Moving on…

There are lots of changes happening here at Dodgem Towers – in fact, we’re moving the whole tower itself!

A word of warning – In this period of transition, our world famous postal runs will be on hold – normal service will be resumed ASAP, but in the meantime, everyone will have to wait. Sorry, you two – your orders will turn up eventually!

We’re going to slowly but surely ‘roll out’ a new bit of the official website – one where we can post articles and the like. It should be quite diverting – this blog will move in the not-too-distant future, where there will be a whole new swathe of delights to stave off life’s monotony. Plans are afoot – keep watching the screens!

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Hello World I want to get on.

I am still alive. We’ve never been so busy – issue 8 is taking longer than expected, but it will be worth the wait. There are many exciting events coming up this year – I won’t spoil the surprise! (that’s unusual for the internet, isn’t it? Not spoiling something? Let’s hope it starts a trend. I doubt it.)

What’s happened since I foolishly started this blog? Too much.

When will I post again? WHO KNOWS.

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Harvey Pekar 1939-2010

These are not my words, but those of my boss Alan Moore, who originally wrote this for the Washington Post – for one reason or another it didn’t make it to print, but we thought it deserved an outing.

I was in Washington in the late 1980s, visiting the since-vanished Christic Institute out in the projects with my friend the fearless activist Joyce Brabner, when I first got to meet her husband Harvey Pekar. Harvey had practically invented the autobiographical comic genre, and had gifted an industry not known for its vitality or new ideas with one of the most sublime and original voices that the comic medium has ever heard. Yet here he was in Washington for the first night of American Splendour’s stage adaptation, far from his beloved Cleveland, and that wonderful man’s aforementioned unique voice was clearly going to hell. For reasons he himself appeared bemused by, Harvey’s larynx would constrict in times of stress, reducing all his utterances to a strangled croak, and stress seemed pretty much to be Harvey’s constant companion. It was almost a condition brought on by his singular worldview, the glorious insights of a resolutely human, resolutely ordinary man, subject to all of the grinding everyday pressure which that term implies. Many of his most jewel-like observations had come from the Veteran’s Hospital where he was continuing to work, and a Harvey Pekar without that constant grace in the face of constant difficulty would be very hard to imagine.

On that particular occasion, Harvey’s nerves and voice had been drawn close to breaking point by all his characteristic worrying about how the show was going to be received and I remember him asking me how I dealt with bad reviews, to which I suggested that the best way was probably to ignore the good reviews as well. I liked him immensely, hugely impressed by the fact that such a vastly important creative force was also such a self-effacing and deeply conscientious person. As the years passed I was honoured to add my meagre drawing skills to a page of Harvey’s ongoing American Splendour narrative, undeservedly joining an impressive roster of talent that ranged from acclaimed maestros like Robert Crumb to unacclaimed maestros like Frank Stack. I managed to find him a rare Katherine Mansfield collection to feed his comically furtive antiquarian book-aholism…he’d sneak them into the already worryingly book-crammed house and do everything short of hiding them in the lavatory system…and I kept in fond but intermittent touch with him and Joyce.

The next time I saw Harvey was a few years back, when he, Joyce, and their alarmingly smart and gorgeous adopted daughter Danielle were caught up in the backwash of the movie version of American Splendour and had landed up in England, specifically Northampton, on a memorable visit with me and my wife Melinda, who still has a group photograph and a ball of knitting wool that Joyce left behind sitting on her coffee table. This time around, Harvey was calm, relaxed and in good voice; the same regular guy but on holiday in Europe, hanging out with friends and his clearly beloved family. His Hollywood explosion, although obviously overwhelming, hadn’t changed the way that Harvey saw the world at all. Him and Joyce had even ingeniously managed to acquire the furniture from the film-set recreation of their home – exactly like their old furniture, but newer! I tried to muscle another page in American Splendour out of him, but we somehow never got it together.

Then, just two days ago, I was reaching for a copy of the new Juxtapoz magazine in the newsagents on noticing that it featured an interview with Harvey, when the friend that I was with informed me of his death the previous weekend. Amongst the surge of memories and feelings that the news brought with it, the most clear and burning image was a single page of Harvey’s work, buried somewhere in a misplaced issue of American Splendour and rendered by an artist whose name I cannot remember. It was an entirely wordless narrative, depicting its downtrodden author on a hot day, entering his kitchen to snip off the corner of a foil lemonade concentrate packet, squeezing its gelatinous contents into a glass and then adding a sparkling gusher of clean tap water before taking a contented sip, and that was the whole story.  It was written by a good, honourable man who saw every ordinary instant of his life with a poet’s intensity; who saw the eternity in every moment, even those when he was enjoying a glass of store-bought brand name lemonade. In fact, particularly those moments. Culture has lost a browbeaten giant, and I’m going to miss him terribly.

Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm  Comments (3)  
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Procrastination is a very long word

Finding any time for anything seems to be a struggle these days. A case in point is this blog.

With all the will (but none of the skill) I set myself down this electronic furrow, hoping to unburden myself (not in a dirty way), and perhaps give others an insight into my own murky mind. Why anyone would want to look is their own problem – people like peering at traffic accidents as they drive past on the motorway, so why shouldn’t they stop and stare at my own personal car crashes? It’s not necessary unhealthy or wrong to do that – it reaffirms how not messed up we are. Maybe.

But finding time is the problem. What with the huge amounts of procrastinating I have to fit into a normal day, there never seems to be a spare second. Endeavour avoidance is a real addiction – difficult to shake, expensive (you never get round to produce anything worth paying for) and if like me you sit on your bottom all day, eventually fatal. But thanks to a conscience that gives me endless guilt-based nightmares, here is another blind stab into the internet, with some of the musings of one of the world most self-absorbed, self-depreciating narcissists.

So what’s new? Well, we got our glorious leader to sign some copies of issue 1 (he’s ever so good at it – it would have crippled me, plus my signature is worthless – visit the shop for details ), issue 5 is gathering a head of steam, getting towards that crucial time when the metaphor hits the other metaphor. It waits like a beast in the darkness of the near future, ready to tear my mind into easily digestible chunks.

We will see if I can manage to survive this one, won’t we?

Somebody stopped me and Alan in the street the other day to congratulate us on the magazine, which was nice. Everybody on the whole seems very positive. We get some lovely emails from all over the place, saying nice things. It’s difficult for me to understand complements – I’m just not built that way. Alan of course deserves them for what he’s done, but I don’t. I’m just some guy. I always look on the dark side – I don’t mean any harm by it, and please don’t take offence if I inadvertently rain hot piss on your parade from my misery tower. One day I’ll cheer the flip up. I mean, at the moment my life seems pretty cool from an outsider’s point of view, but there they are, the beasts waiting in the dark. Some of them I know, but there are always newcomers. Waiting, always waiting….

I’m going to the dentist today. You can’t tell, can you?

Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Birth Pains

It’s that time again – the new issue of Dodgem Logic has arrived.

At every step, from the rigorous (and sometimes painful) conception, to the final push, and the eventual flowering of the magazine from pure idea to physical reality – all that has gone before never really prepares me for the complex emotions that engulf me upon its arrival. All at once I am relieved, exhausted (you try and unload 3 pallets of magazines on nothing but a hot cross bun), daunted at the thought of bringing this great tome to the attention of the world, and angry. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s lack of sleep, perhaps it’s just who I am at the moment. But I’m angry. Mostly at myself, but also angry with the magazine. “But why?” I hear no one ask. Well, if you’ve happened upon this self-pitting, self indulgent slew of sentences, you have the opportunity to find out.

It’s a funny relationship I have with each new edition. The process of producing the thing always puts me through the emotional wringer, and part of me hates it for doing that, even though it is merely an object. Perhaps if I didn’t care a jot about the thing it would put pay to any resentment, and I could get on with what I laughably call my life in a more professional manner – but I do care. It takes me a while to adjust, and to fall back in love with the magazine again. You need time to forget all the heartache, the late nights living on energy drinks, greasy pastry parcels and adrenaline. Then there are the passionate discussions, the despair, the short-lived triumphs (just to lull you into a more vulnerable optimistic state, so the trough that you are plunged into seems all that more bottomless) – followed by the relief of finishing the thing. It’s done, it’s done – get on with the next one.

I wouldn’t be involved with the magazine unless I loved it, but even in loving relationships it takes a while for one to forgive the indiscretions of the other. Don’t think that I am not totally behind it – it will just take some time to forgive and forget.

I’m sure it will get easier, but there is always some new unimagined horror, ready to appear over the horizon. You can never know what to expect – that’s Dodgem Logic for you!

I’m in love with it again now. That didn’t take long, did it?

Let’s do it again – let’s have another one!

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm  Comments (4)  
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Radio La La

Well, sometimes there is nothing more terrifying that my wife using the hairdryer.

Due to the strange energies that surge through Northampton (not entirely undue to our glorious leader methinks) my poor old Freeview signal hangs by a thread (quite literally – the ariel is held in a rough string cradle precariously fastened to my loft’s rafters) – thus the hairdryer’s electrical interference was about to disrupt something very exciting. Exciting for anyone interested in the entity known as Dodgem Logic.  Hopefully you fall in to this category. Hello!

Thankfully the hair was dried in time for Ally Dunn, stalwart of BBC Northampton to chat audibly to Lauren Laverne on 6music about the town via my yellowing television. She only went and talked about the magazine on 6music! I’m sure it’ll be on listen again tomorrow or something if you are as desperate as myself when it comes to reliving moments when your life doesn’t seem like a waste of time and resources. That’s how this whole internet thing works, isn’t it? Everything is there if you look hard enough, even person affirmation. That’s got to make up for all the rubbish, hasn’t it?

It made me smile (which is quite an achievement in itself), and added 6 more people to our twitter feed. Not perhaps the torrent of followers I may have hoped for, but if I got everything I ever wanted I would be unbearable.

Right – on with the day. Hopefully there will be more delight to come – I fear the day may have peaked too early in the great-stakes.

Oh, I almost forgot – buy the magazine please – It will make everything less horrible for a short while.

Dodgem Logic Magazine – Blog the First

Dodgem Logic Magazine’s very own blog. You may very well see the cogs underneath the bonnet of this madcap publication – it may not be pretty, the gears may grind, and this blog could be the diary of a protracted nervous breakdown – but what the hell.

Let’s do this!

First things first, I am not Alan Moore. I do know him, but I won’t be able to pass on messages or anything to him. I’m not his secretary, and any such requests will be ignored at best. I am my own person, with hopes and dreams – I am not a stepping stone on your career in comics. I know I haven’t really done anything with my life, but I have feelings. Feelings that sometimes confuse me, which can lead to terrible, terrible consequences. It may be how I ended up as Assistant Editor – I’m still not entirely sure exactly what happened.

Second, we don’t accept unsolicited submissions for the magazine at the moment. That means that if we didn’t ask for it, the response will be a polite ‘No thank you’. Please don’t think this doesn’t apply to you – it probably does. We have an awful lot of material already, and we hardly have any time to see our friends or family as it is without having to read through all the wonderful prose and illustrations that we never asked for. This may change in the future, but the future is a big place, so please don’t do it now. It would be considered rude.

Third, we don’t sell any ad space in the magazine. So there.

Fourth, you will not find any magazine in print quite like this one. Cherish it, tell your friends, spread the word. We are not like anything else out there.

Fifth – I think that’s it for now.

Right, back to work!

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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