A Note from the Blogsmith

Greetings good reader,

Welcome to Books, Films and Random Lunacy; home to the creative imaginings of GD Bastow, but before I get started with the blog, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.

I’m George, an eighteen year old eccentric geek from the Midlands with a passion for the written word. I share my Warwickshire dwelling with six bald sphynx cats, two furry ones and a mad English Setter who only has eyes for my Mom.

I’ve always loved books and for as long as I can remember stories have been a massive part of my life. My Mom and maternal Grandparents constantly read to me when I was younger; from bedtime tales to Roald Dahl’s delightfully dark classics, I relished them all. After those stories had been hungrily consumed, Mom weaned me onto Tolkien and my little head set alight with fantastical visions of The Shire. With her love of all things mythological, my Grandad’s natural eccentricities and glorious sense of humour and my Nan’s straight and sometimes shocking wit meant there was never a boring day in our house.  Bringing with it an atmosphere of sheer madness which I fortunately inhaled and inherited.

I ponder now as to whether my journey into writing was inevitable considering my delightfully unorthodox upbringing. I was born ten weeks prematurely and starved of oxygen at birth which left me with a condition called Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. This affects my arms, legs and means I am a full-time wheelchair-user. The doctors said I’d  have severe learning difficulties and never walk or talk. Despite their claims, my Mom believed I’d make it and thanks to her love and strength, alongside the support of my maternal Grandparents and my incredible physiotherapist Liz Bubb, I survived. After an attempt within State Education, the system sadly failed my needs, my Mom made the brave decision to Home Educate me. This enabled me to maintain both my vital daily physiotherapy regime whilst learning simultaneously.

My appreciation for all things creative only increased over time and as I learned to read independently I sought out new tales and authors to feed my imagination. Shortly after, I came across the work of ‘The Master of Young Adult Horror’ Darren Shan, and the writing bug sunk its dastardly teeth into me. The ‘Cirque Du Freak’ writer was one of the first people whose tales I found so enthralling that it inspired me to craft my own narratives. He still remains my biggest influence and his work has led me to many other wordsmiths; including comic book legend Alan Moore, whose work helped me realise my other main artistic passion, the graphic novel medium. I’m thankful to those and many other creatives who have inspired my work and this blog.

Thanks so much to The Astral Gypsy Al Davison and Maggie for their continued encouragement and support. Al is the creator of the incredible artwork on this very blog; and also the writer and artist behind the autobiographical graphic novel ‘The Spiral Cage’. Check out the link for more of his art and other work.

www.astralgypsy.com

I’m also very grateful to Writing West Midlands for all the support and opportunities they’ve given me, including the chance to work with William Gallagher, my mentor and ‘The Master of the Blank Screen.’ Thanks to him for supporting me in crafting an online vessel into which I can pour all my ideas.

www.writingwestmidlands.org

www.williamgallagher.com
 

Now with the introductions out the way, come with me, as I explore the depths my mind…

.

Alan Moore: Comic Books and Consciousness

Alan Moore is one of the greatest comic book creators of all time. He has written legendary works such as Watchmen and V for Vendetta among many others. Moore cannot be simply defined as a comic book writer, but a multi-faceted creative with a career spanning over forty years.

Who is Alan Moore?

A question which carries with it a thousand different answers. He is a novelist, an artist, an activist, anarchist and even a magician, but beneath every vast layer of his personality, what truly sets Moore apart from other writers in the comic book medium and beyond is the quality and depth of his prose. His many works tackle subjects which most authors wouldn’t dare to touch, from the darkest forms of violence to political contempt. Moore picks apart social, political and religious topics which the literary world and society as a whole are content to leave untouched, exposing the various undercurrents which lie beneath peoples’ perceptions. He unthreads idealisms through a fictional eye which leaves the reader pondering upon the most extreme of subjects. He guides his audience into such territories with a perfectly executed subtlety which allows the reader to remain in an action-packed fictional realm without being beaten over the head by the complicated backgrounds within.

His tales leave the ideas to incubate and hatch within the readers’ consciousness long after they have left Moore’s carefully crafted worlds. The body of work created by the Northampton wordsmith has been continuously documented and studied by hundreds of readers the world over for its beautiful and intriguing content. He is famous for his vast plots and stunning metaphors, but his prose become even more remarkable when we think about the confines in which he crafts them. A caption or word-balloon has proven to many to be a hard place to fit strong and sharp writing, but Moore once again refused to be defined by the industry’s walls and redefined them.

Comic books are often neglected and underestimated; seen as a one-dimensional world of superheroes and bright colour pallets, but Moore’s fearless writing has turned the form on its head, bringing literary values and a third dimension which continues to elevate the industry as a whole.

Moore has revolutionised the comic medium influencing multiple writers and readers who have followed him.  The somewhat Dickensian depth of his words could be appreciated in any form, but regardless of the many opinions expressed about Moore, whether he is seen as a madman or genius, revolutionary or degenerate, pop-culture legend or militant; whether his brain is addled by strange narcotics or blessed by artistry; he has never allowed peoples’ perceptions to prevent him from exploring his consciousness, and most of all encourages the reader to do the same.

A Book Review: ‘The Spiral Cage’ by Al Davison

Al Davison AKA the Astral Gypsy is a critically acclaimed comic book artist and writer as well as being a film-maker, martial artist and comic-shop owner,not to mention that he has severe Spina-Bifida. The Spiral Cage is the first volume of Davison’s graphic novel autobiography, a creator-owned title which he both wrote and drew. It chronicles his life in an unflinchingly honest fashion, from growing up in 1960s Newcastle and suffering five murder attempts at the hands of his father, to weathering the effects of M.E. with the help of Buddhist practices.

From its opening black and white pages, the graphic novel portrays the extraordinary trials of the young Al, as the narrative takes the reader through his complicated birth and the multiple surgeries he endured in order to survive. After pulling through, a page depicting a strikingly beautiful juxtaposition between the doctors’ notes and x-ray images tells us of the professionals’ lack of hope for the boy. Following even more operations and two years in an isolation unit, Al lived on to astound those who dismissed him. As the book slips backwards and forwards through time, we see the narrator recall many experiences that can be hard to read, as Davison casts light upon some of the cold but true realities of living with disability. Several of the scenes in the book portray his battles both as a child and adult with various assailants, including school bullies and his own violently abusive father. These passages can be shocking, but the humour that is constant throughout shows the sharpness of the author’s wit and strength of mind. Through the chapters the reader sees in detail the many mind frames and thoughts which Davison goes through in various phases of his life, both harrowing and positive as everyday events and M.E. leave their mark. As the panels begin to wind down, Al’s determination leads him to find spirituality and love as he continues to go forward whilst slaying his demons.

The Spiral Cage is an inspiring graphic memoir, full of optimism and truth, not to mention it’s sophisticated and realistic art which make it a unique and honest work which stands out in its medium.

It explores taboo subjects which many people avoid and fear in life and reading, but Al’s ability to not only write and draw such topics but to genuinely be at peace with them is remarkable. What makes this book so powerful is that it is not a victim’s tale filled with clichés, but a story that begs no sympathy told from the soul of a survivor.