating.

After that something needed to happen and, thankfully, The Recks delivered.

With something more of an energetic attitude than I have seen from them in a long time they launched into their set (a very similar line up of songs to that heard on Liberation Day) at breakneck pace and never looked back.

All five members of the band seemed intent on making their mark and, while Richey Powers was just the frontman we’ve come to expect, it was Gregory Harrison who really seemed to up his game revealing an intensity previously only hinted at and perfectly fitting his place in the band.

Gregory Harrison of The Recks

Gregory Harrison of The Recks

With next single In The Garden taking on something of a new spirit and the twisted disco of new song She Ain’t No Revelator providing a couple of highlights the performance reached its climax in three-part encore ending on a genuinely deranged Papa Leworthy that was as heavy and dirgey as this band could ever muster.

It’s just a shame many who’d come along early missed the genuine highlight of the night by leaving early and I’m not sure I can put into words how disappointing it was (not to mention disrespectful) that a majority of the events organisers also seemed to have vanished well before their own event was over, but none-the-less The Recks continued their current run of great shows as they head towards the height of summer festival season.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Neil Innes, Ushti Baba and Buffalo Huddleston – The Fermain Tavern – 19/09/15

Neil Innes at The Fermain Tavern

Neil Innes

For this year’s Guernsey Literary Festival music event, following on from the like of Attila The Stockbroker, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Ruts DC in the past, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band founder and general musical surrealist Neil Innes played The Fermain Tavern along with Bristol’s Ushti Baba and Guernsey’s own Buffalo Huddleston.

The show formed part of the wider festival that saw various guests including Will Self, Jack Straw and Helen Lederer giving talks and readings around the island.

You can see a gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and my review was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 26th September.

Neil Innes, Buffalo Huddleston, Ushti Baba review - 26:09:15

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Live Music at Castle Cornet – 16/05/14

As part of the Museums at Night programme and the Guernsey Literary Festival Castle Cornet threw open its gates on the evening of Friday 16th May 2014 for more than 40 events from film screenings and guided historical tours to live music.

The evening started out with Sark based five-piece The Recks who played to a large and constantly growing crowd on the castle’s south battery. As ever their performance was upbeat and, while most were content to sit and watch while enjoying the sun and a picnic, the band went down very well with many calls for an encore as their set finished.

The Recks

The Recks

They were followed by The Space Pirates of Rocquaine who continued the fun and got quite a few youngsters up and dancing to their songs that cover everything from witches and werewolves to pirates and Sark Skies. Following last week’s somewhat underwhelming outing on Liberation Day the band were back firing on all cylinders tonight and, like The Recks, went down very well with the big crowd at Castle Cornet’s picturesque south battery.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

While silent film classic F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu was screening in one of the castle’s magazine buildings another, smaller stage featured some more low-key musical performances and gave me my first chance to catch acoustic duo Blue Mountains. With guitars, mandolins and a dulcimer to hand they combined some sweet instrumental tones with great vocals to create their own sound and, while I didn’t catch their whole set tonight, I hope it won’t be too long before I can see them again as they sounded very good at the Castle.

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the event on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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Music and poetry at the Guernsey Literary Festival

Linton Kwesi Johnson

The second Guernsey Literary Festival took place over the weekend of 14th, 15th and 16th of September 2012 and as well as a bunch of stuff about writing, books and poetry also featured some live music and poetry performance.

The Friday night of the festival saw a low-key night of music take place at the Hub (an inflatable tent next to Guernsey’s Market Building), featuring Oliver Daldry and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine.

The Saturday night saw live music go head to head with live poetry all with a flavour of reggae and punk at The Fermain Tavern with Linton Kwesi Johnson and Attila The Stockbroker performing at the same gig as punk veterans Ruts DC.

Here’s my review of the show which appeared in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 22nd September 2012:

Here are some photos and a couple of videos from the festival (all from my iPhone so varied quality):

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