Farewell to the Queen of Technicolor

As a life-long film-buff, it would be blasphemous of me not to bid farewell to the legendary big-screen heroine, Maureen O’Hara.

The iconic Irish-born actress was known across the globe for playing an array of spirited leading ladies and matriarchs in classic films like ‘A Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947) and ‘The Quiet Man.’ She was one of the brightest stars during an unforgettable time in Hollywood’s glamorous history, earning the title of ‘The Queen of Technicolor’ as she carved her name alongside the best in cinema.

I was introduced to Maureen O’Hara’s movies in the same way that I first discovered the work of John Wayne, James Stewart and countless others of that era; on my Grandmother’s TV. When I was little, I’d sit beside my Nan as she ironed clothes and stroked one of her many cats with an old film on in the background. My Nan and I have watched our way through the majority of 50’s and 60’s cinema over the years; from westerns to film noir, but a true favourite of ours is ‘The Quiet Man.’

I’ve seen John Ford’s timeless film about a retired Irish-american boxer who returns home to the Emerald Isle, more times than I can count, and I still love it. It’s a light-hearted comedy tale set in an Ireland that is only found in mythology or Hollywood’s archives. The quaint love story is bursting at the seams with memorable characters, whether it’s  john Wayne’s checked-suit-wearing gentleman, O’Hara’s tender-hearted spitfire of a leading lady, or her hilarious oaf of a brother played by the truly underrated Victor McLaglen. The role of stubborn red-head Mary Kate Danaher is undoubtably one of O’Hara’s best and one for which she’ll be most fondly remembered.

Another personal favourite of mine is one of her many collaborations with Wayne, the Wild West take on Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ entitled ‘McLintock.’ O’Hara plays the estranged wife of the rich cattle baron, George Washington McLintock. It’s yet another delightful picture, which like it’s star matured wonderfully as the decades rolled by.

Maureen O’Hara has left behind a trail of pictures that continue to entertain audiences to this day, and thanks to this outstanding legacy she will be remembered in the antique glow of Technicolor for generations to come.

My Thoughts on Caption Comic Book Festival 2015

Due to a prolonged and unexpected dose of the horrific disease known as man-flu, I’ve been unable to post this, but my overview of Caption 2015 is finally here for your perusal.  

When I heard that Caption, the UK’s longest-running comic book festival dedicated to small-press and independent creators would be migrating from its home in Oxford to my native region of the Midlands, I was overwhelmed with geeky glee. The event’s relocation also meant it would be held at the counter-cultural haven of quirky shops and alternative outlets that is Coventry’s Fargo Village.

On the weekend of the 10th and 11th of October some of the comic book industry’s biggest names engulfed Fargo Village like a tidal wave of artistic talent. An array of talks and workshops were held by a multitude of writers and artists, including Birmingham-based illustrator Laura Howell, legendary cartoonist Hunt Emerson and many more.

Comic creator and proprietor of Fargo Village’s very own graphic novel emporium ‘The Astral Gypsy,’ Al Davison hosted a number of workshops in the course the convention. One of my personal highlights being a guided tour of his ‘Alchemy art Exhibition.’ A series of striking paintings, created almost exclusively in gold and black tones with strong Buddhist influences injected throughout.

I also had the pleasure of attending a panel celebrating the British comic book institution ‘2000 AD.’ Alex Fitch of the ‘Panel Boarders’ podcast chaired guests Leah Moore (co-author of ‘Albion’ and co-creator of ‘Electricomics’) and Ian Edginton (writer of ‘Stickleback’ and ‘The Red Seas’) as they discussed the longevity of the title and the fun of writing for ‘The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.’

The panel illustrated to me the important place British comics still have within the medium and precisely why ‘2000 AD’ continues to hold its own against the breath-taking might of the American publishers after so many years. ‘2000 AD’ remains in the consciousness of fans the world over because it has a sense of sheer fun and absurdity that its counterparts appear to have lost. It refuses to take itself too seriously and thrives on the light-hearted charm of its strips, something that the transatlantic giants have failed to retain under the weight of their big screen adaptations.

Another highlight was the small-press and indie appreciation panel with stars of the independent comics scene both on the panel and in the audience. The guests included ‘Bleeding Cool Magazine’ journalist Olly Macnamee, Caption co-founders Jenni Scoc as well as the creator of ‘The Indie Project Magazine’ and my comic-loving cohort Rees Finlay. The discussion was as passionate as it was intriguing as each speaker analysed their own unique love of the medium. From Macnamee’s nostalgic tales of finding imported treasures in spinner-racks to Finlay’s positive predictions of a small-press takeover, enthusiasm radiated from every corner of the room. The questions and answers raised within the event proved to me once again the artistic diversity that can be found in the confines of a humble comic.

I met so many talented people and absorbed so much creativity and inspiration during the convention. I chatted with indie creators as they sold their wares,collected autographs from some of my idols and received some especially fantastic advice, encouragement and writing tips from the legendary Leah Moore.

Caption 2015, I’ve had worse weekends…